Brides, wedding venues and those working in the industry have been left questioning what the Prime Minister’s announcement today means for their future.
Couples getting married from 1st August were due to benefit from easing of restrictions that would allow receptions for up to 30 guests indoors with sit-down meals, as long as the venue was Covid-secure.
However, the Prime Minister dealt a fresh blow to couples and the industry alike by extending restrictions on receptions to at least mid August, rendering some celebrations unfeasible just hours before they were due to go ahead.
Boris Johnson made the announcement this afternoon and acknowledged that the news would be ‘a real blow’ to those who had made plans.
It’s a fresh blow to the industry which has only just seen an uptick in business after weddings were allowed again on 4th July after being banned since the start of lockdown in March.
Months of restrictions have already left planners, venues and suppliers in dire financial straits and now today’s announcement casts further doubt on when they might be able to start earning again.
BRIDE: LEFT DEVASTATED AFTER CEREMONY WAS CANCELLED WITH 24 HOURS NOTICE
Graham Podesta, 53, said his daughter Jamie, who is due to have her wedding on Saturday August 1, was in ‘floods of tears’ following the announcement. ‘Literally we’ve got 24 hours to pull the plug,’ he said
Graham Podesta, 53, said his daughter Jamie, who is due to have her wedding on Saturday August 1, was in ‘floods of tears’ following the announcement.
‘Literally we’ve got 24 hours to pull the plug,’ he said.
‘We have to tell people who are travelling not to travel, people who have booked into Travelodge not to do that, it’s just a whole nightmare.
Speaking to the PA news agency an hour after the Prime Minister’s announcement, he said: ‘We had an email from the caterers about 20 minutes ago talking about the arrangements for tomorrow.
‘They haven’t even caught up with the announcement.
Bride-to-be Jamie Podesta has had to tell guests not to come to her wedding tomorrow after rules changed without notice
‘We were supposed to be going there this afternoon to drop off the cake and get things sorted, but I’m not sure they’re even aware of it.
‘Obviously we will be out of pocket but as annoying as that is, it’s no way near as annoying as the effect it’s having on my daughter.’
Mr Podesta, from Gillingham in Kent, said that he was particularly frustrated by the lack of compassion from the Government, having given no advance warning of the new measures.
‘The poor kids are desperate to be married,’ he said.
‘This is supposed to be a momentous, special occasion for the pair of them. It’s very frustrating.
‘I understand (the Government’s) reasoning, I don’t agree with their methodology.
‘They need to give notice. They can’t just spring upon a bride within 24 hours that her wedding has gone out of the window.’
WEDDING PLANNER: HASN’T WORKED IN MONTHS
Katie Tottenham, of Katie Tottenham events last had an event in February and has had everything for this summer postponed
Katie Tottenham, of Katie Tottenham events, which plans bespoke parties and weddings, as well as consultancy, said: ‘Brides and grooms don’t want to pay deposits to venues or suppliers at the moment because they’re non-refundable.
‘And for me, as the wedding planner, you are losing out whichever way you go. It’s just devastating.
‘It’s just so confusing because the rules are constantly changing. I’ve basically had no work. My last event was 29 February. I had three weddings planned for this summer, all postponed.
Wedding planner Liz Taylor has accused the government of being ‘erratic and unpredictable’ in its approach
‘I’m looking ahead to next year and thinking: are those events going to happen even? A lot of people in the industry feel like they’ve been forgotten. People don’t seem to understand how many livelihoods it affects.
‘Weddings might seem like a luxury, but to some couples it means everything to them.
‘The issue for many people in the wedding industry is that we are all quite small businesses and so many of us are going to go under.
‘I relaunched on my own in October last year, it’s Katie Tottenham events, bespoke weddings and parties.
‘I’m receiving support from the government but that won’t last forever. I usually charge a management fee to couples, so I can be upfront and transparent about how much it will cost.’
CATERER: GONE INTO LIQUIDATION
Hattie Mauleverer, the founder of TopHat catering, was due to take in £300,000 in June from weddings, but her business has gone into liquidation
Hattie Mauleverer, the founder of TopHat catering in London, was due to take in £300,000 in June from weddings.
