UK Weddings Taskforce

The UK Weddings Taskforce represents the interests of all businesses in the UK who operate in or derive significant income from weddings, including equipment hire companies. The taskforce engages with Government, the media, businesses and workers across the sector.

EHA sits on the taskforce's Council of Representatives to be the voice of hire. We also collect information and deliver updates and resources for members which you will find below. 

If you have any questions or wish to speak to us about these topics please contact us on 0121 380 4600 or email marketing@hae.org.uk.

UK Weddings Taskforce Update; Thursday 24th June 2021
UK Weddings Template Letter to MPs for ARG Funding

The UK Wedding Taskforce understands from industry feedback that being able to get Additional Restricted Grants (ARG) has been difficult, if not impossible for many in the industry. Having had lengthy conversations with Ministers about this funding, the message has been very clear, the wedding industry is entitled to this funding and we should do all we can to apply and if declined or find the Grant is closed, we should contact our MPs.  

If you find that your Local Authority has closed applications then you should contact your MP, no ARG should be closed as there is more money available to them once the first amount has been spent.  

In order to make this process an easier one for you, we have a template letter below that you can use to explain to your MP why you are struggling to get this money and how it has impacted your business.  

You can find out how to contact your MP here.

Click Here for the Letter Template

UK Weddings Taskforce Update; Monday 21st June 2021

Following the Prime Minister's recent announcements, the UK Weddings Taskforce (UKWTF) set out to answer questions regarding the 21st June guidelines for England. View the frequently asked questions here.

12,500 Weddings a Week in Jeopardy if 21st June Reopening Not Met

The UK Weddings Taskforce (UKWTF) calculates that the wedding sector will lose £325m for every week of delay if the Government does not stick to the planned relaxation of rules on 21st June.

There are an estimated 50,000 weddings planned in the four weeks from 21st June in danger of being cancelled if the restriction on guest numbers (currently 30 in England) is not lifted.

In a meeting with Ministers on 19th May, the UKWTF asked to discuss a contingency plan for weddings, should the nation not meet Step 4 by 21st June, which the Government declined to explore. It is now too late for any contingency owing to the preparation of wedding businesses, the requirements of the supply chain and the significant investment already made in hiring and training staff and getting infrastructure ready. As of today, 26,000 couples have paid in full for their weddings from 21st June. That figure increases by 1,800 couples every day.

Furthermore, it is estimated that 300,000 workers - 75% of the workforce - will not return to work and will be at immediate risk of redundancy as the sector's 60,000 businesses continue to grapple with heavy restrictions, a lack of consumer confidence and looming emergency loan repayments. This equates to 1.1m working days lost, every week there is a delay. 80% of couples who have booked a wedding in the four weeks after 21st June claim they will cancel their weddings and a further 25% with weddings booked for later this summer will cancel due to the ongoing uncertainty.

The impact of wedding cancellations will not solely be commercial, however, with an estimated 550 tonnes of food currently on order between 21st June and 8th July that will go to waste, sending a devastating ripple along the supply chain and impacting wholesalers, growers and producers. Likewise, an estimated 6m stems of flowers – or 150 tonnes of flowers and foliage – currently ordered for the same two-week period will go to waste. This is a further blow to the UK's 8,000 florists and many wholesalers and growers who invested heavily on a rebound in the wedding sector, having witnessed a devastating 2020 where thousands of tonnes of flowers went unpicked and withered in the field.

Couples are understandably losing heart, many having postponed their wedding up to four times already, and now faced with the prospect of postponing into 2023 due to a lack of date availability over the next 18 months. The effect on thousands of couples, who for a variety of reasons, have not been able to move forward with their life plans until their weddings can go ahead as they had planned them, continues to be catastrophic.

£16.5bn has been lost by the sector since the first lockdown, with 320,000 weddings having been postponed or cancelled.

