The wedding industry has been “forgotten” and is at risk of suffering “massive” losses due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to one industry specialist.
Wedding planner Sophie Shaw, who has a bridal shop in Alvaston, said her business has lost thousands of pounds this year already.
Since the start of the pandemic and subsequent lockdown, Ms Shaw, owner of the Shardlow-based premier wedding supply company Imagine Invites and Events, said she has more than 95 weddings moved to next year and some further into 2022.
While weddings have now been allowed to recommence under strict guidelines, Ms Shaw said the impact on the industry will be felt for “years to come”.
Ms Shaw said the bespoke business – which has been running for around nine years – designs high end weddings all over the country, and customers can spend up to £30,000 or more on their celebration.
The 33-year-old said: “I’ve moved more than 95 weddings from this year, that’s 95 wedding dates this year that I can’t sell, all of the cash flow has gone, it’s going to hit me for a couple of years.
“It is a lot of money to not have, we haven’t implemented charges to change dates to next year but some of the phone calls have been heart wrenching, you’ve got people who can’t get married until 2022.
“The conversations have been really difficult because the brides feel forgotten about, I feel forgotten about, everybody is saying we are up and running because hospitality and leisure industries are but it’s not the case.
“We have got no sign of when we can get going again, it’s only when you read the small print you realise you haven’t got a chance, they say weddings can go ahead but that’s just the ceremony, not the reception.”
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While Ms Shaw said she believed the Government has done a “good job” and “the best it can” in this situation, she said the wedding industry has been left behind in favour of reopening pubs and shops.
Despite being able to access £10,000 in grant money from Derby City Council, Ms Shaw said the overheads on maintaining her company warehouse alone were £15,000 per month.
Added to that, she said, is the fact that the furlough scheme will be ending in October which is when the wedding industry enters its most difficult financial period, more so now because of Covid-19.
She said: “I’m not sure if people will go out of business, we own all of our vehicles and stock, but there will be venues that are predominantly wedding venues that will lose out.
“We don’t know when we can get started again, it doesn’t feel like anybody cares, we need a road map, at least tell us that weddings can’t happen this year so that we can tell the brides.
“It’s not just the wedding planners, you’ve got the wedding singers and DJs who haven’t got any work at the moment either, we are all going to lose a whole season of work.”
Mrs Shaw’s bridal shop in Alvaston, called The Wedding House, has been able to reopen but the single mum-of-two said the “sparkle” has gone.
She added: “We’ve all been waiting so patiently but we are losing money hand over foot, independents and companies have worked really hard, it really is a mess.”
According to Government guidelines, wedding ceremonies of no more than 30 people are permitted to take place, with receptions limited to just six people.
As well as limiting the number of attendees at a ceremony, the Government has advised that no shouting or singing take place and vows should be not be read in “raised voices”.