It’s no secret that large gatherings, including weddings and other milestone celebrations have been put on hold. Many engaged couples have found themselves in a difficult situation when it comes to their nuptials. But the bridal industry is here to help keep the wedding planning on track through virtual dress shopping and appointments, engagement photo shoots and finding the perfect venue.
Janice Jackson started planning her wedding immediately after her January engagement to Andre Heidelberg, 55. The 41-year-old police communications officer, who lives in Englewood, says everything was set for her upcoming wedding, planned for June 13.
“We don’t know, at this point, if we have to postpone because of the coronavirus,” she says. “We’ve talked about it, and we would like to postpone it, but we’re really waiting to hear from our reception venue. ... Of course we want our day — I really want to put on my dress and walk down the aisle. But at the same time, we’re concerned about the health and safety of others and our guests because of the pandemic. ... We just want to do our part in preventing the spread.”
When it came to wedding planning, Jackson says she didn’t know where to begin until she came across Pamela Marie Bridal Boutique in Bridgeport, a virtual bridal shop.
Owner Pamela Marie Perkins-Phillips helps women find their perfect wedding dress by providing personal look books via email. With 15 years in the bridal industry, Perkins-Phillips says she had the idea for a virtual bridal shop about five years ago and made the shift in January, ahead of the pandemic. So far, Perkins-Phillips says she has helped nine brides find their dresses, including Jackson.
“Dress shopping can be overwhelming,” Perkins-Phillips says. “We send them a survey to find information about their wedding, personal style and budget. Then find photos to build a look with at least three dresses and veil, with wedding party colors if applicable, all via email.”
The next steps include physically going with the brides and their friends and family to try on dresses in stores. Perkins-Phillips says she has two brides still waiting to receive their dresses after ordering before the pandemic, including Jackson.
She hasn’t gone to stores since the stay-at-home order, but she’s working with manufacturers and dress shops to get dresses for two brides.
“From dress shopping to picking out the right one, she made it easy,” says Jackson.
Similarly, Janice Yoder, owner of Adore Bridal in Morton, came up with the idea of virtual appointments a few years ago. She says some brides aren’t comfortable going inside stores and trying on dresses with a stranger while a large group stares at you.
“I thought about doing this for years but didn’t want to get into another business adventure,” Yoder says. “But this pandemic put that idea in full motion.”
In just five days, Yoder says, the shop created a system for managing and operating virtual appointments. In addition to help with dresses, Adore Bridal is offering virtual appointments for bridal accessories, bridesmaid dresses and suit/tuxedo fittings.
She says the shop has shipped 12 bride boxes filled with three to five wedding dresses to brides across Illinois. Brides first complete the shop’s virtual style form and can opt for a virtual appointment to see dresses before shipping. Adore Bridal also offers an optional Zoom call, so brides can share the potential dresses with the shop, friends and family.
The bride boxes include a packing list, an “I said yes” sign, and a video tutorial on how to put on the dress and use the clips. Yoder says brides can text the shop for tips on measuring, sizing, color options for bridesmaid dresses and payment.
If you already have your dress or just want to announce your engagement, consider a virtual photo shoot with your fiance or fiancee.
For a little over a week, Chicago-based photographer Kristina Ryon has been offering engagement photos over Zoom.
“I came up with the idea to do engagement photos over Zoom or FaceTime from a photographer who was offering boudoir sessions in another state,” says Ryon. “And thought why not do that here, but also for couples for engagement sessions whose photo shoots had fallen through since the pandemic?”
Ryon describes the process as simple and similar to a “normal session”; she assists with wardrobe before the shoot, and offers advice on where to find the best lighting and how to pose.
“The major difference is the quality,” she says. “You can’t get them blown up as huge canvases, but you can share them all over social media and via text. ... It’s not about how you get your photos taken; it’s a matter of you still are able to get them done and have those memories to look back on. There are ways to still have your sessions done even in a crazy pandemic.”
She says she has more engagement shoots lined up over the next two weeks and is setting up wedding appointments through Zoom.
Originally Published: https://www.chicagotribune.com/coronavirus/ct-life-wedding-planning-coronavirus-0421-tt-20200423-yzvtc2gyorctfojdwgv42bkih4-story.html?outputType=amp