It was with sadness that I watched Boris Johnson make his announcement last Friday. An announcement which put a halt to the intended relaxation of restrictions that would have allowed receptions of 30 people to take place. With the current spikes in infections of Covid-19 it was an understandable decision, but with less than 24 hours notice for some weddings, it was a devastating punch to already stunted plans for both couples and suppliers alike.
Caterers thrilled to finally be offering their services again, purchasing in food and other consumables, preparing and cooking for a halt to be called just before once again, leaving them likely with losses they can ill afford.
The couples can at least still continue with the wedding ceremony itself with their 30 ish guests but their ‘reception’ is again limited to 6 or two household bubbles.
I talked in a previous blog about how to have a memorable socially distanced wedding which includes such restricted numbers. I will admit though I wrote it in the hope it would be a short time restriction, but now I’m left worrying how long it will be until a wedding can be held with a reasonable number of guests.
So will this be the advent of the Micro Wedding? Not quite an elopement but very close until we have some level of clarity?
Stuck in Limbo
At the moment suppliers and couples alike are left in a limbo zone. The Government are due to look again at wedding receptions being allowed from mid August but there is no real road map to how weddings will be allowed to return to normal. As an industry we are being forgotten and not receiving vital support. Similarly hit industries such as the arts have been given additional support with a range of grants. We all know money doesn’t grow on trees, and that all the support given will ultimately have to be paid back via taxes, but without support and a roadmap for reopening the industry is going to crumble.
You may have seen the #whataboutweddings hashtag on Instagram and other social media. The industry is crying out for acknowledgement and help. Whether we will receive it who knows but if we don’t shout no one will know the real consequences for the industry.
The wedding industry as a whole in the UK is worth over £10 billion according to valuations in 2018. Put in context the fishing industry is worth under £1billion. But as an industry on the whole we cannot work, or if we can only at a fraction of normal levels despite it being peak season..
The problem for wedding suppliers and why many have fallen through the gaps of funding is many are sole traders or sole directors of limited companies. Sole traders, or self employed individuals are receiving support up until the end of August (the second self employment grants at 70% covers June to August) and that is it. Directors only are eligible for support if they pay themselves a wage and that that wage was at least 50% of their income.
Several members of the industry have been spearheading a campaign to parliament to highlight the precarious situation of the industry.
Annabel Beeforth of Love My Dress has been pivotal. She started the #whataboutweddings movement and amongst other things collated data showing the average income loss for suppliers for 2020 is over 80%. That is for the entire year. The maximum support a supplier can look to receive currently is effectively 37.5% of yearly profit. The payments do not take any fixed costs into consideration. For many the payments received don’t even cover bills never mind pay a wage.
Natasha Newland of the County Wedding Clubs has also been petitioning multiple MPs on behalf of club members including myself. Later today she is also appearing on BBC South (5th August) talking about the damage being caused to the industry. So be sure to watch (I will add catch up link after it is aired)
We need a roadmap to move forward
Ultimately the most important thing as an industry is to have a roadmap. Obviously it will be subject to change depending on how Covid cases develop but it can allow us to plan. Will 100 guest weddings be out of consideration until 2022 or until a vaccine is seen? If so it’s very sad but it gives everyone a chance to plan. Currently, couples are often postponing 3 to 6 months at a time, each time causing complications and upset. A solid roadmap with that sort of realism, if that is what is necessary, would give couples the realistic information they need to make informed decisions, and so help the whole industry plan.
If we know large weddings are over a year away strategies can be put in place, we can redeploy skills and services to different areas and help the economy ride out the tricky wave we’re on. If we are left in the current state of not having a clue what the situation will be in 4 weeks never mind 4 months the industry will crumble which will have devastating impacts to all involved.
The death of the specialist?
What is worse, is if the industry does crumble, is that the suppliers that suffer most will be the specialists, those that only do weddings and blooming well excel at them, teaching the next generation. I am lucky to not entirely be a wedding specialist, it is a large and very important part of my work but my equine work can now continue and so I have an income even if heavily reduced. I have friends though in the industry who purely work in weddings. They have lost almost all their income and have no idea what to do next. I have already seen multiple wedding suppliers forced to close their businesses as
So come on government #whataboutweddings? Give us a chance to save the industry and the immense talents that are part of it.
Is your wedding affect by Covid?
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