Published: 00:06, 14 August 2020
| Updated: 09:54, 14 August 2020
More than 2,000 weddings have been cancelled in Kent since lockdown began, it has been revealed.
It comes after the lockdown on March 23 brought an abrupt end to regular life and activities including the big day itself.
The latest figures obtained from a Freedom of Information (FOI) request sent to Kent County Council (KCC) show in total, 2,014 ceremonies were due to take place during the period but all were cancelled.
And despite a rule change to allow the return of marriage vows last month there has been just 178 marriages and 23 civil partnerships conducted across the county during its busiest season.
This is compared to the 600 marriages and 72 civil partnerships which took place between January 1 and March 23, when the country entered into lockdown.
KCC, which registers ceremonies county-wide, said it is not known how many of those cancelled lockdown bookings have since been rearranged.
A response from the authority read: "Once a ceremony is cancelled, the record is ended, so KCC is unable to advise how many ceremonies were rearranged as we also have new bookings made, and situations where couples have either not re-booked yet or are still deciding when they would like to hold their ceremony."
On July 4 the government confirmed that small ceremonies could take place for a maximum of 30 guests, including the bride, groom and staff to conduct the ceremony.
But with little wiggle-room for the usual festivities, many couples decided to postpone or await further changes.
It was hoped that from August 1, small receptions of up to 30 people with sit down meals would be permitted, as part of further lockdown easing announced by the government. But this was put back until today.
This move was touted as a potential game changer by some smaller venues who began preparations to commence some ceremonies and restart bookings.
Leigh Anne Gunn, event co-ordinator at The Bull Hotel in Wrotham, between Sevenoaks and Maidstone had said it afforded her greater flexibility in managing her client's wishes and had opened up more opportunities.
But in a sudden u-turn the government reversed this decision following a rise in coronavirus cases across the country.
It announced: "By their very nature wedding receptions and celebrations bring families and friends together from a variety of different locations.
"Unfortunately, we do not believe it is safe to hold such gatherings at this time."
It went on to add it was aware this was "disappointing news for many couples" and advised them to consult with their venue on what policy they have in place for cancellations.
However, last night the government announced sit down meals for up to 30 guests will be allowed from Saturday, but only in a location that adheres to Covid-19 guidelines.
They should also be kept as "short as reasonably possible."
The latest guidance adds: "Wedding receptions or parties should not currently be taking place and any celebration after the ceremony should follow the broader social distancing guidance of involving no more than two households in any location or, if outdoors, up to 6 people from different households."