Well, the time has come where countries are seeing the positive results of social distancing. China has optimistically opened up; bakeries, retail stores & pizzerias are re-opening in Italy and New Zealand has almost gotten the ‘all clear’. So what does this mean for Canadian brides going forward?
A Pandemic only happens in the movies, (right?) and yet, here we are in one, struggling to find a way forward. We have Brides who may have planned for their ‘big day’, sitting at home during the most important time of their life, suddenly having to postpone their wedding. We have vendors trying to reschedule dates while they attempt to juggle future brides.
Worldwide, the bridal business has been tremendously affected by this virus. Everyone from wedding coordinators who are implementing safer ways to deliver a wedding and organizing mini hand sanitizer in welcome bags as you arrive to venues rethinking food and beverage stations for social distancing practices. Interactive ideas are being thought of and considerations are being made to reduce commonly touched surfaces to protect staff and guests. Live video-streamed weddings will become important as we find ways to have loved ones there who are at an age where the risk to their health outweighs them leaving from their homes.
Weddings may possibly be broken up into smaller groups; a certain number of people going to the ceremony another wave of guests visit the cocktail party and another group goes to the reception and each event is streamed online for everyone to see and encourage our efforts to be safe. Our big wedding events will be forced to adapt over the next year or two!
After 35 years in the bridal industry, Valencienne has witnessed these changes, on multiple occasions. Weddings became more intimate; I recall that after a financial crisis, the average guest list was between 125 to 250 whereas before the events, we would see average sizes of between 275 to 350 guests.
Then came shows like ‘Say yes to the dress’ and we were feasting our eyes on incredibly beautiful wedding magazines like Grace Ormond and our famed Wedluxe magazine, showing us the new way forward by signalling that bigger weddings truly are better weddings!! Guest Lists jumped up yet again, it was common to hear about weddings with guest lists between 400-800 people.
Decor budgets went sky high, wedding co-ordinators were asked to make the impossible, possible. Gown designs were chosen explicitly for the possibility of getting your wedding featured in your favourite bridal magazine for everyone to see how amazing your extravagant event was!!! Everything was just too much!! We all got lost in the grandeur of planning the event and lost sight of the important parts of a wedding like the union and vows!!!!!
ENTER COVID 19 MARCH 15 /2020 The day the wedding industry changed over night!!
So why is this going to change us so dramatically? Because we are shell-shocked, shaken to our core. We have been home for weeks away from the daily grind and the hustle and bustle, forced to look at our existence differently. Between lining up for groceries, wearing masks and gloves while we take our once daily stroll to the park – comes time to take stock of the things and people who are most important to us. While enjoying a simpler existence, we are caring for loved ones, helping friends cope, taking time to communicate and support people a little more.
While this has been happening, the world has started to heal, and we all have started to realize we need to get back to basics, the world has been forced to stop and smell the roses! Therefore “simpler may be the better way”. Maybe we will all need to take a step, not back, but forward and embrace a new way of thinking, being and doing!
Weddings will still be beautiful they will just be created with much more heart and a lot less grandeur. A concerted effort will be made to have a more budget conscious wedding as people will appreciate their dollars more. A more petite wedding, where conversation can be heard, faces can be seen, and the BRIDE AND GROOM truly take centre stage. Weddings will be different!!!
So what does that mean going forward for Bridal fashion after the Covid 19 storm?
I have spent a few weeks thinking about this question and what this means to fashion and ultimately what it means for designer bridal gowns going forward. I have been a bridal designer for a long time, I have watched trends come and go, I have predicted what looks are coming next and have tried to have that look on the floor of Valencienne before it was a thing!!
I cannot help but think that we are in for a complete change over the look of bridal gowns, and how we purchase them, I feel strongly going forward, that brides will have to take everything above into consideration and will be looking to create an all around intimate affair or eloping all together, looking for an overall simpler look and a gown that speak to that new way.
I am not saying plain and boring. I am saying gowns with less fabric, less volume, a more elegant silhouette. I think that we are going to see a surge in bridal cocktail, fun and flirty dresses, short and sassy ballroom gowns or two-piece gowns that can easily be packed for a fast romantic get away and then can be worn again after the event.
Convertible wear again gowns will be a big trend going forward for sure. During this COVID-19 crisis, one of the most important issues with clients in bridal right now is being more conscious about where there gowns are manufactured and are the gowns ethically made and eco friendly.
I believe that ordering a custom gown from your local boutique will actually become easier and brides will find ordering and delivery of a gown sourced locally to be stress free. Importing gowns will now be more difficult and unreliable as border crossings will add additional scrutiny. There is already a large community of fashion designers and many of these suppliers are Canadian.
The reality is after the effects of the Pandemic are over, Brides are not going to want to be wearing a seriously big overbearing wedding gown, they are going to want to feel free, almost like a rebirth of sorts; Celebrating life and love.They are going to want to party and celebrate with an exuberance like no other time in history! Natural beauty will shine, embellishments will be kept to a minimum, brides will want to be a one of a kind while showcasing their unique style ( possibly discovered during there months in quarantine),
Yes it is a new day in bridal! Imagine a fitted sexy sheath with a detachable overskirt or a fashion forward bridal jumpsuit. This is going to be the new norm and this is my prediction of what is going to happen in the bridal fashion world post Covid 19. Simple convertible gowns, Micro weddings which will not sacrifice on all the beautiful details, Extra special photography, Quality over quantity, as we all go forward into the future,” Less can be more” our simplified lives have shown us the importance of Family, friends, health and gratitude.
