ANSWERING TOP QUESTIONS ON YOUR DREAM WEDDING DRESS APPOINTMENT IN THE “NEW NORMAL”
As I have worked on re-opening, I am honestly still nervous!
I have studied the coronavirus, scrutinized government guidelines, consulted with other boutique owners – even spoke with Massachusetts’ Program Supervisor for Workplace Safety & Health for guidance!
But the fact is that all anyone can do right now is use their best judgment. Since “best judgment” looks a little different to everyone, I know it’s important to explain what changes I am making, and why and I know this won’t be for everyone.
I take pride in offering a wedding dress shopping experience like no other. My focus has always been on the individual.
What matters to you?
What makes you happy?
What dress will give you butterflies in, on your wedding day and in your photos for years to come?
That moment when I nail it, and you see yourself in the dress that ticks every box… That moment can be truly magical – I don’t want you to miss out on that special experience.
So you won’t see me in hospital gowns and face shields, taking your temperature before I allow you in the door! These would technically keep me slightly safer but at the expense of the warmth and connection that makes our appointments so special. For me, that price is too high.
Instead, I have made other compromises. And, as with any compromise, not everyone will be happy with it. Some will tell me I have gone too far, others that I haven’t gone far enough…
That’s why my decision process has been led by two questions:
- What will keep both my clients and myself as safe as possible?
- What compromises can I make to offer the experience I’m used to while keeping the risk acceptably low?
I understand. There is no perfect solution. But I have done my best, and I hope the changes I have made will work for you!
To keep everyone safe, I am following these evidence-based principles:
Avoid close face-to-face interactions
People are at most risk of transmitting and receiving the virus when face to face. As such, I will be using a combination of social distancing, mask-wearing, and marked areas in the store.
Minimize the number of people in enclosed spaces
The more people in a small space, the higher the risk. This means limiting the number of people in my shop at one time, and also the number of people in a changing room.
Minimize the duration of contact
The longer you are with someone, the longer and higher the exposure rate is. This means changing the appointment structure to an hour.
Sanitize regularly and methodically
The coronavirus is easily killed with soap and good hand hygiene. I have come up with a cleaning routine for my hands, surfaces, and objects between appointments that follow best practices to keep the environment as safe as possible.
I have also included some rescheduling guidance, for anyone who thinks they may be at greater risk of contracting or transmitting COVID-19. My guiding principle for this is that I trust you to err on the side of caution, please be honest and reschedule if there is even the slightest cause for concern.
This merits emphasis: I am a small team of just 1 with a family at home. If I develop COVID-19 symptoms, I will be forced to self-isolate, as well as my family and close my store, canceling all appointments for at least 14 days and causing distress to anyone who had appointments with me over the previous week.
I need my clients to be honest with me and work with me to ensure first and foremost that everyone stays safe, and secondly that I can carry on doing the work I love and keep my family safe.
So please read through all 25 answers and feel free to email me with any further questions you have. I will, as always, do what I can to make your visit the best experience it can be!
When will you be open for appointments?
Saturday, August 1st (unless the state takes a step back) – and it’s going to be busy! Appointments are limited and I will only be able open to meet for appointments on the weekend.
When should I schedule my appointment?
If you have a wedding date in 2020, I recommend you book an appointment soon. If your wedding date is later in 2021, now is also great. But if you are looking at a 2022 wedding date, it may be good to wait.
Is there a fee?
Currently, there is no fee however there is a cancellation fee which you will see when you make an appointment. However please keep in mind, part of the appeal of Dream has always been a private one-to-one appointment in which you truly are the only bride in the boutique being assisted by me. This provides the ability to social distance properly for the safety of our brides and myself.
The number of appointments I am able to offer moving forward has now been reduced in order to facilitate additional cleaning and prep between brides, with additional supplies and processes. It’s really hard meeting with brides who are strangers (at first) and not in my family bubble. I take safety and my time very seriously.
Of course, if I need to cancel your appointment due to a COVID shutdown, you will not be charged.
