A £25m fund to support the wedding sector which has suffered a “severe impact” from the coronavirus pandemic will open to applications this week.
The fund will provide one-off grants of up to £25,000 for eligible businesses in the sector which have been hit by the impact of Covid-19, including wedding venues, photographers, florists, caterers and suppliers.
The Scottish Government said that in recognition of the ongoing challenges faced by the sector, a further £10m has been added to the £15m announced in December.
The fund will be managed regionally by Scotland’s three enterprise agencies – South of Scotland Enterprise, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said: “The pandemic has had a severe impact on Scotland’s wedding sector, and we know that the current restrictions, while entirely necessary in our fight against Covid-19, continue to take their toll on the sector.
“I’d encourage all those who think they are eligible to find out more about applying – we want to help as many businesses survive this pandemic as we can.
“We have allocated over £3bn to help businesses since the start of this pandemic. However, we know it can never compensate for the unprecedented effect this has had on business.
“We will continue to work with the resources available to us to protect businesses and build a stronger recovery for Scotland.”
Under current coronavirus rules, no more than five people can attend a marriage ceremony or civil partnership registrations in level four areas, and wedding receptions cannot take place.
In levels one, two and three, no more than 20 people can attend a wedding ceremony and reception.
Scottish Wedding Industry Alliance (SWIA) co-founder Caroline Inchyra said: “On behalf of the Scottish wedding industry, we are delighted that the sector has secured £25m funding from the Scottish Government.
“We must thank the Scottish Government for recognising the wedding industry as a vital sector in the Scottish economy, and the enterprise agencies for working with us to ensure this fund has as much impact as possible.
“This funding will give renewed hope to the many businesses who have been unable to operate in a viable way for almost a year.
“The SWIA looks forward to a continued positive working relationship with Scottish Government as the wedding industry navigates a path through the most difficult trading conditions this highly resilient sector has ever faced.”
Other businesses eligible to apply to the fund include videographers, marquee hire (including tipis), wedding attire and entertainment such as bands, DJs, pipers and string quartets.
Dawn Robson, of Blooms Florist in Dumfries, welcomed the news of the fund after her business suffered from the impact of the pandemic last year.
She said: “I ended up with only two wedding bookings in the whole of 2020, which was completely devastating.
“I am already seeing bookings being cancelled for 2021, with a number of couples deciding to move their weddings back to 2022.
“It has been such a difficult time for everyone, but the wedding industry in particular has been devastated.
“It is good news to see this new fund open specifically for the wedding industry, with any help we can receive really appreciated.”