COVID-19: The wedding industry is in peril. Now, businesses want the government to vow that they’ll help

The government is facing pressure to include the wedding industry in the roadmap out of current COVID-19 restrictions.

The UK Weddings Taskforce is also calling on the government to provide a sector-specific grant of £680m, as well as a temporary VAT reduction, rates relief, measures to protect deposits, and an extension of current support measures.

Coronavirus restrictions meant about 220,000 weddings were postponed last year, meaning 94% of celebrations didn’t go ahead.

Many of the 60,000 businesses in this £14.7bn sector, which employs about 400,000 workers, have been pushed to the brink of closure as a result.

Sarah Haywood, spokesperson for the UK Weddings Taskforce, told Sky News: “The infrastructure at the very heart of our sector is due to collapse.

“The wedding industry needs a clear plan. We have been unable to trade in a commercially viable form for nearly a year and it’s obvious that we’re not going to be trading at full capacity for some time.”

With an estimated 824,000 weddings in the pipeline over the next two years, Ms Haywood said it is vital for support to be put into place so businesses can “be here on the other side of the pandemic”.

Wedding florist Liz Inigo Jones typically works on 50 weddings a year. In 2020, only five went ahead – leaving her with less than 10% of her annual income.

She told Sky News: “I’m doing all I can to keep my business here and keep it alive because I’ve got couples that are waiting for me to be able to do their weddings later this year.

“But it’s expensive, paying out each month for things I can’t use and I’m not likely to use for a while.”

Poppy Carter, a self-employed wedding photographer, also lost a year’s worth of income as a result of the pandemic.

She told Sky News that COVID-19 has “decimated” her industry, and that the government needs to “give us clarity or there’s the danger of losing whole year’s work”.

Ms Carter added: “We’re not like pubs or hospitality, we can’t reopen in a day’s notice, people plan a year or two years in advance.”

With further uncertainty ahead, a number of couples have been left with no choice but to further postpone their big days.

Hollie and Chris Zelli exchanged their vows in a micro-wedding last October – but after a change in coronavirus restrictions, they were forced to cut their guest list down from 30 to 15 at the last minute.

Mrs Zelli told Sky News: “We’re really lucky and we’re really pleased we did it, but it’s the celebration part we really want now.”

The couple were planning to hold a bigger event this summer, but have decided to postpone it – and say that they’re now stuck in limbo.

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