"people weren't sure which direction we were heading in."
The Asian wedding sector is a massive contributor to the UK’s £14 billion wedding industry.
Asian weddings are known for their glamour and size and before the lockdown in March 2020, many vendors were getting ready for their busiest period.
However, the pandemic brought Asian weddings to its knees.
Wedding planners in London have revealed their struggle and what they are doing to survive.
One planner is Timmy Kader, who runs 1SW Events with her husband.
She told MyLondon: “Everyday we wake up to more cancellations so we’re desperately waiting for news about easing restrictions and lockdown.
“We had committed to lots of finance agreements for new stocks, decor items, furniture, when March came, even stock from India.
“The week we went into lockdown we cancelled four events.
“All the weddings were postponed, people weren’t sure which direction we were heading in.”
1SW Events planned to celebrate its 10th year in business in 2020. It had previously planned weddings in The Dorchester as well as the wedding of boxer Amir Khan.
During summer 2020, Ms Kader and her staff were able to plan smaller weddings in back gardens.
However, after new restrictions were introduced in September 2020, things became harder again.
Ms Kader explained: “In May [and] June last year, I thought things were really bad then but now my mental health has taken a toll.
“Clients still want to discuss wedding plans with you; we have to be on our best.
“I’ve had 30 quotes in the last two months to people, spent hours with people but they’re not booking. Our confidence is dwindling.
“How do we keep ourselves motivated?”
She revealed that her company started using their Barking warehouse space as a deli shop so they can survive.
They have also started a meal prep business as well as trying to help other Asian wedding vendors survive by presenting their services virtually.
Sukh Brar, managing director of Azure Bar Events, is another Asian wedding planner who is experiencing the challenges.
After lockdown was announced, Mr Brar started to provide cocktail-making masterclasses as a way to support staff and couples “distraught” from seeing their wedding plans ruined.
He said: “Its the unknown and the uncertainty everyone is living with.
“I’ve got many dates booked, but until we see a real path to when things go back to normal they are just dates.”
“Personally speaking, financially it’s been extremely difficult, but I’ve tried to stay occupied and keep on doing something.”
He expects more cancellations in 2021 as more couples opt for smaller ceremonies.
Mr Brar also said government support has been minimal for companies like his. As a result, he has seen people in the Asian wedding community close their businesses and take up delivery jobs.
He said: “I think they [the government] have overlooked the entire industry as a whole despite the noise it’s made. There’s no real answer why.
“Prior to the pandemic, the government didn’t really know how big the sector was.
“They’ve got suppliers, venues. I don’t think it’s been looked at as a combined figure. Some people have had to pack everything up.”
But for some Asian wedding planners, the smaller weddings are a good thing for couples who always wanted a smaller wedding.
Saheli Mirpuri, of Saheli Events, said:
“It’s a part of every Indian girl’s dream – they imagine this Bollywood wedding to some extent.
“Some things are rooted in family members and parents, you may want pretty things at the event but not 500 people.
“People do want something a bit more personal and intimate.”
Ms Mirpuri was also affected by the lockdown but could not go on furlough.
“Our income completely stopped but our workload continued.
“We couldn’t furlough ourselves, we had to support the couples and almost be their therapists and help them postpone their wedding. It’s been a struggle on the business.”
Ms Mirpuri said couples are looking towards smaller weddings and although she has been able to cater to this, it is harder for many larger companies.
She added: “The wedding industry overall has already been quite shaken.
“With bigger events you already have bigger warehouses, bigger teams, bigger costs, it’s hard to downsize.”
Currently, weddings in England are allowed to take place only in exceptional circumstances. The next announcement for any potential lockdown changes is not until February 22, 2021.
Asian wedding vendors have stated that they may have to adapt to the situation and try to survive until things return to normal again.