Bring the Party to the Protest: Stand Up For Weddings!

Ideas

Here we are again, the start of a brand new week, one we intend on filling with joyful, uplifting and inspiring wedding content here on Love My Dress.

But this week is quite unlike any other I’ve woken up to before in my life; it signals the mere 7 days we have left to influence the government ahead of the 22nd February, when the Prime Minister will announce his plans to lift the nation out of lockdown 3.0. Plans that many of us are working incredibly hard to ensure, include weddings.

This week, you can expect to see a great deal of activity coming from the teams behind What About Weddings and UK Weddings Task Force. It’s going to get very noisy and political as we seek to clarify the devastating impact on our industry and the absolute urgency of including weddings not just in the roadmap on 22nd, but adequately, fairly and properly – in a way that will support our beloved industry and bring hope to thousands of couples all over the nation.

Which is why it gives me the most ridiculous amount of pleasure to be launching something a little more fun today. Love My Dress is closely involved with What About Weddings (I’m one of the founding members and campaign managers, alongside our wonderful Senior Writer and independent Celebrant, Tamryn Settle, and our dear friend Jessie Westwood of Studio Sorores). The political noise is going to be relentless and likely to be emotionally heavy this week. Jobs and livelihoods are on the line, and couple’s lives are on hold, after all. So we felt, that in order to lift everyone’s spirits and encourage our vibrant, creative community of wedding professionals to engage and get on board with the ‘noise’ this week, that we should make things a little fun. It’s time to bring the party to the protest!

Bring The Party To The Protest

I’ve always been a believer in the power of positive thinking – that when you put good, positive, loving thoughts out into the universe, you’ll attract those people and vibes right back. Never before has that theory been proven so spot on than ever this past couple of weeks. In an effort to inject some creativity and fun into the What About Weddings campaign efforts, we have attracted some brilliant visionary thinkers and creative individuals who have all come to the table bursting with ideas, energy and words of comfort, ‘how can I help?’.

After copious amounts of tea over Zoom, the  brilliant Olivia Knight, founder of Patchwork It – a platform that allows people to crowdfund and organise gifts for special occasions – came up with a spectacular idea to help us raise the all-important funds we now need to continue with our What About Weddings campaign and lobbying activities.

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How To Get Involved

We would love as many of our industry pals and couples planning weddings too, to get involved with this wonderfully fun and creative project.  All you need to do is head on over to the Patchwork site, take 5 minutes over a cuppa familiarising yourself with the concept by reading through all the excellent ways you can participate.

Whether you’re a wedding planner, stylist or on the day co-ordinator, a cake maker, florist or dress maker, a photographer, celebrant, singer, entertainer, prop designer/supplier, bridal retailer, hair and/or make up artist, blogger or more, WE NEED YOU and we’ve created a way for you to get involved.  Hover over any of these images to reveal details and instructions. Whichever idea takes your fancy, add it to your basket and check out with whatever contribution you can kindly afford to donate to the What About Weddings fund raising account.

Just so we’re clear: None of the money will be used to pay those people in the industry campaigning and lobbying their socks off – those people have and always will donate their time for free. But the work required now is urgent and critical and funds are absolutely required.  You can read more about the reasons we’re now raising funds here.

Meet The People Bringing The Party To The Protest

Each day this week, we’ll be publishing an article that introduces you to between 3 and 4 of the kind, wonderful, creative souls who have stepped forward to be a part of this project. Let’s meet the first 4 of these creative leaders and geniuses who are helping us bring the party to the protest this week.

Olivia Knight, Patchwork 

@patchwork_it + Follow

Please introduce yourself

“I’m Olivia Knight, Founder of Patchwork alternative gift registry and honeymoon fund. This time of year, we’re usually overwhelmed and overjoyed seeing all our lovely couples setting up Patchwork gift registries inviting their wedding guests to contribute towards all sorts of weird and wonderful things – from dream honeymoons to new sofas, works of art, camper vans, puppies or patches of woodland, and even helping with the wedding itself. Sadly not so busy with weddings this year.”

