Business owners have said that the wedding industry has been ‘decimated’ – and the future for them is unclear

Weddings are a memory you’ll likely treasure for the rest of your life; it’s a time for family and friends to come together, and every big day is special and unique in its own way.

And that’s partly down to those who make it run smoothly behind the scenes – from photographers to florists, to the great music and delicious food.

The brutal effects of the pandemic have been devastating for brides and grooms-to-be, but also those who work tirelessly to make couples’ days perfect.

The current guidelines for weddings mean that couples should only consider booking in “exceptional circumstances”. These include if a partner is seriously ill and not expected to recover, or is to undergo debilitating treatment or life-changing surgery.

These ceremonies must only take place with up to six people.

Plymouth has already seen a handful of wedding venues shut their doors over the last year, with the Moorland Garden Hotel closing in August, and The Duke of Cornwall Hotel earlier this month.

Business owners have said that the wedding industry has been ‘decimated’ – and the future for them is unclear.

Sam King, a DJ who has been in the game for around 15 years, says he went from offering his services at 118 weddings in 2019, to just seven in 2020.

He says he has a lost turn-over of close to £40k, and says everything has come to a complete “halt” – he has even had to pick up another job in a factory to survive.

Have you got time to fill in our quick survey about which run-down Plymouth building you’d like to see restored? Click here

“The reality is the only reason it hasn’t killed the business is because your business is your baby and you end up putting it first even when you shouldn’t,” the DJ said about his business Sam King Entertainment. “People may look at it and think the business should’ve been closed months ago, it’s no longer profitable or viable anymore.

“Even with the government grants, the majority of it goes on business expenses and wasn’t anything I could live off.

“I had to look for employment elsewhere. There’s still major expenses, I have to pay storage and insurance, but it has completely killed it.

‘It’s brought everything to a complete standstill’

“I’m very lucky that I work with enough people that we’ve managed to move all the gear into people’s garages so we’ve managed to cut down the costs that way as much as we can.

“That’s the only reason we’ll survive when we start up again. The amounts we’ve had to refund, the deposits aren’t enough to keep the business going, it’s brought everything to a complete stand-still.”

Sam says he works closely with Crown Entertainment, and says they have had 250 weddings postponed and 30 cancelled.

“I took the business over from my father. I was literally doing it when I was ten years old, I was DJing at my school fair at that age.

Sam King runs Sam King Entertainment
(Image: Sam King)

“I’ve never known anything like this. The only thing anywhere close to this was the foot and mouth outbreaks. That wasn’t anywhere near this level.

“It didn’t kill off the industry completely but it did stop the more rustic venues like farm-style venues. But the hotel trade continued, there wasn’t a huge impact.”

When asked about the future of the wedding industry, Sam said: “It’s an odd one. Yes I think the next two years are going to be extremely interesting.

“We’ve got to fit the whole of 2020 into the next year. If we’re lucky we might start up in August this year, but realistically we’re going to have to fit all of the weddings into 2023. There aren’ t physically enough dates available.All the key dates for next year have been taken up by the ones postponed this year.

“To generate the work we always go to wedding fairs and promote ourselves, and we already haven’t done that for a year and a bit. So we’re not getting fresh inquiries through, the only ones I’ve got are the ones I’m pushing off and rescheduling All the work in the calendar for the next 12 months or so I’ve already had the deposits for, so I won’t see huge funds coming through, it’ll only be the remainder they have to pay which will keep the business ticking over.”

He continued: “Even if today they said we can do weddings to the full potential, we’re not going to be back up and running again for at least two years taking fresh inquiries and new bookings.

“I think the industry has been forgotten about but as far as individuals go, I feel they did do everything they could.

“The self employment grants that were given, you couldn’t have asked for anything more than that to be fair.

“A lot of companies especially in the wedding industry, a lot of them are small sole traders. A lot of them don’t have business premises, so they couldn’t get the big loans that were offered. So I do think the whole wedding and entertainment industry was forgotten about.”

Visit his Facebook here.

‘The industry has been decimated’

Another business owner, who wishes not to be named, runs a photo booth company in Plymouth called Cloud 9 Booths.

He said that his company was a “major part” of his income, and says it’s a “waiting game” to see what will come next.

“The pandemic for us has been a major hit, it has affected the whole industry from photo booth companies and suppliers going bust, to customers canceling their weddings and people canceling their private events.

“Last year we would have had a booking every Friday and Saturday sometimes during the week as well.

“Our last events were in December for a small wedding but that was a lot of extra work ensuring we were Covid safe. This year should have been our busiest year with February and all the following months booked with weddings and charity and private events.”

Video loading

Video Unavailable

Click to play
Tap to play

The video will auto-play soon8thCancel

play now

The business boss continued: “The industry has been decimated with suppliers and small companies receiving no support means many have had to close their doors. We used to order fresh and brand new props every few months we haven’t been able to due to the lack of funds.

“It was a major part of my income I am disabled as well so it has suited for the hours. I can do my other business which is 3D printing, which has been a little busier. My wife is a nursery nurse so that helps with the income slightly.

“The future for us is unclear for everyone in the industry, it’s a waiting game. Some many may close others will restart and were almost be like recreating industry, where we accept the damage has been done and move on.”

Visit their Facebook here.

‘We’re trying to keep positive’

Lilly and Dean started their business in 2017
(Image: Lilly Krupa)

For one wedding planner, however, the lockdown has meant she can invest in her business.

Lilly Krupa, who runs her wedding planning company White Ice Events with fiancée Dean, has been in the industry for 12 years.

“It was just our idea to put our knowledge together and do something together, so it’s something I do alongside working at a hotel,” she said. “We do hiring of flowers, sweet carts, styling of the room. We’re your one stop shop for all events needs really.”

But she explains that the lockdown has taken virtually all of their business, with 80% of their income coming from weddings.

“We’ve had to postpone bookings, some people have canceled their weddings and don’t want to go ahead. The times were so bad that we were just happy to offer a refund because you have to support each other.

“But we’re trying to keep positive. We’ve been buying from local companies, trying to support them.

“We’ve had some time to invest into the business and it’s been beneficial to us to be honest. We’re gearing up for when things go absolutely mad with weddings and private parties. We’re currently converting a mobile trailer into a bar .

You can stay up to date on the top news and events near you with PlymouthLive’s FREE newsletters – enter your email address at the top of the page

“Last year we did a few weddings at the start of the year, and then it was pretty much lockdown for the rest of the year. The last wedding we did was in December but with the guidelines in place. So they were more intimate weddings really.

“I’ve started writing, you just have to keep positive. It will be over soon, and we just have to be ready for when it’s all over. You need to take it day by day, and we’ve been really lucky that we’ve had the time and invest money to make it as good as it can be.”

Visit their Facebook here.

More top stories:

Plymouth Pier was one of the Hoe’s greatest attractions

Barne Barton mum is bossing it despite repeated lockdowns

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here