Instead, she’s made the decision to liquidate the company after a string of cancellations, meaning she’s facing eviction from her warehouse from which she also runs thriving business Eight Foods.
‘I had to work with other catering companies to make sure weddings we’ve booked for next summer are catered,’ she said.
James Belton from Seawise Catering said that it’s heartbreaking for suppliers to have ‘hope’ taken away, just as they were getting back on their feet
‘As an industry we’re urging the government to provide more support the catering sector to help safeguard its 570,000 jobs.
‘We don’t have any support as an industry because we don’t count as a restaurant, it’s a really terrifying time’.
Meanwhile, James Belton and Kelly Rank from Seawise Catering told Femail: ‘Lockdown came at what should have been the beginning of a very busy season for us providing our services at weddings, festivals and events.
‘We were on the brink of having the newest addition to our fleet finished, a converted 1960s ambulance but due to lockdown, work on this was paused.
‘The news of the easing of lockdown measures was fantastic as it meant we were in a position to get back to business and try to recover the year; this last minute change in direction is devastating for us and the whole industry, just when we thought we would be in a position to start recovering our year, not to mention the prospective newlyweds, for some of whom this will be their second cancellation.
‘Whilst public safety is paramount, giving people hope and then taking it away is heartbreaking, just as we were getting back on our feet.’
PHOTOGRAPHER: LOST THOUSANDS IN INCOME
Tracey Smith, of Tracey M photography, said that she’s had zero wedding work this year due to the pandemic, losing thousands in income.
The photographer from Derbyshire last shot a wedding in January. She was due to work a wedding next weekend, but it’s been cancelled due to the pandemic.
She told FEMAIL ‘I’ve got one wedding holding out to October, and that’s purely because the venue hasn’t cancelled yet.
‘My core bride is in the hands of what the venues decide, you just can’t plan anything, it’s a real shame.
‘I had a wedding booked for 6th June, it was postponed until 7th August, but as a result of lockdown they have now separated as a couple.
‘I had another one in August and they’ve decided that they’re going to elope instead.
‘I’ve had no wedding income since January, and I’m not eligible for any grants.
‘I usually do around 15 weddings a year, but I also work for a few other photographers and I’ve lost all that work as well, I’ve lost thousands.
‘Fortunately I’m an outdoor photographer so I can go outdoors and shoot, but people are tightening the purse strings, so it’s tough.
‘It’s a crying shame for anyone getting marriedy, the uncertainties are awful. How can the industry survive? Who is going to financially pay for us?’
‘A lot of people are saying we should just get a part time job, but how are we meant to when everyone is applying for these jobs?
‘I’ve got a wedding booked for March next year, but who knows if that will go ahead.’
WEDDING VENUE DIRECTOR AND BRIDE-TO-BE: NO WORK IN MONTHS
Sarah Davis, 44, a bride to be and director of wedding venue Shottle Hall in Belper, Derbyshire, has been hit with a double whammy after Boris Johnson’s announcement today (pictured)
Sarah Davis, 44, a bride to be and director of wedding venue Shottle Hall in Belper, Derbyshire, has been hit with a double whammy after Boris Johnson’s announcement today.
Sarah told FEMAIL: ‘The business side of it is worse financially for us, and obviously it’s not just the business it’s every individual person that I’m dealing with for their weddings as well, because I know what they are feeling like personally.
WHAT SHOULD COUPLES DO NOW?
Liz Taylor, CEO of professional wedding planners the Taylor Lynn Corporation is favoured by celebrities and planned Gary Neville’s wedding, as well as events for Gary Barlow, Michelle Keegan and Mark Wright.
Speaking to FEMAIL she urged couples to put off celebrations until next year.
‘My advice to anyone planning something now would be to hold fire. The government is so erratic and unpredictable, I accept they don’t know what’s going on, but what they’re doing is ruining the events industry.
‘There are no magic options or magic wand but I don’t think we’re going to see a live event of any substance until June or July 2021, and the industry is we’re going to have to keep going for a whole year with no support.
‘One wedding we were working on that’s been cancelled was a large Indian wedding.
‘The family had booked flights from all over the world, people really underestimate the fallout and the implications from this, it’s not just cancelling a wedding.
