At the end of the tunnel there is light for Teesside couples hoping to tie the knot.

Following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement on Monday February 22nd, in which he outlined England’s “roadmap” out of the Covid-19 lockdown, the number of people allowed to attend a wedding will increase.

As of March 29, up to six people can attend a wedding, including the couple, under all circumstances.

15 people are allowed to attend a wedding ceremony and reception from April 12th.

If everything goes according to plan, the number will climb to 30 on May 17, and there may be no cap from June 21 if the government plans to lift social contact restrictions entirely.

These dates depend on the cases and are only checked every five weeks.

However, there is a glimmer of hope for brides and grooms in the area, especially those who have had to rearrange their plans more than once, as well as wedding vendors who have been unemployed for months.

Teesside Live spoke to wedding venues about the influx of bookings since the announcement earlier this week.

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“We’ve had really good results on bookings. There have been hundreds of inquiries this week,” said Craig Reekie, general manager at Rushpool Hall in Saltburn.

“A lot of leads come from Facebook ads. We don’t rely on the phone to ring.

“At that moment we postponed a lot of bookings, two or three times. It’s a fearful time for our brides when you don’t have a specific date in mind.

“But we did a good job of keeping bookings, despite the large number of changes.”

Rushpool Hall
(Image: Teesside Live)

The venue has a 110 capacity and has offered more intimate packages during the pandemic, but the majority of couples want to party there with all of their families and friends and have decided to wait until summer.

Since March 11th when Rushpool Hall was taken over, the team has made many changes to the venue.

There is a room for the bride’s preparation and the outdoor area has recently been completed. Once licensed, outdoor weddings are also offered.

“We have many plans to develop the property. It’s a stunning building, but we’re going to update it a little. It’s really exciting to develop.

“We expect 2022/2023 to be a busy year for us,” added Craig.

During the embargo, the venue has booked between 90 and 100 weddings and the team looks forward to welcoming happy couples back to see the changes made during the crisis.

The Grand Astoria Venue, Middlesbrough
(Image: The Grand Astoria Venue)

Umar Hussain has been Director of the Grand Astoria Venue in Middlesbrough for five years.

He said, “We have been inundated with inquiries and bookings this week.

“We haven’t had any emails or calls for almost a year. I hope it stays that way.

“We’ll have bookings from July, and if BJ keeps his word, we’ll be lucky.”

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The bespoke venue can be rented over three floors, including a ballroom, millionaires suite and VIP lounge with a capacity of up to 500 guests.

The Grand Astoria’s peak months for weddings are between April and September, and last year’s restrictions have severely affected business.

Umar continued, “It was tough, things were very difficult.

“We’ve been hit hard, we’re all in the same boat, the wedding industry has collapsed.

“It looks very positive, touch wood and let’s see what happens.”

Jurys Inn, Middlesbrough
(Image: Ian Cooper / Teesside Live)

The Cleveland Suite at the Jurys Inn in Middlesbrough can accommodate up to 320 guests. Small function rooms are also available for a more intimate wedding breakfast.

Lindsey Watson, Meetings and Events Manager, said, “We’ve had a lot of inquiries, there’s a lot in the conference box, and the meeting desk took up a lot of space too.

“Most of us had postponed, a lot had already been pushed back from last year to July / August.”

After Monday’s announcement and the hospitality industry boom, Lindsey returned from the vacation schedule, and today was her first day back.

With brides and grooms careful not to block the “roadmap”, many stay with reduced guests until further notice.

Lindsey added, “A lot of people book smaller numbers and only play them by ear.”

Chris Porter, General Manager of the Crathorne Hall Hotel in Yarm, said, “We have seen a significant impact on our wedding inquiries since the announcement on Monday. Some major weddings are viewing dates from July.

“We also noticed a shift in the number of smaller weddings that previously looked at the May and June dates. Now we’ve decided to increase the size of your wedding and move it to a later date in the year.

“The government’s clarity has certainly sparked optimism among brides and grooms who were previously fearful.”

Billingham, a spokesman for Wynyard Hall, said: “A new dawn is coming.

“Here at Wynyard Hall, we are thrilled to finally be able to make plans for our reopening after a challenging year.”

And the Hardwick Hall Hotel in Sedgefield wrote on Facebook: “We have spring in our stride today following the latest government announcement.

“We are very happy that there is light at the end of the tunnel and look forward to reopening and welcoming our guests again.”

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Ruairidh Taylor, Hotel Manager at the Gisborough Hall Hotel in Guisborough said, “We have been very busy with new inquiries and supporting existing bookings, very exciting.

“We can all hardly wait to get our dear guests through the doors again!”


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