The latest announcements by the Government for December will allow weddings up to 15 and, as good as that may be for some suppliers hoping to work in December, the uncertainty and concerns still remain and, once again, the Wedding Sector has not been given parity of capacity numbers.
As the confusion and speculation continue online, and with so many suppliers still unable to work (many since March), it’s positive and hopeful to know that a Government requested and recognised UK Covid-19 Wedding Taskforce is starting to form. The seeds have been sown, but I should point out that a complete and final Taskforce committee does not exist as yet.
As a Director of the NAWP, I have attended Government meetings since the first Lockdown, along with ABWB and WVSG representatives, and we continue that quest to be heard and for action to be taken. As I’m sure you can imagine, this is not an easy or quick process.
NAWP have been asked to share views on all forms of media, as have many of our members, and lots of industry colleagues. This has highlighted our plight and gradually MPs across all parties noticed and spoke up on our behalf. Obviously, we are grateful for this but still the announcements came and still weddings were firmly at the bottom of the pile.
One Clear Voice
During one of our meetings, we invited industry leader, Sarah Haywood of Sarah Haywood Weddings and Celebrations along and her passion and voice for the industry has spread far and wide. Subsequent to this meeting, and along with Richard Eagleton of McQueens Flowers, they spoke with Paul Scully MP. Finally, with the acknowledgment of there being many campaigns and meetings, he agreed that one clear voice, in the form of a Taskforce, is required to move forward.
On 9th November, Mr Scully spoke of this meeting during the debate about Petitions. The campaign was titled ‘Increase Number of Guests Permitted at Weddings, according to Venue Capacity’. The mention was totally unexpected for Sarah and Richard to hear. However, it proved that this was now something to grab with both hands and at speed. (You can read the transcript of the debate here Live Events and Weddings: Covid-19 Support – Hansard (parliament.uk)
Although the wheels were in motion, questions and rumours were mounting. Sarah and Richard have said “silence does not mean secrecy”. Public silence in this case, means constant meetings via Zoom and hours and hours of calls in order to bring this Taskforce to life. I must emphasise that the committee for the Taskforce is still in progress.
In just a few weeks, Sarah and Richard and our team at NAWP, have held multiple meetings with industry leaders, organisations and associations that represent all areas of the industry.
In a further and needed development, on Thursday 19th November, Mark Godfrey of Deer Park agreed to be the Interim Chairman and has worked tirelessly with all other parties since.
The aim is to create a team of approximately 12 people who cover all areas of the committee and who see their involvement for the good of the industry. This is a voluntary role to represent the whole industry and involves a lot of time and effort with no financial gain.
A Terms of Reference has been written, reviewed, and will be sent to Mr Scully in due course.
With a wide spread and segregated industry, it is paramount that we have unity. We need to show our professionalism, our passion and what our businesses are worth – not only to us – but to the wider nation, economically as well as the mental wellbeing effects on all involved.
And the really positive news is this unity is building daily with the collaboration of so many associations and organisations covering all areas of the industry. On Tuesday 24th November, James Paxman and Stuart Owens, representatives of WVSG, and Hamish Shephard of ABWB agreed their support for the Taskforce. They bring with them the huge amount of groundwork and ongoing determination of all they have achieved from the very beginning.
Communication has started with a whole host of media companies: Ocean Media who own Confetti, National Wedding Shows and many more Bridal brands, along with Love My Dress, Hitched, Rock My Wedding, and Guides for Brides – with more conversations planned. The pace really is picking up.
Anyone working in the wedding industry knows that a wedding day is not just ‘an excuse for a party’ or ‘just about love’ – it is so much more. It can be for cultural reasons or it could be urgent due to medical reasons. What we do know is that ‘Weddings’ are big business with a willing and ever growing audience of future customers and should be recognised in that way. Supported in that way. Given parity to other industries in that way.
A few thanks;
I personally would like to send my best wishes and thanks to everyone who has written a letter to their MP, to everyone that has supported their couples and teams, to everyone that has been a part of this unexpected traumatic year and seen disregard for our beloved industry and the continued battle we take on.
I would like to thank my fellow NAWP Directors; Siobhan Craven-Robins and Hazel Parsons, for their continued relentless and unseen voluntary work over the many months: meetings we have attended and the countless pages of information written and presented for guidelines and roadmaps on behalf of our NAWP members and the industry as a whole.
To Sarah, Richard and Mark for all the passion, work and achievements so far.
To ABWB and WVSG for their ongoing support and work for all venues across the country.
To the team at #whataboutweddings who continue with their campaigns and are willing to pool resources and support with the Taskforce once it is formed. Their latest research link is here Events Sector Covid 19 Impact Assessment, November 2020 Survey (surveymonkey.co.uk) – please do get involved before the deadline of 30th November.
To Alison Hargreaves at Guides for Brides for her continued updates on Government announcements to couples and suppliers alike.
To all the associations and organisations who, even though they too are managing the pandemic effects on their own businesses and families, continue to support their members.
What can you do?
Look out for any announcements and share, share, share!
Complete the #WAW research
Continue to support your own associations and organisations efforts
Look after yourself and if needed, ask for help (see our resources page for contact numbers)
This may just be just the very beginning of a Government recognised Taskforce, but it comes after months of campaigns, meetings and hard work already put in by many. So using this and all the connections made, we must continue to unite and be heard so that we have a plan moving forward. Let’s see this as the shining light of hope we all so need.