Weddings are 'booked up until 2023', planner says

Weddings are ‘booked up until 2023’: Planner from London says many venues have no space for TWO YEARS and those that do have hiked prices by 15% after PM’s roadmap out of lockdown triggered surge in demand

  • Brides face a scramble for places as planners say phones are ringing ‘non-stop’
  • PM announced weddings with a maximum of six will take place from March 8
  • This will increase to 15 ‘no earlier than April 12’ – and to 30 people from May 17
  • Normal weddings told June 21 was the earliest date all restrictions will be lifted
  • Planner Rebecca Brennan-Brown said London venues booked until end of 2022

Wedding venues have been booked up for two years after Boris Johnson announced people can get hitched from next month.

Hopeful brides and grooms face a scramble for places as planners say their phones are ringing ‘non-stop’.

The PM said on Monday weddings with a maximum of six will take place from March 8, increasing to 15 ‘no earlier than April 12’ and to 30 people from May 17.

Those wanting a full-sized wedding were told June 21 was the earliest date all restrictions will be lifted.

The announcement triggered a stampede as some wedding suppliers reported a 720 per cent increase in sales, with September to November proving popular months.

Soho-based planner Rebecca Brennan-Brown said venues across London have been booked up until the end of 2022.

Soho-based planner Rebecca Brennan-Brown (pictured) said venues across London have been booked up until the end of 2022

Hopeful brides and grooms face a scramble for places as planners say their phones are ringing ‘non-stop’ (file photo)

She told the BBC: ‘The second Boris Johnson stopped talking, my phone started ringing non-stop.’

She said: ‘Many venues in London are completely booked out until 2023 and those that aren’t yet have hiked up their wedding packages by about 15%.’

She added: ‘I think I’m still processing what was said because I wasn’t expecting there to be no restrictions in June – that feels very quick for me personally.’

Industry experts and suppliers saw a rapid rise in bookings with 500,000 weddings predicted to take place in the next year.

Decoration suppliers Ginger Ray saw searches peak at a staggering 3,054 on Monday night.

Meanwhile founder of the Bridebook app Hamish Shephard revealed the system crashed due to a sharp rise in traffic – with 23,112 couples logging in.

He said: ‘Get ready for the race down the aisle. Couples should be aware they may face a lot of competition for Autumn dates as brides-to-be rush to plan and book suppliers.

‘We saw a 720% spike after Boris Johnson’s announcement and it’s looking like a huge amount of couples will want to get married between September and November.

‘If you have not booked your venue yet, I would highly encourage couples to move quickly.’

Hamish Shephard (pictured), founder of leading UK app Bridebook, revealed that following Boris’ announcement, the app crashed due to a sharp, sudden rise in traffic

Wedding photographer duo Stephanie and Nicole say that they have also seen added interest since Borismr Johnson’s announcement

He continued: ‘It was the busiest night in wedding planning history and the app crashed within an hour of Boris’s announcement!

‘We saw a high number of couples attempting to download Bridebook to book their venue in the space of a few hours.

‘Sadly it was too much traffic to cope with – though I am pleased to say we are now back up and running.’

‘It’s not surprising given the clarity we now have for the summer peak wedding season and beyond, with next year being set to see 1,000,000 people get married and 500,000+ weddings.’

Bridebook says 735 couples will get married on June 21 and adds there is a huge demand for ceremonies across the country.

Hamish added: ‘By 8pm three venues had commented on our Slack channel that they had had two booking confirmations.

‘Consumer confidence is up immeasurably finally, and the wedding industry is ready!’

Bridebook bride Alison Mullett, who is due to marry Glenn Mather, told FEMAIL she was one of the lucky ones who has booked in for July 26.

Phillipa Lepley (pictured), British couture dress designer, says that since Monday night, they have seen an incredible spike in enquiries

Sue Barnes from LGF says that Lavender Green Flowers has already seen a huge number of brides contact them to discuss confirmations on weddings (pictured)

Ms Mullett, who was due to get wed on July 26, 2020, said before Mr Johnson’s announcement she had planned four weddings – two dates and two different styles.

She said: ‘This is our fifth attempt to get married! The announcement was totally unbelievable.

