Conrad and Aimee have called off their wedding twice in 2020.
Any other year, that’d sound like quite the controversial statement – yet, as we all know, in the year of Covid-19, no event is guaranteed.
Theirs was due to go ahead the last week of March – it’d still be nice and warm, they figured, and cheaper for their friends and family coming from abroad who could avoid the Christmas/summer rush.
Instead, they first – slowly and sadly – came to terms with the fact that those guests wouldn’t make it into NZ in time to NZ. And then, accepted that the wedding wouldn’t be able to happen at all.
“Then, we just felt lucky, really. Because we saw what happened to other weddings, and were just thankful that no one got ill,” says Aimee.
So, they picked themselves up and decided to have a lovely (hopefully still sunny) November wedding instead – knowing that it would likely be much smaller than they intended, without a few important guests, like Conrad’s brother who lives in Perth.
But then Auckland’s Lockdown 2.0 happened.
“After we got back into Level 1 the first time, we’d been feeling so positive that we didn’t really think about the idea of it happening again,” admits Aimee. “We were more preoccupied with thinking about whether there might be a Tasman bubble or something by that stage. Or whether I’d have to take my dress in, because of all the stress!”
So, when Lockdown was ordered again, they took a long, hard think about their wedding. In a few days’ time they were due to put down another non-refundable deposit. Were they really prepared to weather the stress of wondering if it may all fall over again?
“The thought of looking at the news every day and worrying, didn’t sound like much fun,” says Aimee. “We would have been getting married this weekend – which means, last week, when the community case was announced, we’d have been on the edge of our seats going, ‘is this another lockdown?’ ‘is this another deposit gone?’ We decided to call it off – who knows how long we’ll wait!”
Across town, Dave and Lisa rolled the dice and got married in a very small, magical winter ceremony in Queenstown a few months later than the big bash they’d planned at a winery in April. It meant throwing out all their ideas (and selling her dress and buying a new, winter appropriate one!) but they now think their day was perfect.
“We decided to go for it and do virtually the opposite of what we had planned,” says Lisa. “And I’m so glad we did. It snowed the night before and was like a fairytale. Flights were cheap, accommodation was cheap – we even got a helicopter flight up into the mountains for our photos. We’d never have been able to afford that before. Plus, despite everything going on, everyone we booked in for services were so kind and offered a full refund if a lockdown meant we couldn’t go ahead. I think the best part though was asking our friends and family to join us for a few days for a holiday – everyone was saying, ‘it’s not like we have any other plans! Yes!’ We’d had this big, ‘look at us’ wedding planned, when our values all shifted and we realised our love for each other, and for our close friends and family was what really mattered. It was more low key, more intimate, more special!”
Jen and Therese were also locked in for an April wedding – which they now have booked for New Year’s Eve (what a way to see out this year). Marie and Grant have moved their wedding by a whole year and one day and will marry on a Sunday in March 2021. And then there’s Karl and Charlotte who are yet to reschedule their day – they had booked for Hawaii this December, where they’d organized days of fun with guests from all over the globe. At the moment, they think they’ll most likely marry at the registry office, so they can start life as a married couple, then will finally have their family wedding when borders open up again in future.
It’s been a nail-biting year for the bridal industry with so much chaos and disruption, but wedding dress designer to the stars, Trish Peng, says the ones who’ve really had it toughest is the brides. “2020 has been a tough year!” she admits, but there’s also a lot of hope, “Most of our brides booked in new dates – mostly in the new year.”
Weddings started booking in thick and fast from about November this year, and throughout summer 2021. One thing she has noticed about all those date changes, is that many couples have now had to choose a weekday wedding, rather than a weekend, where venues are already completely booked up over summer. “There just aren’t enough weekends in the wedding season, so brides have had to choose a weekday – including Mondays!”
Planning a wedding is already a lot of stress, let alone the added layer of the threat of lockdowns hanging over brides, so Trish says her company has been flexible with their services and accommodating any date changes. “It’s not our brides’ fault they’ve had to postpone, so we simply pick up the dress or fittings where we left off.” Her team have switched to providing virtual consultations when necessary, to keep the design process moving.
But, it’s certainly been a tough year for the entire industry – they’ve had to think creatively, but also just knuckle-down and ride the wave out. “With two lockdowns, the wedding industry has suffered,” agrees Trish. “But they do say that the industry is ‘recession-proof’, so we should see it bounce back in no time. Couples will always want to get married, it’s just a matter of when and how big the ceremony will be.”
And, there has already been a few silver linings amongst the chaos. “One positive thing that has come out of Covid, is the support for Kiwi businesses and Kiwi designers,” says Trish. “Having locally sourced lace, fabrics and beading has appealed to our brides and it means they don’t have to face delays that can come with international supply chains. Brides also aren’t able to go to Australia or further afield to shop for a wedding dress as many normally do, so they are forced to look local which I think has been a bit of a boost for my business.”
It’s also meant that Trish has been able to knuckle down and focus on her new flagship store, which opened in Ponsonby between lockdowns. Typically, she travels between Auckland and Los Angeles (where the international half of her business is based) every six to eight weeks. Covid has put her international expansion on hold for now.
And while, there’s plenty to worry and stress about this year, Trish – ever a romantic – has advice for those who are engaged, or wanting to celebrate love.
“With all the uncertainty in the world, one certain thing is the love you have for your other half. Breathe, enjoy the wedding planning, enjoy your special day and enjoy being with all your loved ones. Don’t stress about the little things, you’re surrounded by people who are willing to help and support you.”
Trish Peng’s Tips and Tricks, plus the Trends of 2021
What are the big trends in dresses at the moment?
Brides are loving simple, classic and plain dresses styled with a detailed pearl veil. Square necklines are also very popular at the moment and our reversible collection has been a huge hit this year, where you can have a 2 in 1 dress (inside and out, not back to front!).
What about for bridesmaids?
Most brides have been thinking about what suits each of their bridesmaids, opting for a wrap style skirt as it suits most body shapes, and changing up the necklines for each bridesmaid as well.
What are your tips for finding the perfect dress for you?
1. It’s always helpful to do some research on Pinterest or Instagram so you know what you like and don’t like. This helps a consultant assist you to find your dream dress.
2. Be open to trying on styles that may not have hanger appeal, as you’ll be surprised how different they look on.
3. Try not to bring in too big of an entourage, as everyone has different opinions. At the end of the day it’s your special day so go with the dress that ‘sparks joy’ for you.
Is there a favourite celebrity wedding you can think of where you think the bride nailed it?
I would probably say Kate Middleton! I mean she did have a royal budget so could have the fairy-tale wedding but everything was done to perfection. Her dress was timeless and sparked a trend for years with brides asking for lacy long-sleeved gowns.
Any last pieces of style advice for brides?
If you are unsure about a theme or style for your wedding or dress, think about going for something timeless so when you look back at your wedding photos in 10 years’ time, you will still love what you chose.