Cancelled weddings: Covid-19
On the 20th March I was filled with so much upset for a wonderful couple who was about to get married the next day. The groom had probably already left his bride to be for the night. The dress would have been hanging up. Guests would have had their outfits ready, Flowers would have been made, the cake made and the venue decorated. Everything would have been ready. Then at 6:pm, confirmation came through that, following government guidelines all venues would have to shut immediately. That was the end of the wedding that had taken years in planning. My heart sunk as I spoke to the bride.
How is the hospitality sector coping?
8 weeks on and the hospitality industry is still on it's knees. Couples have changed dates for later in the year and many have changed dates for next year. Everyone has come together in supporting couples in trying to find alternative dates, Couples have worked with venues, registrar's and photographers to find mutual dates when everyone is available. Many venues and wedding photographers including myself, along with other wedding industry suppliers have waived additional booking fees and have just switched the dates.
Unfortunately for the wedding industry, this means 2020 has been practically wiped out. For many of the industry suppliers their season does not start to get going until March, just when the lock down started. Worse still, with weddings now being postponed and taking up available dates in 2021, this means any new couples wanting to book a supplier will find it very hard to find someone who is available. The supplier will have no new business, just catching up from 2020 and thus it will not be until 2022 when the likes of myself and any other wedding industry supplier will start to get back on track.
When Can I Get Married
Today on 11th May, the government announced their 50 page document on how to lift the lockdown, You can read the full document here Covid-19 recovery strategy But I have also summarized the 3 stepped phase approach below and how I this will affect myself going forward and how this will affect you getting married.
Only this year, in mid february I opened my new photography studio within the idyllic grounds of Rufford Abbey Country Park, the most amazing perfect location for families. On March 20th Rufford Abbey Country Park closed along with all buildings and offices including myself.
Currently the studio remains closed. The county park may reopen soon during the steps to unease the lockdown. My photography studio specialises in families, child portraiture, Cake smash, Newborn babies etc. which means being confined indoors and handling/ posing newborn babies. Currently I believe it would be reckless of me to photograph newborn babies and young children while we still have a relatively large infection rate (R) I have therefore taken the decision to keep the Studio closed until at least 4th July (Phase 3 of the current Covid-19 recovery strategy)
On slightly better news, Outdoor photo sessions can resume as of this week. Please see below (Phase 1) Unfortunately the wedding industry is still not clearer when business can resume and couples can get married. During phase 2 (below), the Government will be examining how to enable people to gather in slightly larger groups to better facilitate small weddings. No one knows what this means though the thought is believed it will be small groups up to 10, we will need to keep a watch on more clearer directions on this over the coming weeks.
Phase 3 will see the start of larger hospitality venues opening. However ALL phases will be while maintaining COVID-19 Secure guidelines (whatever the guidelines will be by then at that stage). So this looks promising that larger weddings will then be able to take place sometime in July.
But, There is always a but... Some venues which are, by design, crowded and where it may prove difficult to enact distancing may still not be able to re-open safely during Phase 3. So this contradicts the above as this would probably rule out larger weddings at wedding venues. So the burning question on when you can get married is still yet to be answered.
As a wedding photographer, If I was to guess, and this is only a guess, I would be hoping weddings will be able to resume in August. I also think that it may be mandatory that face masks must be warn although I am not sure how this would be enforced in a private venue?
Let's have a look at the phases in a nutshell.
Phase 1 From Wed. 13th May the government is allowing families to take unlimited exercise, walks in parks and even enjoy a picnic. This also includes being able to travel to other areas. You or your family are also allowed to meet with ONE other person ( but maintain 2 meter’s social distancing with that person )
This means outdoor photo sessions can resume with couples or families within the same house hold. You will be meeting (ME) that extra 1 person who will be keeping a safe distance (It is what my camera lenses was made for)
Phase 2 From 1st June, none essential retail and other businesses will be phased in. Guidance on which businesses this includes will be announced nearer the time. All other sectors such as hospitality, personal care, pubs, restaurants, leisure facilities etc are not able to re-open
I class my Photography Studio as (Other Sector) and therefore the studio will remain closed (until Phase 3)
Phase 3 From 4th July, will start to see the opening of at least some of the remaining businesses and premises that have been required to close, including personal care (such as hairdressers and beauty salons) hospitality (such as food service providers, pubs and accommodation), public places (such as places of worship) and leisure facilities (like cinemas) However ALL Phases will be while maintaining COVID-19 Secure guidelines. Some venues which are, by design, crowded and where it may prove difficult to enact distancing may still not be able to re-open safely during Phase 3.