‘Even though I didn’t feel like I was anxious about it, as soon as he said June 21st it felt like the most enormous weight had been lifted. I am still really teary now. I just thought FINALLY!’

‘We watched the announcement right until the end to check there weren’t any u-turns and then as soon as it was finished we sat at the dining table and went on the Bridebook app.

‘The app was down last night, so we ended up pulling out all our old excels and pieces of paper starting to draw up plans, until we got back on this morning.’ 

She said she resumed wedding planning ‘straight away’, adding: ‘We had a bottle of pink Lanson champagne ready to go in the hope we would be happy with the news, which we opened straight away!’ 

Speaking exclusively to FEMAIL, Bridebook bride Alison Mullett, who is due to marry Glenn Mather, jumped on the phone to book a new wedding date following Boris’ announcement (pictured, together)

Alison (pictured, with Glenn) says she resumed wedding planning ‘straight away’ – adding: ‘ We had a bottle of pink Lanson champagne ready to go in the hope we would be happy with the news, which we opened straight away!’

‘I took today off work to get ahead and because I just feel so excited! I have been so busy getting in touch with absolutely everybody – all our suppliers and the venue. Relatives and invites will all come next – that is our plan for tomorrow evening.’

Ms Mullett continued: ‘We’re having the whole thing at the venue now as our notice of marriage has expired and the registrars weren’t open to renew it, so now we are getting married at the local church and then having the ceremony at the venue, Venue is Heaton House Farm, in Macclesfield.

‘I am just so excited to get back planning! We have managed to put it to the back of our minds for so long and try to forget until we have positive news.’

‘We have a wedding WhatsApp group with family and close friends on, and we messaged straight away – everyone on it was thrilled!

‘We have people planing to come to the wedding from Scotland, Plymouth, Devon and the Midlands – it will just be so brilliant to see everyone in July.’ 

Jess and Max (pictured) initially planned to get married on Saturday 29th May, but have since scheduled their date for August

Head of Sales & Marketing at Hedsor House Fran Everist said her team were prepared for good and bad news from the PM’s speech.

She said: ‘Luckily it was positive news for many – the phone started ringing at 4pm yesterday and it hasn’t stopped since.

‘Our existing couples are our priority and we will be are working through plans with each and every one of our existing couples them carefully, and new enquiries have started to come in thick and fast today.’

Monty Clevely, founder of Full Monty Events, a boutique wedding and events planning consultancy, was equally as delighted by the news.

She said: ‘After the announcement yesterday, I had about 10 brides message and call me saying that they want to resume their planning and get started now that they have been given the green light, which was so exciting.

‘I am over the moon that there is now light at the end of the tunnel and I can get back to doing what I love most – planning beautiful weddings.

‘I am also so happy that brides to be can finally move forward and be excited for their dream weddings to actually happen!’ 

Monty Clevely (pictured), founder of Full Monty Events, a boutique wedding and events planning consultancy, says she was ‘so anxious’ for the announcement – but was delighted with the news

A private client of Monty’s told FEMAIL: ‘My fiancé and I are so thrilled that weddings can finally resume at normal capacity come the end of June.

‘We have had to cancel our wedding twice now due to the pandemic and while it was really tough and sad at the time, it’s given us extra time to really narrow down exactly what we want for when we can have our special day! 

‘We are so excited to be working with Monty again so that we can go full steam ahead with the preparations. 

Wedding gift list companies have also seen a rise:

The Wedding Present Company:  

‘Last night saw our highest evening of guest pledges since December 2020, with revenue more than doubling on previous sales so far in 2021. 

We saw a +46% increase on same day last year, showing that guest confidence is on the rise!

Monday also saw a spike in new wedding list registrations, up 98% compared to the previous Monday. 

All new registrations were for 2021 weddings bar one, with an average guest list size of 120.

Almost immediately after Boris’ announcement, we saw a flurry of requests from engaged couples to book a private showroom appointment for when we can reopen our London showroom on 12 April.

‘We continue to utilise our Virtual Appointments (born out of lockdown to serve our clients remotely) to get to know our couples and help them get started with their wedding gift list in the meantime.

