An appeal for help from the Government
I am a huge optimist. However, with so many restrictions in place, even I have to acknowledge that the marriages we have been seeing over the past week are simply too far removed from the wedding day most couples have planned.
The restrictions on marriages and civil partnerships were lifted as soon as it was safe for couples to complete the legal requirements. As a result, couples who are happy with a small ceremony are finally able to say their vows with their family and close friends around them, in a meaningful way. For those couples, we should not jeopardise that by pushing, bending or breaking the rules.
It is incredibly hard on the industry and on couples that the government has made it clear that nothing other than the legal ceremony can take place at this time. While social distancing is in place, and households can’t mix, it seems unlikely that this will change. I believe that weddings are unique gatherings; guests have a moral and social responsibility to each other and no one would attend if they felt they were putting others at risk. However, we are in a global pandemic and no one wants to see the devastating effects of a coronavirus outbreak from a wedding, as we have seen in other countries.
Couples are experiencing high levels of anxiety. Lack of guidance from the government on when normal weddings might be possible is highlighted as their biggest source of anxiety*. Wedding venues and suppliers are being put under additional financial stress by an expectation that they should be open and ready for weddings, yet not allowed to do their jobs and fulfil contracts.
I’m appealing to the government for clarity on when wedding receptions might be able to take place, so that we can plan.
The weddings industry is seasonal and we have lost this season. We need the government’s support so that we can be here for all those many brides and grooms that have postponed.
I’m also asking for the government to ensure that the entire wedding industry is included with the rest of the hospitality industry in the reduction of VAT to 5% to January 2021 to give couples the incentive they need to plan and book now for the future.
Many couples just want to get married and are happy with a small, Covid secure ceremony. Many others are prepared to make big compromises to get married later this year if restrictions are lifted. As an industry I know we will make those weddings work and they will be wonderful, within whatever restrictions there are in place.
However, the majority* of couples want to have that wedding they planned and the dream they were sold. Those wanting to postpone should not feel locked into contracts forcing them to continue with plans not intended for a pandemic. We should not be putting others at risk by forcing them to have weddings when they don’t feel it safe or right to do so.
I’m appealing to the wedding industry to be fair and flexible with those couples who can’t currently have the wedding dream that was sold to them, celebrating in the way they had planned, with those that are important to them around them.
Finally, I’m appealing to all those amazing couples, who are already being so patient and understanding, to be fair and flexible with venues and suppliers. They are there for you now and want to be there for you on your wedding day.
The wedding industry will bounce back as soon as it is safe to do so, and will have the optimism, creativity and determination to kick start large sections of the economy. But in the meantime, while we wait for the time to be right, we need the government’s support.
9th July 2020
*Source: Guides for Brides survey July 2020