Reflecting on 2020: COVID-19’s Effects on a Bridal Shop

Reflecting on 2020

We’ve said it all before, but no one could have predicted that this would be the way that 2020 would have ended. Although there is a sense of hope in the air from the development of vaccines and treatments of COVID-19, there are still a lot of apprehensions.

Many businesses have been vocal about their experiences during this time. Now, more than ever, it is time to listen. For many small businesses, their adaptability and ability to share their stories are the difference between survival and closing their doors for good. The wedding industry is no different. Any wedding vendors will tell you about all the postponements they have experienced. And if one thing is certain, 2021 is going to be an INSANE year for most of us. But in our sector, the wedding date is just half of it. Bridal shops operate from a year in advance all the way to the day before wedding. 

We want to take this time to reflect on this year and the COVID-19 pandemic as a whole. The following is everything we have learned and been through the past year!

In Marketing

“During the shutdown, our marketing goals changed dramatically. No longer did we want to entice brides to come to our shop. Instead, we wanted to keep ourselves on the mind of brides and keep them entertained so that when we did open, they wanted to come to us. When we finally opened up shop in June, we again had to change course. Now we had to make sure everyone was aware of all the precautions we were taking as a business. It was a time to make sure everyone felt comfortable coming out of their homes to our shop. And with that, we wanted to make sure that their trip was worthwhile! We had to ensure that we had enough dresses, trunk shows, and promotions that Brides were excited about. Overall, the name of the game of marketing during the COVID pandemic was adapting to new and scary circumstances!” 

– Alexa, Marketing Coordinator

In Alterations

“Since opening back up, there has been a major shift in how we approach the dress’s fit. Before, Brides used to want to sacrifice comfort and practicality for the look. But now that we see more intimate weddings, brides are looking for something more comfortable and practical for their big day. We have brides eloping at the top of a mountain, getting married in their living room, and getting creative to celebrate with close family. These brides don’t want to worry about navigating their house in many layers of tulle or not being able to sit. They want to feel like a bride while still maintaining the mobility to do what they need to do in more intimate settings. Similarly, I have never seen so many brides asking to cut off their trains! 

Our alterations department sees our brides right before they walk down the aisle. When talking to them as their wedding approaches, we have seen an amazing shift in how they see their big day. It used to be so much more about the glitz and glamour of getting married. Now, brides care less about having the most impressive wedding day, but rather, they are just excited to be marrying their partner. It has been wonderful to see our brides rediscover what getting married is truly about.

One of the best things that have come during this alteration season is the relationships that we have built with our brides. We went from asking questions like “What color are your bridesmaids’ dresses?” to really getting to know our brides as they navigate through such a tricky time. We hear of all the stories of challenges and curveballs being constantly thrown at our brides, and we feel for/with every single one of them. They’ve all been through a lot, and we are just so happy to be a part of their journey. It makes dress pickup day all the more special!” 

– Katie, Bridal Stylist & Alterations Coordinator

In Appointments

“Our screening process has always been important to get an idea of what our brides are looking for during their appointment with us. Now, it has become the most crucial aspect of getting the bride prepared for their appointment. When we reach out to the bride to touch base on what they are looking for, we inform them of our COVID-19 guidelines, including a two-guest limit per bride, completing our COVID Screening Form before their appointment, for both themself and their guests. The two-guest limit has been both challenging and productive for us. Although we completely understand and sympathize with how difficult it is to narrow down to just two people, it has allowed our brides to really learn what they love and want in their dream dress and hear the thoughts from two very important people. 

This year has been challenging (to say the least) for every single person. We have all had to make changes in our lives, oftentimes changes that we do not want to make, but they are made to have everyone’s safety as the top priority. I think it has been so important to remember that we are all going through this unknown territory together and understanding that each person is processing this difficult time in their own way. Being understanding, kind, and compassionate are such important skills to get through these times together. 

I think that having the incredible blessing to come out of lockdown and get back to what we love has been the most uplifting part of this experience. Working with brides again and finding their dream wedding dress has taken on a whole new meaning of loving what we do!” 

– Nicole, Manager and Lead Bridal Stylist

Our Customers

“Our customer goals very much changed once we opened up. Many new brides started with an unclear vision because of the uncertainty that shutdown and COVID had left us with. When first working with a bride, we always ask about where and when the wedding is and details of a theme, and so on. This provides us with a background of what they might be looking for, and instead, Brides responded with a lot of “I don’t know,” “I am not sure yet,” “well hopefully.” It became hard for brides to pinpoint what they were looking for. The ambiguity of their search has become the biggest struggle for them. 

