"Couples are still dreaming of their weddings"

Weddings are universally known as joyous events people plan to the last detail for months, even years.
A cake by Carol Dixon, who owns Celebration Cakes by Carol in North Willingham near Market Rasen.A cake by Carol Dixon, who owns Celebration Cakes by Carol in North Willingham near Market Rasen.
A cake by Carol Dixon, who owns Celebration Cakes by Carol in North Willingham near Market Rasen.

But as with so many other events in our lives, Covid-19 has put the brakes on so many weddings over the past 12 months, which saw nuptials cancelled altogether when the pandemic first hit, and then only re-introduced with a maximum of 30 people and no wedding receptions.

According to Lincolnshire County Council, only 299 marriages were registered in 2020, with none at all in April and May, a huge decrease on the 1,157 marriages in 2019.

As a result, many suppliers who make their living from the wedding industry have had a torrid year in 2020.

Softscape Florists owner Kate Ladley said many brides were scaling their weddings back and just opting for a bridal bouquet and buttonholes.Softscape Florists owner Kate Ladley said many brides were scaling their weddings back and just opting for a bridal bouquet and buttonholes.
Softscape Florists owner Kate Ladley said many brides were scaling their weddings back and just opting for a bridal bouquet and buttonholes.

Love & Lace Bridal in Sleaford is owned by Jo Nott and Sarah Henderson, and they said it has been really upsetting for them to watch wedding plans and preparations turned upside down.

Sarah said: “We’ve been finding it really tricky, having to sanitize everything after each appointment and steam down every dress that has been tried on.

“We’ve lost a lot of appointments as we would normally have between six and seven appointments on a Saturday, but we’ve had to limit them to three to four to leave time to sanitize the showroom after each use.

“We’ve also had to forego bridesmaids dresses as we could only allow one or two people in with the bride due to government guidelines, and it’s frustrating as we’re one of very few bridal retailers who also do bridesmaids dresses.”

Weddings have had to be rearranged or held with less than 30 people.Weddings have had to be rearranged or held with less than 30 people.
Weddings have had to be rearranged or held with less than 30 people.

Sarah said that their waiting list currently has more than 20 brides waiting to shop for their dream dress and they are still receiving enquiries:

“It’s nice to see that people are still dreaming of their wedding and wanting to come and see us.”

John Aron is a wedding and events photographer based in Horncastle, and said he’s seen the majority of his bookings either rescheduled for late this year or 2022 as well.

“This year has been so unusual, we’ve had some couples want to book with only three or four days' notice as they’ve wanted to get married before we went into lockdown.

Event Box is run by Lee Airstone in Skegness.Event Box is run by Lee Airstone in Skegness.
Event Box is run by Lee Airstone in Skegness.

“I had three weddings in December for example, whereas I normally only have one.”

John said that a lot of couples are reluctant to book exact dates for their weddings at the moment due to the uncertainty surrounding the country at present.

“Couples who’ve got engaged in the last six months for example aren’t wanting to get married this year now because they were presuming that we’d be back to normal by now.”

As weddings have been smaller, so too have the food, flowers and other essentials one needs for their special day.

Kate Ladley owns Softscape Florists in Louth, and had many couples getting in touch in a panic as they were unsure whether they should move, scale back or cancel their weddings as some had family living abroad who weren't allowed to travel.

“Then there were those we called ‘hokey cokey weddings’ - they were on, then they were off, then off, then on,” she said.

As many of Softscape’s weddings went ahead with only 15 to 30 guests as per government guidelines, Kate said they found that many brides were just opting for a bridal bouquet and buttonholes, and then using the bride's bouquet as a table centrepiece.

“Some brides have gone for more elaborate designs than they were originally thinking of,” she said, “As they were scaling back on other things, they found they had more money to spend elsewhere.”

Sadly, Kate has also seen that for some couples, the stress of organising a wedding has even led to some couples splitting up.

“It’s heartbreaking, when I do someone’s flowers I hold consultations with the couple and get to know them, so when they get in touch to say they’ve called it a day, it’s so sad.”

For Carol Dixon, who owns Celebration Cakes by Carol in North Willingham near Market Rasen, said: “When things first went pear shaped at the beginning of last year most of my cakes were rebooked for the summer.

“We’ve had some brides rebook two or three times, and now some have given up on having a wedding at all this year and have booked for 2022."

Financially, Carol said that this year has been a disastrous one in terms of income, as not only have people had to cancel or reschedule their weddings, but also birthday, christening and anniversary cakes because parties have not been allowed for the last 12 months.

She said: “Another thing I’ve not been able to do is go to wedding fairs, which is where I get most of my business from.

"Because weddings have been so scaled back, the majority of wedding cakes I have done have only been one tier, as opposed to three or four.

"I’ve also seen brides have their wedding cakes on show and then take their cakes home because they’ve not been allowed to serve any."

As receptions are currently not allowed to be held, catering companies are struggling following the cancellation of large events.

Sally Dunmore, of Dunmore’s Catering in Boston, said that they are usually booked up to two years in advance for life events.

Dunmore’s offer everything from hog roasts to canapes and hot and cold buffets, for events including weddings, funeral wakes, birthday parties and corporate events, and everything was thrown up in the air when the pandemic hit.

"The problem we've got is that the little jobs we've been allowed to do don't allow us to buy supplies cheap from wholesalers and we have to pay a delivery charge on orders less than £50, so we have to add additional items on to make up the costs," Sally explained.

"Because we can't order in as much food as we'd like, we're having to tell people we can't provide certain things."

Most of Dugmore's events, like most things, have been rescheduled for 2022 and Sally said they are all desperate to get back to normal:

"We just want to get back to business as usual - we've even had people ringing us up to ask if we're still in business."

Even those businesses whose services are strictly outdoors, such as Event Box in Skegness, haven't been able to operate due to the current ban on outdoor gatherings.

Event Box is a mobile bar in a vintage horse box available for hire, run by Lee Airstone, set up in 2019 and as with many new businesses, was hit hard by the pandemic this year as most of his bookings were cancelled.

Lee said: "We did quite a few weddings in our first year, but then last year all those we had planned had to be moved to the autumn, and then they had to be cancelled again."

Because Event Box is a new business, Lee was not eligible for any government funding and has continued his full-time job as a support worker for the Salvation Army to pay his insurance fees and other overheads.

In the meantime, to keep his business going, Lee launched Mix and Sips, where he delivers everything you need to mix your own cocktails at home, including disposable glasses, garnish, spirits and mixers, and had 132 orders in the first weekend.

To find out more, check out Event Box's Facebook page.