"The effect the pandemic has had on the industry has been devastating" - Wedding venue bosses reveal the true cost of the Covid pandemic
The wedding industry has felt the impact of the coronavirus pandemic more than most as thousands of heartbroken couples have seen plans for their big-days annihilated.
Figures endorsed by the Association of British Wedding Businesses reveal that 36 per cent of weddings have been either cancelled or moved in 2020 and more than half have been affected, causing an estimated £5.6 billion loss to the £10billion-a-year industry.
Two of the region’s most popular wedding venues Bawtry Hall and The Crown, in Bawtry, have felt the full force of coronavirus postponing 150 weddings since the start of the pandemic and cancelling two.
Craig Dowie is the managing director of the Crown Hotel, on Market Place, High Street, Bawtry, and the prestigious wedding venue Bawtry Hall, on South Parade, which employs 83 people.
Mr Dowie said: “We have lost around £1 million in turn over between Bawtry Hall and The Crown Hotel as a result of the pandemic. Some couples have moved their weddings with us up to five times.
"The effect the pandemic has had on the industry has been devastating, people think it’s just a case of moving the date but it’s transferring all the bookings for the guests staying over night, the florists, the cars, the photographer, everything is so structured and organised.
"We are so sympathetic to the couples who have had their big day postponed and they have been so empathetic towards us and really understanding.
"I’m so proud of how the team has pulled together and how they have worked so hard to put couples minds at rest and be available to them at all hours to help them through what has been a really traumatic time. The feedback we have had from couples has been so positive.”
As well as making time for couples staff at the Bawtry-based venues have put their time in lockdown to good use.
“We have being doing massive refurbishments and have built a new terrace at The Crown to fit around 60 to 70 people, we have a new kitchen and restaurant menu and have a new takeaway cafe as well as making sure our venues are Covd compliant so we’ve put our time to good use,” said Mr Dowie.
Mr Dowie is now looking forward to restrictions easing and a jam packed wedding season ahead.
“We are looking forward to 2021 and 22, it’s going to be a busy time and we are doing our utmost to accommodate everyone,” he said.
"Now is a good time to book a wedding, if you are thinking about it don’t leave it too late we have safe and secure venues and a dedicated team who can help you every step of the way.”
Meanwhile at Hodsock Priory, in Blyth, only two of the 200 weddings scheduled for the season went ahead due to lockdown restrictions. The rest were forced to be rescheduled.
The venue has lost around £250,000 in the last 12 months as a result of the pandemic.
Co-owner of the historic venue George Buchanan said: “In reality a lot of the money lost will be paid forward for events that will eventually happen but you have to remember we haven't had heads on pillows and hands on glasses during this time.
“There have been a lot of tears cried on a lot of shoulders, our team here have been incredible which is indicative of how much love there is in the sector which in our case is a small family business.
"We provide excellent service with family at the heart of it and dealing with families we understand how emotional this has been for them and what a pivotal landmark moment it is for any family, it has been really tough for so many couples.
“Initially I think it was a bit of shock and with all shocks things take time so when the shock waves calmed down we were able to really take time with our couples and talk things through and help people find solutions. The team has gone above and beyond to listen, to talk at any hour of the day, weekends and evenings.”
The team at Hodsock have been busy making renovations and getting the venue looking its best ready to welcome guests back.
Mr Buchanan is now optimistic about the future and looking forward to a busy season ahead.
"It’s an incredibly good time to book a wedding,” he said.
"We have the rollout of the vaccine and I have faith that within the year everyone will be fully vaccinated and all restrictions will be lifted.
"I think couples should remain positive, it’s a good time to plan ahead, save money, take the time to look at venues and book. We have had record breaking bookings and have a variety of different packages available.
“We will be ready to welcome everyone with open arms, the place has never looked better and we can’t wait to get going.”
According to current government restrictions wedding ceremonies and receptions can take place with up to 15 people, including the couple, attending.
Receptions must take place outdoors in a Covid-secure venue permitted to open and they must take the form of a sit-down meal.
From May 17 up to 30 guests will be allowed at a wedding ceremony and reception which can be held at Covid-secure venue indoors or outdoors.
The roadmap for easing lockdown is expected to see the removal of all limits on social contact, including wedding restrictions on June 21.