‘A lot were cancelled and now even more with the new legalisation.
‘It’s not just the couples, it’s beyond distressing, the implications in my world, deposits, suppliers, and securing them again for another date, everyone is on the same bandwagon logistically trying to rearrange is a nightmare.
‘ The events business has lost an absolute fortune, while we’ve got staff on furlough it’s only until October, this legalisation is going to destroy the industry
‘It is very very serious, it’s life changing, I’ve survived two recessions, with the right relationships and support we’ve got and if you run business properly and you’re not in debt you can survive this.
‘Financially for me as a bride the financial implications aren’t that great because if we are having to postpone receptions we can do, or if you just want to do a smaller ceremony you can do. We thought we were going to be able to do the reception of 30 people, but obviously we are going to have to wait and see.
‘I think most people that have gone this far won’t cancel. They want to be married they want to have their day, people don’t just do it on a whim, that’s the point? It’s something that people want to do to start their next life journey, it’s not like booking a holiday.
‘It’s just the frustration of being told one thing, getting your hopes up and then being told something else at the very last hour.
‘Think of those people that have got their receptions booked for tomorrow and now can’t have them, it’s ridiculous.’
Sarah added: ‘People will still go back to their own houses after the small ceremonies, they are not going to just go home separately. They are going to go to a private home like the government are trying to get people not to.
‘There is more space to socially distance at a venue than at a bar or restaurant. We can hold the receptions sensibly and following the guidelines, covid secure with social distancing.
‘At a reception you know everyone who is there and where they have been. At a bar and restaurant you could be sat with 100 people you don’t even know.’
Sarah’s business is not due to have an insurance pay out, which she says will be the experience of many companies in the industry.
She believes that the casualties will become apparent when the furlough scheme ends in October if the restrictions on weddings have not been resolved by then.
Sarah said the financial implications on the industry are likely to last for years to come, with some venues likely to put up their prices in order to make ends meet.
She said: ‘We’ve had no money coming in since March and we’ve not been able to get the government grant, we’ve had the bank loan but obviously we need to think about paying that back and not borrowing more money.
‘We should have been classed as hospitality, we can do it exactly the same as them. We’ve got a restaurant and hotel license.
‘The industry has been forgotten from the start. They are lumping all weddings together assuming they are massive celebrations and that is not what they are about.’
Sarah believes 50 is a viable and sensible number for most wedding venues to manage with the outdoor space they have, the average wedding reception in normal times seeing ‘about 80 to 150 guests’.
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VENUE: MORE THAN 250 WEDDINGS CANCELLED
Chris Maylor, the managing director wedding venue of Peckforton Castle in Crewe, Cheshire, said the latest announcement is a ‘nightmare’ and ‘panicking’ couples have already rung his venue asking what is going to happen.
More than 250 weddings have already been cancelled at the 19th-Century venue since the start of the lockdown and Mr Maylor now expects there to be fewer than 100 before 2021.
‘Our phones have started ringing with couples panicking,’ he said.
‘We are having couples who are panicking [over dates] in November or December, all wanting to move or cancel their weddings.’
He said the Government’s decision makes things ‘very difficult’ for his venue.
Chris Maylor, the managing director wedding venue of Peckforton Castle in Crewe, Cheshire, said the latest announcement is a ‘nightmare’ and ‘panicking’ couples have already rung his venue asking what is going to happen
‘It makes it very difficult for us. To date I think we have cancelled 250 weddings during lockdown. That is causing us a huge financial issue.
‘There will probably come a point where we can’t bare it anymore.
‘We just need the government to give us a roadmap. Rather than just saying they are hoping to increase numbers, they need a road map.
‘There’s no targeted support for the wedding industry at the moment. It is tough for everyone.
He added that the wedding industry makes its money in the spring and summer so the coronavirus pandemic has been like ‘having three back to back winters.’
A lot of other businesses also rely on venues being open, Mr Maylor said.
‘A lot of other companies really rely on us. Florists, photographers, they all benefit off of us being successful.
‘We are all going through an extremely difficult time. But those smaller companies who haven’t got the resources, I really feel for them.
‘I couldn’t give you an overall figure of how it is going to impact us, it is going to push getting back to normal even further away.
