These are just a few examples of how wedding venue bosses have described the past 12 months as the Covid-19 pandemic devastated the industry, when the government had to wait at the altar as thousands of couples had to cancel their big day .
All venues were expected to reopen from April 12th based on a popular interpretation of the guidelines released on February 24th. Now the Weddings Taskforce, a body representing the sector, has received confirmation that weddings and receptions are only allowed for 15 guests between April 12th and May 16th in places of worship, public buildings, places and outdoor areas that may already be open.
This does not include the vast majority of licensed wedding venues in England, where more than 70 percent of weddings take place. The Task Force estimates this will affect about 7,000 weddings scheduled before May 17th.
Paul Sabbiani, General Manager of the Albright Hussey in Shrewsbury, takes a pragmatic view of the situation but did not worry about what a challenging time it was. He believes he will be able to host small weddings but is still waiting for proper government guidance.
“It was the toughest 12 months of my life. Every day you deal with brides, the phones ring and emails come in, “he said.
“As far as I know, from April 12th we can hold weddings with up to 15 people. I haven’t seen any guidance on where people can sit and how many can sit at a table or anything like that because the government didn’t publish it.
“We have to find out pretty hard. Some of the couples booked for April were on the third day.
“Financially it was crippling. If you’ve booked a wedding for 100 people a day and 150 a night that’s turning 30, that’s not great.
“We still spend about £ 10,000 just to keep the venue going. You have to maintain the gardens and then there are heating bills. It was difficult.
Garthmyl Hall in Montgomery. Image: Shaun Culliss
“I tried to be as fair as possible to couples. I’ve heard of some venues charging couples £ 3,000 to reschedule their date. It is ridiculous.”
In Wales, the venues are still waiting for the government to make plans. Julia Pugh of Garthmyl Hall in Montgomery shared her frustration at the lack of guidance from First Minister Mark Drakeford.
“We can’t prepare or plan anything,” she said.
“I don’t think he realizes that weddings take time to plan. It’s not like a pub that you can open a week later. Brides have to sort their clothes and grooms have to get their suits. For some couples the dates have been changed four times.
“We are still in the balance. He (Drakeford) made the announcement on Friday and we’re still no smarter. We had hoped for more of a road map.
“Even our couples who were due to get married in April and May and were happy with fewer numbers are considering canceling. That leaves us in a really terrible place.
“We don’t know what to tell people.”