From 4pm Monday we saw: 

– 22% increase in users to the website Monday night

– 10% increase in new users to the website Monday night

– 24% increase in organic traffic to the website’

Georgie Evans, The Wedding Present Company MD (pictured)

The Wedding Shop:  

‘There was a 50% increase in registrations compared to the previous Monday and 17% increase compared to the previous day.

We saw twice the number of appointments being booked compared to the previous day

The average guest pledge value was up compared to the same day the previous year.’

Prezola:  

‘Logged in traffic up was up 16% compared to the previous day and we saw a spike in registrations at 7pm.

Compared to the previous Monday we were up 40% in logged in users, 35% in sessions and 71% up in page views.’

 

‘As soon we heard last night’s announcement, we texted her immediately asking for a call today to discuss how best to move forward. 

‘Thankfully our wedding venue still had a few dates available for this year, so we immediately confirmed that as our first port of call. Then we gave Monty a call to talk through everything!’

Kate Beavis, the owner of creative wedding blog and directory Magpie Wedding, said Monday was a ‘key day’ for couples and wedding suppliers alike.

She said: ‘Our bride group have almost stopped planning as they didn’t want their hopes dashed again. Last night felt like a very different story.

‘Our wedding Magpie Wedding Directory (where we showcase amazing suppliers to our couples) had the biggest day every for website hits.

‘We usually get a few thousand a day but last night we reached 18, 000 and today looks to be the same, in fact, double!

‘Our couples want a sustainable wedding – our Guide To Having An Ethical Wedding was downloaded a record amount yesterday.

‘We are now so hopeful that we can put our wedding shows on again too – couples are itching to come out to meet suppliers, to taste the cake samples, and try on dresses!’

Nehar Ullah-Donofrio, from Spot On Event, said they have also had a few bookings confirmed since the announcement, which is ‘amazing news’.

She added: ‘I can imagine the venues are very busy though because I myself have allied two venues since this morning to confirm dates and also a few to understand their cancellation policy should there be a change in the rules.’

Another couple who were eager to book in a new wedding date was Jess and Max – who do not wish to share their surname.

They had planned to get married on May 29 with a Tipi-style wedding.

But since the PM’s announcement, Jess has been rushing around all of her suppliers trying to arrange a new date, which has since been scheduled for August.

Speaking of their plans before the update, Jess told FEMAIL: ‘We had all our suppliers in place and remained hopeful that we would still be able to get married in May.

‘But planning the little details and getting excited about the day had dropped off as deep down we probably knew we wouldn’t be able to have as many guests as we wanted (we planned for 140 and decided that we would go ahead as long as we could have 50 guests).

‘The uncertainty really impacted our feelings about the wedding, as it is so hard to be excited and motivated to plan for a wedding we weren’t sure would happen!’

Jess went on to say how the couple initially felt ‘deflated’ after the news.

‘Whilst we probably had already realised it would be tough, it was much more disappointing hearing it confirmed.

‘It was also hard to process that if we had a wedding a month later, there would be no restrictions.

‘I also felt really overwhelmed by the need to scramble for a new date, as of course there are many couples in our situation.’

But Jess resumed her wedding planning, adding: ‘By some miracle, we have got all our main suppliers aligned for a new date in August which we are SO thrilled about.’

‘All of my suppliers, especially Caviar & Chips and Sami Tipi, have been so wonderfully supportive throughout the whole process and helping us re-plan.’

‘And it wasn’t only wedding venues and planners that saw an almost immediate demand from brides-to-be.

Sue Barnes, from Lavender Green Flowers, said the firm saw a huge number of brides contact them to discuss confirmations on weddings. 

She added the announcement has given them the confidence and enquiries are surging again. 

She added: ‘The team are thrilled if somewhat overwhelmed. But we are raring to go!’

Dresses and couture overlays patiently waiting in the window of the closed Phillipa Lepley shop

Kate Beavis, the owner of creative wedding blog and directory Magpie Wedding says Monday was a ‘key day’ for couples and wedding suppliers alike

Phillipa Lepley, British couture dress designer, said they have also seen an incredible spike in interest.

She said: ‘Brides are thrilled to be able to resume the process of creating their dress with us.

‘They are quickly booking additional virtual appointments so they can be ready for as soon as the shop opens to have their in house fittings.

‘It has been a joy to see messages from brides and how happy those who are choosing to go ahead in the next couple of months are feeling.

