COVID-19: what wedding suppliers are doing to help

Riverside Lodge Hotel
Riverside Lodge Hotel is one of three venues offering help with finding a new date (Photo: Kev Moulds)

Every day, we’re faced with it. A new announcement, a new set of rules, a new reality. We’re all learning as we go, and there’s certainly no right way to feel as we wade through it, from one hour to the next, together.

Maybe you’ve had to postpone your big day. Maybe you’re worried you might have to. Maybe you’re overwhelmed by the amount of calls you’re having to make, or the fact that overly optimistic friends and family are still convinced it’s going ahead when there’s no certainty that it will. Before we progress, and we will, a quick PSA: you do not have to be productive on the planning front at the moment. The one thing you do have on your side is time.

Another, is support. You are most definitely not alone. It’s inspiring to see how suppliers and venues are pooling their resources and offering solutions as best they can. Here, at a glance, is some of the work the great wedding industry is doing behind the scenes for couples and for our society at large:

The Fitzsimmons Group

Managing The Riverside Lodge Hotel, The Brisbane House Hotel and The Fenwick Hotel, the south west-based Fitzsimmons Group has faced the crisis head on. “If you have been affected by the Covid-19 outbreak recently and sadly lost your saved date and unable to rebook for your chosen date, our dedicated specialists are ready to assist you in this incredibly challenging time,” assures Kaleigh-Anne Hannah, general manager at The Riverside Lodge Hotel. “We have three stunning, four-star venues, with selected dates available in 2020, including weekends. The hotels can accommodate nuptials from 2-160, within a variety of spaces, and have recently been refurbished to the highest standards.”

And they’re not done. “If you have lost your deposit, we’ll cover the cost!” Kaleigh-Anne adds. “Simply provide us the details of how much deposit you haven’t been able to recover, and we’ll take it off the cost of your wedding.” How generous and kind.

 

Papier

The stationery specialist, who collaborate with a wide variety of companies and creatives, from The Wedding Shop to Disney, is offering all of their couples the chance to have new invitations produced online for free, as well as a 50% price reduction on reprinting of the original invites with a new date. That’s one less thing to worry about! “Wedding planning can be stressful at the best of times and in the current climate we wanted to go a step further in helping our customers,” says brand director Sophie Agar. “So, if customers have to cancel, postpone or change the details of their wedding, they can be reassured that we’ll support them with different options to communicate changes to their guests. Feedback from brides and grooms has been very positive so far.”

 

Bridebook.co.uk

Knowledge is power. While we can’t hope to predict what will happen next, keeping ourselves informed on the latest news is going be important. Thankfully, wedding planning app Bridebook has set up a forum to address this very issue.

“There, we’ll give all couples the most recent information from the government on how the new legislation and guidelines might affect weddings,” says founder Hamish Shephard. “We are taking the stress out of not knowing what the upcoming months will bring by answering all questions that we can and ensuring our 150,000 users have the most up-to-date facts. We’re issuing daily advice and have also launched new Facebook support groups, both for suppliers and couples which are being updated regularly throughout the day.”

 

Pronovias

Gratitude doesn’t even begin to cover what we feel for our brave NHS workers on the front line of the outbreak. To give a little something back, Pronovias, purveyor of extraordinary bridal couture, is offering hospital-employed brides-to-be free wedding dresses from its newly launched line, the aptly-named Heroes Collection, which will be up for grabs until 31st August at selected flagships, once they can safely re-open.  It’s an astonishing move, which won’t be forgotten when this eventually blows over.  We can’t wait to see all the doctors, nurses, cleaners and porters looking might fine in their lace fishtails and tulle ballgowns (and if that’s you, please report back!).

Catherine Parry Zara gown
Zara mermaid gown by Catherine Parry, £POA, The Bridal Courtyard

Picture Perfect Events

And that’s not all we’ve spotted on offer for the amazing women and men of the NHS and emergency services. Lanarkshire and Glasgow-based wedding stylist Picture Perfect Events is offering 50% discount on all event hire and styling when weddings can go ahead again. Newly engaged couples can take advantage of this deal as it’s also available for 2021 and 2022 dates. “I would like to say a massive thank you for putting your own health and wellbeing at risk to care for everyone else,” says Picture Perfect Event’s Cara Jenkins. We second that!

