Love in the time of COVID-19: a case-study of the complex laws governing weddings

Probert, Rebecca and Pywell, Stephanie (2021). Love in the time of COVID-19: a case-study of the complex laws governing weddings. Legal Studies, 41(4) pp. 676–692.



During 2020, weddings were profoundly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. During periods of lockdown few weddings could take place, and even afterwards restrictions on how they could be celebrated remained. To investigate the impact of such restrictions, we carried out a survey of those whose plans to marry in England and Wales had been affected by Covid-19. The 1,449 responses we received illustrated that the ease and speed with which couples had been able to marry, and sometimes whether they had been able to marry at all, had depended not merely on the national restrictions in place but on their chosen route into marriage. This highlights the complexity and antiquity of marriage law and reinforces the need for reform. The restrictions on weddings taking place also revealed the extent to which couples valued getting married as opposed to having a wedding. Understanding both the social and the legal dimension of weddings is important in informing recommendations as to how the law should be changed in the future, not merely to deal with similar crises but also to ensure that the general law is fit for purpose in the twenty-first century.

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