Professionals in the sector, as well as couples, have been expressing their disappointment on social media under the hashtag #WhatAboutWeddings.
With nearly a month since Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the third national lockdown, the weddings industry is hitting back at the Government for the uncertainty and lack of support they have been facing since the coronavirus pandemic started this time last year.
The What About Weddings campaign has brought to surface hundreds of frustrated wedding suppliers, many of whom have been earning little to no income over the past year, due to the repeated changes in measures affecting their businesses.
The economic decline of the weddings industry has particularly affected smaller businesses, many of which were not eligible for the Job Support Scheme or the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. This is the case for wedding blogger Alison Tinlin, who expressed her determination to keep advocating for Government support: “I have gone from being really sad and scared for the future of my business to completely fired up and unwilling to back down until there is resolution”.
“Wedding suppliers are in dire straits. Thousands of people have worked too hard, and too long for the Government to dismiss them as not viable.”
Alison condemns the lack of clarity and help for the weddings sector, blaming the Government for “abandonment and unwillingness to engage in any tangible way”.
Although some wedding suppliers have been lucky to qualify for support grants, they are still facing anxiety and struggling to keep their profits on the plus side. Yorkshire Menswear owner Jane Carter’s business finished 57% down on turnover at the end of 2020.
The weddings industry contributes up to £14.7 bn to the UK’s economy every year, which fuels the sector’s disappointment with the Government’s lack of financial safety nets for them. Bridal seamstress Elisa Pelcova has only benefited from £370 in Government grants, which is supposed to cover three months of trade.
“The business grants that are distributed by the local council are being very slow to arrive. We are in our 6th week of not being allowed to trade now and are still waiting for the funding to be issued by our council.”
Elisa has been struggling to make ends meet, as both herself and her husband were self-employed at the beginning of the pandemic. Like most professionals in the weddings sector, she has been facing cancellations and postponements, which has severely affected her business.
“Last March we literally lost our entire household income overnight. It’s been hugely challenging.”
Last week, the Scottish Parliament opened the applications for a £25 million funds scheme to support the weddings sector specifically. This marked the addition of a further £10 million to the initial budget allocated to the industry back in December and was secured by the Scottish Wedding Industry Alliance.
The rest of the UK has yet to respond to the What About Weddings campaigners, who are still advocating for financial support, clear guidelines for the future reopening of the trade, and an insurance scheme to ease the tension between customers and suppliers.