How has Covid affected you?

“Luckily, people use Patchwork for other occasions and we’ve seen an increase in people using our site to celebrate new babies, kids birthdays and significant milestones this year. Getting together online to chip into one big gift is a nice way for people to show their love from a distance and watching someone open a special present on Zoom that everyone has chipped into is actually quite magic. So we’ve had some positives. But of course it’s been hard. Weddings are definitely where most of our business comes from and so it’s been tough financially as well as upsetting seeing so many couples plans having to change.”

Share your thoughts on the What About Weddings campaign?

“I think Annabel, Jessie, Tamryn, Emma and all those involved in the What About Weddings campaign have been amazing in speaking up for us when we don’t feel we have had the strength to and inviting us to join the conversation when we do! We’re all tired and so this new campaign is a really nice way to re-energise and reconnect us as an industry – as well as a new way to get our message to Boris heard. We’re used to seeing couples use Patchwork to organise DIY weddings – inviting guests to gift their cash, time and skills rather than give physical gifts. And so it seemed like an obvious idea to use Patchwork to help organise our wedding protest party!”

What’s your message to Boris?

“A clear plan for the safe return of weddings that facilitates couples wishes and at the same time is financially viable for the industry. And crucially financial support in the meantime.”

Heather Moradeyo, Happy’s Bakery

@happysbakery + Follow

Please introduce yourself

Happy’s Bakery was founded by pug lover and cake creative Heather Moradeyo. Having always had a sweet tooth and a love for everything baked goods, opening her own bakery seemed like an obvious choice. She studied French pastry at Le Cordon Bleu, London and has since worked in several Bakeries, 5 star hotels and Michelin Star restaurants gaining firsthand experience into the world of cakes, food trends and tasty treats!”

How has Covid affected you?

“We started our little business in January 2020 just before covid hit. At the time we were booming and couldn’t keep up with all our cake orders! We turned our living room into a certified fully kitted kitchen and dedicated our everyday lives to making people happy through cake. We even managed to pull off a cake exhibition which was broadcast by CNN. It was truly a lovely time!”

“However once covid hit a lot of the staff had to be let go. We could no longer afford to keep the bakery running and many of us had to take external jobs. Jobs such as food delivery drivers and supermarket workers was the first choice. However, since the entire nation was affected by the pandemic even those jobs were taken. A lot of us were left defeated and twiddling our thumbs at home. For many of us our mental health was affected and it was a struggle to keep up with our whatsapp messages or even eat. Definitely a horrible time!”

What’s your message to Boris?

“We know you aren’t a magician and that covid is very unpredictable however for someone in your position and power we believe you can use all your resources to give both our customers and ourselves an idea as to when public spaces will be open again. Many jobs rely on this and it’s incredibly important that we get this back on track.”

“Also, look at other countries and how progressive they at dealing with covid. Take notes.”

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Zena Birch, Humanist Celebrant

@zenabirchweddings + Follow

(Image by Matt Parry)

Please introduce yourself

“I’m Zena Birch, a humanist celebrant who conducts bespoke and deeply personalised weddings, namings and funeral ceremonies.”

How has Covid affected you?

“Covid has had an enormous impact on my wedding business. I’ve watched 2020 go from 36 scheduled weddings to 4. Currently half of 2021’s postponed weddings have had to postpone again to 2022.”

Share your thoughts on the What About Weddings campaign?

“I work very closely with my couples and support them every step of their journey from engagement to wedding day and on into their marriage. Without a coherent roadmap for the safe return of weddings, I am unable to support my couples in the way that they need. The #whataboutweddings campaign is not only vital in helping me support my couples, it is also a life line in helping me work out how to safeguard my business, how to manage my drastically reduced income and as a support network to help raise the issues so deeply felt by the entire wedding industry. We want to be there when it is safe to hold weddings again, we do not want to go under and become further economic casualties of the Covid 19 pandemic.”

