Of all the industries that were dealt a vicious blow as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the wedding industry was undoubtedly one of the most affected. The wedding industry as a whole generates approximately £14.7 billion every single year, from venue hire to entertainers, wedding planners to hair and makeup artists, wedding transport specialists to DJs, and everything in between.
As soon as the pandemic hit, this left thousands of couples across the UK without their big day, but the future of their big day was left hanging in the air. With the range of prohibitions on weddings since March 2020, this spearheaded an AAPG (All-Party Parliamentary Group) initiative set up in November 2020 to represent the wedding industry and support wedding business recovery. This became known as the UK Weddings Taskforce.
So, What Is the UK Weddings Taskforce Exactly?
The UK Weddings Taskforce was established to create a voice of unity that represented every single part of the wedding industry during the pandemic. Many wedding businesses reported massive losses, with revenues being down by over 75%. With 60,000 businesses left unable to operate since the outset of the pandemic, and nearly 1 million weddings estimated to have been postponed during that period, the taskforce was set up to find workable solutions for businesses hit by the pandemic restrictions.
The UK Weddings Taskforce is made up of representatives from different fields within the wedding industry. The team are known as the UK Weddings Council of Representatives, and is made up of groups, professional bodies, and associations from numerous sectors within the industry, comprising 8 working groups:
- Retail, which has a focus on the wedding industry retail sector.
- Representation, which focuses on representing businesses in every area of the wedding industry.
- Political engagement, focusing on building an effective working dialogue with the government.
- Opening up, that was focused on getting the UK wedding industry back up and running during COVID times.
- Large-scale weddings, focusing on current issues faced by multi-day or large-scale weddings throughout the wedding sector.
- Communications, providing a focus on business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) communications.
- Commercial and legal, focusing on both these two aspects of the wedding industry.
- Ceremonies, providing a focus on every aspect of UK wedding ceremonies.
Each working group has a number of industry professionals with unique expertise and experience in that sector, providing a comprehensive and holistic approach to the industry, ensuring no stone is unturned and can tackle the key priorities that the entire taskforce aims to address.
Why Is the UK Weddings Taskforce Essential?
As the industry moved out of the pandemic, and various restrictions were put in place and/or lifted, the taskforce was established to provide an effective dialogue with the government so they could establish safe methods of reopening and obtain financial support for companies who struggled over 2020 and 2021.
For the purposes of weddings throughout 2021, the UK Weddings Taskforce became the only official entity to provide a forum for questions between the general public and the government. When the taskforce was focused on reopening the sector, there was a selection of measures suggested by taskforce to Paul Scully MP (who announced the formation of the taskforce), which included the following:
- Measures to protect couples.
- A roadmap for the reopening of the sector, starting with 50+ guests.
- Access to support for related sectors, such as hospitality, including the 5% VAT rates relief.
- Adapting and extending existing support programs.
- A sector support grant of £680 million for wedding businesses.
As of July 19th 2021, when all remaining COVID social restrictions were lifted, this meant there were many couples scrambling to put together their perfect day, but the UK Weddings Taskforce was not put to bed at this point. The pandemic has taught businesses many lessons, not least within the wedding industry.
Prior to November 2020 when the taskforce was set up, there was no industry-wide body to represent the wedding sector at a decision-making level. When the pandemic hit, the wedding industry had to fight for recognition and the UK Weddings Taskforce was formed to maintain a robust framework ensuring full representation of the wedding industry’s needs, not just during COVID, but forever.
Despite the pandemic being put to bed for the most part, and weddings being in full force, the reality is that the wedding industry should not be put into this position again. The UK Weddings Taskforce is now in a position where it can maintain a steady dialogue with the government and represent the entire sector.
Since the lifting of restrictions, the taskforce has worked to not just deal with the COVID aspects of wedding planning but aims to provide regular information to people throughout the wedding industry. The most recent news relating to the wedding law reform has had an impact on couples planning to get married and how the ceremonies can be conducted, for example, allowing officiants to conduct ceremonies in a wider variety of locations like private homes, and offering greater choice over how ceremonies take place, which culminated in a Parliamentary Reception at the House of Commons on 15th November 2022.
Getting Involved with the Taskforce
There are a number of ways that we can all support the taskforce. We can receive updates via their Twitter and Instagram accounts, and can sign up for the newsletter, but we can also check the website for regular information. It's also possible to get involved as a volunteer.
The taskforce also hosts a number of online live webinars for industry professionals, and it's safe to say that in terms of an industry-wide representative, the UK Weddings Taskforce is something that should have been set up a long time ago.
We are incredibly thankful that the pandemic has spearheaded the need for underrepresented industries to have their own advocacy groups. As the UK wedding sector is still picking up post-pandemic, and with a big backlog of weddings, it's critical that industry professionals all have a sense of togetherness and support, which is why we see the taskforce is a force for good throughout the entire industry.