The UK wedding industry as a whole has been hit hard by the pandemic, with weddings banned under almost all circumstances since lockdown began.
That ban was lifted on 4 July in England, where small weddings with up to 30 guests are now allowed, with other restrictions. There are other rules for Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
It is estimated the wedding industry in the UK is worth around £10bn, with average spending on a wedding about £27,000.
British Asian weddings, traditionally larger family affairs, with multiple events, tend to cost more.
Anisha Vasani from Bridelux, a specialist brand for the luxury wedding industry, estimates that British Asian weddings could account for nearly half of the UK wedding industry.
“The average Asian couple spend between £50,000-£100,000 on their wedding, depending on how many functions they hold for their celebrations, with costs only expected to grow.”
Many businesses specialising in supplying the Asian wedding market have suffered during the pandemic.
Other wedding businesses – those that help make events happen – have also had to stop and take stock of where their livelihoods will come from.
Deep Bajwa runs Opulence Events, a luxury wedding and event planning company. “Last year I had 37 weddings, and this year we managed to get one in before lockdown.
“We deal with larger numbers for the weddings we work on, so for us I can’t see it happening [this year].”
Many of Deep’s clients are couples and families who spend upwards of £100,000 on their weddings – that includes venues, catering, clothes, entertainment and jewellery.
“We like it big! We like to have an amazing show. It’s big money that’s spent on Asian weddings.”
Deep says the lockdown has had huge implications for other suppliers she works with.
“We’ve had to postpone everyone’s payments until next year. Most people’s terms are two to four weeks for the final payment before the event, now if the event itself has moved, the final payments have gone with them.”
She, and others in the industry, are unsure of how Asian weddings of this scale will happen in future.
Deep mentions caterers having to rethink how they would serve buffets, and trying to figure out how to have a dance floor where you can socially distance yourself from others.
“There’s still so much we don’t know but we’re keeping an eye on all the information, and trying to keep our clients happy and informed.”
How will Asian wedding businesses deal with the likelihood of smaller, scaled back weddings in the immediate future?
Timmy Kader is the co-founder of 1SWEvents, an event planning and decorating company that counts boxer Amir Khan as one of its clients.
She and her team are used to decorating plush venues that can hold hundreds of guests. “We haven’t got any weddings until the end of this year, which are still hanging on the edge because we don’t know if there will be a second wave of coronavirus.”
Nevertheless, she is hopeful for the future.
“People still want an Instagramable wedding and you can have that wedding in your home, providing you get a décor expert in to advise you and still make it look really pretty.”