Wedding industry reacts to new restrictions as Kent couples rush to tie the knot

New restrictions on weddings have come into force with guest list numbers are tightened once again.

The move announced on Tuesday has led to a last-minute dash by couples to squeeze in their nuptials in ahead of the rule change.

Wedding ceremony and reception numbers have been restricted to 15 from today
Wedding ceremony and reception numbers have been restricted to 15 from today

It was revealed by register offices throughout the county that at least 12 partners managed to bring their day forward to avoid the difficult task of axing guests.

The surge comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced last week wedding ceremonies and sit-down receptions will be cut from 30 people to 15 as part of new measures to curb a rise in coronavirus cases. Tough fines of up to £10,000 have also been introducedfor anyone flouting the new rules.

One bride-to-be who rearranged at two days' notice was Lauren Baker, 27, who wed partner Oliver Jaye, 30, at Cooling Castle Barn in Rochester.

However, Lauren hit out at the rules which curb wedding numbers but do not do the same for pubs and bars, for which a curfew of 10pm is in place but no restriction on numbers.

She said: "It is insulting to people who are planning weddings.

"I'm having to bend over backwards and socially distance and put people in their bubbles on their table for our wedding even on Friday and they just get away with murder."

It is the third time the couple have rescheduled their wedding day after first booking May 1 before changing it to December 18.

But after the announcement they brought it forward as Lauren does not believe it would have been possible to restrict numbers to less than 15 without offending people who would not be able to come.

She added: "My own cousin's in the same household - my bridesmaid attended but her brother couldn't. I can say your sister can come but you can't. It's the worst thing to say to someone in the world."

And while Covid-19 rule changes have ravaged the best laid plans of some couples, those working within the wedding industry are predicting an even bleaker picture.

Kent's bridal industry's in tatters as restrictions devastate plans and livelihoods

Wedding co-ordinator Laurie Edwards who runs events company Chic Weddings in Gravesend, said the "wedding industry has pretty much been forgotten".

"The majority of us are small businesses, we have no help whatsoever," she said. "Something has got to happen otherwise you will lose a whole industry overnight."

She said a number of couples had decided to go ahead with 30 guests, which meant Laurie could keep staff on to accommodate this but she now fears the slashing of numbers down to 15 will mean there is not enough demand to keep them on the payroll.

These concerns were shared by Blessing Enakimio, who is an event consultant and wedding planner from Ashford.

Chic Weddings and Events owner Laurie Edwards painted a bleak picture of the future of the industry following the restrictions
Chic Weddings and Events owner Laurie Edwards painted a bleak picture of the future of the industry following the restrictions

"I'm just numb to it now," she said. "If schools are still open, pubs are still open, people can still gather in their numbers in restaurants and strangers can come together in the same space and dine and eat.

"I do not understand why a family or friends cannot come together and celebrate their loved ones getting together."

She has called for specific support for those working within the wedding sector.

"There's no way we can cope," she said. "No one is going to book any weddings because they don't know if it is going to take place, if it is going to get postponed, if it is going to be cancelled.

"I think the future is bleak to be honest. The Government needs to realise it is a big sector and a lot needs to be taken into consideration."

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