‘We have an additional large pop up space in Chelsea close to our store to manage the backlog of fittings and viewings required.

We can see twice as many brides in person when safely allowed to do so, this way we can facilitate the large number of brides who have waited patiently and postponed weddings over the last year.’

Stephanie Moran, bridal designer in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, also thinks with all the uncertainty, her clients have light at the end of the tunnel.

She said: ‘I came to the stage of not booking future appointments so since the announcement I’ve had so many brides that were on ‘on hold’ per se, call and email me before I’ve had a chance to put a plan in place. 

Stephanie Moran (pictured), bridal designer in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, also thinks with all the uncertainty, her clients have finally got actual light at the end of the tunnel with regards to tying the knot, without restrictions

Amy, the owner of Amica Bridal Boutique (pictured), has been inundated with brides contacting them to book appointments to try on dresses or to have their wedding dress altered ready for the big day they’ve been waiting for

Photographer Kate says that almost instantly, she had couples get in touch with her Monday evening following the announcement, weeks after their initial enquiry

‘From couture clients to alterations and accessories clients, it’s now about planning carefully for the dates ahead to make sure that I can fit it all in as it is vital everyone gets their dream dress; it will be tough, as we have an influx of current and new brides excited about their wedding.’

The Wedding Lawyer 

Pranav Bhanot, founder of The Wedding Lawyer and head of Wedding Law at law firm Meaby & Co LLP, says: 

‘Since the Government Roadmap last night, we have received approximately 100 enquiries overnight regarding the next steps both suppliers and couples should not be taking.’

‘Whilst there is cautious optimism, there is also a frantic rush to get the weddings organised.  

What we have noticed: 

1. Couples are using the Government Roadmap as an opportunity to resolve their disputes about refunds with suppliers and adopt a conciliatory approach to wedding planning.

2. Couples wish to move fast as they appreciate peak weekends over the summer months will be subject to high demand. 

We have found a surge in consultations, as couples wish to obtain guidance and advice before going ahead with their bookings.

3. Wedding suppliers and couples are asking for us to review new agreements and addendums to existing contracts as a renegotiation of terms and conditions are taking place between the parties following the announcement Monday night.

4. I have been approached by a venues to ask what the Government announcement means for ensuring they can host a COVID-19 Secure event.’ 

‘For the wedding industry, this is what we have waited for and we do the job because we love it, so my brides will definitely be walking down the aisle in the dress of their dreams!’

Amy, the owner of Amica Bridal Boutique has been inundated with brides contacting them to book appointments to try on dresses or to have their wedding dress altered ready for the big day they’ve been waiting for.

She added: Many brides who got engaged during lockdown feel that they’ve been robbed of the excitement and buildup to their big day – no dress shopping, hair trials, engagement party or visits to wedding fairs.

‘Their experience has been tarnished. Brides-to-be and their families can’t wait to be part of the bride experience and have something exciting to do together! We will be embracing them when we can reopen. It’s going to be such an incredible time.’ 

And wedding photographer duo Stephanie and Nicole also said they have had added interest since the roadmap was unveiled – although it has not been at the rate of other suppliers. 

They said: ‘It has been the hardest year of our lives – I can’t tell you how much more positive we have been feeling in the last 12 hours.

‘The phone isn’t ringing off the hook yet, but we did see a couple of booking confirmations come through last night and website traffic is up slightly today, so hopefully improvements will continue.

‘We can’t wait to be back photographing weddings again soon!’

Kate Gray, wedding photographer and Owner of Kate Gray Photography, added: 

‘It is has been a year of uncertainty for the industry, but the announcement yesterday seems to have given some couples that much needed confidence to commit and book their suppliers.

‘Almost instantly, we had couples get in touch with us yesterday evening following the announcement, weeks after their initial enquiry. 

‘It is clear many couples have been sat on the fence waiting for that glimmer of hope for the future, and it seems yesterday provided that.’

Kate is urging couples to reach out to potential suppliers as soon as they can.

She added: ‘We will begin to see a real rush of enquiries, with almost a double season of weddings expected for years 2021 and 2022, as so many couples have decided to postpone or reschedule, and further disappointment could be a real blow to many brides.’

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