Coronavirus: The Roadmap for Wedding Recovery
The government has helped the wedding industry by allowing small ceremonies. However, receptions need to be an economically and socially viable size to have the support of couples, suppliers and the majority of wedding venues. We need a clear roadmap. This would allow us to plan for post-wedding celebrations to go ahead in COVID secure venues, following the same social distancing guidelines as bars and restaurants. This needs to be for couples of any culture and with weddings of any size. But, only for couples prepared to go ahead with significant restrictions in place.
We need this roadmap to indicate when unrestricted weddings may be possible. Also, couples need to be able to choose between going ahead under restrictive guidelines or postponing until large social gatherings are safer. They also need to be able to do so without risking their relationship with their venues and suppliers or putting those venues and suppliers under further financial pressure.
For those that don’t feel it is right, or safe, to get married in 2020 and would like to postpone.
Many couples want to wait until it is safe for their family and friends to socialise at a wedding. However, they are locked into contracts. They should be able to choose whether it is their date or their plans that need to change.
- We need confirmation from the government on when weddings are likely to be viable without significant restrictions.
- Financial support to venues and suppliers, worth at least 15% of the contract value, for non-viable 2020 weddings moved with mutual consent to a future date. Applicable from 10 weeks before the original wedding date.
- Clear government guidance supporting venues and suppliers in retaining deposits where couples choose to cancel, rather than postpone, due to COVID-19.
For those who would like a reception or wedding celebration with significant restrictions.
We know that large weddings have been hotspots in some countries, but it is easy for us, within the industry, to see how COVID-safe receptions could work for couples and the industry here in the UK.
We would like a roadmap. Venues should be trusted to follow that roadmap in the same way that they are trusted to follow any other government guidance.
Venues and caterers need to run at least 70% capacity to be profitable
- Apply the same social distancing guidance as for bars and restaurants.
- Allow wedding and banqueting venues to open under the same guidelines.
Mixing of households to be reduced
- No drinks receptions.
- Seating plans are already common practice for weddings.
- Guidance to seat households together.
- Guidance to prevent buffets or standing bar areas.
- Table service only.
Photos, speeches, cake cutting and other rituals
- Photos to be in household groups or with full social distancing measures.
- Guests remain seated for speeches, cake cutting and other rituals that only involve the couple or their immediate family.
- Rituals involving others not permitted at this stage.
No crowded dance floors
- Venues and marquee companies to ensure dance floors aren’t installed.
- Only the couple’s first dance permitted.
- Guidance for any DJs and bands to supply quiet background music only. Their role will be to entertain seated guests.
Advanced digital COVID security
- We have industry-specific Track & Trace software already in use by registrars and venues. It reduces the risk of anyone carrying COVID from attending and gives venues, suppliers and registrars an early warning of possible exposure, reducing the risk of spread between weddings.
- This, or a similar system, to be required for all weddings along with full compliance with NHS Test and Trace.
Shielded guests to be protected
- Remote participation encouraged. The industry has a software solution already in place.
- Coloured wristbands or ribbons for those wanting to keep 2+ metres apart
Adjustments to the ceremony
Small adjustments would make a ceremony more palatable to couples who want to get married now.
- During the ceremony, allow a small number of very close family members to interact as one household to allow for important rituals.
- We need the government to bring forward plans for secondary legislation to allow outdoor ceremonies in Approved Venues.
Enable willing couples to marry
Couples are telling us that their local authority is preventing their marriage from going ahead.
- Support with COVID security to help more registrars to open their offices.
- Support for registrars to prevent numerous new bookings from being turned away. For example, allowing couples to give Notice in any district.
- Simplified reapplication process where Notice of Marriage has expired.
For those planning weddings in the future, we need to build consumer confidence.
- 5% VAT scheme extended to cover weddings and encourage bookings now for 2021/2022
- An industry agreed fair and transparent COVID contract to allow penalty-free postponements.
Finally, the wedding industry needs financial support
As an industry, our first priority has been to be there for our couples. While other industries have been able to put up a “closed” sign and benefit from financial support through the Job Retention Scheme, many in our industry have been working harder than ever, without any income.
Wedding venues, suppliers and wedding planning websites such as ours have had to be there for the 400,000 brides or grooms caught up in coronavirus chaos, helping them postpone and replan. We have been reassuring them, encouraging postponements not cancellations, and doing all we can to stop the £10.5 billion / year wedding industry come crashing down.
Read more about the support we need here.
We want to be there to help and support these couples over the next months. We want to be poised and ready so our economy can recover quickly. We need financial support from the government to make that possible.
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