Wow, where should I start with this one! It's been an interesting 8 months for the entire UK events industry that's for sure...
Customers started to contact us re postponing their weddings in early March. We had just over 100 weddings booked and were looking forward to the usual busy season. By late March it's fair to say we were getting increasingly concerned about our future. What started as a trickle of customers postponing became a landslide and by the middle of April every job we had from May to July had postponed or, in the case of larger public events e.g. National Trust and festivals, were cancelled.
By the end of April the outlook was improved thanks to a raft of support measures put forward by the government. Furlough scheme, bounce back loan, local council grants, VAT deferral etc. We took advantage of everything we could as did virtually every business I know (whether they needed it or not....).
In the end, most of our August to October jobs also postponed or cancelled. We managed to deliver 6 socially distanced wedding builds which is a fraction of what we'd normally hope to get through, but they were all successful and happy occasions.
It's not all bad, though - my colleagues and I had a nice summer off, dealt with some personal priorities, spent time with immediate family and generally chilled out. I'm sure we aren't the only ones who enjoyed riding the furlough train! It's hard to explain how manic a regular event season is, and nine in a row can catch up with you in many ways.
What has been a challenge is keeping pace with the regular changes in directive. I know it's an impossible situation but so many events were on, then off at the last minute. It's been a rollercoaster. Even recently with the rule of 6 coming in our enquiries collapsed for a few weeks with the 'life may be restricted like this for 6 months' guidance Thankfully enquiries are picking up again for 2022 in particular now.
We have already seen customers who postponed to 2021 postpone again to 2022. As it stands we are happy for customers to do this but the situation is a dynamic one. We will always be as supportive as we can. There is positivity now around the vaccines in development so let's hope life returns to normal in early 2021.
It's my opinion that the events industry has been rather overlooked through all of this. Many companies have suffered a downturn and many have seen a significant downturn e.g. aviation and hospitality - but there can't be many industries that have faced a 90% plus downturn! For a few months it felt like weddings were being unnecessarily demonised and we fully supported the 'what about weddings' initiative on social media. Was there any evidence that socially distanced weddings of 30 people are a hotbed for the virus whereas aircrafts full of people are not? I didn't see any...
If you're planning a wedding in the next year or two you may struggle to obtain a decent insurance policy. Currently no insurers are covering weddings including the once highly respected John Lewis. We therefore recommend that all deposits paid to suppliers are paid on credit card so you benefit from the free insurance (as you would when booking a holiday). This is what we're recommending to all our new customers.
Thank you NHS and key workers for everything. Thanks to the vast majority of couples who were incredibly supportive and have stood by us at a very difficult time too. We look forward to working with you as soon as we're able.
Stay safe and well :)