The Taskforce's Spokesperson Sarah Haywood commented: "A hugely expensive, irrecoverable investment has been made by the decimated weddings sector in the ramp-up to full reopening on the 21st June – the only date we have been given to work to. That investment is in infrastructure, consumables - such as food and flowers - and on retraining and hiring new staff. For wedding businesses, the loss is not just the £325m for each week's delay to full reopening. It is the millions in addition lost on staff wages in the last 6-8 weeks to prepare for June 21st, and the effects on cashflow for businesses who have not been able to trade in a commercially viable form for 15 months. The harsh treatment of our sector, lack of parity with other closely related industries, and Government's refusal to work with us on sensible solutions to see the sector through to the other side of the pandemic now jeopardises 400,000 jobs. There is no data to support us having been so heavily penalised throughout the recent restrictions and now the very survival of our world-class sector is in doubt. If it is lost it will take a decade or more to rebuild, affecting over a quarter of a million couples every single year and with a devastating societal impact."

Message from Deputy Chair of the UK Weddings Taskforce

The news that the Prime Minister tied the knot on the 29th May received mixed headlines. Many couples took it as an indication that reaching Step 4 by the 21st June was in doubt, with mixed messaging over the bank holiday from the media and scientists casting further doubt. The UK Weddings Taskforce (UKWTF) have been repeatedly reassured by Ministers that the sector will be reopened without restrictions at Step 4, and that the nation was on track for June 21st.

On Wednesday 2nd June, Boris Johnson stated that he “can see nothing in the data at the moment that means we can't go ahead with Step 4, or the opening up on June 21st, but we've got to be so cautious”. Together with the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Weddings, Siobhan Baillie MP, on Wednesday afternoon the UKWTF delivered a letter direct to the Prime Minister urging confirmation for the sector and outlining why it is so critical.

Meanwhile the taskforce have been participating in multiple press interviews, explaining the perilous situation wedding businesses now find themselves in, given the ramp-up time and investment required and, already made in June 21st. The UKWTF have relayed the need for clarity on behalf of businesses and the estimated 50,000 couples who have weddings within four weeks of June 21st. Of the dozens of interviews this week, of most note is the taskforce's spokesperson live on the BBC TV News Channel.

Legacy & Representation Working Group
This week the UK Weddings Taskforce (UKWTF) met with BEIS regarding Additional Restriction Grants (ARGs). The UKWTF is pushing hard for consistency amongst local authorities around the application process and the eligibility criteria.

BEIS has asked for assistance from the UKWTF in identifying those that are displaying out of date and incorrect information.

BEIS have also confirmed that there is funding still available, and will be topped up at the end of June, and that the sector should be encouraged to apply for these grants.

The results of the poll, run by the CoR, provided a helpful addition to the taskforce's application paper which has now been forwarded to BEIS and they await feedback on the continued process.

Devolved Nations
The UKWTF have rounded up the latest guidance around weddings for each of the devolved nations. Full information can be found on each nation's government website.

Press Coverage
Last week has seen members of the Taskforce interviewed by Talk Radio, LBC, The Daily Telegraph and The Evening Standard, as well as coverage carried up and down the country on local news sites via Associated Press. Broadcast coverage is normally shared via the taskforce's social platforms, and online coverage can be viewed here.

Grants and Funding
The Taskforce is undertaking a swift review of grants and funding available, the issues for businesses in accessing it, and what the sector may be able to access if the Government opened up wider access. This review has been requested by the Government.

UK Weddings Sector Review
In line with the Roadmap to ease lockdown restrictions, the independent UK Weddings Taskforce, of which EHA is part, has taken part in a Wedding Sector Review Workshop with the Department for Business, Energy & Industry Strategy (BEIS) this morning (22nd April 2021). BEIS is working to supply sector-level intelligence and analysis to answer how social distancing has affected businesses.

The UK Weddings Taskforce represents the UK wedding sector, a £14.7 billion industry. The past week has once again been a busy one for the Taskforce and the key updates can be read below.

