Your wedding day is arguably one of the biggest days of your life.
The glitz and glam, fine dining, generous glasses of bubbles and what feels like endless amounts of money spent - all to say "I do" to the one you adore, in front of those you love.
But in the Covid era, could all this have changed? Are we ready to embrace the simple no-frills wedding? Kiwi wedding dress designer to the stars Trish Peng thinks so.
Peng says she's been busier than ever this wedding season - a period that usually booms throughout the months of December to March before slowing down.
But the season has now doubled to last until May, she says, with a short break before winter weddings kick off in June.
Despite last year's lockdowns, family members being stuck overseas, limits on wedding guests, overseas suppliers slowing down, and the stress of planning anything in a pandemic, Peng has had twice as many brides saying yes to her dresses in 2020.
She's hired four more staff over the past year to keep up with the demand for her dresses. And her pretty in pink Grey Lynn studio is, in fact, expanding.
"2020 was our biggest year ever," she tells the Herald. "A lot of brides have dreamt about their dresses since they were little, and not even a pandemic can get in the way of that."
So what are these brides gravitating to? According to Peng, it's all about simplicity.
Simplicity is key
In 2021, brides don't necessarily all want to drop thousands on a brand-new custom gown they'll only wear once.
And Peng says that even with more and more brides paying rush fees to get their dresses made faster, a custom gown still takes 16 weeks from concept to finished.
"Brides often aren't aware of just how long a custom gown can take."
It's partly the influence of the pandemic, Peng admits. But she says the lean towards more simple, fuss-free gowns started with Meghan Markle in 2018 and now "60 per cent of brides are going for classic and simple styles".
The trend has also extended to include more laid-back ceremonies. Planning a wedding is stressful enough without the added pressure of trying to get married during a pandemic, but Kiwi couples tend to be pretty relaxed, Peng says.
"It's definitely on their minds more now to have more than one date. And vendors have had to become a bit more flexible, most venues will have a 'Covid clause' now."
"Of course you get the occasional entitled one or bridezilla, but Kiwi brides' mentality is very laidback. Even though it's been an extra stressful time for everyone."
The tales of the Kiwi Covid bride
We all know couples who have had to delay their big day because of lockdowns. One of Peng's brides had to postpone her wedding three times due to Covid-19, she says.
"She originally had a destination wedding planned in Fiji, but since the borders closed she had to book a New Zealand venue.
"The two new dates both landed on the lockdowns last year. She finally got married in September 2020."
And Peng shares that her best friend was supposed to get married on March 5, but had to postpone due to lockdown 4.0 last week.
"She was just heartbroken but has rebooked for March 15 which is good news! Fingers crossed it will go ahead," she says.
In 2021, tying the knot in a sustainable way is more important to Kiwi brides and grooms than ever before. And Peng's newest venture is in keeping with this trend.
She's created a sister brand, Yours Truly, offering preloved and sample dresses, housing the new store in what used to be the Stolen Girlfriends Club studio behind her building.
Peng normally creates 50 custom gowns per year. Now the new brand will onsell pre-worn bridal gowns as well as designer samples, acknowledging a shift in the industry.
Those who are conscious both of their budget and of the need to be sustainable will welcome the option of wearing a preloved gown.
"It's good for your wallet, good for your wardrobe and good for the environment," the designer says.
The new store will open on March 19. Peng says there's already been huge interest both from new brides and those wanting to sell their preloved gowns in what is a step toward a more sustainable future.
It's just one of the ways in which the pandemic has changed the industry, she says.
But despite the delays, the lockdowns and the financial woes, it's impossible to ignore how fortunate we are in New Zealand.
In one of the few countries that are relatively Covid-free, we're lucky to still be able to gather together under levels 1 and 2 to celebrate what matters most - love.