The PM’s latest statement is another devastating blow to an already struggling Wedding Industry.
With no intimate receptions or ‘close contact’ treatments now until 15th August let’s hear how it has affected those due to start working from tomorrow.
This lunchtime (31st July) Prime Minister Boris Johnson told us
“At every point I have said our plan to reopen society and the economy is conditional – that it relies on continued progress against the virus, and that we would not hesitate to put on the brakes if required… our assessment is that we should now squeeze that brake pedal”On Saturday 1 August… we had hoped to reopen in England a number of higher risk settings that had remained closed. Today, I am afraid we are postponing these changes for at least a fortnight…until 15 August at the earliest” – “remaining close contact services must remain closed. Indoor performances will not resume.” “Wedding receptions of up to 30 people will not be permitted, but ceremonies can continue to take place, in line with COVID-Secure guidelines.” “I know that the steps we are taking will be a heavy blow to many people – to everyone whose wedding plans have been disrupted, or who now cannot celebrate Eid in the way they would wish, I am really, really sorry about that. But we simply cannot take the risk.” “Will couples due to hold a mini Covid-secure reception tomorrow now head to a local pub or restaurant with many other strangers?”
“Wedding receptions of up to 30 people will not be permitted, but ceremonies can continue to take place, in line with COVID-Secure guidelines.” “I know that the steps we are taking will be a heavy blow to many people – to everyone whose wedding plans have been disrupted, or who now cannot celebrate Eid in the way they would wish, I am really, really sorry about that. But we simply cannot take the risk.” “Will couples due to hold a mini Covid-secure reception tomorrow now head to a local pub or restaurant with many other strangers?”
Of course, safety is paramount; we are all very aware of this and the industry was ready, so ready. Wedding professionals are understandably angry and frustrated with this last-minute statement and have so many unanswered questions for example:
“How will this affect me financially? ”
Many wedding businesses have not worked since March and many haven’t received any financial support. The clients booked in tomorrow were a lifeline, literally – not just financially but for their mental health too.
At the start of today excited couples were looking forward to an intimate ceremony followed by a Covid-secure reception with a sit-down meal for up to 30 people. By midday they were having to scrap their plans and make alternative arrangements.
Wedding suppliers are having to contact all their clients and break the news that their plans are no longer permitted. Breaking the rules can mean a fine of £100 and some are simply saying “I’ll take the chance.”
Throughout the pandemic the lack of clarity for the Wedding Industry has led to couples looking for loopholes such as ‘events’ taking place in private gardens – this could be one of the reasons for the rise in the R rate. To avoid these risks venues are crying out for the opportunity to take control of their weddings. They know their capacity, have all the risk assessments in place and are ideally placed for track and trace procedures.
Siobhan Craven-Robbins, Director and Founder of National Association of Wedding Professionals (NAWP) and WIJ Contributor told us:
“Today’s unexpected news has just added to the despondency and frustration that our industry is feeling. Added to that, there are now more couples who are having to postpone their weddings again, some of them with less than 24 hours’ notice. Whilst safety is the absolute priority, the rapidity with which the Government has called time on wedding receptions that haven’t, as yet, had a chance to resume feels blasé and unjust. There was no warning of this decision and, yet again, we find ourselves without a date as to when wedding receptions may be resurrected. It just isn’t good enough for us or our clients. “
Todays last minute statement is devasting for those suppliers who were ready to work tomorrow. We spoke to Jenni Hughes of www.makeupbyjenni.co.uk who also manages www.thebridalartists.com who should have been starting back as of tomorrow.
Jenni has been established since 2009 with her multi-award-winning business working on around 70-80 weddings per year along with commercial work for brands, media outlets and private clients. She also manages a team of eight make-up artists and hair stylists across the UK. Jenni told us:
“Coronavirus has had a huge effect on the business and our livelihoods. Since March I’ve not been allowed to work which has affected me emotionally and financially. Like all business owners in the wedding industry we live and breathe weddings. It’s not just a job when you’re self-employed, it’s your baby and your passion.“
I’m sure any wedding supplier will be able to relate to this.
“Suddenly I’m feeling like I‘m floating in space without any grounding and direction. No financial independence and huge uncertainty about the future.” “It’s been a very hard slog to get here so when it was announced that close contact services could resume on the 1st of August I was elated, excited to be going back to work and doing what I love and finally earning a living again. I invested in PPE – visors, masks, sanitising sprays, protective roll – the list goes on. We are so used to working in a safe and sanitised way.”
Until the announcement today Jenni was due to see three ladies for makeup trials on 1st August.
“It was extremely emotional hearing the government announcement and when the realisation hit me that I wouldn’t be returning to work I was in tears. Compiling emails to postpone clients was not something that I ever envisaged I would be doing at such short notice. The financial impact for just a day of three makeup trials is £360. This year I have lost in the region of £80,000. My clients have been very understanding and feel so sorry about the impact on my business. I have been able to transfer all of my bookings to their new dates in 2021/22 but I feel there may be financial impacts on self-employed businesses for years to come.”
Alison Hargreaves, WIJ Contributor and Director of Guides for Brides told us:
“This news is a devastating blow to those venues and suppliers that were finally seeing a glimmer of hope. There are significant financial implications on the couples whose weddings have been cancelled at the last minute and will be liable for the losses. Sadly, we are still seeing some couples ‘going underground’ and putting their venues, caterers and suppliers at financial and reputational risk, or worse.The lack of further guidance for venues and suppliers ahead of the planned 1st August date has led to speculation from some that there were never any real intentions for wedding receptions to be able to take place yet.”
More information for venues can be found here https://www.guidesforbrides.co.uk/business-information/advice-for-wedding-venues-following-the-prime-ministers-announcement
Another MUA due to start tomorrow is Kat Tilley Co-Founder of The Powder Box with best friend Renee. They specialise in make-up, hair and skin treatments and have been working in the industry for 15 years.
Kat told us how lockdown has been for her:
“It’s been hard, but we managed, it was easier to deal with at the beginning when the whole country was in lockdown, it made sense. We thought a lot about how we could still interact and help our clients. We offered virtual online Masterclasses, Skin Consultations and sent our clients Wellness Kits. We’ve even been on FaceTime to our brides who did get married to talk them through their make-up and hair. We’ve sat through hours of Covid health and safety training, made Covid questionnaires for our clients to make track and trace as easy as possible.”
“On hearing the news that I would be able to start working again from August 1st I honestly sat and cried on and off for the rest of the day. I went live on my Facebook page to share the news. It was like having a huge dark cloud being lifted. Financially it was a relief but not only that we are a caring industry, I just couldn’t wait to be back with brides. “
After today’s news Kat said :
“It’s now heart breaking all over again. I was fully booked for tomorrow and for the next two weeks. I would have seen more money next week than I received in the grant that was supposed to be for three months!”
We asked Kat how her clients have reacted…
“It’s just awful having to pick up the phone yet again and break the news to clients. Then you are hit with the next dilemma… do I rebook them? Will this just happen again in two weeks’ time? Shall I just sit back and wait? It plays havoc with so many emotions. The fact our businesses received less than 24 hours’ notice that we won’t be opening is beyond disgusting and disrespectful.”
This is a stark reminder that Coronavirus is far from over. We have come so far but unfortunately; we are not out of the woods yet.
We would all like to see more government support for the wedding industry especially now with an even longer wait.
As we are now on hold until 15th August (at the earliest) we wait for the next PM’s statement and hope that the wedding industry will be acknowledged as the billion pound industry it is.