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Covid-19 restrictions: 'South Asian weddings should have 400 guests - not 15'

By Monica Rimmer
BBC News

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image copyrightArum Javed
image captionThe minimum budget for most Asian weddings is £50,000, events manager Arum Javed says

The new 15-guest limit would be "out of the question" for South Asian weddings, according to an events manager who has lost all his bookings since March.

Arum Javed said Monsoon Venue Group, in Birmingham, was on "shaky ground".

Before Covid-19, British Asian weddings were traditionally lavish affairs, with multiple events that would tend to have 300 guests as a minimum.

On Tuesday it was announced the maximum number of people allowed at weddings was being cut from 30 to 15.

The change came as the government outlined a new set of restrictions aimed at limiting another rise in cases of the coronavirus.

"The average wedding you have 300 to 400 people, in some cases that pushes up to 1,500... people book at least a year-and-a-half in advance," said Mr Javed, who had 54 weddings planned for 2020.

The sales manager said the firm he works for had received no new bookings since March as people were "cautious" about weddings being able to go ahead.

Mr Javed, who has been furloughed, said the prime minister's announcement this week "crippled us even more".

"It's very hard managing the bride and groom, they're emotionally stressed, we're the bearers of bad news, they're feeling the strain as well," he said.

Weddings: The rules

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionRestrictions on 15 people at a wedding come into force on 28 September
  • Weddings were banned when lockdown began on 23 March, affecting 73,600 weddings and civil partnership ceremonies
  • They have been allowed again since July with limits on numbers in attendance, no singing and receptions initially advised against
  • Groups of more than six people from different households currently cannot meet up in England - but wedding ceremonies and sit-down receptions are an exception
  • From 28 September, up to 15 people will be allowed to attend a "Covid-secure" venue, down from 30.

"Restaurants allow track and trace, face coverings, these could be in place at a larger wedding, they could be socially-distanced, we can make sure people sit in their bubble," Mr Javed said.

"I don't see the difference between the restaurant and a wedding, you would still be Covid secure... the logic doesn't make any sense."

The last wedding the company had was at the end of January, with 1,400 people in attendance.

"We're a year behind with our sales - we've had to move everything to next year, over 52 weddings, 52 weeks in a year, there is not much space to add new ones."

image copyrightArum Javed
image captionArum Javed said brides and grooms are "emotionally stressed"

Rose Nicholls from Telford was due to get married at Stoneleigh Abbey in Warwickshire on 21 March this year.

She postponed for exactly a year but said she was still unsure if her "quite small and intimate" 320-guest wedding would be able to take place next year.

"We don't want to reduce it further, we just really want to get married, when you've been waiting so long, it's so hard to give up your dream," Ms Nicholls, 26, said.

She and her fiancé Raj have been planning their three-day wedding for 18 months.

"It's a hard decision, do I give up or wait it out? We can't live together or go on holiday until we get married, so it's really hard."

Ms Nicholls said her wedding "couldn't happen" under current restrictions as her immediate family numbered 10, leaving her fiancé with only five guests and she would not want to "offend" family.

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