Samantha Vaughn, the owner of small wedding venue Dewsall Court, in Hereford, told FEMAIL that several couples have contacted her since today’s announcement.
‘I have had couples who have got in touch today. I’ve got a wedding for 150 people in September and they are looking to postpone. They are asking what their options are.’
Ms Vaughn said that October had been set to be her venue’s biggest month for bookings but is now looking ‘dicey’ and said the Government needs to support her’s and other venues.
She added that she has already had 30 postponements and two cancellations for weddings which were set to take place before Christmas.
‘For us, wedding couples have to cancel six to eight weeks before their date,’ she said.
‘If the country opens up at the beginning of October, all of our October bookings will have postponed or cancelled before then.
‘If they [the Government] can’t bear in mind our lead times they need to support us through our lead times.
‘The nightmare thing is that our furlough is ending so we are going to have no events and no furlough support.’
And Emma Hardcastle, the founder of wedding venue platform Hostology, said the decision to delay receptions of up to 30 people had created ‘another ripple of uncertainty’ through the industry.
Around 40 venues use Hostology to communicate with couples in arranging weddings.
‘It creates yet another ripple of uncertainty through the industry,’ Ms Hardcastle said.
‘Every time the government announces something, the venues get 10 or 15 phone calls from couples.
‘The venues are not getting any revenue and yet still having to maintain and run buildings and maintain staff. The couples are very supportive.’
She said that whilst venues are ‘tending to offer to return deposits’ to couples who wish to cancel their weddings, ’90 per cent’ of couples want to postpone instead.
‘Fundamentally most brides and grooms or brides and brides or grooms and grooms want to have their big day,’ she said.
She called on the Government to offer more clarity to a sector which she described as a ‘cottage industry’.
‘This sector is like a cottage industry. These venues are often one venue, they tend to be people who have got a barn or a house. They are small businesses,’ she added.
‘They don’t have a lot ability to borrow. [With] the ending of furlough, they have to make a decision to find a few grand a month of national insurance or let them go.
‘If couples have postponed September, October, November weddings, venues will have to pay staff they are not going to use.’
‘What we are campaigning for is some sort of clarity for the sector.’
Samantha Vaughn, the owner of small wedding venue Dewsall Court, in Hereford, said the government needs to offer support to small venues, which have no idea if their bookings will be cancelled
WEDDING FAIR ORGANISER
Kate Beavis, Owner of Magpie Wedding, a wedding blog and magazine that connects couples with suppliers, told FEMAIL the latest announcement was ‘devastating’ for couples, as well as the industry as a whole, because bakers, DJs and caterers would be out of work with less than 24 hours notice.
‘I think the overall feeling is devastated for all of the couple’s that were given a lifeline and were going to have weddings tomorrow or next week,’ she said.
‘The wedding industry is worth £10bn for the economy. We were given this new lifeline and were hopefully and now the plug has been pulled. I know people who had cakes ready to go and it’s been cancelled at the last minute.
Kate added that people in the industry ‘were so grateful’ of the lifeline to be allowed to invite 30 people to weddings and were ‘devastated’ its been taken away.
‘Apart from the loss of wedding, people are frustrated at the confusing rules, why can you go to the pub but not get married?’ she added.
Kate Beavis told Femail that cancellations are having an impact on mental health and relationships
‘Reports say the industry has lost £3bn, and more than half a million sole traders are going under because of this.
‘It’s devastating, many brides I work with have come to terms with a smaller wedding, and embraced having small intimate wedding with loved ones, because at least you could have 30 people.
‘There’s a cost to the cancellations too, and an impact on mental health and relationships of people. Venues near me have closed down.
‘With multicultural weddings, Asian weddings, Indian weddings and Hindu weddings have lots and lots of people, and 30 guests is just not doable.
Kate added that the short notice could be ‘devastating’ to people working in the industry.
‘Being pulled with less than 24 hours notice – but meanwhile we can go out get £10 off a pizza tomorrow.
‘For a couple that’s just devastating, and the loss of money too! Getting married shouldn’t be stressful, it can be a bit stressful but now it’s just crazy
‘The mixed messages and the short notice, the fact you can go down the gym but not get married.