Essex wedding venues include pandemic coronavirus costs

The coronavirus pandemic has not only changed our daily lives, it has also put a damper on the most memorable day in a couple’s life.

The wedding industry has felt the impact more than most. Countless beloved couples have canceled their big days since the pandemic began 10 months ago.

At best, the ceremony has been curtailed and capacity has been reduced significantly. In the worst case scenario, the plans were postponed indefinitely.

At the award-winning Crondon Park wedding oasis, 2020 and 2021 should be their most profitable years yet.

While the pandemic has, of course, changed things, the venue still has 180 weddings in its diary.

Fiona Thom, wedding coordinator at Crondon Park, said: “It’s been a terrible year. However, our couples were very understanding. Our biggest challenge was to find suitable dates as we offer exclusive use and can only record one wedding per day.

“Another challenge was keeping up with the regular changes in government policies that have affected our industry.

“Many main dates for 2021 have been secured prior to the pandemic, and we’ve postponed over 200 weddings from 2020 and found dates for them in 2021 and 2022.”

Weddings were banned for the first time when the national lockdown began on March 23.

They are allowed now, but there are strict rules. In England, wedding ceremonies should only take place in exceptional cases, for example if one of the couples is seriously ill and only six guests can attend.

Despite the uncertainty about when weddings will return to full capacity, Fiona insists that Crondon Park can look forward to a stellar 2022.

She added, “We have seen a sharp increase in inquiries for 2022. People don’t want to put their lives on hold and hope that by then we will return to some form of normal.”

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It’s not just venues that have suffered, shops selling wedding clothes and florists are struggling too.

The Blue Beau Boutique is located on Rayleigh Road in Benfleet. Best sellers include bridesmaid dresses.

However, the lack of weddings has made it a difficult time for the company.

Kelly Nichols, who owns the store, said, “It was pretty awful because there’s nothing we can do.

“People cannot marry and are upset. Changes have been postponed and seamstresses cannot work.

“There were five or six weddings that we delivered dresses for last year but they were postponed.

“We are concerned about our future and need weddings and other events to start again.”

The same is true of florists across South Essex.

A spokesman for Fiori Florist on London Road in Leigh said: “Weddings are a big part of our business. So if we rebook or cancel it, we will be affected.

“We have to try to adapt, but it’s not easy.

“At the height of last summer there were 10 weddings we were supposed to deliver flowers to, but everything was put on hold.”