Nova Scotia

Why coronavirus outbreak may cause delays in getting a wedding dress

As China's production struggles during the spread of COVID-19, a Nova Scotia bridal store owner says orders are being delayed by about a month.

Production setbacks in China mean delivery dates are likely to be pushed back

The owner of a Nova Scotia bridal shop says brides-to-be should give themselves extra time to get a dress. (Shutterstock / IVASHstudio)

Brides-to-be may have some extra planning to do thanks to production setbacks caused by the spread of COVID-19.

Tracey Simms, the owner of a Nova Scotia-based bridal and formal-wear business, says delivery dates are being pushed back by about a month for women who have to order in dresses.

Most of the dresses at her business, Alyssa's Formals, are produced in China.

"If we don't have in our store the size and colour that someone's looking for, we would then order it from our designers, which have the dresses manufactured in China," said Simms, adding that process takes up to four months.

"What we are finding is that some of those delivery dates are being pushed another month out from delivery dates that we had originally been given."

The American Bridal and Prom Industry Association estimates around 80 per cent of bridal dresses are produced in China.

Alyssa's Formals carries about 200 bridal gowns and 400 prom dresses. (Facebook/Alyssa's Formals)

Simms's business sells wedding dresses, prom gowns and formal wear out of its locations in Lower Sackville and Cape Breton. The business works with about 10 designers and carries about 200 bridal gowns and 400 prom dresses between both stores.

She said the designers she works with notified her about the delays at the end of January and asked that she add an additional month or two to the delivery dates they were giving their customers.

Simms said she normally recommends a bride leave six months to receive a dress to allow time for alterations. Now, she's recommending customers allow up to eight months.

Bridal stores in other provinces are affected by production issues as well. Some stores in Windsor, Ont., say brides could be waiting between eight months and a year for their dresses.

No rush orders

Simms also noted that many fabrics and notions — small items and accessories used in sewing — are manufactured in China as well, which could have an impact on dress designers.

She said the designers she works with have stopped doing rush orders for now.

"Most designers, usually for an additional charge, can have things made in two weeks or four weeks," she said. "But they told us not to offer that to customers that are coming in looking to order things in."

Tracey Simms says most of her store's dresses are produced in China. (Facebook/Alyssa's Formals)

But, in the end, production delays in China aren't having a huge impact on Simms's business. She just advises that future brides leave a bit more time than usual.

"I just don't want girls to panic in this situation," she said.

Simms added she's a bit more concerned for those who ordered a dress online instead of through a retailer. Some online shoppers may not realize the dresses they are ordering are coming from China, and may be surprised by delays. 

Good time to stock local

Tonya Coleman, manager of the Halifax-based bridal store Chester & Felicity, said the store hasn't really been affected because many of their vendors are Canadian.

She estimates less than 30 per cent of the store's products come from China.

"There's some vendors that might be putting a little bit of a delay on things, but in bridal, you order things such ahead of time that it's not really not influencing anything," she said.

Coleman added that it's always good to plan ahead, regardless of what's going on in the news.

"Honestly, [in] bridal I find you don't need coronavirus to be making things delayed," she said. 

"You just get every bride wanting the same product at the exact same time and that's going to give you delays."

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alex Cooke

Reporter/editor

Alex is a reporter living in Halifax. Send her story ideas at alex.cooke@cbc.ca.

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