There has been a 50 per cent increase in demand for officials to host ceremonies in the spring and summer, compared with 2019, Kent County Council (KCC) has said.
Already by the beginning of March more weddings had been booked in the county than for entire year of 2019, KCC added.
The news comes after peak-time weddings were rationed last year, with no new bookings being taken for Friday, Saturday or Sunday between 12noon and 3pm during the months of July, August and September 2021.
Now KCC has said they cannot provide any more registrars for weddings between 1pm and 4pm from April through to August.
Mike Hill, KCC Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services, said: “With many couples having to pause their wedding plans during the pandemic, and in some cases postpone their arrangements many times over, there has been an unprecedented rise in bookings – with an increase of nearly 50 per cent for some months this spring and summer compared to 2019.”
KCC had been able to meet the demand, but with the the extension of government rules allowing a greater choice of wedding venue – inside and outside – this had ‘further driven demand for civil ceremonies’, addded Mr Hill.
“It means that, despite having one of the biggest registrar teams in the country, all of our registrars are at now at capacity across the peak wedding season from April to August between 1pm-4pm,” he said.
He stressed: “Ceremonies can still be booked outside of these times. We have recruited additional staff and our dedicated registration teams will keep the situation under close review, working with licensed wedding venues and couples looking to tie the knot in Kent so everyone who wants to can celebrate their special day in our beautiful county in 2022.”
As of March 8, just over two months into 2022, there were already 6,191 civil wedding bookings for the year in Kent, with bookings continuing to take place.
This compares to a total 5,846 civil weddings booked for the entire year in 2019 – the last full year unaffected by Covid restrictions.
Wedding venues have said they have now had to adapt to the registrar shortage.
A spokesperson for Salomons Estate, which is owned by Elite Leisure Collection, owner of One Media, publisher of the Times, said the venue puts on around 130 ceremonies a year.
He added: “Whilst the news isn’t ideal, at our venues we’ve become creative with the wedding packages on offer and running times of the day so couples can still enjoy their perfect day, including a complementary stay in our Junior Suite the night before your special day, late licensing so your evening can continue long into the night, and tailored menus.”
By Victoria Roberts
Wedding suppliers flock to Crowborough
The wedding sector is coming back to the local economy as suppliers are queuing up to exhibit at Crowborough’s upcoming wedding fair.
The event, due to be held on April 9 at Crowborough Community Centre (CCC), has already confirmed a range of service suppliers from photographers and venue decorators to make-up artists, and has even been forced to turn away wedding celebrants after booking three of them, in order to preserve a balance, organiser Kirsty Harmon told the Times.
“The wedding industry took a huge hit in the pandemic, but now all of the events which had been pushed forward are happening. It’s going to be busy,” she said.
And at £40 per stall – which pays for the hire of the hall and allows engaged couples to enter the wedding fair for free – the suppliers are really putting their money where their mouth is, and showing confidence in future bookings, she added.
“It’s also a great way to save some money while supporting local businesses and the regional economy,” she said.
“This goes back into the charity – the community centre is a charity,” she added.
Bookings for other events at the community centre had started to pick up as well, she said, citing an upcoming comedy night on April 15 and a fundraiser variety show with Taylor Made Dreams on May 27.
Wedding fair visitors can preregister for free entry on the Crowborough Community Centre’s Facebook page. Tea, sandwiches and cakes will be available to purchase: