30 wedding guests you say – well that is just not realistic!

Penned by Charlotte, of Lyla Rose Weddings and Events, our resident Agony Aunt, Grace Knows and esteemed member of our editorial team.

Finally, the news we have all been waiting for, receptions can start from the 1st of August. Such a welcome announcement in such an uncertain time for wedding creatives and an uncertain future for many businesses indirectly affected by the lack of weddings. So what does 30 guests actually mean? Initially I was ecstatic. I thought…

  • Finally, the wedding industry is opening up
  • Finally, our industry is being listened to
  • Finally a relief for couples who can get married and have a celebration with some of their closest family and friends.

Then I started to think about the impact on wedding venues and how this new guideline poses particular concerns that need addressing, answering and considering before being able to open the doors to small, intimate weddings.

Firstly, the cost of running a wedding for a venue is a lot more than what you see on the day. For the kitchen and front of house there is a massive task of deep cleaning to be covid secure and sparkling after not being in use for months. Then the preparation for the wedding can begin, this includes setting up, food ordering, menu planning and preparation, as well as re-training in the new normal.

The planning and coordination of weddings takes time and this means the weddings team working with the couple to confirm all the final details, even for 30 wedding guests! This takes a lot of time and attention. With email exchanges at all hours (we are NOT 9-5), the constant difficulties and frustrations for both parties are felt. Especially when staff are still on flexible furlough and only working part time to comply with regulations (I bet you had forgotten that bit).

Taking into account the time and cost of preparing the venue, the staff and even managing the couples expectations, you can see how the costs are rapidly rising.

Now add the Covid prevention outlays and the venue has gone from being profitable, to making a devastating and dramatic loss. Losses like this can not be absorbed, and will cause further damage, bankruptcies and closures. Can I highlight how this will further unsettle couples, and de-stabilise the wedding industry. All of the sake of a 30 person wedding?

Let’s get real and honest here shall we. Venues want to be open. Venues want weddings and honestly, venues need them. But what you and the rest of the un-wedding educated government strategists (supposedly working on our behalf) have proposed is doing irreversible damage to an already dying industry. This is a frank and honest and hopefully eye-opening blog post, a reality check, feel free to share it with as many government strategists as possible! I’d love to know their opinion afterwards! At the end you can tell me if a wedding with 30 wedding guests is still a great idea!

Charlotte Brooker - Lyla Rose Weddings and Events - Cooper Photography - Grace Knows writer - Hampshire weddings - Hampshire wedding planner - 30 wedding guests article
Image by Cooper Photography, members of the County Wedding Clubs
Everything comes down to more than finance I thought I would clear that up, more than opening for 30 wedding guests.

You will find that most venues would prefer to postpone a wedding to ensure their reputation stays intact. Venues remember are NOT the one’s calling the shots in whether or not weddings are taking place.

Before even considering opening a venue for a small wedding, we need to check do couples actually want their wedding under these new rules? Really be honest here…

Many venues have already systematically postponed most of the weddings this year wanting to do what is right by their clients and their creative suppliers.  You will also find that in some places suffocating and extremely strict restrictions have been put in place by the local registrars. Putting venue staff in a very very difficult situation, this I might add is without again any consultation with the venues.

  • Did you know that if a venue was not proven to be following the guidelines, they will be held liable?
  • Are you aware it could be the actions of your 30 wedding guests who could potentially put a venue at risk, legally?

The reputation of the venue is what keeps it in business, fact.

How hard would it be for you to ensure family members stay 2 metres from each other, let alone a member of venue staff at your wedding? I would struggle with this and I have been doing my job for over a decade,  I know your guests could potentially get frustrated, annoyed and be rude to staff who are simply trying to comply with the law. It would be easy to dismiss the rules and allow guests to do as they please, but that is an irresponsible approach only venues unworthy of post COVID19 weddings would take. The risk is NOT debatable, and not something a professional venue would gamble on.  I guarantee however venues will not receive 5 star reviews and recommendations if they have to ensure Granny Cybil doesn’t hug uncle John because they are not in the same bubble or when they have to stop the bride walking down the aisle with her father because the registrar says so.

