August Update for Wedding Suppliers
On Friday, Wales’s First Minister announced that outdoor receptions for up to 30 would be allowed. The Prime Minister announced that in England, plans for receptions for 30 would be postponed until at least 15th August.
While wedding receptions in England
are no more than a sit-down meal for 30 and Wales
is restricted to outdoor receptions, the majority of suppliers will be excluded. In Scotland
, most weddings are being postponed until such time that couples can have a reception as well as the ceremony. In Northern Ireland
, restrictions have been lifted to allow socially distant wedding receptions.
Last month, as weddings started to be allowed again, it became apparent that the government decisions had all centred around venues. The needs of the many diverse businesses that make up the wedding industry were being ignored; most policies actively prevented them from working. The draft guidance for small receptions in England was so restrictive that no one from the industry would have supported the policy.
Why are we seeing more cancellations?
Over the past month, there has been a huge and concerning shift of opinion from couples. Instead of postponing their wedding, they are cancelling their original plans. We need to stop this happening to ensure a fast recovery for every sector of the wedding industry as soon as it is safe to have weddings again.
Couples in England know they can’t have more than 30 in a wedding venue, but by cancelling their original plans, changing out of their dress and suit, not having any of the flowers and decor that make a marquee or venue look like a wedding and not having the photographer or videographer to record what goes on, they can celebrate with their family and friends.
Some are moving to pubs and restaurants for cut price deals and the prospect of a relaxed approach to guest numbers. Others are moving to marquees where their celebrations are less likely to be noticed.
Is there a better way to open?
In Northern Ireland, where infection rates are lower, careful and detailed guidance has been published by the Executive Office to allow COVID safe weddings to go ahead. The guidance includes the majority of suppliers and allows venues to open within sensible social distancing guidelines. This strategy keeps suppliers and guests safe, allows large weddings to happen in large COVID-secure venues and prevents couples from going “underground”.
We need this strategy to be implemented across the rest of the UK, country by country when it is safe to do so. Until that time, we need financial support from the government to safeguard our businesses.
Putting pressure on the government
Guides for Brides have teamed up with NAWP, Sarah Haywood, Occasion Queens, Love My Dress, and The Asian Wedding Club to ensure that the needs of all suppliers, not just venues, are being heard by the government and that you are all represented in ministerial meetings.
Thank you to those that have written to your MPs. Your voices are now being heard. We know that 65% of couples want to be allowed to postpone but are being held by contracts. Those following #whataboutweddings on social media will have seen the Sky News coverage calling for the government to wait until it is safe for larger weddings, involving more suppliers, to take place under social distancing guidelines, rather than claiming a meal for 30 is a wedding reception.
While we are all unable to generate an income we have asked for urgent financial support for all in the wedding industry, to ensure we are here for couples once weddings can take place again, and to ensure that customer’s deposits and prepayments are safe.
Insurers aren’t helping
Insurers are working against couples by blocking sequel (or split) weddings which might have encouraged couples to still work with their original venue and suppliers with a small ceremony and meal now involving some of them in a limited capacity, and all of them when it is safe to do so.
Many insurers are preventing couples from postponing if their wedding is after 1st October in the hope that it could go ahead. Late postponements make it harder for them to find a date to postpone to that works for all their suppliers as well as their venue, so leads to more cancellations. We are working with insurers to highlight the issues they are inadvertently causing.
Postponement and cancellation policies
Most complaints being addressed by the CMA relate to venues, however a few relate to suppliers retaining deposits in the case of unavoidable cancellations. The CMA will be issuing guidance which may cover suppliers as well as venues. We want to ensure that the CMA has all the information they need to make informed decisions. If you haven’t already, please complete this survey as soon as possible. Data will be completely anonymised and sent to them to find the right balance to ensure long term consumer confidence in our industry.
Celebrating great customer care
Many of our suppliers were tagged along with positive messages in the national “We’re Here” campaign last weekend. The intention was to flood social media with positive messages to boost customer confidence on a weekend when so many couples were wanting to give up on their plans.
The campaign showed how supportive and helpful so many suppliers and venues have been. This weekend we’ll follow up by asking those couples to leave those positive comments as reviews on your listing, using this link
Please look out for the #HereForUs campaign on Saturday and share the posts and the review link
with your couples.
We’re here for you
As ever, we are here for all of our clients. Keep doing what you do brilliantly, looking after your existing couples and encouraging new couples to book. The situation will improve.
The same number of new couples are planning weddings, they just need that reassurance to book, so if you can offer our Book with Confidence
pledge (allowing penalty-free cancellations and postponements for new bookings) it may give them the reassurance they need to part with a deposit.