COVID-19 How has COVID affected Wedding Suppliers by WeddingShow247 View Author's Exhibition Stand If you were to ask anyone within the wedding industry what they predicted for 2020, you would have most likely had a response along the lines of ‘our busiest year yet’. This was the year so many couples had spent both months and years planning. Often you would hear how 2020 had a nice ring to it, so couples would be planning their wedding perhaps a little earlier than they had originally anticipated. Little did we all know what was ahead. As someone who worked within this industry, it was incredibly difficult knowing what the right answers were to give to brides, grooms, and their families. It was becoming more apparent that this virus wasn’t going to be a little blip that we’d all be anticipated at the beginning of this year. When lockdown was officially announced, it was important to remain as positive as possible, whilst supporting your clients. Some of us found ourselves in the position where clients understandably wanted answers, but these were answers that none of us knew at this stage. From personal experience, I was a little naive and assumed things would be back to normal imminently, and we’d be in the usual chaotic summer bubble, that we were all so used to. This was an increasingly stressful time for wedding suppliers, wondering how long the government would be able to financially support businesses, and watching the 5pm news every day to see if there would be any announcements on weddings being able to go ahead again. It became a time that suppliers were no longer competitors. They were all in this together and would be a great level of support from business to business. Caterers were able to setup food deliveries to support NHS staff. Stationery companies were using their services to help with new save the date cards for couples to send out. Cake suppliers were filming IGTVs with recipes that all the family could get involved in. Photographers were capturing lockdown shots of families at the front of their homes. Suddenly, they weren’t just wedding suppliers who only focused on this industry. These were the people who were giving back, wherever possible. On 23rd June 2020, it was announced that weddings for up to 30 guests would be permitted to go ahead. After 3 months of no weddings, this seemed like the light at the end of the tunnel! However, it then dawned on us all how 30 guests at a wedding weren’t what the vast majority of couples had been planning for. For a lot of couples, 30 guests doesn’t even cover immediate family. So how do you choose who is going to be there on your day? For a lot of couples, this simply wasn’t the news they’d be waiting for, and they weren’t prepared to sacrifice so many of their guests being present. For others, they simply didn’t want to wait any longer and decided to go ahead with the new rules and embrace the changes. The bad news didn’t end there. On 22nd September 2020, the government announced further restrictions of weddings being capped at 15 guests. This for some couples was their third attempt at trying to go ahead with their wedding, only to find out there were further changes, again! In amongst all these restrictions, wedding suppliers were trying their best to keep their clients as excited as they would’ve initially been, whilst also fighting to keep their business going. The law was continuously bringing to light new rules with regards to refunds, and what businesses could and couldn’t keep when it came to deposit payments, and events no longer being able to go ahead. It was an absolute minefield! There were couples who had initially booked for April 2020, who postponed their date to the latter part of the year, assuming things would be back to normal by then. As the months went on, it was becoming more apparent that things most likely weren’t going to see any kind of normality for the remainder of the year. Leaving these couples to then have to change their date to 2021, or in some cases 2022. We saw on the news how certain suppliers weren’t being as flexible as couples had hoped for when it came to the postponement of their wedding. We saw how businesses were having to make redundancies when the furlough scheme ended. We saw how some businesses unfortunately had to come to an end, as they were simply unable to continue. To say 2020 has been a difficult year would be an understatement for wedding suppliers. However, along with the rest of the country, it’s been a good time to reset our mind frames, set ourselves new goals within both our personal and working lives, spend time at home with our loved ones, and recharge our batteries with a bit of downtime that we never anticipated. Whilst none of us know when weddings will be able to go back to any sense of normality, one thing we do know is that every supplier within this industry is really missing doing what they do best, and can’t wait to get back to it!