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Shopping for Your Wedding Dress during COVID
We recently had the pleasure of chatting with Susan Keng, Director of Retail and Marketing Relations for the JLM Couture Flagship Boutique, who shared with us what to expect when shopping for your wedding gown during COVID.
Can you tell us some of the common challenges you're having?
I’m so fortunate to have a great team that helped me put all of our contingency plans into action these past several months. That said, it’s been hard saying no to large groups and hugging our brides, but it’s for the best right now.
What do brides need to know is there a different timeline to buying their dress?
Yes! If you’ve found your dream dress, do not wait to purchase. We used to recommend purchasing at least 6-8 months prior to the wedding date (this allowed for some cushion in case of any minor delays, plus time for alterations), and rush options were available to brides who didn’t have that time. Given what we’ve seen and experienced this year, we recommend placing your order at least 8-10 months prior if possible (10-12 months for custom gowns). I’m not sure what other retailers and designers are quoting with regards to delivery time, but we always tend to be more conservative, just in case.
What does a consultation look like now?
We are complying to all of LA County’s safety guidelines and are going above and beyond to ensure everyone’s safety while they’re in the boutique. This includes limiting the number of guests who can accompany the bride, limiting close contact, increasing sterilizing and cleaning throughout the day, and requiring face masks of everyone while in the boutique. Our stylists are introducing themselves to their brides through a virtual consultation prior to the in store appointment (no masks!) to help them curate a collection of gowns to try on when they come in. Getting to know the bride in advance is so helpful, and everyone feels more prepared for the in store experience.
Are there particular questions you keep hearing brides ask you about?
The most common questions we receive pertain to the number of guests they can bring to their appointment, how long it takes for their gown to arrive, and what to do with their gowns if their weddings have been postponed.
Are there particular surprises brides are discovering that's new to this unusual time?
I think one of the biggest differences brides are experiencing now are the logistics of planning and celebrating - the pandemic and subsequent health guidelines have made everything more difficult, and I think brides and businesses are realizing more than ever the importance of having a plan b (and c). Weddings and all the activities leading up to the big day (the shower, bachelorette, gown shopping) have always been about celebrating with your loved ones so I’m always so happy to hear all the creative ways they’ve come up with to celebrate during this unusual time.
Has there been a change in the landscape of bridal boutiques? Are brides finding out their dress maker is not longer there?
Yes, we have seen some changes to the landscape this year, and it’s always sad to hear of another boutique’s closing. JLM has been a leading bridal house for over 30 years and home to some of the industry's brightest talents like Hayley Paige, Lazaro, and Allison Webb - we are so happy to be helping our brides through this difficult time, and excited for all the weddings to come.
Or what about if the couple is opting to "vow now, celebrate later"...what are brides doing for their elopement dress? Are they planning to wear their wedding dress twice, for their elopement and their rescheduled wedding day? Or are they opting for something more casual now and saving their wedding dress for the big day?
We have been seeing all of the above - there’s no wrong way to celebrate! Some of our brides are opting to wear their gown for an intimate ceremony now, and again for their “happily ever after” or anniversary celebration next year. Some even have plans to modify their gowns for that event such as shortening the hem or adding custom straps. But many brides are also opting to wear something simple for their “vow now”/elopement and are saving their formal gown for their 2021/2022 celebrations.