I had the pleasure of chatting with some of our most trusted wedding industry friends and wanted to find out there thoughts going forward within the bridal industry after Covid 19:
Bigger isn’t always better. And that will absolutely be the case once we are back to “normal”. We intrinsically for-see smaller intimate celebrations taking the lead (elopements & micro weddings) and the insurance of more experiential weddings becoming popular. Elopements meaning bride, groom, and officiant! Yes, that small. Throw in a planner, photographer, and videographer and you’ve got yourself a team. But this doesn’t necessarily mean wham-bam-thank-you-mam and it’s over. Elopements can be just as curated and created as over the top extravaganzas- just smaller. Think vows on the shores of the Scarborough Bluffs, a stunning bouquet and floral lined pathway to the waters edge. A cafe buyout in Leslieville for two, where every surface is dripping in candlelight. A jazz duo accompanying your experience while the chef prepares a tasting menu curated for your specific tastes, and a bottle of wine from the year you met. Or if a slightly larger guest list is on your mind, a Micro Wedding may be for you- 30 guests or less, the perfect amount to fill a private dining room or perhaps a small art gallery space that could never hold a large guest count reception. Or perhaps my favourite idea yet: a roaming micro wedding. A completely experiential evening for your guests where each dynamic part of the evening takes place in a new location: ceremony at a small private chapel, cocktails at Barchef, dinner in the wine cellar of Barbarians Steak House, and a private after party in the secret (or not so secret anymore) at Cold Tea or Escobar. Did we all just get excited, or did we all just get excited?
Bridal accessory designer Laura Jayne sees accessories becoming even more personal moving forward. “Accessories are always a way for the bride to put her own take on her wedding gown, styling it to reflect her personal style & the vibe of her wedding. As we emerge from isolation and many couples re-think original visions of their wedding day, I see them prioritizing what’s really important to them on a personal level. Although I don’t believe this necessarily means simpler weddings or bridal fashion, I see it as more intentional, with details thoughtfully selected based on their meaning to the couple. If the bride chooses to go for all out glamour; it won’t be to impress a large guest list or to live up to a grand venue. Maybe the glam won’t be yards of tulle on a big ballgown with a grand train, but instead a detachable train or shimmering long veil that converts to a chic evening wrap for the party. With travel limitations and health concerns potentially keeping extended family and friends away, I also see accessories as a way to include those who cannot attend; thinking of Meghan Markle’s veil embroidered with flowers symbolic of each of the commonwealth countries as a great example, as well as re-styling accessories or incorporating components from family heirlooms; but all done with a modern sensibility. Most of all though, I predict bridal fashion and accessories in the coming months will reflective of the times, evoking the lightheartedness of celebration, hope and joy, coming out of a challenging time with a spirit of healing and renewal. Accessories will hit a fun and playful to capture the spirit of the times- think flirty veils, & whimsical headpieces.”
Once Weddings are allowed to take place I believe a greater emphasis will be on more intimate Weddings (less than 100 people). This will free up the budgets of Couples to spend more on what’s truly important to them such that dream venue, gourmet meals, premium drinks, custom gown, more coverage hours by talented Photography & Videography Artists to preserve every single moment for future generations to cherish. It will be more about “Quality, not Quantity.”
So many people have been reminiscing about the “good old days” recently by flipping through photos of Family & Friends from before the Covid-19 virus and reflecting on how important life is and photos really are. Once the Event is over, all you really have left are the memories and hopefully beautiful, timeless photos that document every single fleeting moment.As we embark on events and weddings after Covid-19, I believe the beauty industry will re-ignite. Some would even consider it an “essential service” 😉 and although you may have gotten the hang of doing your gel nails, or weekly blowouts from home, there is just something truly gratifying and luxurious about having that service done FOR you.
After many long weeks of quarantine and comfy clothes, I think the focus will be on a more naturally elevated glam. One where the client truly feels and sees, themselves. I also think going forward, weddings will take a quality over quantity standpoint. We may see a shift to much smaller, more intimate bridal parties, therefore, allowing companies to accommodate more bookings in a day.
And lastly, without a doubt the largest focus will be on sanitation practices in our industry. There are many teams and companies out there, like ours, who pride themselves on their hygiene practices. We have all become hyper-aware of germs, and the damage they can cause. It is our utmost responsibility as artists, to ensure that our kits continue to meet the highest level of sanitation achievable, in order to protect our clients and ourselves.
I also think masks may be here to stay in our line of work. They create a respectful barrier between client and artist as we work so closely together.
Although we have all been through this collectively, each persons unique experience has been completely different. Compassion and communication will continue to be key components we exercise while we navigate the wedding industry with our clients after Covid19.
I know the effect of this pandemic has changed us all. I am choosing to look at this event as a positive and find a new way forward. I have designed a capsule collection which takes all of these points into consideration. I am updating my website to enable brides to virtually meet with me, screen to screen via zoom, to sketch and design their dream gown. Our new business is called “Bridal design online” with an effort to start the conversation and move forward with insight from my years of design experience and the knowledge that things will be ok, possibly even better than it was before. Here’s to innovation and being creative is going to be paramount going forward within bridal industry.