 

Emmy London

What can a shoe brand contribute to the cause? “We are starting some creative projects this week,” reports Emmy London founder Emmy Scarterfield. “We’ll be overseeing shoe sketching and an Emmy colouring book. The aim of these is to keep our community connected and working together to get through this really anxious and uncertain time. If you do have time on your hands, use it wisely and learn a new skill. I will be starting drawing tutorials very soon. It looks more difficult than it is! I’ll be taking followers through it step-by-step. Anyone can do it, so get your kids to join in.

“The colouring book project is a combination of our two passions, shoes and colouring in, which is therapeutic, calming, creative, quiet and doesn’t require a screen – right now, I think the latter would be welcome in most households. It’s going to be downloadable on a PDF from our website so you can print it out and enjoy a moment of peace.”

 

The Bridal Courtyard

As soon as the biggest, and most expensive elements, are taken care of (we’re talking venue, photography and catering), you might be wondering what on earth will become of your dress. Will it still be getting made? Delivered? Will you have to go without alterations? What if you can’t get out to collect? Don’t fret, the boutiques are way ahead of you.

“We know this is scary for everyone and we know only too well how important your big day is,” assures Jennifer Gilbert at The Bridal Courtyard. “Although we may not physically be in the store, don’t fret over your concerns. Email us, let us know if you are worried about your dress and we will do what we can to help. We are all in this together. Let’s work as a team.

“We have contacted all our brides up until the end of June and most have chosen to collect their dress. The last thing I wanted was for people to not have access to the shop if needed. Moving forward, I will work on a week-by-week basis. I’m constantly in touch with designers too to make sure deliveries either come to my house, or are held off.”

 

Manorview

One of the first to take the brave step and cease trading, the courageous Manorview group runs a series of decadent hotels across the central belt, including the Art Deco-style Boclair House Hotel, the lavish Cornhill Castle and the blissful Bowfield Hotel & Country Club. Since its announcement, its team has been working tirelessly behind closed doors, not only on rescheduling all events and reaching out to all affected customers, but focusing its efforts on the greater good. Earlier this week, the team in Coatbridge delivered 100 freshly-made meals along with dried/tinned foods and toiletries to the more vulnerable members of the local community.

The group has also stepped up their initial commitment to aiding the NHS, with many of their venues now occupied by workers. “Our rooms have been offered to NHS teams and are open to any acute service staff who wish to isolate themselves away from family and friends to care for our sick,” they report. “This is at no charge to individuals. It’s a time for us all to act in a selfless way, to show humility and empathy, and to help one another where we can.” Hear, hear.

Cornhill Castle
The Manorview group’s Cornhill Castle (Photo: Carlo Paloni)

BLOOM Gin

Whatever the question, gin is always the answer, especially when it comes to little gifts for guests. “BLOOM Gin will be offering free favours to anyone who has had to move their nuptials as a result of the virus, in an effort to try and put a small smile back on their faces,” reveals global brand director Elaine Maher. “While it’s no consolation for all of the hard work, planning and saving that has gone into making your dream wedding a reality, we hope that the small gesture will lighten the load of couples across the country. The offer opens on 30th March 2020 and will close on 30th November 2020.”

 

Loch Ness Country House Hotel

The grand Highland venue has witnessed the nation’s struggles with supermarket stockpiling and has organised two hampers, filled with essentials, which can either be collected from its car park or delivered to your door (if you live in the area). The first includes a selection of quality, locally sourced meat, fruit and vegetables (including 3kg of pasta!) for £95, which works out around £35 cheaper than store prices, and the latest is a range of essential, and let’s face it, tricky to come by, cleaning products, like toilet roll, bleach and multi-surface spray, for £25. Nice work, guys.

BLOOM Gin wedding favours
BLOOM Gin is offering couples, whose wedding has been affected by the virus, free favours
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