Derbyshire wedding businesses make urgent plea in battle for lockdown survival

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Derbyshire wedding businesses say they are desperate to know when couples can tie the knot again – as many struggle for survival during lockdown.

​Contributing over £14 bn to the UK economy, workers in the beleaguered wedding​ industry are desperate for news on when weddings will be able to take place once​again.

Across the UK, there are over 400,000 people working in the wedding supplier​ industry and many are sole traders and small businesses built up over years.

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The restrictions of weddings since March last year has had catastrophic effects on these businesses and many fear that they simply won’t survive until lockdown is eased and things can return to something like normality..

Victoria Bishop of The Pantry Door Wedding Cake DesignsVictoria Bishop of The Pantry Door Wedding Cake Designs
Victoria Bishop of The Pantry Door Wedding Cake Designs

florists, event planners, bridal boutiques, photographers to name but a few. Since​ the pandemic began, the rules regarding whether or not weddings can take place​ have changed constantly and have had a catastrophic effect on these businesses and​ the livelihood of their owners.

Having lost out on nearly a whole year’s revenue​ already in 2020, and despite the rollout of the Covid vaccination programme, 2021​ is not fairing much better for them.

Since March last year, many couples due to marry have been forced to change their​ wedding plans (in some cases two to three times), and many have opted to play safeand postpone their wedding dates until 2022, in the hopes that the nation may have returned to a more ‘normal’ way of life. This means that for a wedding supplier (for whom spring and summer months are peak season) they are potentially losing nearly two years of revenue.

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Many business owners say a clear plan for exiting lockdown and its restrictions, has never been so important.

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Many couples have re-arranged their wedding days several times already due to Covid-19Many couples have re-arranged their wedding days several times already due to Covid-19
Many couples have re-arranged their wedding days several times already due to Covid-19

Chesterfield based, wedding cake designer, Victoria Bishop of The Pantry Door Wedding Cake Designs says she started 2020 with 120 wedding cakes on her books and anticipated she would finish with around 130 cake orders in total.

She said: “Due to the pandemic, it finished with just 24 cakes and of those, people scaled down their designs, four tiered cakes down to one or two tiers, as they weren’t having large receptions. 2021 started with 164 wedding cakes with 90 of these carried over from last year’s weddings, but people are once again postponing or cancelling due to a lack of confidence as to whether weddings will actually be able to take place.”

She added: “The big problem for the wedding industry is that weddings are generally planned well in advance, on average eighteen months. People invest a lot of time and energy into their weddings. Couples want to have all their friends and family attending, not just 15 carefully selected guests and this has had massive repercussions on all suppliers.’It’s so hard. It’s hard for them and it’s hard for us. I’ve adapted as much as I can, and I’ve been producing a new range of cupcakes and treats for everyday occasions such as Valentine’s Day, it’s not ideal, but it’s keeping the business afloat for now.

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"However, once coffee shops open again and they will probably open before events are allowed, there will be even more competition which is worrying.”Wedding photographer, Andy Hibberd of Leading Imagery photography, Clay Cross, says that he photographed just 2% of the weddings that were on his books at the beginning of 2020.

It has been an 'emotional rollercoaster' for businesses and couples waiting to get marriedIt has been an 'emotional rollercoaster' for businesses and couples waiting to get married
It has been an 'emotional rollercoaster' for businesses and couples waiting to get married

He postponed the rest of them to 2021 (without any cost to the wedding party) and has now had to move many of those again to 2022.

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"It’s just been so tough,” said Andy. “Couples have lost confidence understandably. The uncertainty of how many people can attend the event, even if the wedding can go ahead has meant that most couples want to postpone to a date way ahead when there is a real chance of it actually taking place.

"It’s obviously hard, I’ve re-arranged all the dates without passing on charges to the couples, but the bottom line is I’ve lost nearly two year’s earnings. There are a lot of people in our industry who just aren’t going to make it and it’s such a shame. I just want to go back to doing what I do best and that’s capturing all the fun and happiness of a wedding.”

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Wedding Event Dresser, Lou Gavan of Blue Horseshoe Weddings says ‘it’s been ‘an emotional roller coaster’ for her business and couples planning their weddings.

“2020 would have been our busiest year yet for weddings but resulted in just five taking place. 2021 is also looking very bleak!

"Planning for someone’s wedding event is so personal, we build up a good bond with all our couples, invest a lot time and it’s been really upsetting for them and us when their weddings have not been able to take place .

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"In some cases, we’re up to the fourth change of date. The problem is trying to find a new date that works for everyone, a lot of people want to get married in summer and with some bookings already in place for 2021 and 2022, there have been limited dates available to postpone to.

"We’ve tried our best to accommodate wherever we can.”

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With no income because of the huge downturn in business, Lou has had to find another job in order to survive and get through the pandemic..

"We just need to know when events will start happening again, until then, the uncertainty will remain,” she added.