What About Weddings Response to Government Roadmap Announcements

Today’s announcement about the reopening of the wedding industry comes as a bitter blow to the UK wedding industry.

We understand the following will apply:

✔️6 guests permitted from 8th March (ceremony only – to be confirmed)
✔️15 guests permitted from 12th April
✔️30 guests permitted from 17th May
✔️ No restrictions from 21st June

*Dates are subject to review

Whilst some couples will be relieved, this announcement does not help so many and it certainly does not protect businesses and jobs.

The Government has clearly not understood the nature of the industry. Wedding businesses models and pricing are created in a manner which means if the industry is only permitted to host events of arbitrary numbers of 6, 15 or 30 guests, they will simply not be able to continue to operate in a financially viable way, and this is particularly true of businesses and venues servicing Asian, African, Jewish and other cultural weddings.

We must be able to operate at full socially distanced capacity much sooner than this. Today’s announcement therefore means that the wedding industry will still be unable to operate in a way that is financially viable and many will also now face a slew of cancellations as suppliers such as bands, DJs and others are not permitted in the reopening plan. Couples who choose not to go ahead in the months with capped numbers or those that don’t feel confident for increases in numbers or relaxation in rules will also postpone or cancel, creating further problems for business, delaying the recovery and increasing the need for significant financial support.

The Government has also missed a golden opportunity to support the sector by not allowing greater numbers for outdoor weddings such as in marquees, structures and other outdoor settings. All of the scientific evidence has demonstrated that transmission is less of a risk in outdoor settings.

“More and more vulnerable people are receiving the jab, and the timeline for vaccinating the top nine groups has been brought forward to 15 April. The four chief scientists have said that the vaccination offers ‘substantial protection’ after two to three weeks so why do we have to wait until early May to have the same capacities as last Summer – when we didn’t have the vaccine? We must believe in vaccines, follow the science, trust the data and bring back covid-secure weddings from 8 March and proper weddings – with unlimited numbers of people – once the vaccine has protected the vulnerable.” (Jessie Westwood, What About Weddings)

Weddings are a seasonal business and we are now on track to lose further income during our peak months (April – September). Therefore we are urging the Government to consider immediate and substantial financial support, as the livelihoods of those working in the industry continue to be destroyed by the current restrictions placed on the sector. Furthermore, inclusion in the reduced VAT rate and business rates relief is now absolutely critical. A government backed wedding insurance scheme is also vital to help consumers and businesses.

If the industry fails, the Government will lose the £3.8 billion that the industry contributes to the public purse annually, with 400,000 jobs (80% of them women) at risk in this world-leading sector.

Until the sector is supported by being allowed to open without arbitrary number caps or is given financial support, the sector effectively remains closed for business. We are calling on the Government to immediately reconsider its position.