An Auckland bridal salon is aiming to help bridal couples stay on track with their wedding plans by launching a virtual consultancy service which includes free appointments with stylists to sending sample dresses to the bride's home for trying.
Jessica Bridal in Newmarket this week started offering the service it hopes can keep its customers focused on their wedding plans during the Covid-19 lockdown - and also keep its cashflow going.
"The bridal industry has taken a big hit due to the Covid-19 outbreak, and this initiative has come out because we need to get our cashflow going as a way to survive," said business owner Jessica Wu.
"But we also thought this would be a perfect time when couples have all the time in the world to browse online, make wedding plans and choose their wedding gowns."
Although nuptials can still go ahead during the lockdown with conditions, couples are being advised to avoid tying the knot until the lockdown is lifted.
Weddings could happen as long as the celebrant was from the couple's bubble or lived close by, according to Registrar-general of Births, Deaths and Marriages Jeff Montgomery.
Social distancing rules and official guidelines must also be followed, and only five people could attend including the couple, but Montgomery said weddings were not encouraged or condoned while New Zealand remained at alert level 4.
Wu said many couples chose to postpone their wedding because of the restrictions.
Her business was down 95 per cent since the lockdown started and the wage subsidy from the Government wasn't enough to sustain the business.
"Some of our clients remain hopeful at keeping their original wedding dates after the lockdown, some in May and others in June, and I think this is where our virtual service will help," Wu said.
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Wu said she was unsure if the business could operate even after New Zealand goes to alert level 3 because bridal services wasn't considered essential.
"So if the client can't come to us, we will have to take our business, wedding gowns and designs to the comfort of their homes," she said.
Clients can book a virtual appointment through their website and will be given a time to be connected face-to-face with a stylist or designer.
Photos and videos of the gowns will be shared, and the couple can select their favourite gowns to be couriered straight to their door for trying.
"We understand that many brides would like to physically touch and try on their gowns before making the big decision," Wu said.
"You can say what we're trying to do is to create an at-home bridal salon experience for our clients."
Wu's advice however was for bridal couples to take their time - and postpone their wedding if they have to.
"Getting married is a once in a lifetime event and we want to make it special and memorable," she said.
"The last thing you want is to rush things through and make the wedding memorable for the wrong reasons."
The company's marketing manager Milena Raskovic said all consultations are free and clients will just need to pay the courier fees to get the gowns sent to their homes.
Last week, Auckland couple Ariah and Ben McCarthy got married on the front lawn of their Bayview home.
They were joined by two others in their level 4 lockdown bubble, flatmates Alex Pereyaslavets and Jamie Broxup, and celebrant Ruth Montgomerie standing 2m away.
A backlash followed, with other marriage celebrants saying the wedding should not have gone ahead as it was not essential.