A north-east baker has praised the introduction of a £25m fund for wedding businesses.
In December, Finance Secretary Kate Forbes revealed £15m of support would be available for the industry, which has been badly hit by coronavirus restrictions forcing couples to postpone or cancel their big day.
The wedding fund is open to all businesses who work in the industry, such as venues, caterers and photographers and grants of up to £25,000 will be available.
Ms Sturgeon said: “We know that businesses involved in weddings employ thousands of people across the country and of course they play a really big role in making sure that couples enjoy the wedding day of their dreams, so it’s really important that we support the sector now so that it is able to operate again once restrictions start to ease.
“So I hope this support will provide some welcome help and reassurance to a sector that has found things particularly tough.”
Emma Somers owns Fondant Cake Design which specialises in wedding cakes.
She welcomed the introduction of the fund after her business “disappeared overnight” when Covid-19 first hit.
She said: “It’s nice that we’re finally getting something like this as a sector because it’s so big.
“There hasn’t really been any support for us apart from the self-employed grant.
“It all seems to have been about hospitality so it’s positive that there is a specific fund.
“When Covid-19 came along my business basically disappeared overnight. Ninety per cent of what I do is wedding cakes and over the course of a few weeks weddings were being postponed.
“I’m now seeing everybody who postponed last year postponing this year too which has been difficult.
“Thankfully I’ve managed to get everybody booked back in but it has been a hard time.
“It’s been birthday cakes which have kept me going so far, but it’s nowhere near the revenue I would be making from wedding cakes.”
Throughout the various stages of restrictions, the rules around weddings have changed – with some couples choosing to tie the knot in a scaled-down day and others opting to postpone.
The guidelines state that at Level 4, no more than five people are allowed to mark the occasion while at Levels 1-3, there is a 20-person limit. At the lowest Level 0, no more than 50 are permitted.
Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin also welcomed the introduction of the fund.
She said: “This is a very welcome cash boost to the wedding sector and its supply chain in the north-east and across Scotland.
“The pandemic has substantially changed what the wedding sector is allowed to offer with the many restrictions which have been put in place during the pandemic.
“This funding will help to mitigate against the unprecedented effect the past 10 months has had on businesses.
“I would urge any businesses who think they may be eligible to apply as it is important this funding reaches many of the relevant firms as possible.”