Since 2020 I’ve campaigned strongly for the rights of wedding businesses throughout the UK in the face of disparity and discrimination from the government. The wedding industry is staring into an abyss – a never-ending black hole where the hopes and dreams of couples across the land, and a once vibrant sector, plummet into emptiness. Anxiety and uncertainty are the watchwords of many, alongside feelings of being failed, stigmatised and misunderstood.
For couples those childhood imaginings of the perfect day, and what was meant as an exciting time, and a wonderful life experience has been obliterated. At the start of the pandemic, everyone understood that every restriction was there to protect lives but since then, and in disparity to many sectors, those special days have been stripped back and chipped away to a husk of what those imaginings once were.
In February I wrote a letter to the government about how the wedding industry was tired, the industry was sad, the industry was angry, deflated and despondent and many suppliers were completely emotionally broken. I spoke about the impact of the pandemic and restrictions. I spoke about the clarity and parity required and about the support so desperately needed. The understanding of the situation by both society and Government is painfully skewed, and since – NOTHING has changed!
‘The industry was angry, deflated and despondent and many suppliers were completely emotionally broken’
The disproportionate and discriminatory approach this government has taken towards weddings borders on the outrageous. After weeks of waiting, building press speculation and 4 days of the #whataboutweddings hashtag trending on Twitter, at the press conference this week, Boris Johnson offered just one sentence: weddings can take place with more than 30 people but bearing in mind social distancing. This was followed by no other information.
Later, within the House of Commons, Matt Hancock said the industry would “prefer” the rules were less restricted, but given the virus was growing, we would need time for vaccines to work, and social distancing would continue across the board. He also said they’d made decisions based on legal and practical reasons, and in terms of fairness of circumstance across society.
Whilst the Euros football can happen with crowds of up to 25k with additional 1000s in fan zones, cricket at Edgbaston can go ahead with crowds of 18k, Wimbledon can happen at capacity, Royal Ascot can go ahead with crowds of 12k daily, weddings remain heavily restricted and the huge disparity is blatant.
Weddings in their very nature are stringently planned, and with testing, vaccination status, and a very secure track and trace system, they can be uniquely safe. This option is being used to allow sporting events but not to allow weddings to go ahead normally. The new guidance means masks and social distancing remains and there will be no standing drinks receptions or dance floor. Government has sucked the soul out of the celebration so increased numbers without normality means little. They have declared a war on the wedding industry, suppliers, venues, couples, families and cultural traditions where no decision makes any sense, and no science is offered to back it up.
What is blatantly unfair however is what Government allowed to open and continues to allow to open in less Covid safe environments. Life events despite being very well managed and tracked and traced are still wrongly being seen as a greater risk. In a Sage report from early May on Covid transmission in a hospitality setting there were around 200 cases last year as opposed to many other sectors with much greater numbers. There was no incidence of any UK wedding cases at all.
Decisions are being made about the wedding sector’s fate by trialling events with large numbers such as football matches, a nightclub, awards show and a business event. There has been no trial of weddings (safer, more controlled and smaller events) yet guidance and reopening of our sector is based on the results of the above which makes no sense. The Government is still allowing hospitality, pubs, shopping, football, horse racing, zoos, theme parks, cinema and theatres to open, and to attempt to financially recover despite the increase of Covid transmission numbers with Delta variant.
At the very least we ask for parity and financial support as these sectors have had. Resilience, mental or otherwise has HAD to be the watchword of the UK industry for the last 15 months. Dealing with a Government that doesn’t care and who won’t support us financially or otherwise and a society who think a wedding is, “just a party” has been tough but we go on.