'On tenterhooks': Wedding firms on edge over June 21 deadline

Emma-Louise Boubaker

Emma-Louise Boubaker is the owner of Bayfield Catering who has 42 weddings booked this summer - Credit: Bayfield Catering

Couples might be waiting a little longer to get a ring on their fingers with the news that the easing of restrictions on June 21 may be put back. 

People who want 100 people or more at their weddings will be waiting with bated breath on Monday to see if their plans are scuppered. 

And owners of businesses connected with the wedding industry - from hotels to catering companies - are trying to remain optimistic too.

David Graham Dunston Hall manager

David Graham at Dunston Hall - Credit: Archant

The manager of Dunston Hall Hotel in Norwich said they would lose £80,000 worth of wedding takings if the restrictions weren't eased as hoped.

There is a glimmer of hope for them, however, with the speculative news that even if other restrictions remain, they may be eased for wedding ceremonies. 

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But the melting pot of outcomes is making it infinitely more difficult for businesses whose bottom line depends on their sector getting back to normal. 

Emma-Louise Boubaker

Emma-Louise Boubaker - Credit: Emma-Louise Boubaker

Emma-Louise Boubaker, the owner of Bayfield Catering in Blakeney, said: “I’ve got 42 weddings in the calendar and 18 of them are for more than 100 people. One of those is booked in for June 21.  

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“People are just on tenterhooks, I have to keep everything crossed for the brides and grooms and for my business. We stand to lose a lot financially if the plan for reopening doesn’t go ahead on June 21 – it has been a very stressful year.  

“I’ve been refunding deposits and rebooking people as often as I can, it’s just so difficult to plan when there’s no confirmation of restriction changes. During the lockdowns I was doing drop off fish and chips as well as veg boxes and some dine at home options. It was enough to keep us ticking over but there was no real profit in it.  

“June, July, August and September are my busiest months by far so if restrictions do get pushed back it would have an ongoing impact.”  

Sonia Padovani, the owner of Prima Donna Bridal Wear in Norwich’s Timberhill, said: “This news impacts us less than other businesses because we work further in advance – a two-week notice change doesn’t change the customers we have coming in at the moment.  

“But we have two situations for the brides we’re working with at the moment. We have the ones who we began working with a year ago, or even longer, and the brides booking for next year.

"The impact on our customers is one thing but we have also seen an impact on our business. We usually have some mid-season lines coming through but we haven't had those collections dropping because there haven't been any weddings. 

"So the stock movement has been a bit different but we're starting to see those lines opening up and getting back to normal again. I think in the coming months the industry should - hopefully - be operating as normal again." 

Venues similarly stand to lose tens of thousands of pounds. 

David Graham, Dunston Hall, Norwich

David Graham, manager of Dunston Hall - Credit: Archant

David Graham, manager of Dunston Hall in Norwich, said: "We have 14 weddings booked for July, all of them for more than 30 people.

"If those weddings have to be cancelled, it will have a big financial effect on the hotel - of around £80,000. This doesn't even include the bedroom spend so it's really tricky.

"However, what's most important to us is that people have the wedding they want, not what they are forced to have so we will of course offer brides and grooms the chance to postpone."

Nick Attfield, director of properties at Adnams, said the change in restrictions would make a huge d

Nick Attfield, director of properties at Adnams - Credit: JAMES BEDFORD/ADNAMS

Nick Attfield, director of properties at Adnams, with hotels across Norfolk and Suffolk including the White Horse at Blakeney, said: “If they go ahead with full-blown ‘everything's fine, off you go’ then it’s happy days, we know exactly what we're doing. But I think it’s the worry that there might still be some restrictions left on hospitality.”

He said there was a split among his staff over their feelings about reopening, with many of them under 30 and not yet fully vaccinated.

“I think our teams are a true reflection of society in general,” he said. “You've got people at different ends of the worry spectrum. We all handle these things differently.

“We're all a bit nervous about what's going to happen in either direction.”

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