Weddings Minister
Firstly, the Taskforce approached the Cabinet Office suggesting it would be beneficial to all concerned to have a designated official to liaise directly with the Weddings Taskforce. The benefit would ensure that policy and guidelines for the sector are informed, workable, effective, and fair. The Taskforce is delighted to share the news that it anticipates the announcement of a Weddings Minister very shortly.

Events Research Programme
Following a direct Taskforce appeal, weddings will now be included in the Events Research Programme. The Taskforce will be liaising over the number of events and how events will be chosen, with more announcements expected soon. This reversal, together with achieving a revision of guidance for Step 2 - which allowed an estimated 7,000 weddings to go ahead - is evidence that the taskforce is facilitating change.

Step 3 Guest Numbers
Behind the scenes the Taskforce are pushing for parity with wider events from Step 3. As you will be aware, in Step 3 numbers are currently limited to 30 guests. Alignment with wider events (indoors 1,000 guests/50% capacity) in Covid-secure venues would secure viability for much of the sector, the supply chain, and safeguard jobs and consumer confidence. It gives industry and couples clarity on a worse-case scenario if Step 4 is not reached by June 21st.

Grants & Loans
The new £5 billion Restart Grants Scheme has now launched as well as an extension to the Additional Restrictions Grant. Both are available via your local authority. If yours has not yet put them live, do keep checking. The Recovery Loan Scheme has also opened this week:

  • Restart Grant: Businesses in England in the non-essential retail sector may be eligible for a one-off Restart Grant of up to £6,000, while businesses in the hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym sectors, which are reopening later, may be eligible for one-off grants of up to £18,000. This grant is for rate paying businesses.
  • ARG: An additional £425 million top-up funding for the ongoing Additional Restrictions Grant scheme for businesses - including wedding service providers and freelancers who do not pay rates - is also now open. The ARG is available on a first-come, first-served basis and the Taskforce are pressing for this amount to be increased. Businesses who qualify are urged to apply as soon as possible. 
  • Loans:  The Recovery Loan Scheme went live this week. Check with your banking provider to find out when they will be taking applications. 

The Taskforce will continue to press for access to existing grants for more businesses who have been excluded. Minister Scully has offered his assistance in working with us on this. 

Fundraising
Lastly, as you may know, the Taskforce is made up of industry volunteers who have given up their time and resources, and inevitably some administrative and professional costs have incurred. While the Taskforce appreciates how devastated the sector is, it has set up a Go Fund Me page and would be grateful for any amount you are able to give. 

To view more information on the UK Weddings Taskforce, including updates, visit the website.

Last week was once again another busy week for the UK Weddings Taskforce, and the main updates can be read below.

The Taskforce has been back and forth with officials on the incomplete Weddings Guidance, attended a meeting with the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to discuss them and hosted a roundtable with the industry's championing MPs.

Weddings Guidance
On Monday 22nd March, the Wedding Ceremony Guidelines were updated to reflect the newly introduced 'Steps'. The incomplete Wedding Reception Guidelines published mid-week without reference to Step 3 are expected to be released "imminently".

The intervention of the Taskforce, alongside Minister Scully and his department, has now achieved the re-opening of most wedding venues for indoor ceremonies from the 29th March. There are caveats in place for visitor attractions that individual premises should look into. Other clarifications include:

  • Receptions in Step 2: a sit-down meal can take place outdoors providing the venue is a Covid-secure location that is permitted to open
  • Receptions from Step 3 will be permitted indoors in a Covid-secure location that is permitted to open (they cannot take place in private gardens)
  • Guest numbers include children and babies 
  • From Step 4 weddings "should be restriction free. This is dependent on the scientific advice and the results from the Government's Events Research Programme". The Taskforce is contributing to the ERP and we continue to apply pressure for larger wedding events to be piloted.

Discussions on the confusion around venue showround dates have been taking place with BEIS, asking for urgent confirmation that they are allowed to resume from Step 2 at the latest. 