Also, the priorities of our Brides have changed because their event has had to change. Brides who originally had a summer wedding have had to change gears to plan a winter wedding. Brides who imagined a 200-guest event are now curating an intimate 40 event. The unwavering element is that no matter what the changes brides have had to make, they still want to look and feel either best, and we are here to support them to get to that spot.” 

– Meghan, Bridal Stylist

In Business

“One of the most challenging sides to any business is the financials. For small businesses, this is always the case, but this year has been especially taxing. As a business owner, I have had to be more creative than ever. I have had to remain transparent for my customers to reassure them in uncertain times. Brides just wanted a piece of mind that their dress will be completed, shipped, and remain safe at our shop, hoping to one day be able to pick up their gown. In this time, honesty and communication were key. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared at times. How could I continue to pay my suppliers with no revenues? Working with our understanding brides, we cultivated a new policy to ensure the designer is paid and the dress arrives promptly.

Another concern was the shift in our alterations schedule. The majority of our brides decided to postpone their weddings until 2021. As a result, our 2021 alterations book was nearly full. Knowing that brides wanted a piece of mind when it comes to finding a trusted seamstress to work on their gowns, we wanted to develop a plan before we started turning new brides away. We needed to come up with an agreement between our brides and us. As a result, we now require a deposit to secure our alteration services. This has helped us tremendously when it comes to a forecasted cash flow and scheduling for 2021.”

Many of my main concerns during this whole COVID-19 pandemic was my staff. At Angela’s, we are a tight-knit group, to say the least. We rely on, inspire, and motivate each other in every possible way. I have to give thanks to PPP. Although it was not much, it was necessary and helped buy me time before starting to take appointments again. I simply can not run this large volume business without my incredible team. Without them, I would be pulling my hair out. 

I have learned so much through 2020. It has been a whirlwind of a year, and I feel blessed to be on the other side of it with my team and our brides. Although 2021 shows promise to be another crazy year, I am optimistic, and quite frankly, we are up for the challenge.”

– Janet Cooper, Owner

The Dress Checklist

The Dress Checklist

Getting ready

One of the most special days during the wedding planning process is the day you say “Yes!” to the dress. Finding the gown that you will walk down the aisle in is unlike any other purchase you will make. For many, this is a moment they have dreamt about forever. Other brides may be a little more apprehensive about starting and stopping the process.

You should know about before you start that you are going to try on a lot of pretty dresses. So, listen to your gut to find what makes you look and feel your best! Deciding on a dress just as much of an emotional decision as it is a logical decision.

When feeling like you might have found your dress, here are some great questions to ask yourself:

     ◯ Can I picture myself walking down the aisle in this dress?

     ◯ Did I try on every style I was interested in trying on?

     ◯ Am I smiling in this dress?

     ◯ Am I thinking about another dress when I am in this one?

     ◯ Is there anything I wanted that this dress is missing?

     ◯ Can I see my fiance’s jaw-dropping when he/she sees me in this dress?

     ◯ Does this dress fit my venue and wedding theme?

     ◯ Do I feel beautiful in this dress?

     ◯ If I return to this shop at a later date, would I be sad if this dress isn’t here?

Every bride is different. Our most important advice we can give you when shopping for a dress is to make sure you have found a dress that makes you feel beautiful and confident. Your squad and consultant are there to help guide you to your decision. They all will support you in whatever gown you choose. Take a deep breath, and get ready for the first of many unforgettable days leading up to YOUR big day.

New COVID-19 Bridal Shopping Protocols

The New Normal : New COVID-19 Bridal Shopping Protocols

COVID-19 Bridal Shopping Protocols

We are so happy to announce that we are officially reopened!

Because of COVID-19, we will have some new guidelines to keep our customers and staff safe. Please read through them before booking an appointment.

The following guidelines will be upheld by many other bridal shops in the Capital Region.

  • All shops are by appointment only. No walk-ins will be allowed in the shop for any reason.

  • Brides will be allowed to bring a maximum 2 guests at appointments.

  • Everyone must wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth at all times.

  • All gowns and surfaces will be cleaned after every appointment.

  • Shops will undergo deep cleaning daily.

  • Brides and their guests must fill out our COVID-19 Survey before their appointments as a way to screen customers and prevent potential exposure. Please complete this the week of your appointment. Fill out the Survey here.

  • All patrons coming in from out of state must quarantine for 2 weeks if the state they are coming from is on the list of the restricted states provided by New York State.