MEASURES I WILL TAKE
What is a style quiz, and why do I need one?
I normally start each appointment with a chat. What your wedding plans are, what shopping you’ve done, how you met your partner, and so on. I love getting to know my clients, and it makes it easier for me to help you find your dream dress! To limit our exposure to eachother I will have you fill out a style quiz where it will help me understand you and your vision so I can pre-select your dresses for your visit.
When you book an appointment I will send you a confirmation email with the next steps and important information including a link in it to take the quiz.
How safe will the studio be?
As safe as I can make it! I already have only one dressing room, all cushioned surfaces have been removed for easy sanitizing, dresses will be preselected, all touchpoints will be sanitized between each appointment, a large Austin Air filter will be running all day, there is a larger monitor and zoom camera for you to zoom with family and friends, your physical visit has been focused to 60 minutes (down from 90), all contracts will be signed digitally through your phone as well as payment so we can maintain 6 feet distance at all times and of course hand sanitizer and masks will be worn at all times. Limiting the space as well to just 1-2 guests with the bride. And the restroom will be closed to avoid any cross-contamination. There is a restroom upstairs in the building if you must use it.
Plus, all dresses tried will be quarantined for almost a week before the next bride tries it on.
Will you have hand sanitizer available?
Yes. When you arrive I will ask you and your guest to sanitize your hands before we begin the appointment. I will also have hand sanitizer available in different spots throughout the shop.
Will you be social distancing?
Absolutely! There are markings on the floor of the shop so we both know how far to keep our distance. I know that the coronavirus can’t easily travel from one person to another at a distance of 6 feet but we are inside an enclosed space. So when face to face, I will do our best to give you 6 feet of distance.
MEASURES I NEED YOU TO TAKE
Do you need me to wear a face covering?
Yes, please! Face coverings have been proven to prevent the spread of viruses when worn by infected people. Since people with COVID-19 may not show symptoms, it’s safest for everyone who enters the shop to be wearing a face-covering at all times.
As such, I will wear a face-covering during your appointment as well as glasses, and I will ask clients and their guests to arrive wearing a NEW and CLEAN face covering that fits you. Please keep your face covering on during your appointment, securely fastened to cover both your mouth AND nose fully at all times.
What if I don’t have a face covering?
If you can’t get a face covering in advance, I will have masks for you to purchase for $5, with any profit to be donated to charity.
But I really recommend you have your own face-covering ahead of time, that conveys your personality and style! Face coverings are the new normal, and treating them like accessories gives us a way to enjoy that.
What if I get too hot in a face covering?
I understand that face coverings take some getting used to, and can be uncomfortably warm for some. I will gladly adjust our environment to make you comfortable, just let me know at any time if you think you’ll need this.
Do I have to wear a face covering even when trying on dresses?
This is a tough one… I have consulted with other boutiques and the state. And the answer is yes. It is what will keep you, me, other brides coming in after you the safest!
I feel that we are lucky to live in Massachusetts where the state has required masks to be worn. So I hope everyone will feel comfortable doing so the second you walk into my shop and until you leave. If you want to take a “yes” picture without one, I have something special planned outside for you to be able to remove your mask and have your picture taken.
Do you need me to wear gloves?
No. Our research shows that using gloves is no better than simply practicing good hand hygiene. Instead of wearing gloves, I will be washing & sanitizing my hands regularly and ask our clients to do the same. When you visit, I will ask that you sanitize your hands before we start the appointment. I will have auto-dispensing Purell stands in the dressing room, and at the front of the store.
YOUR SHOPPING EXPERIENCE
Can I still bring guests?
Yes! I know how important it is for many to be able to share this experience. I can’t safely accommodate groups for the time being, but 1-2 guests can join you for your appointment.
All I ask is that you point your guest to this post in advance of your appointment so they clearly understand what I will be asking of them (sanitizing hands at the start of the appointment, keeping a face covering on throughout, bringing no drinks, etc). Plus, you and they will need to sign a waiver which states you have read this post as well.
