25 Sep Jonathan Cartu Announces: A whole year of work ripped away, and ‘hundreds’ of
“It’s been horrendous. A whole year of work has been ripped away.”
This is the harsh situation photographer Shane Webber faces.
His company usually makes around 95 per cent of its income from taking photos of happy couples on their wedding day.
But since the coronavirus lockdown was imposed in March, work has been few and far between.
Last month, the Prime Minister declared that weddings could resume with a maximum of 30 guests.
But the rule didn’t last for long and this week, guidelines have changed again.
From Monday (September 28), a maximum of 15 people will be able to attend wedding ceremonies and receptions.
And Shane, 30, said the changes have left clients with ‘no confidence at all’ when it comes to booking weddings and wedding services.
“Even if their weddings are in March 2021, people are moving them further ahead”, he told the M.E.N .
“There’s just absolutely no confidence. People are booking further and further away and hoping that it will go ahead.”
The photographer – who runs Shane Webber Photography based on Bridgewater Street in Manchester – said the restrictions have had a massive impact on his business.
“It was over a month ago when it was announced that 30 people could attend a wedding and I had my first wedding last week”, he said.
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“We’d usually do about five weddings in a month on average and maybe 10 weddings in the peak months.
“We had one in September and we were supposed to have two in October and three in November.
“It was fantastic to get out last week, doing what I love and earning a little bit of money.
“But today we have had an influx of emails of people pulling the plug and either cancelling or moving the date.”
Shane has had to take advantage of the government’s furlough scheme, while his partner who works as the studio manager has continued to work.
He said the furlough scheme, which is set to be wound down in October, needs to be extended for industries like his.
“We’ve taken a £25,000 loan from the government but from May next year, we will have to begin paying interest on that”, he said.
“Clients have to pay us booking fees, so at the moment we’re surviving on this and the loan from the government.
“The furlough scheme really needs to be extended for people who work in this industry and in hospitality otherwise there will be massive redundancies.
“We’re now thinking that we’d be very lucky to get back to work by June next year.
“We’ve been quite optimistic throughout the whole time. We thought we might get back in August, then by September. Now we’ve just realised that we are in it for the long haul.
“Fingers crossed someone will come up with something that will help the industry whether it’s extending the furlough or giving out grants.
“They need to help industries that have been badly affected. We’ve only got a team of four staff, but some large wedding venues might have a team of 200 staff that could lose their jobs.”
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has since announced a new job support scheme to replace the current scheme from November.
The scheme will see employees who work at least a third of their normal hours get up to 77 per cent of their salaries for six months.
It has been launched in the hope of preventing mass redundancies in struggling industries.
But some business owners, like florist Sian Wild, have already had to make these tough decisions.
Wedding bookings would usually make up half of the orders for the team at The Flower Lounge in Didsbury.
Owner Sian said this has reduced dramatically.
The 37-year-old said she is ‘doing what she can’ to keep her team, but unfortunately had to make one staff member redundant during the lockdown.
“We’ve lost 70 weddings since the beginning of lockdown which have either been cancelled or postponed”, Sian said.
“The weddings have had a really big impact because people are either going for micro-weddings or they are just postponing or cancelling completely.
“Unfortunately, we had to make one staff member redundant but we are trying to do what we can to keep our team.”
Sian said many of her wedding bookings have been postponed to summer next year or the year after.
“It’s a long term thing. It’s not a short, sharp shock”, she said.
“We are very lucky that we have the retail side and have a good customer base and great community around us.
“But I do think more support needs to be given. There are a lot of people in this industry and we have so many…