Hotel bosses upset at confusion over April weddings
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Owners of hotels in Norfolk licensed for weddings are furious that couples cannot tie the knot until May 17.
Venues such as Titchwell Manor, in Brancaster, and the Maid's Head Hotel, in Norwich, have been caught out by confusion over April weddings.
The government has clarified from April 12, weddings and receptions will only be permitted in "places of worship, public buildings and outdoor settings that are already permitted to open".
This rules out many hotel venues which can only hold weddings when indoor hospitality reopens from May 17.
Hoteliers at Dunston Hall, in Norwich, and Strattons, in Swaffham, decided to postpone weddings until later in the year such was the lack of clarity on the issue.
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The prime minister outlined on February 22 that from April 12, the "numbers able to attend weddings, receptions and commemorative events such as wakes will rise to 15 from six".
But now, they are on hold again.
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Amy Janes, wedding coordinator at Titchwell Manor, an independently-owned boutique Victorian retreat, said following the roadmap, they had three marriages booked in for April.
"It is very frustrating, and just another blow for the hospitality industry. Weddings are an emotional purchase, these couples have faced numerous challenges in reducing the numbers, it's created so much individual upset.
"It's really hard on couples but hard for business owners too. You can go to a supermarket which can be pretty bedlam and yet a venue like Titchwell which has invested in everything it can to make sure it's safe, is penalised, we are never seen as a priority."
David Graham, manager at Dunston Hall Hotel, Norwich, owned by Almarose Hotel and Resorts, said they had not taken any wedding bookings until May 17 onwards.
"We do have a wedding planned for that fourth weekend but most were postponed until 2022. We are focusing on reopening our terrace and golf course outside from April 12 and booking staycations," he said.
Vanessa Scott, owner of Strattons boutique hotel in Swaffham, said: "We haven't any weddings booked until May 17 but for us, because we are a small venue, we are having to balance a wedding which would normally be 50-60 people but which has to be restricted, with other potential bookings. It's like working with a blindfold on."
No one was available for comment from the Maids Head Hotel which is still promoting its wedding ceremonies and receptions 'from April 12 for a maximum of 15 people.'
"We just want to get married'
Simon Devlin, 51, and Jemma Barnett, 37, both teachers, from Norwich, were supposed to have got married in May, 2020. They sadly are among the thousands caught up in Covid restrictions and eventually postponed the big day to July 30 this year.
They had wanted to get married in Waterloo Park, in Norwich, but have now settled on a ceremony in the castle followed by a reception in Taverham.
"The saddest thing is my nan who is 101 was still in good health last year but isn't now and it looks like she won't be able to come," said Mr Devlin.
"If it has to be just Jemma, the person reading the vows and myself, we'd do that as we just want to get married."
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