When Samantha Penney wakes up on Monday morning, she is hoping to hear the news she has been waiting for – that her wedding the following week is finally on.
Penney, 36, and her husband-to-be Steve Weaver, 46, are one of 50,000 couples in the UK currently hoping to get married in the first four weeks after the restrictions on weddings are due to lift on June 21.
Penney and Weaver, from Hertfordshire, are on their second attempt at a full-sized wedding, with 139 guests due to celebrate with them on Friday, June 25.
"We’ve gone over in our minds 100 times the different scenarios that could arise," says Penney, who says they will cancel a second time if the restrictions are not lifted. "There are so many different variables as to what he might say on Monday.
"I just want to go to sleep and wake up on Monday and find out what’s going on. Everything is just so grey. There’s no clarity with anything."
The couple stand to lose at least their deposits if they are forced to cancel next week, possibly even more if suppliers can’t move their bookings to a new date. "In some cases we might have to forfeit the whole amount, because contractually we’re due to pay everything four weeks before,” says Penney, who works in asset management.
"We’ve spoken to our wedding insurers; they’ve said they might be able to honour it, it just depends what the announcement is."
The UK Weddings Taskforce, a body of industry representatives which has been meeting with the government throughout the pandemic, says venues, planners and suppliers are waiting on tenterhooks to find out if they can move forward with full-sized weddings from June 21.
Luxury wedding planner Sarah Haywood, who heads the taskforce, says “the entire sector has ramped up” ahead of the 21st.
"It’s all very well them saying it’s data not dates, but we’ve only been given one date to work to," she says.
"We had to bring back staff from furlough to get venues and infrastructure ready. We had to hire in and train new staff. This is all irrecoverable."
Haywood says 90 per cent of wedding businesses have reported a loss of income between 90 and 100 per cent during the pandemic, with small 30-person weddings not proving "financially viable". "It’s cost us money to effectively remain closed," she says. "We’re at the end of the runway."
Confusion reigns, says Haywood, thanks to "really mixed messages coming out of cabinet ministers saying one thing from one person, another from others. It’s like they’re hedging their bets."
For Hannah Elver and James Greggor, who are due to get married on July 24, this will be their third attempt to wed.
Their guest list has already decreased from around 100 down to 71.
"When you keep moving a date, people have babies, people have other things in their lives, people have passed away, life changes in a year," says Elver.
They are, however, hoping they won’t have to cut it down to 30, not least because their venue can fit well over 100. "It’s a huge stately home that can fit 150 people in the ballroom and we’re going to be rattling around."
The couple, from Surrey, were due to get married in October 2020. "Then it was meant to be May 8 2021. And now we’re July 24," says Elver, 34, who works in hotel marketing while her husband-to-be is a teacher.
"You carry on planning, you get excited but then in the back of your head you’re like, ‘oh actually, don’t get excited, you don’t know what’s going to happen’."
If the restrictions are not lifted, they will go ahead and get married anyway. "We’ve put our lives on hold," says Elver. "We need to start a family."