For anyone that wasn’t able to join, Your Dream Bridal has a premium subscription to Zoom, which will be the most effective way of transmitting your appointment to friends or family that cannot attend. A meeting link can be scheduled and sent in your appointment confirmation email. Plus, I have installed a state of the art monitor and video camera!
I will also be maintaining our ‘no photos policy’ at appointments. This is not to stop you from having pictures, but to protect the quality of the images produced and to make sure we keep your visit running on time. I will be very happy to take pictures of you in your favorite dress and email them to you along with your follow up details.
Will you serve any drinks?
To make it easier to keep your face covering on the entire time, and to avoid the risk of cross-contamination when handling used cups or glasses, I won’t be offering any refreshments for the time being. Please come fully hydrated (or caffeinated, if that’s what you need!), finish any drinks completely and dispose of or put away all containers before coming inside. Please make sure you relay this info to your guests too. Needless to say, this will apply to any food as well!
Can I bring my own food or drink?
We really want everyone to keep their face covering on for the entire appointment when possible, so ask that you finish all food and drink before coming into the shop.
If you have a health condition that will make this difficult for you, just drop us a line in advance of your appointment. We’ll be more than happy to talk it through, and see if we can come up with a solution you’re satisfied with.
Will I be able to browse your collection?
I love my collection, and showing it off and seeing your reactions is one of my favorite things… but I need to err on the side of caution and ask that you and your guests do not touch any dresses that are not already inside the dressing room.
Instead, I will ask you during your style quiz to select around 5 dresses to try, which I will have ready and waiting for you at your appointment plus a few others based on your style quiz and pinboard. My entire collection is always online and up-to-date, and I will always be available to answer questions on sample sizes or fit.
You’ll still have access to our full collection on the day, too! Discovering and refining your preferences throughout the appointment is the magic of wedding dress shopping (and not to brag – but that’s also what I am really good at!). So you’ll be pleased to know that hasn’t changed! I expect that many of you will be surprised by what looks good on you, and change your mind on what you want to try.
But this is where my skill and experience as a consultant comes in handy. Like any appointment before lockdown began, I will listen to your feedback and bring you new options to try on, options you may not have noticed even if you had been able to browse. Please make sure your guest also knows they will not be able to browse the collection and pick up/touch any merchandise like accessories etc.
Will you have shoes for me to try with the outfits?
I don’t carry shoes for you to try with gowns. So I would encourage you to bring a pair of your own heels for trying on with the dresses, regardless of the type of shoes you are going to be wearing at the wedding. Heels are simply instrumental in visualizing the all-important final fit of the dress.
Will I need to wear anything special on the day?
Yes! I am asking everyone to wear black leggings and a non-padded goo fitting bra with straps. This will help keep dresses clean and will help you not be shy in trying on dresses in the store. Also, for measurements, I will need you to be covered and wear something tight-fitting.
Will you help me put the dresses on?
This part of the appointment is where we need to be most mindful of keeping safe. As such, I will ask you to get dressed as best you can on your own, then leave the changing room for us to do up any fastenings and clip you into the dress.
Can I pay by cash?
We will only be able to accept card payments, even for a face mask. Payment will be done virtually through link to your phone.
I/my guest had COVID-19, but recovered now. Can I still come?
If all your symptoms have gone, and it’s been at least 30 days since it’s fine to keep your appointment.
If you have any symptoms, even to a mild degree, please stay at home – we will gladly reschedule your appointment for no extra fee.
I/my guest have some symptoms, but it’s probably not COVID-19. Can I still come?
Please stay at home – we will gladly reschedule your appointment for 14+ days later, and there will of course be no extra fee!
Again, if I develop any symptoms I will have to close and self-isolate as well as my family for 14 days. And all appointments will be rescheduled/canceled. It doesn’t have to be COVID-19 to shut us down temporarily.
