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Wedding industry won't recover for a long time, says Ashford wedding planner Blessing Enakimio

Today, indoor venues are being allowed to reopen for the first time since December.

However those in the wedding industry - like Blessing Enakimio from Ashford - fear their sector is still a long way from recovering.

Blessing Enakimio says it will take the sector years to recover from the pandemic

Her company, Blessing by Blé, has seen lots of postponements and cancellations over the last few months and has also seen suppliers and entertainers leave the business.

She says that smaller weddings "are just not financially viable" and that it could take three years for the sector to recover fully.

From today, 30 people will be allowed at weddings but wedding receptions will remain a muted affair.

Blessing said: "Yes you can eat, but we can't do discos so it's not fully back to what it should be but it's something I suppose.

"Those booked in this week will be questioning whether to continue with 30 or wait for bigger numbers to be allowed.

Blessing Enakimio said the pandemic will have disrupted the industry until at least 2022
Blessing Enakimio said the pandemic will have disrupted the industry until at least 2022

"I don't think it's going to change much for us. As you can't have the disco the event won't be what it's supposed to be.

"Because of the evening do alone not being there, you can imagine how many suppliers that are out of work, as well as DJs and bar staff.

"It doesn't make much of a difference in general."

Blessing worries that the lost income from the last year will be difficult to recuperate, even if all the restrictions are lifted in June.

The departure of suppliers and backlog also means the streamlined process has now become disjointed and slower.

Blessing Enakimio runs Blessing by Ble from a shop in Faversham Road, Kennington
Blessing Enakimio runs Blessing by Ble from a shop in Faversham Road, Kennington

As new variants enter the country - particularly the highly infectious Indian variant - there are still concerns over the government's roadmap out of lockdown.

The Ashford wedding planner noted caution among fiancees as to whether their big day will actually go ahead and whether they should invite all of their family for safety reasons.

As a result, many are delaying until late 2022 in the hope their wedding will be more normal.

Such uncertainty has seen her acquiring quotes for clients which then have to be changed or postponed hours later.

Blessing said: "There's a lot of man hours that go into simply changing a date, and there's a lack of confidence both for us as suppliers and couples."

"Please don't lose faith in weddings..."

She also said lower attendee numbers was "not viable at all", citing an example of a chair dressers who normally drives to dress 150 chairs now only handling 30 chairs.

"It just don't add up," said Blessing, "You're working but not making enough to make ends meet.

"It's just not financially viable for us as a sector to carry on with small weddings. For the next three years our industry will still be feeling the pinch."

However Blessing did have a positive message for brides- and grooms-to-be.

She said: "We are here to support you and we'll do whatever we can to support you.

"It's been difficult for us and for you, but you will get married and we're here to make sure it will happen. We love weddings and for some of us it's more than a job, it's a calling, so please don't lose faith in weddings."

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