“I want my brides not to feel their plans are cancelled, just paused,” wedding suppliers reflect on COVID-19 cancellations

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Despite society being more liberal than ever, weddings, as one of the most traditional ways to celebrate love and commitment, are still popular, and worth a staggering £10bn annually, according to wedding website, hitched.co.uk.

A wedding is one of the few lifetime events that customers, regardless of economic standing, tend to spend more on; In 2019, the average cost of a UK wedding exceeded £36,000, where couples wanted to hold a large wedding and invite at least 98 guests.

The statistics show the wedding industry doesn’t need massive promotion or even strong branding to make sales, the fact an average consumer will fork out close to £40,000, (an amount that could be used on a property deposit), on a large wedding shows the pull of romance to be enough for people to spend.

With the thirst for weddings seemingly unquenchable, getting into the wedding industry seems a no-brainer for entrepreneurs with experience in the hospitality industry; but like in all sectors of business in 2020, coronavirus has stalled operations and created a climate of uncertainty in the wedding industry, resulting in venues on lockdown and events cancelled.

COVID-19 and the wedding sector

In fact, as many as 64% of all UK weddings are expected to be cancelled this year due to the virus;

Real Business heard from a small wedding venue in Somerset that had to cancel its weddings this summer as their insurance policy wouldn’t cover hosting events after the Government imposed lockdown measures. Prior to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s lockdown announcement, the venue intended to continue with their booked weddings, and planned to implement social distancing measures and provide sanitising products.

While wedding venues are losing out on business at one of the most lucrative times of the year, there are a plethora of wedding events suppliers that are losing out too – Real Business spoke to a few of them…

Wedding suppliers speak out from lockdown

Jonny Miles-Prouten, Founder, Jonny MP Photography

“With wedding season starting around April, coronavirus could not have come at a worse time. To date, I have had all my March, April and May weddings postponed to either later in the year or into 2021.

“Many summer weddings have pencilled in a plan B option which has meant having to hold 2 dates for all couples. There are several weddings too whereby their new plan B date is not available for me and therefore I lose out on the booking entirely.

For small wedding businesses who make 70% of their annual turnover in the summer months, the timing is really bad.

“Overall the ray of hope for wedding businesses is that people are on the whole looking to move their wedding, along with all their suppliers. This means down the line the income will come and so for many it’s a case of holding on now and battening down the hatches before things pick up again, which should happen eventually.

“In terms of pivoting there is not a great deal photographers can do. In lockdown we can’t even do a socially distanced family shoot for example.”

Lavinia Stewart-Brown, Founder, Stewart Brown Events

“It’s a really hard time for the event planning and wedding industry. With all gatherings prohibited for the foreseeable future, I’ve had numerous cancellations of events that were in place, but am thrilled that I have had at least some postpone until later in the year, so I am busy working on those for the time being.

Instead, I’ve used this time to build up my social media profiles as a way to further connect with my followers and those who are in the process of wanting to plan weddings.

“I put a lot of advice and ideas on my Instagram and also post a lot of where I get my inspiration from. My stories have gotten quite a bit of traction and I think people are really looking forward to the future when they can be with their friends and family again. That and in itself will be cause for massive celebration!”

Madeline Castagnéra-Bond, Owner, The Sustainable Bride

“As a bespoke wedding dress designer, I need to be with the client in person. The service I offer is all based on measurements and fittings so that pieces fit perfectly, so lockdown makes this extremely difficult.

During lockdown, I am offering virtual consultations to new clients so they can at least discuss ideas with me and start the process.

“In terms of finance, I am surviving from deposits placed and hopefully from the vintage stock that will sell. But unless I get more orders placed, this won’t last long. 

“People really need to feel inspired in these times, so I will be doing everything I can to keep them excited and when the time is right, we can design and get their dresses completed whether their dates are postponed or not. I want my brides not to feel their plans are cancelled, just paused.”

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