As part of our partnership with iZest's One a Day project, we're shining a light on Irish businesses and projects that are doing things differently during the pandemic. This week, it's Bruce and Tara, the country's best-loved wedding planning duo who are helping couples affected by the pandemic
For those who were planning to get married in 2020, this year has been particularly tough.
With mass gatherings off the cards until at least the autumn, many couples who were planning spring or summer weddings have been forced to postpone their celebrations, often incurring huge costs, and derailing friends 'and family's plans.
Weddings may be the last thing you and your partner want to think about right now if the pandemic has altered your plans, but don't give up hope. The wedding industry in Ireland has been largely very understanding of the stress the pandemic has caused, and is making strides in helping couples find solutions to their wedding woes.
Bruce and Tara, one of the country's best-loved wedding duos, joined forces to help couples find the best ways to celebrate their special day. They've worked with some huge names around the world, and were both recently featured in Harper's Bazaar's Little Black Book of the best wedding planners worldwide.
IMAGE sat down with one half of the duo, Tara Fay, to chat about the challenges weddings are facing during this time, and how her business with Bruce is helping stressed-out couples.
How did you and Bruce initially team up to form your business?
Whilst Bruce and I have our own very successful brands, when we came together to film the RTE show My Big Day Home or Away, we realised that we were quite similar in our approaches to weddings and planning. We also bounce off each other very well and have similar interests. We can both look at a room and see the exact same design within seconds of each other, which is really quite bizarre. Whilst we are competing for the same type of business, we also support each other at all times.
During filming, we found that all the couples were quite at sea when it came to their planning and they really did not know where to start. It got us thinking about the weddings outside our own client base. We see ourselves as experts, not necessarily influencers and we thought how can we create something to bring our expert knowledge to the wedding industry at large? This is where Bruce and Tara Live came from. We provide expert knowledge not just to brides and grooms but also to venues and wedding professionals.
This year has obviously been catastrophic for potential brides and grooms. What are some of the effects you've seen?
Initially, there was an element of shock for a lot of brides and grooms as they tried to take in the overall impact, then they had to look at trying to reschedule dates, whilst competing with lots of other couples doing the same thing. A wedding is a huge expense both financially and emotionally and Covid was having an impact in both areas.
In most cases, Irish venues and wedding suppliers have been amazing with helping to reschedule their couples. I know that, internationally, vendors are doing their best also. The challenge is for people who had booked overseas weddings for this summer as there is such an unknown for them as to whether they will be able to recoup their investment. I suppose if ever there was a time to have a wedding planner working for you, now is it.
Do you think Covid-19 will have any longterm effects on wedding planning? Have you seen new concerns emerging that may be here to stay?
I definitely think that couples will be brutal with their guest lists for the foreseeable future. I am advising couples that can't move short term to a new date, to marry now and celebrate later. So have a super small wedding now and when more restrictions are lifted, have your big wedding then.
It's time to rethink your wedding and see it as an opportunity to have the important people around you on the day. I do think that couples will be making their final vendor decisions a lot closer to their date and not booking so far in advance. I would say to them though, that if you want your wedding professionals to still be around and in business by the time your wedding comes around, now is the time to support them.
How have you pivoted your business to stay current during Covid-19?
We are both busy with our own clients as we have had to move a lot of dates around and liaise with various wedding vendors, however, we are also making ourselves available for industry support, especially amongst our planner friends in other countries. We are taking part as wedding experts in lots of webinars for venues and brands.
We also hold an Instagram live on our channel every Wednesday and Sunday night at 8 pm. We call it Whine, Wine and Realign with Bruce and Tara. We have a guest every time and we encourage people to ask questions. We have had an incredible mix of wedding-related guests, both domestic and international, over the past 6 weeks since we started.
We know you are offering free consultations to couples who have been affected by the pandemic. What has the reaction been like?
It's been amazing, couples have been so grateful to have someone to talk to. They feel sort of guilty wanting to be worried about their wedding when there are so many people suffering in so many ways. Once they are on a call with us, it's a safe space and they can offload their worries and concerns and we can try to address them as best we can.
What is your best advice for couples who had been planning to get married in 2020, but may have to change their plans?
It's so important to be open to the change. It's incredibly difficult to suddenly give up on your dream, however I am saying to people, it's a different dream and we will ensure it will be even more amazing.
I think they also need to be flexible with their requirements, stay in constant contact with all their wedding professionals and be open to having a second back-up date also. They may also need to look at curtailing their original guest numbers.
If you have sent out invitations or save the date cards, it may be a good idea to create a wedding website, as this is the fastest way for you to communicate changes with your guests.
OneADay is asking people and businesses like Bruce and Tara to donate 1% of their time, platform, energy or money towards a cause. iZest see the campaign as a way to curb some of the stress and anxiety around the pandemic, and get people connecting in a new way.
How it works
If you like the sound of putting your newfound free time to good use, here's how the initiative works. If you're a business, you can register your details with iZest and let them know what your OneADay will be. It can be anything — use your imagination. Some great ways to lend your support could be:
- One Hour a Day – If you have the time, use one hour of your day to do some pro bono work for a company or charity that might need the extra help.
- One Call a Day — Give the time for one over-the-phone consultation per day with someone who needs some business guidance.
- One Shout-Out a Day — If you know a small business or someone who needs a signal boost, use your online platform to give them a shout-out.
- One Introduction a Day — Know someone who would be perfect for another company's opening? Use your connections to introduce them.
If you need the services of a company that's involved in OneADay, you can contact them directly and share your details, and why you think teaming up could help.
And if you're an individual who wants to get involved at home, that's great too. Your OneADay could be anything from posting One Workout a Day online to help other families who are cooped up at home to stay fit, or One Lesson a Day, sharing a skill with those who are looking for inspiration.