Were it a normal year, Aberdeen bagpiper Rikki Evans would be planning his diary around dozens of bookings to play at weddings.
With the ongoing coronavirus lockdown forcing the cancellation of thousands of planned nuptials in Scotland, however, he’s hung up his kilt these past few months and used his spare time to instead help the wedding industry bounce back.
Mr Evans has organised the north-east’s first virtual wedding fair of 2021 to showcase more than 30 local wedding suppliers, from florists, hairdressers and cake-makers to pipers, photographers and wedding bands.
The 34-year-old, who works as an emergency response operator for Petrofac, says it’s not just long-suffering couples who have been left eagerly awaiting any news of when they can hold their wedding ceremony and reception as planned but those suppliers who rely on the celebrations to make a living.
He’s hoping a new website, Wedding Deals Scotland, which he created after his Alba Bagpipes company’s work more or less dried up, will offer a “lifeline” for those in the industry.
“Given everyone has been affected by the pandemic, suppliers are struggling for money, as are couples,” the Bucksburn father-of-one added.
“This is a win-win for all and hopefully a lifeline for everyone in the wedding industry.
“I am also offering free virtual wedding exhibitions, with the first planned on Sunday.
“I’m just trying to do my bit to help others.”
More than 60 wedding suppliers Scotland-wide have signed up to feature on his site, where suppliers have the option to offer discounts and deals, and at the first online fair, advice and support to couples trying to plan their big day during a pandemic.
“As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, couples have become increasingly careful with their money when planning their wedding,” Mr Evans added.
“Couples find themselves budgeting more than ever and are beginning to pay attention to special deals and discounts from wedding suppliers.
“They’re usually found at wedding exhibitions, but these are costly to attend and in the current climate not allowed to take place.
“My site brings all these deals to one easy to use online platform which may help couples planning from home save money off the total cost of their wedding.
“2020 showed us that being able to work virtually is vitally important in helping keep people safe, so we’ll be hosting virtual exhibitions on the site throughout the year for free.”
Under current coronavirus rules, no more than five people can attend a marriage ceremony or civil partnership registrations in Scotland, and wedding receptions cannot take place.
Should the country return to tiered system once more, the rules state that in level 1, 2 and 3 areas no more than 20 people can attend the ceremony and reception.
A £15 million fund to support the wedding sector, created by the Scottish Government in December, was upped by a further £10m last month.
You can register for the fair and make contact with listed suppliers online at www.weddingdeals-scotland.co.uk.