Wedding planner's urgent plea as industry braces for £5.6 billion hit

A wedding planner says she feels angry and let down by the lack of Government support during the pandemic.

Becca Grubb, who runs Shropshire Wedding Planner, wants to see more help for the industry, which is estimated to take a £5.6 billion hit in 2020 as events are cancelled or postponed.

Figures endorsed by the Association of British Wedding Businesses revealed 36 per cent of weddings had been either abandoned or moved in 2020. More than half have been impacted.

Becca said: "This industry contributed £15bn annually to the UK economy and employs hundreds of thousands of people.

"It is full of small independent suppliers who put their heart and soul into what they do.

"The only reason the wedding industry is struggling at the moment is because we are rightly complying with the Government's public health guidance.

"I am hugely disappointed in the Government's refusal to provide support for businesses that are unable to operate due to social distancing regulations.

"To have the Chancellor and Business Secretary say that people working in sectors such as weddings should get 'better jobs' as our businesses are 'unviable' is both insulting and infuriating.

"It is heartbreaking weddings can only take place with a handful of guests whilst other sectors are given a lot more freedom.

"The Government's own data shows weddings are responsible for a tiny fraction of Covid cases, and are not at all responsible for the recent increase in cases, so why has the wedding sector been singled out for such harsh treatment?

"I truly believe it's possible to run weddings for much larger numbers in a way that is Covid safe."

Becca said she would like to see the previous limit of 30 guests reinstated as a maximum at weddings.

"Many couples had just worked out how to reduce their numbers to comply with the 30 person limit, and now face having to halve them again, which in many instances simply isn't possible," she said.

"I would also support allowing venues to operate at reduced capacity with individual limits depending on the size of the venue.

"It's obvious that big venues that normally host hundreds of guests can safely socially distance far more than 15 people, so applying a one size fits all policy doesn't make sense.

"There needs to be a clear roadmap laying out how and when the restrictions on weddings and events will be lifted.

"It is hugely unfair on both businesses and our clients to have to operate in the dark."

Becca, who launched her business during lockdown, previously worked as a wedding planner for several years in the UK and Australia, but has spent the last few years working in HR.

"I had been thinking about launching my business for a year but hadn't got around to it until lockdown hit and I decided to take the plunge," she said.

"I coordinated a small, socially-distanced wedding at the end of August and have several couples booked for 2021 and 2022, but I am still working part time in HR for the time being.

"In that sense I am very lucky as I still have a steady income, which means I haven't been as badly affected financially as a lot of wedding businesses.

"The ongoing restrictions mean the vast majority in the wedding industry have lost almost their entire revenue this year.

"The winter months are always quiet as the wedding season typically runs from April to September but this year we haven't had a busy summer of weddings to enable us to pay our bills through the winter."

Looking ahead, Becca said she was focusing on building relationships with other wedding businesses.

"I will be partnering with a new venue at Eaton Manor in Church Stretton, which we hope will launch in spring 2021," she said.

"I do have several couples booked for the next few years and I'd love to go full time with my business eventually.

"I'm also planning my own wedding, which will hopefully be going ahead in December."

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