The Government needs to end the ban on weddings, a marriage campaign group has said.
In a blog post, Coalition for Marriage (C4M) said many lives have been “profoundly affected” by the ban, with the cancellation of ceremonies having had “significant financial consequences for many”.
Writing ahead of this week’s changes allowing small weddings in Northern Ireland, the pro-marriage group said that while sensible guidance for public health needs to be observed, “ways need to be found for people to get married once again”.
C4M explained that several of its supporters have been due to marry and have had to “accept that the celebrations associated with a wedding must wait until the pandemic ends”.
“But weddings are more, much more, than a party.”
The Government says it is currently “examining how to enable people to gather in slightly larger groups to better facilitate small weddings”, and C4M said it must not “sideline” marriage.
“Step two includes re-opening ‘non-essential retail’, so it surely must not exclude weddings. It would be unthinkable for betting shops and pawnbrokers to be open but the wedding ban to continue,” it said.
The group also criticised the Government’s suggestion that unwed couples could cohabit during the lockdown, noting that the research “is clear that cohabitation is a poor substitute for marriage and does not provide the same benefits to families or society”.
It continued: “Marriage is much more important than most other public events. It is not a mere form of entertainment – an excuse to dress up and have a party. Neither is it a simple formality. It goes much deeper, its impact much wider. It is about two people publicly committing to one another and forming a new family unit.
“The institution of marriage helps combat insecurity and social breakdown. The married family of one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others and for life, is the bedrock of society, giving it the stability it needs across the generations.
“The jamboree can wait until after the pandemic. Marital commitment cannot.”