Parliament debate: weddings during coronavirus

9th November 2020: Parliament debates Weddings – everything you need to know.

Last night, we saw MPs from across Britain discuss E-petition 329339, the petition relating to the number of guests permitted at weddings during the coronavirus pandemic. Below is a summary of the main highlights, the video recording and the full debate transcript.

Summary:

Overall, this was a brilliant debate that finally shone a light on the struggles we are facing and the urgent needs of our industry. Bridebook, the Association of British Wedding Businesses (ABWB), Wedding Venues and suppliers across the country have been looking for a platform to voice their opinions and this was that platform.

MPs in attendance were focused on 3 main arguments:

  • Increasing the guest numbers at venues to fall in line with venue capacity.
  • The need for a clear roadmap for reopening so that businesses can start to rebuild and plan for the future.
  • Financial support to assure that we are able to survive as an industry.
  • The debate highlights:

    • Elliot Colburn strongly opened the debate, clearly informed by the ABWB briefing note stating: “Weddings take months and even years of intricate planning. Myself and many others believe the maximum number of guests authorised at wedding ceremonies should be increased. The number of guests permitted at weddings should be calculated according to venue capacity.” He closed his opening by urging the government to “set out a clear road map for reopening so that businesses can begin to bounce back.” This was to set the tone for the rest of the debate.
    • MPs in attendance continued to stress the real need for a roadmap and clear guidelines & instructions to assure that the industry survives.
    • It was further explained that the wedding guest number should be based on venue capacity with social distancing being observed.
    • Also highlighted multiple times was the ripple effect stemming from venue capacity limits. Venues are the key to unlocking the industry as many suppliers rely on the venue’s business. The industry is an ecosystem with venues at the helm.
    • The unfairness of pubs & restaurants being able to hold receptions when wedding venues can’t was almost scoffed at. The Ministers explained that wedding venues and suppliers would do anything they can to assure they were COVID safe and that risk assessments were met.
    • MPs also plead for financial support, stating that the majority of grants, to date, have not reached or supported businesses within the wedding industry
    • January & February were highlighted as crucial months for the industry. In just two short months, venues are able to recover a substantial amount of lost revenue, as they market for future business, specifically for 2022 bookings.
    • MPs explained that there is no substantial evidence that suggests that weddings have a direct impact on COVID numbers. Specifically highlighted was that in NI, where weddings have been able to take place with higher numbers, that again there has been no direct evidence of weddings having an impact.
    • Death bed weddings – MP urged the minister to increase the restriction to allow for more family members to attend death bed weddings.
    • Sadly, the minister Paul Scully closed the session without giving any real clarity as to solutions, nor did he show any real urgency in providing further guidance or support. Scully explained that the hospitality industry has put a lot in place to assure covid-safe rules but that this would be more difficult with wedding venues as friends/family are within the given area for longer periods of time so social distancing rules would be challenged.

    What’s next?

    • Scully, although lacking conviction, did state that he is working on measures to bring the industry together. He proposed to introduce a task force that would support encouraging the government to engage with the industry.
    • The ABWB will be writing an official response and will be reaching out to Paul Scully to gain clarity on the next steps.
    • Bridebook will be monitoring progress closely and will continue to share regular updates with our community.

    Resources

    Video recording: E-petitions debate on support for live events and weddings during Covid-19.

    Full transcript: Live Events and Weddings: Covid-19 Support