Two of the worst COVID-affected industries are the wedding and fashion industry, and wedding dresses are the crossover between the two. While brides across the country scramble to postpone weddings, plan “minimonies”, cut guest lists, and follow the ever-changing rules regarding weddings, brides-to-be also need to navigate finding their perfect dress.
Finding “The One”
After finding your soul mate, it is time to shop for another kind of “the one”: your one and only wedding dress. For many brides, finding their perfect wedding dresses is something they have envisaged ever since they saw their first Disney princess marry her Prince Charming.
Experiencing this special moment amid a global pandemic is far from the ideal situation. However, bridal salons across NYC have been making safety a priority, while still providing an unforgettable, relaxed, and ultimately special bridal experience.
When the pandemic hit, uncertainty struck engaged couples. Luckily, many bridal salons introduced virtual appointments for brides-to-be needing to find a dress during the lockdown.
Many brides needed to find a dress for their backyard weddings, elopements, and those weddings that would be happening shortly after lockdown. After all, most dresses are not bought off the rack and it can take months for dresses to be altered for a bride’s specific measurements.
Many bridal salons are still offering virtual appointments which are beneficial for brides who do not feel comfortable looking for dresses in-store, or if they would rather more people be present when trying dresses on.
For virtual appointments, the bride pays a refundable deposit for the dress and tries it on in the comfort of her own home. Often the bridal consultants will be present live on Zoom and still provide the same attention and guidance that they would do in-store.
Good News for the Wedding Fashion Industry
After bridal salons closed for months, many are relieved to be opened again helping brides find their dream dress while still following the rules under NYC phase 4 reopening. I have no doubt that both the wedding and fashion industry will recover if they continue to make customers’ safety a priority, while still offering a specialized experience.
Cristina DeMarco, the senior buyer and Vice President of Bridal Reflections, the luxury, family-owned bridal salon with stores on Fifth Avenue, Carle Place, and Massapequa on Long Island, updated me with their customer safety protocols. Cristina has witnessed that “these past few months, our customers have shopped at each of our salons with confidence. Our brides are impressed that we are not overloading the salon. We are asking brides to limit themselves to 1-2 guests. Also, we are requiring brides and guests to wear masks during their two-hour appointment. We are also disinfecting the salon frequently and are steaming our gowns. We are doing everything to keep our brides as well as our employees safe.”
Limited Guests & Other Changes
Like Bridal Reflections, many bridal salons are limiting the number of guests that can attend the appointment. If you have ever seen Say Yes to the Dress, you may not see that as a bad thing, as too many opinions can be overwhelming for the bride-to-be. As a bride-to-be myself, it is common advice from bridal consultants to recommend keeping the bridal entourage to two or three guests even in ordinary times.
For those brides who want to share their special moment with more family and friends, there is also an option to set up Facetiming and Zoom calls at most salons. Kleinfields are providing IPads for video chat so your closest family and friends can watch you say yes to the dress.
Other common differences include how attendees need to be wearing masks and all guests are required to keep six feet away from anyone not in your household. As well as sanitizing stations and restricting brides to one guest, Max Bridal New York is requesting that guests call to let them know you are here so that each party comes in separately. Once inside, each party will have access to their private fitting room, limiting contact with others. Max Bridal is asking brides to prepare for the appointment with pictures of dresses they would like to try on, as the consultants will be picking out dresses based on the brides’ preferences, while the bridal party waits in the dressing room.
When you think of bridal salons in NYC, Kleinfields comes to mind. Like Disney World for brides, Kleinfields carries the largest selection of wedding dresses in the country and is a key player within the fashion industry.
Priding themselves in offering top customer service, Kleinfields have made it their mission to provide the same exclusive experience while putting their employees and customer’s health first. Expect an even more personalized, intimate experience as Kleinfields has reduced capacity. The website has FAQs here.
When Kleinfields reopened after lockdown, they revealed an entirely different floor plan which helped social distancing measures. They have added clear plexiglass dividers to limit contact with other brides, as well as floor markings to encourage social distancing.
Check-in is contactless and attendees (and consultants) must have their temperature taken when entering the salon. They must also fill out a questionnaire declaring any out-of-state travel.
Kleinfields are also giving brides-to-be a complimentary souvenir tote bag so that you can place your clothes in during the appointment in order to keep the clothes and the dressings rooms clean. The tote bag makes a perfect keepsake for your bridal shopping experience. Guests will also be provided with branded hand sanitizer.
Impressively, Kleinfields also commits to sanitizing each gown after each try-on. It might be a good idea to research bridal fashion beforehand as bridal consultants will be limiting “try-ons” to just 6 dresses.
Kleinfields also issued a message of reassurance for brides worried about their dress arriving on time, maintaining that the fashion industry is recovering, and they “are not experiencing any delays or issues due to COVID-19. Our customer service team is on the case daily with all of our manufacturers and will notify you immediately should there be any changes.”
Preparation is Key for the Wedding Fashion Industry
Long gone are the days where brides-to-be just needed to make sure they are wearing the right kind of underwear for their appointments. So, come prepared with masks, Pinterest boards saved with bridal fashion, your most trusted guests, and your bridal appointment will be just as special and even more unforgettable.