Wedding venue appeals to the Government to relax restrictions

Wedding venue appeals to the Government to relax restrictions

The owners of a Derbyshire wedding venue have appealed to their local MP for guidance and support because they believe their industry is being neglected by the Government.

The family running Shottle Hall, near Belper, has contacted the MP for Amber Valley, Nigel Mills, to ask why wedding venues are not able to follow the same social distancing guidelines that have allowed pubs and restaurants to successfully reopen.

From August 1 small wedding receptions are able to take place in England – which means sit-down meals for no more than 30 people – while bars and restaurants are able to serve far greater numbers.

And, while business events, conferences, exhibitions and stadiums have been given the go ahead to reopen on October 1, the weddings industry has been given no roadmap for the easing of restrictions.

Shottle Hall’s weddings director, Sarah Davis, is due to get married herself on September 12 at Shottle Hall itself.

She said: “The wedding industry is largely made up of small to medium-sized businesses who are being given no clear Government guidelines as to when Covid-secure wedding celebrations will increase to a more viable number of guests.

“It makes no sense that wedding receptions made up of family and friends should be restricted to groups of 30, while large groups of complete strangers can visit a restaurant or pub, sports ground or exhibition centre.

“We have one bride who needs to slash her guest list down to 30 before her wedding on October 3rd. On that same day, thousands of brides from all over the country will be able to visit the National Weddings Show at Birmingham’s NEC - where’s the logic in that?

“My own wedding will go ahead on September 12 even if it is just a small celebration to mark the date, as with the current restrictions some of our close family & even two of my bridesmaids can’t share in our special day. 

“Just like myself, many of our couples are still in limbo, with no idea of when or if the guest numbers will increase. There are also countless couples who moved their March and April weddings to October and they still have no idea what their big day might look like, which is just heart-breaking.”

Yet, Sarah argues, wedding venues provide a safer environment than bars and restaurants as guests do not need to place a food order or pay a bill, households can be seated together and many have plenty of space to allow social distancing.

In addition, track and trace contact details can easily be obtained from wedding guests, while the outdoor spaces used for photographs can be utilised to allow guests to keep safely apart.

Almost all Shottle Hall’s 2020 weddings have been moved to dates in 2021 at no extra cost to the couples. But, with the limited availability for new weddings in 2021 and the furlough scheme ending in October, the venue is being put under increasing financial pressure.

Sarah added: “Weddings cannot be organised overnight and clear plans for the future need to be put in place to avoid even more postponements which affect the entire industry.

“Our MP Nigel Mills was sympathetic, but there’s not much he can do. The whole weddings industry, which is worth £10bn in the UK, is being crippled by these restrictions and we have no light at the end of the tunnel.

“We know many of our couples really want to get married and would be happy to adhere to Covid-secure measures that would allow everyone to stay safe. We hope the Government will hear this appeal and at least give us all some indication as to when we can move forward.”   


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