COUPLES left heartbroken over weddings 'in limbo' have been given the go-ahead to start planning again.

The UK Government now states that weddings and civil partnerships will be allowed to take place from this week – after they had been banned since lockdown started on March 23.

Ceremonies will be able to take place in 'approved venues' with strict new measures in place.

In line with pubs, restaurants and hairdressers reopening, these measures include sites collecting and securely storing the contact details of all attendees for 21 days after the ceremony.

The drastic move is made possible by an innovative Track and Trace software developed by Guides for Brides, a business based in Wantage.

The company's director Alison Hargreaves also revealed that the new technology has impressed officials so much that it has been selected for the government's Crown Services Catalogue in the fight against the spread of coronavirus.

The official catalogue details what virus-related goods and services are available and the region they are offered in.

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In addition to the software, which is now being rolled out for meeting, conference and events venues, the company has also developed a live streaming system to allow guests to attend weddings remotely.

To help its clients the wedding-planning service published more helpful advice on its website for those planning on tying the knot during the pandemic.

To keep guests safe and lower the risk of virus transmission, small ceremonies are allowed from last week.

Some 'key guidance' includes a limit of 30 guests attending the wedding.

People are advised to avoiding singing, shouting and playing music even if social distancing is being observed or face coverings are used.

The playing of musical instruments that are blown into such as a saxophones, flutes and trumpets should be specifically avoided, due to the increased risk of infection.

The government also advised that ceremonies and services should be concluded in the 'shortest reasonable time'.

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Wedding rings can be exchanged, however, couples will be asked to wash their hands 'before and after' and the rings should be handled by as few people as possible.

While the Government's rules mean that a number of ancient rituals will not be able to take place, the consequences for venues that are caught not complying with them will be severe.

If a site breaches the restrictions – and refuses to comply with enforcement notices – it could be a criminal offence, and the venue manager could be fined heavily or imprisoned for up to two years.

Experts advises that if a wedding cannot take place because it will be too different –particularly when it comes to religious ceremonies – it is generally better to postpone rather than cancel it.

A government spokesman said: "Wedding celebrations can only happen when people follow the guidance of six people outdoors, support bubbles, or two households indoors or outdoors.

"It is critical for these guidelines to be observed to keep you and your family and friends as safe as possible."