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Northeast wedding venues react as Boris Johnson delays lifting of lockdown restrictions by four weeks UK News

The 30-person limit for wedding guests is one of the only restrictions to be lifted on June 21, bringing a much-appreciated surprise to couples who have faced more than a year of uncertainty about their big day.

Couples, vendors and wedding planners endured anxious wait for the news as the future of summer celebrations looked increasingly unlikely with the increase in Covid cases across the country.

However, during a press conference on Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that weddings with more than 30 guests could take place, provided social distancing is always maintained.

Read more:Coronavirus news LIVE: Vaccines will be offered to people over 18 by the end of the week after the postponement of Freedom Day

This was an unexpected relief for many who were relying on the final leg of the lockdown roadmap, which was largely postponed until at least July 19.

But some Northumberland sites have said easing the 30-guest limit is still a long way from a return to “business as usual” – and for some companies, the announcement came too late.

Richard Shell, CEO of the Doxford Group, which owns the popular Doxford Barns and Chatton Hall wedding venues, spent the hours following the announcement trying to figure out what that would mean for weddings at his venues.

“I sat down at 6 pm and listened to the Prime Minister’s announcement about lifting the marriage limits, but it’s not that simple,” he said.

“Raising the wedding limit to 30 isn’t what it seems and that’s why when I looked at the ad and looked further into it, I realized it wasn’t that sing and dance.”

Richard explained that social distancing will further greatly reduce the number of guests who will be able to attend weddings.

The team is currently exploring “creative” ways to support guests and are considering options such as a video link for guests to view the ceremonies.

But Richard understands that the “finer details” of the wedding restrictions will still disappoint some couples who booked a wedding between June 21 and July 19.

Richard Shell, CEO of the Doxford Group, which owns popular wedding venues Doxford Barns and Chatton Hall
Richard Shell, CEO of the Doxford Group, which owns popular wedding venues Doxford Barns and Chatton Hall

Richard said: “For weddings that have a larger number, we still can’t facilitate that.

“For them that means a movement of dates with an already full order of weddings booked in the future and it’s going to be really hard for us to find the dates that couples want.

“We are back to that pressure. The pressure that we have lived and breathed since March 2020, when we had to move hundreds and hundreds of weddings and today I’m afraid we are back to this place. “

He added, “The problem with weddings is that it’s a big supply chain. It’s not like a restaurant that opens its doors saying come in and dine with us.

“We have a big head start on these events because the bride and groom, the bride and groom, the bride and groom have to invite their guests and they can come from far geographically.

“And to put it simply, actually the red pen is out now, we have to shrink our guest list and you have less than seven days to do that, that’s a great thing.”

Richard explained that couples are very worried about whether or not they will be able to have all of their guests.

Couples are also disappointed to have to sit down for cocktails “because it is not part of a wedding”.

“A big part of a wedding is you mingle and now we’re told appetizers will have to be served at the table, it’s not really conducive to the wedding our couples had hoped for,” said Richard.

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Richard said: “At the moment we are trying to digest all the information, but the advice hints that guests will have to sit down for a drink and cannot come to the bar for a drink.

“This means that we are going to have to bring in more staff to be able to facilitate the service and it is a cost that we are going to have to absorb.

“It’s not great when we try to get back into a position where we are returning to profitability, which we haven’t been for several months due to restrictions imposed by the government.”

He added: “It’s a struggle but we have to work with our couples to get through it.

“We are used to organizing different events and working in a reactive way, so we are up to the challenge and we will work according to the advice and we will work for our bride and groom to make their day the best it can be.”

Vicky Moffitt, of Vallum Farm, Wallhouses, offered those forced to go ahead with a small party as they hoped for the option of a bigger party later down the line at no cost room rental.

But she found that few people had accepted her, and the lifting of the 30-guest limit at weddings means that most big days will now be able to go to full capacity, with …

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This notice was published: 2021-06-15 17:23:07

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