The following states and territories meet the criteria for required quarantine:

  • Alaska
  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Guam
  • Iowa
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Nebraska
  • New Mexico
  • Nevada
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Puerto Rico
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming

*This is based upon a seven day rolling average, of positive tests in excess of 10%, or number of positive cases exceeding 10 per 100,000 residents.*

We are all so excited to get back to business as usual, but these protocols will be strictly enforced to make sure everyone has a safe bridal shopping experience.

 

AB At-Home: Virtual Appointments

AB At-Home: Virtual Appointments

Say Yes to the Dress Moment

We are so excited to announce the new way of bridal shopping! We are now offering a modern approach to bridal gown shopping experience that complies with CDC regulations and gives the opportunity for brides-to-be to have the experience to try gowns in the safety of their own home.

We want to assist you in preparing for your big day while feeling safe without sacrificing the quality of your shopping experience! Virtual appointments are perfect to help brides who have already been shopping and have a good idea what they are looking for and new brides to dip their toes into bridal shopping.

How to Schedule:
▷ Fill out the “Request an Appointment” form on our website and select the option “Virtual Appointment”
▷ One of our Bridal Stylist will be in contact with you within 48 to confirm your appointment!

How it works:
▷ You will receive an email from your Bridal Stylist to provide details of the virtual consultation.
▷ She will also ask for photos, inspiration, your wedding details, and any specific dresses from our designer’s web pages that you are interested in.
▷ You will be able to shop all our inventory on our Pinterest (@angelasbridalny).
▷ During the consultation, we will show you more of our inventory and will help you select 5 gowns for you to try on at home.

At Home Try-on
▷ There will be a price list for the gowns you selected. Each gown will have two prices. The first if you wanted to reorder the gown in your size and desired color. (Please note that Special order gowns can take up to nine months and this is subject to change during this pandemic.) The second price will be if you wanted to purchase the sample gown off the rack.
▷ We will include fitting & measuring tools (clips, cups, panels, measuring tape) to help you fit yourself in the gowns.
▷ We will send you tutorials on how to clip the dress and how to measure yourself.
▷ At Home Try-ons will be conducted on weekdays only. All gowns must arrive at our shop by 6pm on Friday.

Payment
▷ The fee is $250 for the five gowns that will be in your home for a scheduled three days of your choice. This fee covers the cleaning and prepping, shipping and delivery and return and is nonrefundable. However, you will receive $100 of this back if you purchase one of the gowns during your at home try-on.
▷ We also require a credit card on file for any damages to dresses.
▷ Your card will only be charged additional fees if the gowns are not returned or are damaged in some way.
▷ If you decide you want to purchase the sample sent to your home, the card on file will be charged prior to the return of the other dresses.
▷ Other terms and conditions do apply.

We are so excited to start offering this service to our brides. If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to reach out!

Bridal Breakdown: Who to Bring to your Bridal Shopping Appointment

Bridal Breakdown: Who to Bring to your Bridal Shopping Appointment

So, you have your bridal appointment booked! Yay, so exciting! The representative you spoke with might have asked you how many or who you are bringing to your appointment. Although you might not have thought about this before, the number of guests you bring can really affect your appointment!

Although there is no exact science or number for every bride, you want to make sure you are getting the most out of every appointment you have. You can bring anyone you’d like to your appointment, it can be your Mom, Grandma, Sister, Cousin, Bridesmaids or Maid of Honor. We even have brides bring their fiance or a close work friend!

The main thing is that you want to bring people who will be honest and a cheerleader for you. It is a very special day in your wedding planning process, and understand that many people will want to be there for you and involved. Just remember, picking out your wedding dress, is about you. Your opinion is the most valuable and should hold the most significant influence on your decision. You want to bring guests who value your opinion and support you and help you make the best decisions.

We usually recommend brides bring not many more than four people. Four is a good number because it is enough people to give you good feedback, but not too many where it can become overwhelming. The dynamic can be different with every group of people. Still, in general, larger crowds can create more noise during the appointment. If there are a lot of people who want to go bridal shopping with you, bring the four closest people to you to the initial appointment. Then bring in the rest of the crowd once you have it narrowed down to the dress or two favorites! This way, you can find the dresses you really love while still having your entourage feel included!

Regardless of who you bring, we recommend that you follow your heart. The selection of your wedding dress, like selecting your partner, is an emotional decision and should always be special. At Angela’s Bridal, we will work with you and your squad to make sure saying “Yes!” will be a special moment that you will remember for the rest of your life!

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