SHUTTING down the wedding industry could ‘kill off’ specialist providers, a local businesswoman has warned.

Liz Devine-Wright, of Simply Devine Hatshop in Tadcaster, has seen sales plummet due to the limit on wedding numbers and cancelled race meetings.

The latest restrictions mean no more than 15 people can now legally attend a marriage or civil partnership, even where this can be safely accommodated with social distancing in a Covid secure venue.

Liz said this could put hundreds of small companies out of business.

“While I understand there is a need to protect people from the virus, virtually shutting down the wedding industry could kill off some of those specialist providers for good. So many couples have postponed their weddings until next year, but if we are going to be restricted for another six months, many businesses are not going to survive.

“The wedding industry is a huge business, from specialist clothing suppliers to wedding planners, photographers, car hire, florists, stationery providers, venues and small independent specialist shops such as ourselves.”

But she fears couples will not have all the trimmings at a small wedding. “They will have a minimal service and then have a party next year, meaning wedding businesses will probably miss out altogether.”

Simply Devine has been in business for almost 17 years, offering a service to shop customers and as a wholesaler.

“Our shop customers are mothers of the bride and groom, race goers and those invited to Buckingham Palace garden parties, all of which have been cancelled, postponed or restricted this year, while our wholesale customers are specialist hat shops, hat hire and boutiques.

“We’ve had very few customers in the shop and most of our wholesale customers have cancelled their hat orders, even though they had already been made and we had them in stock. The high street was already suffering due to high business rates and online shopping, so small businesses such as ours have had a double whammy in 2020.”

“We have put special measures in place, as have all the local businesses, with masks and hand sanitisers available. As a small hat destination shop, we have also implemented advance booking appointments for customers but there is little point in all of these measures for us if special events are cancelled.”