Wedding venue owners in Derbyshire are seeking financial support from the government after it became known that full size weddings will not take place until June.
Shottle Hall near Belper is a family run country house that has been committed to better support the wedding industry since the first lockdown began in March 2020.
After announcing that unlimited weddings will not be allowed until June at the earliest, the company has now warned that it may not survive without additional help.
Sarah Farkas, Shottle Hall’s wedding director, said, “Almost everyone in the wedding industry has been marginalized by lockdown restrictions, but historic venues like ours have the greatest overheads and costs.
“There have been more than 50 venues under management nationwide in the last 12 months and Shottle Hall is determined not to join this growing list but the government must take action now.
“While we fully understand the need for restrictions to protect the nation, it feels – once again – like the wedding industry is being ignored.”
Although Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s roadmap outside of Covid restrictions means weddings will be allowed from March onwards, only up to six guests will be allowed initially.
The numbers allowed at receptions will then increase to 15 from April 12 and to 30 from May 17.
The government will not decide until June 21st whether all borders of the wedding industry can be lifted.
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This means it will be months before Shottle Hall is at full capacity, making it difficult for the company to just break even.
“Realistically, we can only act properly in June, as we can only host small weddings,” said Ms. Farkas.
“We normally expect 50 guests at an average wedding. This works best for us and our suppliers from a financial perspective.
“Weddings of 15 people are going to nearly cover the cost, but less than that, and we’re almost paying the people to party here.
“The only real support we’ve had is the vacation and we hope the program will continue as we have to keep most of our staff on it by June.”
It is also unfair to Ms. Farkas that some hospitality and entertainment companies are easing restrictions faster than others.
Through May 17, venues such as pubs, theaters, and movie theaters can serve customers indoors, and large indoor events can reach half the capacity of up to 1,000 people.
In the meantime, wedding venues can only accommodate up to 30 guests for five weeks, reducing capacity for much longer.
“When it’s a family and friends wedding it’s a lot easier to keep track of who had the vaccine and who had tests, but in a theater or pub you don’t know who you’re mingling with,” she said.
“With the loose rules in May, there will be plenty of these indoor venues that can accommodate well over 30 people at a time.
“It’s great that these companies can open up as they have had a tough time, but it seems contradictory to limit us so much.”
This means that without additional financial help, the popular wedding venue could collapse before the lockdown completely ends, especially if restrictions persist longer than expected.
Ms. Farkas said, “It’s great that there is now a plan to get back to normal and that offers real relief, but it won’t cover us in the short term.”
“We really need the government to support us financially now. If we are not working to capacity and the bride and groom cannot invite all of their guests, we will make a loss and we cannot go on indefinitely.” “”