THE RIGHT MOVE
One of my side hustles pre-COVID was organizing and hosting musical events and gigs. Of course, when the pandemic struck, the events industry was the first not only to be badly hit, but completely shut down resulting to would-be revenues going down the drain.
But if there was one event that the pandemic somehow failed to stop, it’s the wedding. With the exception of the first few months of the lockdown in March last year, couples who have long planned their wedding dates still managed to push through the exchange of “I do’s” — albeit with austerity from what most originally had in mind.
With the strict implementation of face-to-face gatherings, caterers, coordinators, planners, photographers, and all those whose livelihoods relied on the length of the guest lists, found themselves at the end of the stick. But regardless of restrictions, a bride nevertheless still made sure one wedding element was perfect — her wedding gown.
Meanwhile, more weddings have been booked this year because couples – and all of us — did not anticipate yet another surge of COVID-19 at the start of the year. But as Filipinos seem to have become “braver,” probably as a way to disguise sheer frustration from this worldwide health crisis, nothing can stop the plans to have a truly memorable wedding day.
In fact, I know that Filipino couturier Nat Manilag has been preoccupied with orders for weddings and other social events. Despite the steady demand for Nat’s attention from brides and beauty pageant candidates, my hopeful assumption that business is back to usual, is still far from the truth.
“This pandemic has definitely had a negative impact on my business. Nearly all of my wedding couples have either postponed their wedding or are considering postponing. Wedding inquiries have also drastically dropped during all of the uncertainty. This is usually my busiest time of the year,” said Nat.
With hundreds of young designers who finished their degrees in fashion in 2020, as well as other up and coming couturier stars, the pandemic has delayed the fulfillment of dreams of making it big in the industry.
Nat says, “I believe it’s a difficult time for me for the same reason it’s difficult for so many other Filipinos right now. This has never happened before and the uncertainty of the future is causing anxiety and is taking a heavy toll on small business owners.
As for the new designers, Nat admits to having “mixed emotions” about their future. His advise to newbies is to “try to make the best of the situation by taking some time with your family and planning for the upcoming years.” “I think couples today really feel that they can plan their own wedding. They can break the rules if they want to; they can showcase their personalities. And fashion is such a huge part of that personal stamp on weddings,” he adds.
What Nat and I agree on is that weddings have historically been “recession-proof.” Although budgets, trends and aesthetics may change, weddings will always go on.
“While the pandemic’s economic repercussions in the bridal industry have been devastating as it has been on other industries, those who remain steadfast will come out stronger,” he said.