MPs Roundtable & Meeting with Senior Cabinet Minister
On Wednesday 24th March, Neil Parish MP facilitated another roundtable with the Taskforce, alongside MPs that champion the wedding industry. Neil Parish has been attempting to facilitate a meeting with a Senior Cabinet Minister and has been successful in securing a meeting for a small group of MPs led by Edward Timpson MP. A paper has been produced by the Taskforce outlining key enablers for the sector to remain viable and prosper. 

The UK Weddings Taskforce represents the needs of the wedding industry, a diverse and viable £14.7 billion industry. Read the full weekly update here.

MPs Demand Prime Minister and Chancellor Meet with Wedding Taskforce Before Sector Collapses
Representatives of the £14.7bn wedding industry have met with a group of over 30 cross-party MPs who have agreed to lobby both the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer to discuss urgent support for the sector.

The UK Weddings Taskforce, the official body designated to negotiate with Government on behalf of the industry, has been locked in meetings with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, along with HMRC and Public Health England (PHE), subsequently submitting a safe, workable and commercially sensible proposal for the reopening of the sector. There is a strong feeling in Whitehall that the PM needs to personally turn his attention to the matter.

The calls come after the Prime Minister announced in his roadmap that live performances and sporting events could resume from 17th May with up to 1000 attendees indoors or 4000 outdoors, at the same point that wedding capacities increase from 15 to a maximum of 30 attendees.

Sarah Haywood, Spokesperson for the UK Weddings Taskforce, commented "We have been very clear in our discussions with both BEIS and No.10 that anything less than 50 guests at a wedding is not commercially viable. Whilst Monday's announcement was good news for some, particularly couples with weddings booked on or after 21st June 2021, many of the 60,000 businesses employing 400,000 people in our sector are now facing the prospect of four long months with zero income, no financial support from the Government and the real threat of mass redundancies. The pipeline of work in this sector is enormous. It simply does not make sense for us to be wiped out."

The Taskforce is urging businesses in the weddings sector to follow updates and guidance via:

https://ukweddings.org

https://www.instagram.com/uk_weddingsorg/

https://twitter.com/UKweddingsOrg

The UK Weddings Taskforce have had a busy week, including a meeting with 10 Downing Street to propose solutions for reopening, along with further discussions with Minister Paul Scully MP and the Treasury. MP's and Government officials have asked the UK Weddings Taskforce to clarify its position which has been addressed overnight. 

It is more important than ever that this week we are giving a strong message as to what we need for our industry to reopen safely.  Please see attached UK Weddings Taskforce statement from Chris Naylor, Chair.  Key updates for the week include:

  • Number 10 confirmed that the UK Weddings Taskforce's solution for a safe reopening of the wedding industry will be included in presentations to the Prime Minister's COVID Taskforce.
  • Minister Paul Scully MP and his BEIS department has lobbied the Treasury for the sector-specific support package we proposed.
  • Taskforce Spokesperson Sarah Haywood made a number of media appearances, including on Sky News and ITV News to discuss the Taskforce's work so far, plus interviews with the Daily Mail and Mirror.
  • Appeared live on Instagram (12th February), straight after Sarah's TV interview, to answer the questions couples and businesses have been sending in. We've received hundreds of questions, and we will do our best to make sure everyone has answers. 

For further information visit the website.

5th Annual UK Wedding Report for 2021 Released
In the past year, the wedding industry has weathered the most difficult storm we've seen in decades, while couples and businesses alike have persevered with strength, patience and resilience. Now at the start of 2021, we look forward to an optimistic recovery for weddings with a boom about to begin from all the postponements of 2020.

As an industry, it is also imperative that we understand the life and routines of millennial couples so we can better meet their needs as they plan their weddings. This tech-savvy researching generation does everything on their mobile phones and our businesses will thrive if we can deliver more mobile-friendliness, personalisation, and social proof into their wedding planning experience. 

Bridebook has released its 5th annual UK Wedding Report looking ahead to 2021 and beyond. Download here