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When your big day falls victim to a virus…

Nothing in the wedding planning blurb tells you about factoring in a pandemic to your plans. But that’s exactly what has happened to many North East couples…

By Jo Dunbar

Springtime usually means the last flurry of excitement for brides and grooms.

With wedding season in full swing, soon to be married couples are usually arranging menu tastings or squabbling over the seating arrangements. But thanks to COVID-19, the brides and grooms of 2020 have much bigger headaches to contend with.

Jane Hand is one such bride. Due to marry in September, Jane has recently postponed her wedding to Andrew Brook until May 2021. “We decided to postpone our wedding as we have no idea what restrictions there may still be in September and I was getting anxious about the unknown. We realised our guests couldn’t plan their travel or accommodation, so Andrew suggested delaying and save ourselves six months of stress.”

For Jane, removing the huge question mark hanging over her big day has lifted a huge weight from her shoulders: “Since we postponed, I feel so much better – we’ve removed the not knowing factor and we’ve given ourselves a bit more time to save up. None of our suppliers have charged us a penalty and while I might feel a bit flat on what would have been our wedding weekend, the relief I feel now outweighs that.”

Another victim of the impact of COVID-19 is the wedding industry itself.

With venues forced to close, churches cancelling all services except funerals, and orders for us to stay at home during what should be a boom time for the wedding trade, many small businesses are affected.

Becky Cooke owns Top Table Design, a bespoke wedding stationery service that had been experiencing a really busy period until lockdown: “April until September is peak wedding season and until COVID-19 hit, this had been our best start to the year. I have staff to pay, I want to keep the company open but it’s a struggle. Most wedding suppliers are small, local, family businesses that are going to be really badly hit.”

Becky and her team at Top Table Design have been working hard to cope with the effects of lockdown. “We design greeting cards too and have started designing change the date cards free of charge which our clients can send out digitally.”

For Becky, the hardest part is seeing people scrambling on what should be an exciting run-up to their big day: “I feel for all of our couples, it must be devastating. Their wedding day is supposed to be the best day of their lives, and it will still happen, but possibly a year away.”

For wedding photographer Lee Gibbins, the impact of Coronavirus and social distancing was immediate: “10 of our weddings planned between now until mid-July have been moved, and a christening has been cancelled too. Couples are unsure about what is happening so as a result hundreds of pounds in deposit payments for future weddings are owed to us.”

For Lee, one advantage of lockdown has meant future brides and grooms have had time to get ahead with their wedding plans. “I have had two bookings for 2021 and a surge in enquiries. I have finished all my photo editing from jobs in March so I’m focussing on social media and my website to keep busy.”

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