Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to make a decision on Monday on the number of people who can attend weddings in England.
It has been suggested that Mr Johnson, who married Carrie Symonds at Westminster Cathedral on May 29, will lift the current 30-person limit, although the June 21 easing is delayed.
Community Secretary Robert Jenrick told Sky News he would “want the number of people attending weddings to increase” and said the government was “carefully considered” the decision.
The wedding industry has been hit hard by the Covid crisis as many couples have been forced to postpone celebrations.
But there is also a lot of frustration from those who work in the predominantly female-led sector.
Many wedding providers who have been unable to work in the past 12 months feel that the industry is “poorly supported” compared to other industries.
Heidi Ellert-McDermott, owner of bespoke wedding speaker service Speechy, says she is “angry, disappointed and confused” that industries like hospitality and sports can work while weddings cannot.
“People can dance together at a Zumba class but not at a wedding, daughters can hug their fathers but they can’t walk down the aisle, about 100 people can now meet in a pub or at a soccer game, but not at a wedding. It’s really bizarre. “
The speechwriter, who used to work for the BBC, says she appreciates the need for the government to be cautious, but believes the current regulations are “unfair”.
Ms Ellert-McDermott wants England to move to similar regulations to Wales for weddings, which currently allow couples getting married to have up to 4,000 people if they take place outdoors.
“I want the government to treat the wedding industry the same as it does the hospitality industry – with financial aid and industry-specific initiatives to support us,” she told BusinessLive.
Ms Ellert-McDermott, who took on the brunt of home schooling for her children during the pandemic, believes the lack of support for the sector is “another example” of women being unfairly affected by Covid.
“80% of the wedding industry is run by women,” she said. “Home training meant the ability to change and grow our business presence, just not possible. With so many women in the industry, not offering industry-specific support is really a feminist issue. “
Kate Ashwell, founder of Ashwell & Co, a vintage lifestyle company in Bristol that offers sustainable bridal and fashion alternatives as well as vintage afternoon tea experiences, says she is “incredibly frustrated and angry” about the lack of support from the sector .
“The government must apply the same measures to the wedding industry that have been applied to other parts of the events and entertainment industry, sporting events and festivals. We are an exceptionally well organized, well planned and professional industry, ”she said.
“Give us the opportunity to take measures like lateral flow tests and develop the industry.”
Ms. Ashwell said she will be able to adjust her business in 2020 and start an afternoon tea delivery service with wedding industry suppliers as a driver, but said she had to work “so much harder for a lot less money”.
“Losing our entire wedding business, which includes bridal sales and hen party afternoon tea, has been exhausting and beyond mentally draining.”
(Image: Ruby Walker Photography)
She also said the uncertainty about the rules was “extremely detrimental” to the sector.
“As consumer confidence falls, so do bookings. The number restrictions mean smaller budgets, less spending, deposit repayments, and so on. The thought of having to rearrange our schedule and postpone bookings makes me cry.
“Dealing with refunds, increasingly fearful brides, postponements after postponements, and lack of information have taken their toll well beyond the financial implications.”
“The industry feels ignored”
Wedding photographer Ruby Walker says she could lose thousands of pounds if restrictions aren’t eased on June 21st.
“With my new couples booking until 2023, I’m afraid of not being able to serve my couples who have to postpone their weddings in July, August and September and have to refund deposits.
“The industry feels ignored right now, a reflection on all decisions about reopening the country.”
She says she I can’t understand why all wedding venues are limited to the same limited number.
She said: “ Some larger venues or outdoor venues could easily accommodate larger numbers. None of that really makes sense. ”
Ms. Walker has been self-employed for four years and received the Self Employed Income Support Grant (SEISS), but said it was “hardly anything” and did not cover her losses.
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“It was hard not to give up some days. It is the love I feel for my couples and their love that drives me to keep going.
“I survived, but I should have succeeded and that was difficult to manage. I’m finally back on track, but if the government doesn’t lift the restrictions in June it will be really hard to get back on my feet. “
(Image: Ellie Rhodes / EKR Photography)
Michèle Jetzer, location director of The Mount Without wedding space in Bristol, says the pressure and stress has been “pretty unbearable” for providers in the wedding industry.
She was fired from a previous job as wedding coordinator in February 2020 and “banked” on her own wedding planning business to “get her through” until The Mount Without, a converted church, opened. But she too was forced to give up her own business.
“I was a single mother of two, unemployed, my father had just died and you just had to suck it up and keep hoping it would get better,” she said.
“The financial burden has shut down so many wonderful small independent businesses in this region. Thats really sad.”
Ms. Jetzer is of the opinion that the Prime Minister only “rubbed salt in the wounds” by getting married himself. “We all still have no idea what to plan, what to say to our couples in order to support them. It’s awful. “
But she believes better days are ahead. “The Mount Without opens this year and I know I’ll cry my eyes when I go back to full work and see the first couple saying I do.”
Mrs. Ashwell agrees. She believes the sector will recover “very quickly” once the restrictions are lifted.
“Couples are dying to get married, party with loved ones, and start the rest of their lives together,” she added.
“As soon as there is more clarity, the industry will move and I suspect we will be busier than ever.
“Weddings haven’t gone away, people haven’t stopped wanting to get married, people will always want to get married, and our industry is here to support that.”
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