Following an introduction via twitter, we invited wedding blogger, Alison Tinlin to put forward some thoughts on how the UK wedding industry has been impacted throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Tinlin wrote a letter to the government earlier this year in February, and we have published in full below. It is powerful and moving, setting out how the wedding industry has battled with the pandemic. We hope readers benefit as we have from an insight to a very important part of hospitality, weddings.
Thank you Alison.
The Wedding Industry is tired, the industry is sad, the industry is angry, its deflated and despondent and many are completely emotionally broken, and so are our couples.
Covid may have started the suffering but Government inaction is letting that continue, and that is not acceptable.
The special times, the moments, the joy, the happiness, and the togetherness is what we want back, and why we make noise.
My hope is for Government to start to gain understanding of the perilous situation the Wedding Industry faces, even more so than Hospitality at large which seems to have had a lot more discussion.
So we ask the question What About Weddings ?
Over these last few months I have seen more and more of my colleagues struggle.
This has been both with feelings of utter despair that businesses they have taken years to build are being systematically disassembled, but also dealing with the financial impact of not working in any tangible way for the best part of a year.
Adding to that the fact that they have been shunned from targeted sector support makes the fallout from the last year so much worse.
Businesses and families are having to sell their equipment, potentially losing their homes, dependency on family or food banks for help, and serious mental health issues are the result.
Couples too are feeling lost and desperate, with the stress of uncertainty having a huge psychological cost.
They may have planned their day for a long time, they may be sick, they may be in the military and being deployed, they may have Visa issues, for religious and cultural reasons they may need to be wed, or they may be planning a family, and time and health may not be on their side.
The thing that Government don’t seem to understand is Wedding businesses will soon be losing another years worth of income due to couples postponing or cancelling because there is no idea where things are going, and they are scared.
When you don’t know the endgame that’s a really frightening situation to experience.
Clarity is required and a safe considered way forward needs to be formulated so we can navigate our way out of the pandemic.
Weddings CANNOT forever be chucked to back of queue because of misguided assumptions or dealing with it feels too difficult!
We need honest conversations backed by scientific data, and by studies done here.
The rationale and apparent evidence used to shut down the Wedding Industry was based on a single wedding in Asia where there was apparently no masks or care being taken at all.
Here in the UK suppliers and couples have taken huge steps to make things as safe as possible yet this makes no difference to Government.
Wedding Suppliers and couples now need realistic, clear info on when they can make plans going forward or proper tangible reasons why it cannot.
A year of constant LIMBO has been very hard, and with each passing day as there seems to be little progress things become all the more critical.
Evidence has shown recently that hospitality was not a main cause of cases, where protocols and the the use of track and trace made it safer than for example a supermarket which has been open through the whole pandemic.
Weddings come under that umbrella, and with distancing, the use of masks, and a smaller number of people the risk is reduced.
What is blatantly unfair however is what Government allowed to open, and continues to allow to open in less Covid safe environments.
Personally as a consumer shopping for groceries or essentials feels like a way less safe environment.
There is crowding in cramped aisles, there is little ventilation, some people just don’t obey the rules, and restrictions on numbers allowed per square footage just don’t feel enforced.
But this is legal and has been allowed all through these past 11 months.
Another example is the allowance of Professional sport, and using the example of Cricket where is the science behind how a Wedding Guest is more likely to transmit than a Cricketer?
Before the most recent Lockdowns and variants how were the decisions made to allow 1000- 4000 fans at Football, and how were they less likely to be transmitters of the disease.?
In November Government rolled out £300 Million of support for Sport too.
All the Wedding Industry has ever asked for is parity and support. Why is sport more important than a £14.7 billion industry with a largely female workforce?
We would also like to know how it’s FAIR and how its justified that massive bailouts given to large corporations when those who NEED it – the Excluded and the Wedding Sector get zero and even have to justify their existence.
I also implore you to consider how if Government can plan for a G7 summit in the summer with the magnitude of people that will attend that, 10 world leaders, and their entourages and the worlds press then making a considered plan for safe re-opening of Weddings which are a monumental life event, and human right should be way less complex.
Dragging you feet, maintaining a silence and a downright unwillingness to engage doesn’t work for us, and you can’t play with peoples lives, support ONLY industries you think important, allow sport & plan a major summit without showing us the same respect.
The wedding industry in the UK alone employs over 400,000 people contributing £14.7bn to the Treasury every year and is the creator of amazing life events, and unforgettable memories.
As a whole Weddings have been completely unsupported by Government with utter contempt for the sector and the rest of the excluded by the shutting down of any conversation regarding support in Parliament.
Despite cross party calls, debates and letters it has been a wall of silence.
After sustained effort and campaigning by the Scottish Wedding Industry Alliance, the Scottish Government last week recognised the plight of those affected up North with grants, and it is only fair that our colleagues throughout the UK get that same support.
What about Weddings has been campaigning since last year to support wedding businesses by educating the media on how valuable the sector is to the economy, and has been supporting businesses and couples alike through this turbulent time.
They have also been liaising with Government for the need for clarity and improved communication, and for a package of measures to restore consumer confidence to enable us to navigate our way through the Pandemic.
Since November the UK Weddings Taskforce has also worked with Paul Scully MP but progress is slow, and we feel not prioritised in a sea of other Industries.
We’ve been shut in all but name for nearly a year while other sectors less Covid Safe opened, Government has continued to cast us aside & not give the support that is so desperately needed.
To counter the suffering of those already on their knees they have been chased for tax by HMRC when they already have nothing.
While the Treasury Magic Money Tree has found billions for so many others, we & the Excluded are still waiting and that is discriminatory and wrong.
Its somewhat alarming that Government can ignore pleas from the sector for help but when the Government want their money people are being threatened, and in turn left destitute.
Our hope is also this coming Monday when the Taskforce has been invited to Number 10 that more progress will be forthcoming.
We need a roadmap and soon. We very much hope that there is some sort of plan is in the works in the announcements on the 22nd February.
My personal view is that incremental increase, lateral flow testing, and the vaccination of as many of our vulnerable and greater population as possible is initially the way to go.
Additionally plans for each individual to provide test proof to venue 48 hours prior to event, and if positive case within 14 days of wedding everyone to be tested again.
However a cap on guests has an impact on suppliers and their ability to earn so there needs to be a clear agenda on how numbers are to be increased.
Additionally while we have taskforces I think we need a MP / Government spokesperson SPECIFICALLY for the wedding sector.
While our cause is being looked at under the heading of all Business or in wider hospitality its being being slightly lost in the noise, and that cannot continue.
To close all I want to reiterate is this…
Love and connection matters, celebrating lifes journey matters, each wedding business matters, each engaged couple matters, family togetherness matters.
When Government treat us like all of that doesn’t matter then we take that very personally.
We may be battered, bruised and exhausted from fighting these past months but never underestimate the relentless power of people coming together.
We will NOT fade into the shadows, however hard it gets.
Our voices may feel small, but together we as a collective we are going to make a roar so loud that Government has no other option than to listen, and to HELP us!
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Hospitality & Catering News: Weddings, a vital part of hospitality in need of support. – 2 April 2021 – Weddings, a vital part of hospitality in need of support.