“OMG your wedding is in six months!”…“Not long to go now”.
All phrases thrown at you as the big day inches that little bit closer. As someone who never wanted an almost year-long engagement – especially as we managed to organise nearly the entire wedding in one week – finally hitting the six month countdown should definitely be a source of joy.
And it is. Our lives have all been put on hold this year, so anything that suggests the next chapter or a new beginning is certainly cause for celebration, but hitting the six month fresh-hold did highlight that one thing would now be almost out of reach… my dream wedding dress.
Largely considered the most important dress you will ever wear, I have to admit, I hadn’t really given it much thought prior to getting engaged. I wasn’t one of those women who had quietly been pinteresting dress ideas long before I met my partner. But of course once the opportunity arose I was most committed to the matter in hand.
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The world of wedding dresses is overwhelming. Despite having worked in fashion for over ten years, I’ve had little exposure to major wedding dress brands and it was all a new adventure. I pinned, I researched and I followed dozens of local bridal stores on social media looking for inspiration. But of course a wedding dress is like any other and having shopped with friends for their joyous dress previously, I know all too well what you think you will love might not actually be the style you end up going for.
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So it was time to hit the shops right?
Did I mention the pandemic? Weddings and the suppliers who make them happen have suffered an extraordinary loss during the past year. Covid-19 for the most part has halted many wedding ceremonies altogether, while others have seen their celebration shrink to almost unimaginable numbers. The knock-on effect financially has been catastrophic for many businesses but the toll on couples has been quite a tough pill to swallow too.
We were lucky in the sense that we were planning during Covid-19. We knew that we needed to have plenty of options and wiggle room to tweak the day to whatever Boris throws at us but even we thought that 2021 might be more optimistic.
Before you wonder why I didn’t hit the shops back in October (when things were still open) I admit that when I think of wedding dress shopping, I have most definitely romanticised it, or Disney-fied it somewhat. I imagined a day of visiting targeted bridal boutiques with the other half of The Style Life, Antonia, possibly enjoying a Prosecco or two (okay, six) and having a ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ moment. But what I was offered was a clinical experience, shopping alone (or with someone in my household) and wearing a mask to try on dresses. Not the one. So I put it off.And I get it, we’re in a pandemic, believe me, I’m all for safety but you can understand why this was not quite the dream. But before you could say ‘tiara’, we plunged into tier 3 and lost access to all our ‘non-essential’ stores overnight, drawing a line under my plans anyway.
Fairly sure a tiny window of opportunity would arise come January, I didn’t panic too heavily but by February we were still in lockdown. As the six month marker approached I had to face facts, while there might be a chance for a sample dress (although as a size 16/18 don’t get me started on wedding dress sample sizes) or getting it made by a dress maker (great for shorter notices but costly), or of course the good old British high street, but the moment to really ‘shop’ for my dress has certainly disappeared.
I know I’m not the only one in this situation. Although this offers little comfort, there is a solidarity between those who have had their wedding plans nuked by the pandemic and all of our suppliers have been incredible.
Before you take out your tiny violin, believe me, I know there are people, couples, in worse situations. But if I had a fiver for every time I’m told ‘Love isn’t cancelled’, or that ‘the most important part is that you’re marrying each other’, as a supposedly valid argument for not mourning the loss of my dream dress, I can’t help but feel a twinge of irritation.
Of course, the most important part of the day is the symbolic start of a new chapter in our lives. But why the hell can’t I look and feel great whilst doing it too?
If you’ve had a micro wedding or are currently dress-less, I’m sure you’ve heard the same thing and usually from those who have had the opportunity to burn a pile of money on a big frothy affair.
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All I really want is the chance to be a bridezilla and to be honest, I don’t think that is too much to ask. I’m not saying that without a dress I don’t want to get married but I consider this day a once in a lifetime opportunity and maybe if I didn’t work in fashion, the dress might hold less importance. But losing out on the opportunity stings just a bit and if you or a friend are in the same or similar position, it’s ok to feel a bit put out. I’ve come to terms with the fact that the day won’t look like we hoped, we probably will have to pick and choose our friends and family and that’s tough. We don’t want to delay our lives anymore, Covid-19 has done that enough.
If you’re waiting to see whether your big day will be little, I feel you, it is tough! But hang on in there. If you are happy to postpone and as a couple that’s what you want so that you can have the day you’ve dreamed of, do it.
But if you want to push ahead, here are some tips to make micro wedding planning just as fun as plotting a big day.
- It’s all in the detail: With fewer guests you can really enrich the day with added detail. Maybe you want to go for a fancier dinner menu, more expensive favours, a pricier wine or extra flowers. If you’d previously scrimped on certain areas but now have spare budget you’re willing to blow, think about what enhancements can be added to make your day more unique.
- Talk to your venue. If social distancing etc is still on the card, discuss with your venue how table and seating plans might look. If you’re getting married in warmer months, look at outside options too, so you’re prepared for whatever happens. This will help ease the stress as you’re covered for every eventuality.
- Start looking again at your guest list. We don’t know how many people we will be able to have in the summer, so we’re working on several scenarios. Again, preparation is key to not feeling deflated and you’ve already run all the options and planned all outcomes.
- And on that note, if you’ve got to cut numbers down, it’s OK to be ruthless with your guest list. Prefer more friends over cousins you only see on family occasions? That’s fine. If you’re down to 30 guests in total people will understand that you’re doing your best. And remember you can always stream the day online.
- If you are at reduced capacity and using streaming to share your day with guests you can’t accommodate, think about sending out reception boxes to absent guests so they can be part of the fun. If you’ve found yourself with spare budget, talk to your caterer about options to send refreshment boxes to those logging in so that they can feel included too. Just because the day is micro in person, doesn’t mean you can’t include lots of familiar faces.
- But of course, having a smaller day also means you might be able to simply just cut costs. Lots of people really overstretch themselves to have the wedding of their dreams but if you’ve suddenly found you have budget left over, you can always just ring fence this saving for a luxe honeymoon, a house deposit or simply treating yourself to lovely things at a later date. Yes you might have a smaller wedding but you can be totally OK with your new found savings.
- Above all else realise it’s OK to mourn the loss of your planned or dreamed day. Talk about it with your partner, bore your friends with it and then once you’ve come to terms with it, plot the micro wedding of your dreams. Enjoy plotting the minor details that might have gotten overlooked in a flurry of extra guests and make it special for the two of you.
Regardless of how you do your big day. Congratulations!