Thousands of couples and businesses are uniting online to ask the government to RSVP to the big question of the summer – what about weddings? With wedding season virtually wiped out by the pandemic, everyone is desperate for news. The campaign, led by a number of business women, working right about the wedding industry in the UK, is calling for urgent clarity, parity and support for couples and businesses alike.
When the country went into lockdown back in March, weddings stopped immediately. A seasonal sector that’s worth over £10bn annually to the UK economy and is serviced by 137,000 businesses stopped in an instant and tens of thousands of couples missed their wedding days. Between March and June, 73,600 weddings were cancelled an estimated £2.3bn was lost instantly. Now, with the government failing to give answers to couples and suppliers, the two groups have married up to press for details.
“The government’s failure to address the needs of couples and wedding businesses has been beyond poor throughout this crisis,” says campaigner and wedding celebrant Tamryn Settle from Oxfordshire. “Lives and livelihoods are hanging in the balance. No one knows if they can move forward and no one knows when the current restrictions might be reviewed. Businesses and couples alike simply can’t plan without clarity so that’s one of the things we’re campaigning for – a clear roadmap that will give everyone the information that they need.
Bride-to-be Daisy Russell from Surrey is equally frustrated:
“The government guidance has consistently been so last-minute. People have spent months, even years, planning their wedding yet they expect everyone to be able to make sudden decisions at the drop of a hat. So many of these decisions have much larger implications than ‘just being a wedding day’ with impacts on family and friends way beyond the day itself.”
Kelly Moran, from Essex who had to postpone her April wedding and is now hoping to get married in September says:
“We are in complete limbo as we have no idea what the restrictions will be for wedding receptions on our day. Our venue have done their best to advise us but everything is so unknown and it’s all just guesswork as to what the guidelines will be. We just want some answers so we can finally look forward to our wedding.”
The campaign is also calling for parity, as the current guidelines focus around enabling legal marriage ceremonies, not faith or cultural ceremonies that are of vital importance to thousands. LaToya Patel of Surrey-based planning company SW Events is also co-founder of The Asian Wedding Club and she says:
“All I now want is for weddings to be able to continue safely. For people to feel hopeful again. And to be able to do my job. I feel silenced by the Government’s lack of consideration for equality when it comes to a wedding ceremony. I’m frustrated with the lack of clarity to enable couples and businesses to plan. And it’s heart-breaking to be stuck between wanting to give couples choice without much financial support for a sector that remains fairly restricted. But it’s not over and I’m certainly one to fight for things I believe in; it’s not about me individually now, it’s about everyone who is touched by what weddings do for people and the economy.”
The parity angle of the campaign also seeks to support the nations as England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland all currently have different restrictions. Bride-to-be Louise Walls, from Glasgow, says:
“I have never felt so hopeless in my life. After 4 months of uncertainty and direct communication to the Scottish Government, couples are still in limbo as there’s been no clear guidance over the earliest date when a wedding can be considered. This has led to personal stress among couples and financial hardship. What should be a very important day now has a dark cloud hanging over it.”
Finally, the campaign asks for support – to ensure that the wedding sector, that’s full of talent and expertise, can survive and to look after couples themselves. Another campaigner is wedding planner and TV expert Sarah Haywood who says:
“This seasonal industry has already fallen off the cliff and it’s now about how many businesses can survive the landing. We’ve no roadmap and we had to scrutinise the small print to find out that the wider opening of events on 1 October doesn’t include weddings. If businesses are to survive, they need to be able to make informed decisions now and we need to know if we’re going an entire year with little or no revenue. Even the most robust businesses are decimated. We need an end to the paralysis caused by not know and the uncertainty for those 250,000+ couples who had weddings booked this year is intolerable.”
Campaigner Jessie Westwood, of Cotswold-based Studio Sorores adds:
“I think the impact on mental health for couples in limbo, and the financial impact on so many talented and well-respected professionals, has largely been dismissed or ignored. I’m deeply concerned about job losses and business closures in more rural communities and couples deserve to have a long-term plan they can make progress with personally. We all want to be sensible and safe.”
The whole situation is summed up by campaign member Nina Beer of Occasion Queens, a wedding day coordination company based in Essex, who says:
“The current situation has left me desperate. I am desperate for clarity. I am desperate for support. I am desperate to be able to give my couples what they deserve. This situation and left them, and us, broken. We are an industry on our knees but that won’t stop us asking what about weddings?”