Warrnambool bridal stores, celebrant and photographer positive amid postponements during crisis
WITH no timeframe of when large social gatherings will return due to coronavirus, spare a thought for the city’s bridal shops.
Kayla Retallack has owned Ivory Bride in Liebig Street since March 2019 and said business had been very quiet without weddings and debutante balls.
She said missing the annual debutante ball was a blow for young people.
“I haven’t had any deb girls since March,” she said. “They don’t know if they’ll be cancelled or postponed until next year.
“It’s a rite of passage that has been taken from them.”
Ms Retallack said traditionally June to July was a busy time for debutante balls held later in the year.
“I’ve basically closed the store unless people make an appointment,” she said.
“I’ve had one or two appointments a fortnight.”
She said after the first lockdown there was interest from customers looking to plan their weddings.
“But this second wave has been much more quieter,” she said.
“You have to be positive, eventually things are going to get better. The only way is to be positive.”
For Carolyn Taylor the COVID-19 lockdown has meant a shift away from designing and making wedding and debutante dresses to creating children’s clothes and face masks.
She said she had been selling her face masks and children clothes at the Timor Street Market but that had also recently closed.
“I’ve had to close down for the moment,” she said.
“I design and make to order the dresses and there’s no work.”
Ms Taylor said she had two wedding dress designs and orders in the pipeline, but her customers were waiting to see what would happen with social distancing and restrictions.
Despite wedding season fast-approaching, celebrant Emmalee Bell said some couples were preparing to postpone their nuptials for the second time this year.
“It’s probably the quietest it’s ever been,” she said.
“Lots of couples have postponed and no new bookings are coming in.
“January couples are starting to cancel as this is the time they’d normally be sending out their invitations but they’re nervous to commit. People are sitting and waiting to see what happens before they make decisions.”
Ms Bell saw a pick-up in interest when the restrictions eased in June and despite the return of stage three lockdown measures, some couples are taking advantage of the option for intimate marriages,
“Some couples want a low key wedding or to get a piece of paper and they may not have got married without the restrictions,” she said.
“I’ve really enjoyed these ceremonies, it still feels just as special whether its five or 500 people.
“These people getting married because they really want to get married. It’s about their marriage and their life.”
Heidi O’Brien’s wedding photography business normally takes up about 80 per cent of her time but amid the pandemic she has taken up part-time work elsewhere to continue supporting her family.
The popular photographer takes on about 35 weddings over the seven month wedding season both in the south-west and interstate but she currently has limited forward bookings.
“Up until Christmas I only have elopements and they’ll only go ahead if lockdown is lifted,” she said.
“It’s been horrid, people are not re-booking until they know COVID is fully gone. In my calendar I’ve lost two dates, the initially wedding and the postponed ones.
“It’s tough and I know a lot of other photographers have lost out as well.”
Ms O’Brien will open her Liebig Street studio and gallery once the restrictions lift, but in the meantime is working on supporting her clients as they navigate the uncertainty.
“Couples need to feel like they have people behind them,” she said. “Understandably they’ve been upset and that feeling is mutual.
“Now it’s a waiting game.”
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