BUSINESSES in the weddings and events industry have said it is like “the floodgates have opened” for bookings since the Prime Minister set the roadmap out of lockdown.

Since the announcement on Monday, February 22, event venues across East Lancashire say they have had an influx of enquiries for events after June 21, when it is hoped that most Covid restrictions will be dropped.

Some venues are fully booked every weekend from mid-June until November, with some couples even booking weddings on a Tuesday or Wednesday – something that is ordinarily unheard of.

Gisburne Park in Gisburn hosts weddings in a teepee on its grounds and wedding co-ordinator Robyn Isherwood has said that not only have couples who have already booked been calling to get plans set in stone, new couples have been calling to organise dates for their big day.

Robyn said: “Having that marker as a date, it’s like the floodgates have opened in the events industry.

“My phone last week, I wasn’t off it. It was like the industry had woken up.

“The biggest problem now is the suppliers because everyone is cramming these events into July, August, September and October, there is going to be a lack of suppliers.

“There are only so many florists, so many bands, so many venues, so many dates.

“This year is going to be really interesting for the events industry. We've had to swallow having zero business for well over a year and then when they can bounce back there are only so many days events can run.”

At the Gisburne Park estate, a wedding booking provides you with a section of the park, with only one wedding able to take place each weekend.

They are hosting the first wedding over the first weekend in July and then have one booked every weekend until the end of October.

Robyn added: “People have just moved them. We feel awful because we had to move the weddings from last year but we were fully booked for the key months this year.

“For us, last year was supposed to be the first year all the new packages came to fruition and it wasn’t.

“It's so exciting that everything we have all been working on for so long is finally going to happen this year - to know that that part of the estate is going to be buzzing is amazing.”

The wedding industry has been able to operate in some small capacity with small ceremonies and small receptions being allowed.

However, these were capped at 30 people over the summer before tier three restrictions which were brought in on October 17 saw receptions banned and only ceremonies able to take place in front of 15.

Then these were also banned in the second and third national lockdowns and in tier four restrictions.

Pendle Heritage Centre, in Barrowford, hosts a variety of functions including weddings, birthday parties, christenings and wakes.

Due to the lockdown, it has remained closed for the majority of the year, but operations manager Angela White said that as well as beginning to set in stone plans for weddings, the venue has been inundated with new enquiries, including a large number of people asking about booking birthday parties.

Angela said: “We are counting down the days until we can re-open.

“Everybody is being really optimistic and fingers crossed things go to plan.

“Before they have been tentative but now people are saying ‘no this is happening, let’s go for it’.”

The centre is already fully booked from the end of June until November for weddings and staff are still getting further enquiries about other events at the venue.

Angela has said not only is it great for people to be able to plan events again, but having a potential restart date is brilliant for staff who have been unable to work for so many months.

She added: “I think it's a breath of fresh air from everybody’s point of view, we have been on furlough or flexi furlough and nobody knows what’s happening.

“All of the staff are now excited to be coming back. Luckily we have had some grants for the centre so we have been making some changes and the staff are also excited to come back and see what the changes are.”

The changes include additional outside seating and decoration around the estate.

Back in the Ribble Valley, Eaves Hall in West Bradford is hosting weddings every day of the week, and is fully booked from mid-June until mid September, with a break of just a couple of days before regular weekend weddings continuing for several weeks after that.

Wedding co-ordinator, Rebecca has said that it's nice seeing brides finally getting excited again for their wedding after they have had to keep postponing for nearly a year.

She said: “We have got really positive vibes from the brides. They are getting really hopeful and ploughing ahead with plans which is really nice to see.

The wedding venue is fully booked every day, including weekdays, from the end of June until mid September and staff will be thrown back in the deep end as couples are eager to tie the knot in 2021.

She added: “It wouldn’t be unseen for us to have Thursday to Sunday booked every week, especially through the summer or any time a school holiday falls.

“But we wouldn’t ordinarily have Monday and Tuesday weddings going on in October and November.

“I think it's just the lack of dates - not only are we trying to accommodate the weddings that we have got but we are trying to fit new bookings around the existing bookings we have already.

“Your venue is you ultimately, you pick your venue and build everything else around that.

“As we have been trying to move brides and grooms around after the announcement, if they are happy with the date the venue can give them and one or two of the suppliers can do that date as awful as it is, they are going to have to forfeit some of the suppliers.”

From 29 March onwards, up to six people, including the couple, can attend a wedding in any circumstances - currently, weddings can only take place under exceptional circumstances.

From the 12 April at the earliest, up to 15 people will be allowed to attend a wedding ceremony and reception, which could then rise to 30 from 17 May.

From 21 June at the earliest, the government aims to remove all limits on social contact.

This will be dependent on the outcome of event pilots, taking place in April, which will determine how measures such as enhanced testing could allow large groups to attend occasions without social distancing.