This Is What Bridal Appointments Look Like in the Era of COVID-19, According to Bridal Salons Across the Country

Here's how to be prepared for you bridal salon appointment.

bridal salon

Courtesy of Loho Bride

Few industries were left untouched by the suddenness and seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic, and the bridal industry was certainly no exception. In the immediate wake of the outbreak, weddings were being canceled and postponed left and right and countless bridal retailers had to close their doors for months at a time. This forced vendors to become creative with how they connected and worked with their couples, many of whom were unsure of whether or not their wedding would happen at all, let alone the way they’d imagined. 

When The Bridal Finery in Winter Park, Florida were forced to close their doors on March 21, 2020, they were still uncertain about what the pandemic meant for their brides and the operations of their bridal boutique.

“Designers were reassuring us on preparation, but we certainly felt like no one really had any answers as it was uncharted waters,” explains owner and stylist Tali Gallo.

Now, five months later, Gallo finally feels like the industry has a better grasp of how to help a bride in search of her wedding dress or looking for guidance with a postponement. “We have our cleaning procedures down to a system and we know how to better serve our brides during this time,” she says. “We love creating a magical experience and now we know how to even during a pandemic.”

Since safety guidelines may vary from state to state, make sure to contact your salon before your appointment to confirm their COVID-19 policies and safety protocol.

Thankfully, many bridal stores are resuming their in-store operations, however, there’s no denying that the experience is vastly different than before. We reached out to seven salons across the U.S. to see how they’re meeting the new demands of shopping for a wedding gown in the era of COVID-19.

Kleinfeld Bridal in New York City

What to Expect

  • Signed waiver required
  • Masks required
  • Temperature taken upon arrival
  • Two guests per bride
  • Gowns sanitized between appointments

From March through July, the country’s most infamous bridal salon closed their doors following Governor Cuomo’s orders. During that span of time, a lot changed throughout the bridal landscape, explains Jeanette Kruszka, Kleinfeld’s Director of Marketing and Public Relations. “The majority of our brides who were supposed to get married from March through October 2020 were all pushed to 2021,” she says. “Our Client Services and Marketing Team sprung into action and personally called 8,000 brides with upcoming weddings to inform them of their gown status and delivery options, as well as most importantly let them know we were there for them during this extremely difficult time.” 

Behind Kleinfeld’s closed doors, a lot was changing to meet the new demands placed upon them as a result of the pandemic. “For three months, our visual team designed, built and installed a completely new floor plan to adhere to social distancing guidelines, complete with custom plexiglass dividers at our reception desk, financial services desks, customer waiting areas and more,” says Kruszka. “One of our three stock rooms was transformed into a dress sanitizing station to ensure each and every gown tried on was sanitized in between brides.” In an effort to keep brides and their families, as well as the Kleinfeld staff, safe, capacity limitations were cut in half, hand sanitizing stations were placed throughout the store and customer touchpoints were routinely deep cleaned. 

To abide by new state laws, each bride is limited to bringing only two guests to an appointment, temperatures are taken upon arrival and a waiver must be signed stating that no one has recently traveled from a quarantine state prior to the appointment. Masks are required by all brides, guests and employees, and gloves are optional. “The bride is given a complimentary Kleinfeld branded souvenir tote bag to place her clothes into during her appointment to keep her clothes and our dressing rooms clean, as well as complimentary branded hand sanitizer,” says Kruszka. “Signs on the walls and floor throughout our store mark 6-foot social distancing guidelines, making it easy for staff and guests to adhere, as well as plexiglass partitioned dressing areas to separate groups.” 

Bride KC in Kansas City, Missouri

What to Expect

  • Masks required
  • Two guests per bride
  • Pre-appointment health screener phone call
  • Staggered appointments
  • Gowns sanitized between appointments

Currently, Kansas City requires masks to be worn in places that aren’t large enough to properly social distance—this includes bridal salons. “This has created such a challenge for a bride envisioning what she will look like on her wedding day and removes the warmth of a smile and eliminates so much natural emotion,” says owner Laura Rourke. 

To help minimize potential exposure, Bride KC is requesting that brides come to their appointment with no more than two friends or family members. “Finding new ways and experiences to get everyone involved has been a major adjustment,” says Rourke. “In a way, it’s given our brides a new sense of independence and confidence in the shop, as they are leaning into their opinion and focusing more on their own reaction.”

The week of a bride’s appointment, a Bride KC associate will call and go over a health screener and discuss expectations for the in-salon experience. Appointments are staggered to reduce foot traffic and brides are instructed to send a text upon arrival. When their stylist is ready, the bride will be invited into a private fitting room where her given stylist will lead the consultation. “On the backend, we are steaming each dress thoroughly after trying on, disinfecting hangers, zippers and fitting room clamps between appointments,” says Rourke. “Each fitting room features a purified air filter with a HEPA filtration system.”

Bridal Atelier Montclair in Montclair, New Jersey

What to Expect

  • Masks required
  • Staggered appointments
  • Sanitizing between appointments
  • Virtual appointments available

After being shut down for several months, Bridal Atelier Montclair reopened their doors in June. They’ve followed New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s orders that all retail stores work at reduced capacity and wear masks at all times. All scheduling happens either by phone or via their website and appointments are staggered two hours apart to limit foot traffic. “We’re having brides wait in the parking lot before coming in and ensuring that everything has been properly sanitized and steamed,” says owner Rachel Sweebe. “During appointments, we request that all guests wear a mask and sanitize their hands frequently at one of the several stations set up around the boutique.” 

For their brides who are still not comfortable with having an in-person experience, Bridal Atelier Montclair is offering virtual appointments and at-home try-ons of up to 3-4 gowns. “We started this while we were closed and have continued to offer it for anyone who needs it,” says Sweebe.

