With 824,000 UK weddings in the pipeline, the industry tells ministers “support us now or the entire country loses out”.
The weddings sector, paralysed by the restrictions imposed as a result of the pandemic, has been unable to trade in any commercially viable form since March 2020. Currently weddings are prohibited. Many businesses report catastrophic losses and over three quarters of businesses have reported revenues down by over 75% (UK Weddings Survey).
Unlike other sectors, however, the majority (95%) of consumers have postponed rather than cancelled their weddings, with 220,000 UK weddings postponed since the first lockdown. With 475,000 weddings currently scheduled to take place in 2021, including 196,500 postponed from 2020, the industry is predicted to generate £25 billion for the UK economy in 2021.
The sector is asking government for assistance and assurances to restore consumer confidence in businesses with a financial support bridge, and to provide clarity on a safe and realistic opening up of weddings from Easter to larger numbers now that the vaccine offers light at the end of the tunnel.
Having successfully made the case that business has not been lost but merely deferred, the recently formed, industry appointed UK Weddings Taskforce is now officially representing the sector. The official body designated to negotiate with government, it comprises 12 industry bodies, including the Association of British Wedding Businesses (ABWB), and has been engaging in two-way communication via the Minister for Small Business, Paul Scully MP, and his department, Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). It has called for:
• a “perfectly reasonable and economically viable” financial support bridge of £680m to ensure the demand in weddings can be met
• clarity for venues, businesses and couples with weddings in the pipeline between now and the summer
• measures to restore couples’ confidence in resuming their wedding planning for 2021 and beyond
• solutions to roadblocks in the way for couples and businesses that include insurers refusing to offer couples weddings insurance.
The grant request will be submitted to the Chancellor and the BEIS will work with the taskforce on a number of measures, including a plan for re-opening the sector.
The industry now has a strong, clear voice with the objective of full and meaningful dialogue to address all the obstacles to its opening up and full recovery. The UK Weddings Taskforce is committed to ensuring the wedding industry is never again in the perilous situation of being without a strong and legitimate voice. The framework of the taskforce can facilitate the formation of UK weddings as a broad industry association, capable of fully representing the sector in the future.
The UK Weddings Taskforce is proud to represent the wedding industry. It will work tirelessly to represent and promote the sector, its commercial needs and pioneer solutions to fully re-open and contribute to the UK’s economic recovery.
The taskforce hosts live, online webinars open to all industry professionals. Its first event attracted over 1,000 registrations from people invited via wedding industry associations, organisations and media platforms. If you were not invited, contact your association or organisation to let them know and ensure you’re invited to the next one. You can also join the mailing list at www.ukweddings.org
• Nearly one million weddings are in the post-pandemic pipeline, with an estimated boost to the economy of £43 billion over the next two years
• 95% of couples have postponed rather than cancelled their weddings1
• To realise this potential, government support is required to save the 60,000 businesses (employing 400,000 people) who have been largely unable to work since March 2020
• 50 million people in the UK are likely to attend a wedding by the end of 2022.
WEDDING SECTOR KEY FACTS
• 278,599 weddings occur every year in the UK (Offices of National Statistics for England & Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland)
• Over 260,000 weddings were postponed due to the pandemic in 2020 (ONS average figures)
• Businesses responding to a survey by the UK Weddings Taskforce reported catastrophic losses, with over three quarters of businesses reporting revenues down by over 75%2
• An estimated 278,000 recently engaged couples are also planning to marry from 2021 onwards. When added to the postponed weddings from 2020, circa 475,000 weddings are in the 2021 pipeline (£25bn) and 349,000 are in the 2022 pipeline (circa £18.4bn).
Wedding Industry Worth
There is an estimated £14.7bn direct spend on weddings every year:
• £9.4bn spend on the day itself
• £3.2bn spend on retail
• £2.1bn travel, tourism and pre-wedding events.
Wedding industry workers:
• Approximately 400,000 workers are involved in weddings
• 250,000 people depend on work related to delivering a wedding day itself
• 150,000 more work in support functions
• For every couple that attends a wedding as a guest, depending upon the size of the wedding, between one and four people are involved in working to deliver the day itself, earning less than £25,000 per year on average
• Majority female-driven, ethnically diverse and 50% small and micro businesses.