 

Charlotte Brooker - Lyla Rose Weddings and Events - Cooper Photography - Grace Knows writer - Hampshire weddings - Hampshire wedding planner - 30 wedding guests article
Charlotte Brooker - Lyla Rose Weddings and Events - Cooper Photography - Grace Knows writer - Hampshire weddings - Hampshire wedding planner - 30 wedding guests article
Images by Cooper Photography, members of the County Wedding Clubs.

It is important as a bride or groom to remember, venues do not want to enforce these rules as much as you do not want these rules enforced, but they have to be. Thinking now about all of this 30 guest weddings are the least of the problems! Now let’s take it to a NEW level shall we?

Imagine if one of your guests infected all of your guests, would the venue get the blame? Also, what if one of your guests infected all the staff at the venue, and they went onto infect another wedding? Quarantine descends, weddings are cancelled for other couples, court proceedings start and before we know it – everything is in tatters and the BBC reports on how unprofessional the venue is, facebook reviews bomb, and the venue closes, all because your wedding did not adhere to government rules. Trust me when I say it is a scary minefield of assumption, stress and what if’s.

Aside from venues, the news of wedding receptions starting again couldn’t have come at a better time for other wedding creatives. Answers to when they can get back to work is just what they needed, financially and mentally. Perhaps a little too late for some as most weddings are already moved or in the process of moving for the next few months.

It is a sad truth, but I can see the already visible divide between wedding venues and other wedding businesses growing. Often cited these past few days is the quote “wedding venues are calling the shots”. I assure you is far the truth and I urge everyone to be open in communication with every wedding business. The PRE-COVID19 disconnect and lack of community between wedding venues and wedding creatives HAS TO STOP.

Time to get real here. These are not words I want to say, these are not words I enjoy saying but in the current climate, every wedding business is doing everything they can to stay afloat. To keep people in jobs, to keep couples happy and not lose any more money than they already have. There are some fantastic options from the government available for businesses, but often these are not enough, not calculated to suit complex industries like ours or helpful for small business with such complex set ups and requirements as wedding creative business.

Venues have had to continue paying staff to keep the grounds and maintain buildings. They have to ensure there is staff for administrative tasks and someone to manage enquiries and cancellations, marketing and PR… all this with no income. Is that sustainable? 30 people weddings you say, the tip of the iceberg I say!

Charlotte Brooker - Lyla Rose Weddings and Events - Cooper Photography - Grace Knows writer - Hampshire weddings - Hampshire wedding planner - 30 wedding guests article
Image by Cooper Photography, members of the County Wedding Clubs.

I know wonderful wedding creatives who have fallen through the government gaps and have been completely left behind receiving not a single pound in support, let alone any relief, impacting their personal and work finances for years to come.

Regardless of where the industry is as a whole, every single business is fighting to stay alive. Fighting to ensure they are present and responsive for their future couples.

Unfortunately, even this approach is unsustainable.

Venues are not purposely postponing weddings so that other creatives lose their business. If they don’t postpone the weddings, they could lose their own business through financial loss or irreversible damage to the reputation.

Real question here, and I want a real answer.

This isn’t going to be easy to talk about or even think about but “would you allow yourself to financially ruin your business and end up closing it down, in order to save someone else’s business?”

Morally, I know what a lot of people would like to do, but let’s be honest, who could actually afford to do this?

  • What happens if a venue can’t open, for your 30 guest wedding?
  • What happens if couples want to postpone? Does it become voluntary cancellation and postponement at this point because it is out of lockdown… essentially yes. Affecting venues, make up artists, photographers, florists, cake designers and countless more businesses, can they afford to refund couples to keep them from giving bad reviews and copying and pasting legal jargon that is irrelevant? No, they have a house of their own to pay for and food to put on the table. But can these businesses afford the bad reviews and publicity not to refund? Not at all…

What am I trying to say… the situation is not black and white. It never has been and never will be. I urge each business affected to open communication, understand and sympathise with each other’s position and not bully each other down to feel bad for decisions that are taken out of our hands, by silent directors, financial burdens, lack of clarity, lack of support, genuine concern for employees and of course our couples.

P.S. allowing weddings receptions to finally take place yet only giving people two weeks… who made that decision?! Possibly the same person who decided 30 people weddings were a good idea!!

Charlotte Brooker - Lyla Rose Weddings and Events - Cooper Photography - Grace Knows writer - Hampshire weddings - Hampshire wedding planner - 30 wedding guests article

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