The White Dress By the Shore in Clinton, Connecticut

What to Expect

  • Health screener over the phone
  • Clients are sent a lookbook before the appointment
  • Two guests per bride
  • Masks required
  • Clients must wait in the parking lot until their appointment
  • Gown sanitization between appointments

The day before each appointment, every bride is health screened by phone to ensure that they have not recently traveled to certain states that require a 14-day quarantine, that they’re not feeling under the weather and that they haven’t been exposed to someone who tested positive for the virus. All forms are filled out via Google Docs before the appointment and brides are sent a lookbook from which they can choose the gowns they would like to try on during the appointment. Brides are instructed not to bring more than two people with them, as the total number of people allowed to be in a room at a given time is five (including the alterations specialist and the sales associate). 

Upon arrival to The White Dress By the Shore, brides are instructed to call the salon from the parking lot. From there, they’re invited into the boutique one at a time and get them situated in their bridal suite before the next party comes into the store. “We require that all guests wear masks upon entering and throughout the appointment and invite them to use provided hand sanitizer upon entering the boutique,” says owner and stylist Beth Chapman. All gowns that the bride will try on will have been pre-selected by her stylist and are awaiting her in her bridal suite. In between try-ons, Chapman’s staff steams each gown and has it sit idle for 24 hours before it can be tried on by another bride. 

Bridesmaid appointments have been particularly challenging,” notes Chapman, who offers a special service for bridesmaids called Bridesmaid Soiree. Pre-COVID-19, this experience took place in their 'maids studio, Chic by the Shore, which is a separate building from their main store. “This used to be a two-hour private shopping experience where the bride and her maids could enjoy mimosas and cupcakes and each maid would receive a swag bag and a discount off of their purchase,” says Chapman. This experience has evolved during the pandemic to taking place outdoors in their garden situated behind the boutique and adjacent to our bridesmaid studio. “As a first step, we have a virtual or in-person ‘pre- appointment’ with the bride where one of our stylists works with her to identify the color palette and general style direction for the party,” says Chapman. “That way, when we have the soiree, the party’s focus is on what they will be trying on based on the bride’s preferences.”  

Anna’s Bridal, in Lake Oswego, Oregon

What to Expect

  • Clients will receive a 10-20 minute introductory phone call prior to the appointment
  • Temperature taken upon arrival
  • Masks required
  • One guest per bride
  • Gowns sanitized between appointments

When Oregon lifted their Stay in Place order in Clackamas County, where Anna’s Bridal is located, they reopened their doors after being shut down for close to two months. Since reopening, face masks and shields are the new norm and a limit on the number of people in the salon at a given time is a mandate. 

Prior to their appointment, brides receive a 10-20 minute phone call which serves as an introduction to the salon—something that used to happen in-person. “While on the phone we will discuss wedding plans, styles of gowns the bride is interested in, prior dress shopping experiences, budget requirements, sizing questions, etc. and we listen, ask questions, and hopefully gather enough information to get a good picture of what the bride would like to wear on her wedding day,” says owner Anna Totonchy. “Once the initial phone call is over the consultant will take the time to go through our gown selection and find 5-7 dresses that we feel will meet with what the bride is looking for.” 

On the day of the appointment, the bride can bring one guest and both must be wearing a mask. Everyone will have their temperature taken and will be asked to use hand sanitizer. “We ask that if you are feeling under the weather or if anyone in your household has been in contact with someone who’s been recently diagnosed with COVID-19, that you reschedule,” says Totonchy.

If all is well, the bride and her guests will be guided to their room where her sanitized gowns will be awaiting her. “Once the bride is in the gown, a consultant will help clamp and fit the dress so we can see how the dress is meant to look,” says Totonchy. “The consultant can add additional gowns to the room during the appointment, but because of the safeguards we are taking for our employees and customers we cannot allow the bride or her guests to pull gowns during this appointment.” 

Loho Bride in Los Angeles, California

What to Expect

  • Clients must fill out an online questionnaire prior to the appointment
  • One guest per bride
  • Masks required
  • All appointments are private

All appointments for Loho Bride are made online and brides are prompted to answer a questionnaire so that their stylist can get an idea of what they’re looking for. They will also read a statement that explains the store’s current policies, including a one-person guest limit per bride. “We are having brides pick their favorites from our website in order to speed the process up on selecting the gowns they want to try,” explains creative director, Christy Baird. “We have 15 minute calls with the bride before to ensure they haven’t been on a plane, in a hot spot, or around anyone who has experienced coronavirus symptoms.”

During the appointment, brides and their guests are required to wear masks at all times and the number of appointments are limited to one at a time to cut down on the amount of people in the salon. “As a team, we’ve had to pivot weekly in order to survive and as tough as it’s been, it’s made us stronger,” says Baird. “We didn’t want to lose connection with our brides, so within a week of lockdown, we were already strategizing virtual styling, expanding e-commerce and consolidating our operations.”

The Bridal Finery in Winter Park, Florida

What to Expect

  • Three guests per bride
  • Regular deep cleans and sanitization of accessories and gowns
  • Masks required
  • Champagne!

Most of The Bridal Finery’s brides book their bridal appointment through their website where they have access to their full calendar. “On our website, you can read our safety procedures for COVID-19 and once the appointment is scheduled, we reach out to the bride via phone and text to connect,” says Gallo. “We now limit brides to three in-person guests and try to facilitate any FaceTime viewings for those who are not able to be there physically.”

While cleanliness has always been important at The Bridal Finery, Gallo and her staff has had to step things up even further. “We use alcohol to wipe down all veil combs, bridal hair combs, and earrings and keep sanitizer around and ask all guests to keep their masks on,” she says. “When a client finds her dress we still serve champagne to celebrate, but now we make sure to step out of the room before they take off their masks.”

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