Around 7,000 weddings will no longer be able to go ahead come 12 April as the government confirms purpose-built wedding venues will not be allowed to reopen as previously expected.
After weeks of seeking clarification from the government, the UK Weddings Taskforce was told that purpose-built venues, where 71% of weddings take place, will in fact not be allowed to reopen when ‘Step 2' of the government's roadmap for easing restrictions begins next month. This includes country homes, barns and boutique hotels without dedicated function rooms.
A spokesperson for the Cabinet Office confirmed to The Caterer that 15 people will be able to attend a wedding or civil partnership ceremony indoors from 12 April. These ceremonies can take place in in registry offices and other public buildings (such as town halls or community centres), places of worship, conference centres and hotels (in a separate function suite). Wedding receptions will only be permitted outdoors during this period of easing restrictions.
This clarification means purpose-built wedding venues will have to wait until the next easing of restrictions five weeks later.
"The roadmap indicated weddings and receptions could resume on 12 April. We have now discovered, not by being offered the information but by analysing the small print and repeatedly seeking clarity, that this is not the case," said UK Weddings Taskforce spokesperson and wedding planner Sarah Haywood.
"It is neither, and after a year of uncertainty for businesses, their employees and over half a million people whose weddings have been on hold, this is yet another major blow. It will cost the industry – already on its knees – millions of pounds, lead to the loss of more jobs and leave an estimated 7,000 couples without a wedding. The reality facing the sector is that a couple could technically get married in a zoo, but not in a Covid-safe, purpose-built wedding venue."
A government spokesperson said: "We understand the unique significance these events hold in people's lives but we must continue to take necessary steps to limit the transmission of the virus."
In a normal year around 23,000 weddings take place during the period 12 April to 17 May, but due to the impact of Covid-19, the UK Weddings Taskforce estimates that only a third are planning to go ahead this year.