How Covid-19 is impacting the wedding industry in Dumfries and Galloway

Key figures in the South of Scotland wedding industry say communities will suffer if a clear route map isn't agreed to get them open again as soon as possible. 

The sector is worth tens of millions of pounds to the local economy and some businesses claim they have been largely ignored while the hospitality and tourism sectors have had clearer guidance.

Vicki McConchie, from GG's Yard in Gatehouse of Fleet, spends hours helping excited couples plan their big day on the Galloway coast.  But in recent weeks those calls have been very different.

She said: "It's completely heart-breaking for our couples, they've been really distressed over the last while wondering whether their wedding is going to go ahead.

"We've rescheduled 54 weddings now and our couples are looking at us for guidance and we really can't tell them anything new because we're waiting for the government to give us guidance.

"We're so sympathetic towards them because they've been robbed of the excitement of the build up to their day and it's supposed to be the happiest day of their life."

There’s lot of preparation here for the day when guests can return - but getting the doors open is likely to be a slow process.

Duncan McConchie said: "What we really need now is a route map for two months time with some indicative dates, which we appreciate may move subjecy to what happens with Covid-19.

"For us, the most important thing is our team's health, our health and our community's health.

"We know it's not safe to run weddings right now, but what we need is a really detailed plan that shows us what can happen in two/three months so we can put confidence back to our couples."

A recent study said the wedding industry was worth 37 million pounds a year to the Dumfries and Galloway economy. Credit: PA

A recent study said the wedding industry was worth 37 million pounds a year to the Dumfries and Galloway economy - with one in six marriages in the country taking place here.   

In the wedding capital of Gretna - that’s a lot of business currently on hold

Alasdair Houston, from Gretna Green, said: "We do now need to move into a position where the sector is not only open, but not channelled up with so many restrictions that it makes it unviable.

"We need to move to have indoor weddings with indoor catering, subject to best practice and physical distancing and with reasonable numbers.

"Until that happens, the sector isn't open for business and communities will suffer because of it.

Gretna Green consistently sees a 12% share of all ceremonies in Scotland. Credit: PA

ITV Border's Greg Hoare took the industry’s concerns to the First Minister during the daily briefing on Tuesday.

Nicola Sturgeon said: "I know how difficult this is, but it's going to be so much more difficult for everybody if we let this virus run out of control again.

"Don't ignore what is happening elsewhere in the world. This virus not done with us, yet. The only way we can keep it under control is by being careful and all of us continuing to follow the advice that is so necessary

"I understand the frustration but I wouldn't do anybody any favours if I took my foot off the break completely and let things spiral into the wrong directions."