The coronavirus has affected all aspects of life. From couples having to postpone their nuptuals due to courthouses being closed to vendors canceling services for the sake of physical distancing and being deemed “nonessential businesses,” the wedding industry has seen its share of sacrifices this spring.
For designers, turning dress and costume factories into mask making facilities has been paramount in the fight to slow the spread of COVID-19. In an article recently published in the New York Times, designer Christian Siriano of Project Runway said he has provided thousands of masks to the state of New York, where he has 10 seamstresses working from home. (Note: Siriano’s masks are not medical grade and the intended use has been for hospital support staff and private individuals.)
With all of the white material available (white masks are important because they can be bleached without altering the material’s integrity), since his offices have been shut down during the pandemic, Siriano has turned his wedding-specific business into a company that has answered the call to help.
“Every manufacturer is at something of a standstill anyway,” he said. “This gave us something to do and a way to help, even a little.”
For the people of Texoma, the shutdown has caused a slew of brides and grooms to have to cancel or postpone their wedding ceremonies and receptions. As the nation continues to make changes and adapt to the prolonged and perhaps permanent changes to the world, future brides may be wondering about the expensive wedding dresses they put deposits on or purchased and not yet received from overseas factories.
“With endless design options and only a few short months to execute it, my head swirled,” wedding dress designer Rebecca Schoneveld said in a New York Times article in April. “I imagined a free-formed tulle skirt in layers of deep purples and magenta, paired with a long-sleeved bodysuit ecstatically embroidered with a rainbow of floral motifs. Or perhaps I would craft a sweeping emerald green satin gown, encrusted with museum-worthy beadwork. I was fairly certain at the time that I would not wear ivory or white — frankly, after making several thousand white gowns, I salivated for a fresh palette.”
Even as a wedding industry professional, Schoneveld has been affected by the slow down as well. Though she married her beau in December 2019, her March 21 wedding reception had to be postponed due to the outbreak.
Wanting to have an ecofriendly wedding doesn’t mean a bride has to give up on the idea of a stunning wedding dress. Giving a previously worn dress another trip down the aisle can allow an ecoconcious bride to keep her principles and sense of style, while also allowing her to show uniqueness by finding her “something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.”
Visit mom’s closet
Well, it doesn’t have to be the closet, but many modern brides like to incorporate an element or two of their mother or special maternal figure’s wedding dress into her own gown.
“I wanted something very similar because I’ve admired [my mom’s] dress since I was tiny,” Bindi Irwin said in a recent People Magazine interview. “When I was about 12 years old, I put on mum’s wedding dress and it was really, really special… It’s over 50 years old because it’s been in the family for that long.”
Since Irwin’s mother’s dress was too delicate to be tailored to fit the Australian newlywed, Irwin decided to put a modern take on her mother’s gown. So if grabbing mom’s dress isn’t an option, an element of the dress incorporated into a new outfit — such as a piece of linen, a hankerchief or a special piece of cloth — can be an equally special alternative.
Now that you have something borrowed, local brides-to-be can find something old and make it new. Previously worn dresses can be found in a number of places, from the internet to Grandma’s attic and the local Goodwill.
Goodwill Industries of Northeast Texas Marketing Specialist Sarah Pierce said their stores have formal attire, including wedding dresses, year-round.
“We have quit a bit of nonprofit charity events that happen throughout the year,” Pierce said. “We feel blessed by our community (that they) find their formal attire from our stores. I love it when someone tags us or lets me know and sends a picture.”
Wearing a previously loved gown can also allow a bride to recycle some of that dress shopping money into a donation to an eco-friendly cause or a waste-reducing household appliance of the newest and greatest kind. The savings here can be significant. Gorgeous gowns found at resale shops like Goodwill can be had for as little as $30. Even if a bride decides to have a tailor upcycle the dress by making significant changes to it, through adding or taking away structural or decorative elements, the dress will still have less of a carbon footprint than a brand new dress would.
Pierce encourages those considering wearing a vintage dress that no one has to know where the dress came from, unless the bride decides to share that information.
These dresses also don’t have to be used in their entirety. Try using the dress as a base for another dress, or as with mom’s pieces of cloth, incorporate laces that cannot currently be obtained from overseas sources.
“Instead, what they can do is highlight the money they saved by purchasing secondhand and focus on the beauty of that,” Pierce said. “We love to see our community dressed to impress and more so, we love getting to be a part of that in a small way.”
To further reduce the impact on the earth, the completed dress, once worn and photographed, can be recycled yet again. If the bride doesn’t want to return it to the sale rack for another trip down the aisle, the dress can be upcycled again into any number of things from pillow covers, baptism dresses for babies to come, Christmas ornaments, doll dresses and more.
Find a seamstress
In a time when shopping local is more important than ever, and as we search for new and continued ways to boost the Texas and U.S. economies, find a local seamstress and go to town. This not only means you’ll have a one-of-a-kind, custom dress and a future heirloom, but it can look as expensive and as unique as you want it to be.
“Wearing your mother’s wedding dress is a beautiful way to honor her and your parent’s marriage, but style, size, and an aged dress — think yellowing fabric and musty smells — prevent a lot of bride’s from actually doing it,” said Jaclyn Fisher, owner of Two Little Birds Planning in New Jersey, in an article on the Martha Stewart Weddings website. “Because of this, brides are finding new ways to honor her legacy. By incorporating the dress in other ways than just wearing it, brides have the chance to start their own traditions, have their own dress-shopping experience, and to wear a dress that reflects their own personalities and styles.”