I/my guest have no symptoms, but someone I met with in the past 14 days now has symptoms that could be COVID-19. Can I still come?
Please stay at home – we will gladly reschedule your appointment for 14+ days later, and there will of course be no extra fee!
It’s known that people can be carriers of COVID-19 and show no symptoms. Even if you feel fine, you could actually have COVID-19 and inadvertently infect someone vulnerable on your way to our appointment.
I/my guest have no symptoms, but I live outside of New England or I have recently traveled on a plane or I have traveled recently to a hotspot/surge state. Can I still come?
Please stay at home – we will gladly reschedule your appointment for 14+ days later, and there will of course be no extra fee! To stop the spread, it is safer for me and my shop to right now work only with brides that live in New England, New York or New Jersey and if possible only in Massachusetts.
UPDATE AS OF 8/17/2020: Moving forward, I will be updating the lists of ok states to visit from weekly/biweekly. I am basing it on case surges and being proactive. If you book and your state or guests state start to surge the week of your visit, we will have to reschedule. Every state is creating their own rules and it’s too hard for me to keep up and I honestly don’t want to track down COVID test results. I am doing this to make sure I feel comfortable working and to be able to stay open. I would highly prefer to meet with anyone that lives in Massachusetts only but understand that mom or sister etc may live in another New England state.
Per this site for data: https://www.wbur.org/npr/816707182/map-tracking-the-spread-of-the-coronavirus-in-the-u-s
The Approved States as of 8.17:
I of course have an amazing set up for you to Zoom with friends and family out of state for your visit. Travel restrictions still apply. Even if you live in MA but recently traveled out of state or have been on a plane I request you wait at a minimum of 21 days before you visit my shop. Being transparent and honest with each other will help us through this and to stay safe so that we can protect our families and make sure your wedding can still happen.
There’s just no way to be certain that someone you interacted with while traveling hasn’t since developed symptoms. Per state guidelines, I recommend you only book appointments for after you, and your guest has been able to self-isolate for 14 days.
Can I bring my children? We’re all healthy.
I love children, and I have a son – which is exactly why I know how challenging it can be to get them to wear face coverings, keep their distance, and practice good hand hygiene.
It’s common for children to seem perfectly healthy and show no symptoms but be infectious with COVID-19. It’s safest for everyone if I keep our appointments child-free for now.
My mom/grandma is self-isolating but really wants to come to my wedding dress appointment. Can I bring her?
This is at your discretion, but I beg you not to bring any vulnerable person to your appointment. I will do everything I can to keep my shop safe, but it’s impossible for me to eliminate all risk. Your wedding dress experience is not worth a loved one’s life, should the worst happen.
If sharing this experience with a vulnerable loved one is so important to you that you’re even considering the risk, I gently encourage you to consider pushing back your wedding date. That way you should be able to have the full wedding experience you imagined without the specter of COVID-19 looming over you.
And this is actually what I recommend to anyone who is unhappy with any of the requests I have made in this post but really wants to visit my shop. With no judgment – these are terrible circumstances, and it’s unfair that you should feel pressure to sacrifice the experience you imagined.
But I don’t want anyone to regret any aspect of their wedding planning.
If you think you’ll look back and wish you’d been able to have all your best friends at your appointment, or browse through the collection, or try on dresses without a face covering – consider postponing. Talk it through with your partner, your family, your friends, and of course your wedding vendors. Don’t just get caught up in the planning process. Take a beat to reflect, and consciously decide whether getting married now is what’s really right for you.
If it is, just remember: the right dress will still light you up from the inside.
It will still make your heart jump every time you try it on and see it in photos.
It will still make your loved ones misty-eyed to see you in it.
And I will still do everything in my power to find that dress with you.
We’re all a little nervous right now, doing our best in challenging circumstances. But some things don’t change, and my commitment to you feeling amazing on your wedding day is one of those things. So even though I am nervous and a bit scared, I am also excited to start welcoming clients to my shop again and getting to do the work I love. xo, Malinda