Whether you’re just beginning to plan your wedding or rescheduling a ceremony cancelled due to the current pandemic, virtual wedding planning is undoubtedly nervewracking. How do you try on dresses? What’s the best way to contact guests and keep them in the loop? As a recently-engaged bride-to-be myself, I haven’t begun planning my future wedding just yet, but I consider myself lucky compared to my friends who were set to tie the knot this summer. Still, it looks like we’ll all have to learn how to plan a wedding online, so I’m glad to see plenty of vendors stepping up and making online planning possible. Is it quite as fun as planning a wedding IRL? Maybe not, but I promise you can get the job done and still wind up with a beautiful day to remember.
As a bridesmaid in not one, but two postponed weddings, I’ve seen the stress and anxiety COVID-19 has caused my fiancé friends, and as much as I wish I could help them, all I can do is offer my love and emotional support. Of course, brides and grooms aren’t the only ones suffering with the pandemic’s effects on the wedding industry. “As couples look to postpone their weddings for later this year or into 2021 due to COVID-19, so many wedding professionals—including bridal salon owners—are facing unprecedented challenges to their businesses,” says Kristen Maxwell Cooper, Editor-In-Chief at The Knot. The only way to move forward? Accept the new normal and take business online. Cue Zoom makeup trials, video venue walk-throughs, and virtual gown appointments.
Since there are already a ton of great resources for online invitations, shoppable registries and wedding websites, take comfort in knowing a decent portion of virtual wedding planning has already been tested and perfected over the years. That said, there are some areas that are totally new to the virtual realm, and wedding dress shopping is one of them. “Many brides need to continue planning their fall 2020 and spring 2021 weddings, and ordering a wedding dress happens so far in advance,” points out Ann Campeau, Director of the National Bridal Retailers Association.
Although it can be tough to envision yourself in a dress you’ve only seen on a hanger, stores are working with brides to ensure a seamless shopping experience. “Some stores will put the gowns on mannequins so the bride can better see the detail, and even add accessories,” explains Campeau. “Other stores, based on their state’s guidelines, are offering a curbside pickup option of 4-6 gowns, or will ship dresses to a bride’s house so she can try on at home.” If you’re the kind of shopper that tends to rely heavily on your sales assistant, consider David’s Bridal’s Virtual Stylist and Virtual Appointment Experience. Brides can text with their stylist and fill out a survey before their virtual appointment so the stylist can pull styles according to her preference. The stylist will help the bride take measurements over video chat and pull accessories and bridesmaid dress swatches for the bride to look over.
Azazie, another bridal gown vendor, is also offering a virtual showroom experience on their website. Brides and bridesmaids are able to share their favorite dress styles and colors, assign dresses to specific members of the bridal party and chat in real-time, all in the virtual showroom. Azazie’s sample try-on program is also a great way to brides to try on gowns at home. “With salons closed, brides can try on dresses in the comfort of their own home at a very minimal cost,” says Ranu Coleman, Azazie’s CMO. One week prior to purchase, brides can try on samples for just $10-$15 per gown.
Not only can you try dresses on at home, but makeup trials are going virtual, too. Blushington, a makeup and beauty lounge just launched virtual makeup classes and parties, perfect for brides who plan on doing their own makeup and need tips to perfect their wedding day looks. Group classes are also great ideas for a virtual bachelorette party activity. If you know you’ll want a makeup artist doing your glam on your big day, reach out and see if he or she is willing to do a FaceTime or Zoom trial and give you a look at the kind of makeup they’d be able to offer you. Hey, it’s a great way to ensure the final results look good in photos, right?
Of course, there’s more to wedding planning than trying on gowns and dreaming up makeup looks, and other vendors are available to help in any way they can. Minted is offering free wedding websites for couples who have had to reschedule their summer 2020 ceremonies, so they can keep guests up-to-date on any changes. They’ve also rolled out a new array of Change of Date cards, for a more formal way of letting guests know of a change in plans. Zola also offers free Change of Date cards to couples who have rescheduled. If, like me, you’re just starting your wedding planning now, Minted also offers gorgeous engagement announcements to share your big news with friends, family and loved ones.
Venues themselves have also had to accommodate to online wedding planning. Haily Murphy is a representative for Zola, one of the most popular wedding registry sites, and she’s seen the shift first-hand, noting “wedding venues creating virtual tours, wedding licenses going virtual and vendors launching new online services.” It’s possible you’ve toured apartments, homes or schools virtually in the past, so really, is a virtual wedding venue tour all that bad?
If you’re a quarantined bride-to-be who’s feeling down about your future wedding, fear not. Things aren’t quite the way you might’ve planned them to be, that’s true, but you can still make the best of them and have an incredible wedding day. The sooner you start planning or re-planning your wedding online, the sooner you’ll have something to look forward to—not just a ceremony, but getting to spend the rest of your life with the person you love the most.