My Wedding Dress Is Delayed Because of Coronavirus—What Do I Do?

Is your wedding dress delayed because of coronavirus? Find out what to do and how to handle your situation with our guide to finding a new wedding dress amidst the COVID-19 outbreak.

By Maggy Lehmicke

bride and groom on boat
Photo by Zola

Planning A Wedding During A Pandemic: Every wedding planning journey has its twists and turns. To make sure your path is as smooth as possible and to help you keep an eye out for tiny potholes and giant roadblocks, always follow the advice of your local health guidelines and the recommendations set forth by the CDC. The state of the pandemic can change quickly, but by staying informed, you can make it to your destination—wedded bliss—without a hitch.

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, factory closures across the world, and particularly in China, have resulted in many shipments being delayed, including many wedding gowns. The vast majority—80%, in fact—of the world’s wedding dress supply comes from China. So, the outbreak and subsequent closures have greatly impacted many couples’ wedding attire plans, as well as popular online retailers that not only carry bridal gowns but bridesmaid dresses and grooms’ suits as well.

“It’s our priority that brides are in their dresses on their day, no matter what,” says Rileigh Keipert, Store Manager at The Dress Theory in Seattle. However, she says, there are certain steps brides can take if they’ve been told their wedding dress isn’t going to make it. Whether you have a specific second choice in mind or a planner who can help you out, many bridal boutiques are going above and beyond to accommodate brides who are trying to find a dress in the next few months.

If you’re one of the many affected brides or grooms, read on. Here are some effective steps you can take if their dress is unlikely to arrive in time for your big day.

Review the shop’s (and designer’s) policies.

We recommend reaching out to your bridal shop or even your dress designer whenever possible. This is a great first step as they likely to have policies in place for handling these types of situations. Though large retailers may be experiencing more shipment delays than smaller bridal boutiques, they’re also more likely to have established guidelines, while smaller shops are more likely to work with each individual on a case-by-case basis.

Consult with a planner.

Whether you already have a wedding planner or are looking at potentially getting one, they are more likely to have the resources (and experience) to help you handle scenarios like this. (Reminder: These kinds of issues aren’t anything new. Shipments can be delayed for all kinds of reasons. So, rest assured there should be some support in this arena.) Wedding planners are also extremely helpful when it comes to tricky contracts and obscure policies. Alerting them to the situation may allow them to help you navigate it in a graceful way—if not just handling it for you.

Shop consignment.

If you’ve been told that there’s no way your dress is going to arrive in time, take a minute to mourn. We get it, it’s not great news. So, take the time to feel what you need to feel. Then start looking into alternatives. One of the most economically friendly options is to look for local consignment shops that sell wedding dresses.

Note: Though not all bridal shops are open during this hectic time, it’s worth calling to see if they have limited hours or are willing to open their doors for a private appointment.

Check which stores are selling off-the-rack.

Many bridal shops (including The Dress Theory) are now selling some dresses off-the-rack due to the surging need for gowns. Try calling or using social media to reach out to local shops that carry some of your favorite designers and see if this is an option. After all, you may have a “runner-up” dress that you remember liking almost as much as the one you chose. As with the consignment shops, make sure you confirm what the adjusted hours are and if private appointments are an option to keep with social distancing measures.

Look for brides re-selling gowns.

Communities are really coming together during this time of need, including the wedding industry. It’s important to connect with others who may be going through a similar situation as you, whether it be via Facebook groups, forums, or another digital community. These spaces are also great places to look for brides who are trying to sell their gowns.

In addition, there are many existing sites such as Stillwhite, Tradesy, and Nearly Newlywed that offer pre-owned wedding dresses. Just make sure you read through the shipping policies and get some kind of guarantee that your dress will arrive on time.

Consider postponing the ceremony.

We know it’s the last thing most brides want to hear, but if your wedding is in the very near future and you can’t imagine walking down the aisle in anything other than the dress you chose (we get it!), postponing may be your best option.

Just make sure to contact your venue, vendors, and other suppliers before you make any official decisions. Though the dress may have been an investment alone, postponing a wedding will likely result in additional costs, particularly if you’re unable to transfer your deposits to a new date. Make sure to consider all of your alternatives, including having a small, casual ceremony on your original date and throwing a larger reception in your original gown later on.

Prioritize your mental health.

Though meditation and other mental health practices may not eliminate your problems entirely, they can help you work through the anxiety and stress during an already turbulent time. Whether you’re looking for a new dress or postponing your event altogether, make sure you’re taking the time to grieve the situation and address your mental state head-on.

Couples around the world are struggling due to COVID-19, but Zola and many other companies in the industry are here to help. For more info on how to find a wedding dress in a time crunch, read our guide.

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