The COVID-19 pandemic drastically reshaped the landscape of weddings, giving rise to the trend of micro weddings. These smaller-scale celebrations, with trimmed guest lists and downsized ceremonies, were the choice during times of uncertainty and restrictions.
However, as the world emerges from the grips of the pandemic, a shift is occurring: Weddings are reclaiming the spotlight as lavish, extravagant events, despite the impact of inflation on consumer wallets.
Leading this romantic revival are social media influencers who are spinning a new tale of “I do’s” in the wedding world.
During a conversation with PYMNTS, Megan Ziems, the founder and creative director of Grace Loves Lace, a bridal wear company, discussed how social media is shaping the grand return of larger weddings. Even as inflation throws some budget curveballs, Ziems said that when it comes to spending decisions, it’s the quality of the details that walk down the aisle with couples.
“Generally speaking, we can see that weddings are becoming an even bigger deal,” Ziems said.
“With content creators becoming a must have during weddings, it’s clear that women are having their moment and making the most of having fun with their wedding events. What once was ‘the dress’ is now becoming ‘multiple’ looks — from engagement sessions all the way through to the after-party.”
In large credit to influencers, Ziems said that women are increasingly engaging with gowns and styling that personally resonate with them, breaking free from the traditional bridal script.
“It’s clear now that you can be a bride without the traditional ball gown, and to be honest, that is how it should be. Women deserve to be comfortable and liberated on their wedding day,” Ziems said.
But when it comes to the details of these gowns, Ziems also observed that brides, in general, are putting a ring on the importance of ethics tied to their dresses and weddings. The adoption of sustainability and ethical practices is becoming increasingly prevalent in wedding planning.
“In the industry, we’ve seen an increasing expectation for stellar service and quality product. This is something that has always been important to me since I started the brand, so to see consumer’s value shift this way is great to see,” Ziems said.
“We came on to the scene wanting to show women that, as brides, they didn’t have to wear one of only two options; either high-end couture or traditional ‘dress up’ gowns. We’ve shown women that wedding dress shopping can in fact be a wonderful, personal experience where they can find a dress that represents their style and their values,” Ziems said.
Ziems said Grace Loves Lace is all about pushing the boundaries of innovation. One way of demonstrating this is with the introduction of Global Recycled Standard (GRS) certified materials, including laces, linings, trims, and gowns up to 98% GRS certified.
“Our designs are all created in-house which, unfortunately, is not something that happens with every bridal brand. A lot of companies order from predesigned lookbooks off-shore,” Ziems said, adding that these efforts add an extra layer of uniqueness and allure for brides.
At Grace Loves Lace, each design is crafted through traditional methods within the confines of the studio. Ziems noted that the brand boasts a distinctive aesthetic, emphasizing quality, luxury, and comfort.
The attention to detail has fostered a sense of loyalty among its clientele.
“You can never underestimate word of mouth, customer satisfaction and great reviews,” Ziems said.
“We haven’t had a completely smooth ride scaling the business over the years, but we have always strived to put the bride first. I have made choices over the years that have put our values and ethics first,” Ziems continued.
Even though Grace Loves Lace has left a mark on the bridal industry, with its former strategy it was only serving less than 1% of the market. In response, the company has chosen to broaden its reach, enticing more brides through its approach to gown design.
“Since our wholesale announcement, we have been overwhelmed with the response from retailers globally who are eager to stock our gowns,” Ziems said.
While the brand serves online shoppers through virtual appointments and online stylists, Ziem recognizes the undeniable significance of an in-person showroom experience for many brides.
In light of this, Ziem revealed that Grace Loves Lace has established a global presence with 26 showrooms. The brand is now shifting its focus toward untapped markets and aims to extend its reach through strategic partnerships with wholesale collaborators. The initial wholesale rollout prioritizes key regions such as the U.K., EU, and Canada. However, the brand envisions a continual expansion into markets including the U.S., Australia, and others in the future.