What’s your message to Boris?

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Natasha Davies, Something Blue Hair & Makeup

@sbhm_stylists + Follow

A bit about you and your business – in normal times?

“My name is Natasha and I run Something Blue Hair and Makeup. I’ve been running my hair and makeup business for around 6 years, I set it up when I decided to move more into bridal from working in the fashion industry after having my children. My hair and makeup business is all about bringing natural glowing makeup to brides with a modern edge. It’s really important to me to make sure that all brides feel included, we cover all hair types and skin tones. I particularly love working with natural curls and coils!”

How has Covid affected you?

“Covid has affected my business dramatically (as I am sure it has everyone in the wedding industry!) In 2020 I managed to do 5 weddings in total, 2 of which were before covid started at the beginning of the year. I had 30 plus bookings for the 2020 that I had made in 2019, in a usual year I would then take bookings throughout the year, either last minute ones or bookings for the end of the year. Those of course did not happen either. Most bookings made for 2020 were either cancelled or postponed to 2021.”

“Now in 2021, I am still unsure if the postponed 2020 weddings will be able to go ahead. Some clients are now asking to postpone again to 2022 or 2023. In this current state of uncertainty I am completely unsure whether to take on new bookings in fear that they will need to cancel. Coupled with that I am having to refund clients who have cancelled, I have £0 money coming in and am using my savings to pay back the clients that have decided to cancel. New bookings are limited as availability is being taken up by postponed weddings.”

Share your thoughts on the What About Weddings campaign?

“The What About Weddings campaign has been brilliant for highlighting the extra support that is needed from the government. We separately need a roadmap and direction for what we as suppliers and couples can expect in the next year. What About Weddings has given everyone a voice in this sector.”

What do you want from government?

“I would like the government to provide clarity on when we can expect weddings to resume. To increase the numbers able to attend in a covid secure manner. To provide couples with the confidence that they can have the day they have dreamed of. To recognise that the wedding industry will not survive if a roadmap is not implemented immediately and conduct action to help this industry to get back up and running. And lastly, to provide better financial support to those in the wedding industry.”

Rebecca Uttley, The Big Red Box

thebigredbox.co + Follow

A short bio please

The Big Red Box loved attending weddings and collecting messages of love and mischief from guests, capturing the pure magic of wedding days. Listening to old messages you can hear the pure joy in people’s voices and rambunctiousness of the party in the background. Some of my favourite things about The Big Red Box are how it nurtures intimacy and brings people together. Attending weddings as a supplier was a privilege and an absolute delight.”

How has Covid affected you?

“Full disclosure, The Big Red Box very nearly went under. I white-knuckled it through 2020. I’m self-employed with a small turnover; there isn’t a funding or benefits gap I haven’t fallen through. It has been utterly heart-breaking, I can’t believe I’ve managed to survive.”

Why is the What About Weddings Campaign so important

“I’m incensed at how the wedding industry has been treated. The fact that we have to (virtually) bang on some doors to not only be heard but to even be taken seriously is baffling. We are neck deep in the rapids and we have to stick together to survive, it really is that serious.”

What do you want from government?

“TAKE. US. SERIOUSLY.”

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We’ll be sharing details of all the other wonderful creatives involved between now and Friday.

So what now? Head on over to the What About Weddings Patchwork of course! Get involved, have fun and help us to BRING THE PARTY TO THE PROTEST!

If you do make or do something, take a photograph to share on Instagram!  Remember to add the hashtags #STANDUPFORWEDDINGS and #WHATABOUTWEDDINGS and make sure you tag @whataboutweddingsofficial before you post too.

We CANNOT wait to see what you get up to!

Enjoy dear friends,

Love Annabel, Tamryn and Jessie x

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