Weddings have undoubtedly been one of the hardest hit sectors during the 15 months of the pandemic. Often looked upon as more of a luxury than a necessity, they’re still a life milestone to be celebrated and remembered for decades to come. And as an industry that contributes more than £14bn a year, it’s not one to be sniffed at.
Now more than half way through 2021, we thought things would be "back to normal" by now. Yet almost a year and a half on from the first lockdown, we’re still a long way off from that when it comes to weddings.
Yes, we have made progress. In England we can now have unlimited guests – after caps of just 15 invitees, which doubled to 30 in May – but that’s only if the venue is able to host them all in a Covid secure way.
Even though guest numbers may be looking healthier, neither dancing or singing is currently allowed. Tables can only seat up to a maximum of six, masks will still need to be worn inside, and drinks are table service only.
As the lifting of restrictions was moved on again by four weeks, from 21 June to 19 July, many people are rightly worried they could yet again be extended further, affecting thousands more in the industry.
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Many of us newly weds, myself included, went ahead with our second, third or even fourth attempts at finally making the big day happen during lockdown. We changed locations, guest lists were drastically chopped, we braved the unruly British elements to have outside weddings and sacrificed a honeymoon abroad.
But will we regret the micro wedding that we so desperately wanted at the time, and only wish we’d held out for the big, dream-like perfect day? Or is this now setting the scene for years to come – smaller, more intimate weddings that shun pomp as well as the eye-watering price tags?
Of course, it’s not only the happy couples to think about – there’s all the suppliers from photographers to florists and the venues and waiting staff, all of whom have waited months for work to begin again, many with their own businesses hanging by tenterhooks. It’s been fraught, to say the least.
So, what does this mean for couples and suppliers alike?
Emma Henderson, The Independent’s IndyBest Editor, who recently tied the knot in favour of a small wedding, will host a panel made up of industry experts, including Sarah Allard, Editor of Hitched.co.uk, photographer Lucie Watson and wedding planner Valentina Ring to discuss the questions on every engaged couple’s minds now, as well as look at the future of this huge industry in a post-pandemic world.
The event will be held over Zoom on 14 July from 6.30-7.30pm; sign up for free here.