Anxious wait for announcement on wedding numbers for Hampshire brides and venues
BRIDES-TO-BE and wedding venues are waiting with bated breath for an announcement on whether larger gatherings at weddings can go ahead this summer.
Prime minister Boris Johnson is to make an announcement at 6pm today that could see coronavirus rules limiting the amount of guests remain in place for another four weeks.
The move could have disastrous effects on the wedding industry, which has already been hit hard by months of shutdown followed by tight rules.
Industry group The UK Weddings Taskforce said that 50,000 weddings planned in the four weeks after June 21 could be cancelled if the lifting of restrictions is delayed, meaning a £325m per week loss for the industry.
Currently the number of guests allowed at weddings is limited to 30, however this was due to be scrapped on June 21.
Kevin Fraser, who runs the Great Barn in Titchfield, said the restrictions had been horrendous for the industry.
The venue usually holds 14 weddings a year for up to 175 people, however this year it has only been able to hold two small weddings, with 15 people.
The venue has brought in other ways to stay afloat, such as hosting an open air gym, holding markets and having open air theatre shows.
Kevin said: 'It has been horrendous. We have had two low-key weddings this year so far. It is what it is though and we are hoping that the restrictions will be lifted by July so we can still hold some weddings this year, ultimately though when it is safe to do so.'
Stuart Midgley, who runs the Hampshire Hog, a wedding venue, bar and restaurant that also has 20 bedrooms in Clanfield, said the constant postponements had been heartbreaking.
The venue usually hosts 20 weddings year for 100 guests but has only held two small weddings so far in 2021, one with just nine guests.
He said: 'It has been an anxious time for everyone. We want to abide by the rules but for the people who have constantly had to rearrange their weddings, I couldn't imagine how stressful that has been. It has certainly brought a lot of heartache, with who to invite, and whether or not to go ahead.
'A lot of people have held off getting married until the restrictions allow. I have one couple who have rearranged their wedding five times so they can have the people they want there.
'Whatever happens, my phone will be busy tomorrow, and it's not just weddings affected, there are bookings for larger events such as birthday parties where they want to have guests too.'
Robert Pearce, who runs Creatiques Bridal Boutique in Southsea with his husband Andrew, said the delays have had disastrous knock on effects for businesses like theirs.
He called for the prime minister to make a firm stand and set out a clear pathway.
He also said that the constant delays had caused some venues to hike their prices, with some brides seeing their venues double in price and others charged the same amount for the limited guests as what was agreed for originally planned larger events for 120 people.
Robert said: 'We are waiting with baited breath, as are our brides. If they put off weddings for another four weeks that will push weddings into the summer holidays and will see more costs added on for our brides.
'I am angry that things like football are allowed to go ahead, football stadiums are open, pubs are open, it is not fair and is one rule for some and another for weddings.
'It is just a waiting game now. I hope Boris makes a firm stand and allows weddings to go ahead. We have waited long enough.'