In the midst of the current pandemic and seemingly endless lockdowns, it seems almost impossible to imagine how the wedding sector might recover. Even Louis Armstrong would be hard-pressed to find anything wonderful about the industry’s near obliteration in recent months. But, forever the optimist, I think there is every chance the industry can bounce back.
Don’t lose hope
I suspect most of the wedding venues themselves are sufficiently protected by previous successful years and the government support (limited though it has been). It’s also true that while the world has essentially stood still, romance has still flourished and couples have continued to become engaged. Weddings cancelled in 2020 are also still going to go ahead at a later date meaning couples will still essentially want to hire venues.
As a result, demand for weddings is actually high right now. At our own venue Larkspur Lodge, 2021 is largely booked up and inquiries continue to come in for 2022 and beyond.
Supply chain woes
The problem for the wedding industry is not the prospect of having no couples wanting to wed but in the supply chain.
The supply chain has been decimated. Yo-yo lockdowns, postponed weddings, employment issues, and financial concerns have impacted many businesses in the supply chain. Think about it. The wedding industry is a labyrinth of small independent businesses, sole traders, and family businesses. These include, but are not limited to, florists, photographers, venue dressers, music, entertainers, caterers, lighting specialists, and stationery suppliers.
With the same contempt as it has treated parts of the arts sector, the government seems content to lock these workers in the attic, like some disgraced family member who they hope will be eventually forgotten. It’s simply not enough to say “we can’t save every business”. It’s also insufficient to tell entertainers to move into other sectors and “find ways to retrain”. The wedding industry is viable, it just needs time.
In the short term, these businesses have had to pivot and be extremely creative about how they can generate any income at all. In many cases, they have had to take up short-term employment elsewhere or take on debt in the form of government-backed loans.
Time and time again, industries like the wedding sector or the arts seem to be viewed as ‘whipped cream’ rather than considerable contributors to the economy and an important part of life. This is not a doomed industry without hope for the future. Couples will continue to become engaged, they’ll continue to marry, and they’ll continue to require venues and suppliers.
It’s time for the government to stop acting like a toxic bachelor and make a commitment to love, honour, and respect the wedding industry supply chain through real financial support.
By Matthew Mooney, owner of Larkspur Lodge in Cheshire