“The first random acquaintance I come across! I’m naturally a hugger, so for me, it’s been so weird seeing friends/people I know and having to stop myself going straight in for the hug.” Marie at Willow & Grace Bridal on the first person she’ll hug once restrictions are lifted
Enveloped in the market town of Market Deeping sits elegant bridal boutique, Willow & Grace Bridal. Designed in mind, in their words, for “Not An Ordinary Bride”, their cool collection of bridal designers will have you booking an appointment STAT, trust me. Prepare to discover gowns from the likes of Enzoani, Blue by Enzoani, Beautiful Bridal, Lusan Mandongus and soon…Pronovias! Alongside their carefully curated collection of modern bridalwear, Willow & Grace stock the one and only Maids to Measure (so it’s the perfect place to stop by with your bride tribe in tow). I caught up with Marie, one half of W&G (the other half is business parter and one of her best friends, Donna Horne) to get the lowdown on her lockdown 3.0…
#1 We’ve just gone into Lockdown 3. In three words, describe how you are currently feeling…
“Chunky but Funky. The lockdown pounds are real!”
#2 Talk to us about your usual daily routine for your business and how this will change in lockdown…
“On a typical day I would be in the shop, checking emails and creating or finding content for social media. After checking the diary I would start prep for my appointments. We ask brides to fill in some information about their wedding day before they come in which really helps give us a feel for the vibe of their day, meaning I can pick out some styles that might work in advance. I love first appointments with brides, chatting all things wedding and being able to offer them styling tips and advice. Once appointments are done its dealing with a mix of admin jobs from sorting through deliveries, checking and steaming any dresses which have arrived to paying invoices. Currently my lockdown days look nothing like this! Its mainly remote learning with my son, but I’ve also been doing lots of fantastic online training and masterclasses with other bridal retailers which has been so incredibly invaluable. Otherwise I am still dealing with emails/messages and creating and finding content. I cannot wait to be back in the shop!”
#3 How will/does lockdown impact your business, and how can people (brides/the wedding industry) support you throughout?
“Lockdown has had a huge impact on the whole wedding and events sector. Brides are unsure of what’s going to happen or how to plan for their day. For us, joining our waiting list or booking your future appointment in now is a huge help so we can start organising ourselves ready for reopening. People supporting us on our social media at the moment is a huge help, Instagram change their algorithms all the time which is really frustrating as its how many of our brides find us, so the best way people can support us is to follow us, interact with us and share, save and comment on our posts. Ooh and to leave us a Google review – that’s a big one!”
#4 Name three small businesses on Instagram you are supporting or would like to support more…
No.1 “@lulabellewellness – my lovely friend Lucy is into all things wellness and she also models our dresses for us when newbies come in. She is super supportive and always so positive.”
No.2 “@dottieeventsandhire – not only an incredible wedding photographer, Dottie has the most beautiful marquees/accessories for hire and is such a creative person.”
No.3 “@thecountrygardenflorist – Donna is an unreal florist! We are lucky enough to collab with Donna for our window displays which have always been a massive thing for us. She manages to help us level up every time we create a new window work of art.”
#5 Favourite lockdown snack? Has this evolved from lockdown 1?
“Bruschetta! Thankfully being home all the time means the sheer amount of garlic I am currently consuming doesn’t matter. Lockdown one was all about BBQ leftovers and ice creams.”
#6 What’s your most recommended lockdown pick-me-up when you’re feeling down during lockdown? What’s getting you through the days?
“Music! I am a massive music lover and I like to use different playlists to change my mood and help with whatever task I’m working on.”
#7 What’s the item you can now NEVER find in the supermarket (and consequently dreamt continuously about) during lockdown?
“Aside from the dreaded 2020 world toilet paper shortage we’ve been pretty lucky and not missed out on much. What I found hardest to get was a desk!”
#8 Name a dinner/meal or beverage choice you feel might bring someone joy to their lockdown life…
“A frozen strawberry daquiri. So easy to make and reminds me of being on holiday!”
#9 Talk us through what’s new at your brand…
“We’ve actually got quite a lot going on! We have taken on new brands including the wonderful Pronovias. We’re currently in the middle of a little mini makeover in the shop and we are working with our seamstress, Emma (@eludesigns) who is a fab dressmaker, on a line of veils and accessories which will be exclusive to Willow & Grace. We are also starting remote appointments for 2021 brides so that we can get the ball rolling on finding their dress. Its going to be quite tight getting dresses ordered and delivered for this year’s weddings so we are doing anything we can to make the process less stressful for brides.”
#10 What’s your lockdown outfit most days? Have you, say, developed an unhealthy attachment to the elasticated waists of your leggings like myself?
“Its either feast or famine on the lockdown fashion front. Day to day I am generally in joggers or gym gear (despite the major lack of working out currently), unless I am going food shopping in which case I suddenly now get decked out like it’s a night out. Hair washed and dried, makeup on and a half decent outfit.”
#11 What series have you now completed on Netflix/Amazon Prime etc.? Any recommendations?
“I always have something on, even if its in the background so my list is long….but
Firefly Lane, Ozark, Blue Bloods, New Amsterdam, Power, Law & Order SVU , The Last Dance (the series about the Chicago Bulls), Suits, Schitts Creek and Greys Anatomy. But, one of the best things on TV is The West Wing. Honestly, it’s a bit of a commitment to get into as it ran for seven seasons but trust me, you won’t regret it!”
#12 The person(s) you will hug first when social distancing is no longer in place?
“The first random acquaintance I come across! I’m naturally a hugger, so for me, its been so weird seeing friends/people I know and having to stop myself going straight in for the hug.”
#13 An act of kindness towards you that you’ve really appreciated during lockdown?
“My amazing mum (who is in our bubble) looks after my son while I go food shopping or if I have to go into work for anything, but even if I want to pop out for a walk or just to give me a break for a few hours she will have him and I am so lucky to have her. I know not everyone is as lucky.”
#14 For a little Instagram-escapism and positivity, what account would you recommend?
“Anything with memes. I love to laugh and so there are many, many hilarious accounts but actually a photographer I know (@ginafernandesphotography) has the same sense of humour as me and always posts the funniest memes and Tiktok’s on her story. She also shares her beautiful photography which is obviously a bonus!”
#15 Name three things the lockdown has made you grateful for:
No.1 “Community – in all forms. I am really lucky I live on a street where almost all of the neighbours know each other but during lockdown everyone has been taking extra care of one another and checking in/helping out. Likewise, the online community we have built with other small businesses has been amazing. All sharing the others’ content, collaborating and just trying to offer as much support as we can, whenever we can. I love to see businesses building each other up, particularly those working in the same sector.”
No.2 “Travel – me and my little boy both LOVE to travel, we love adventures and we have missed visiting new, beautiful places so much. We have, however, updated our dream destinations lists and have some exciting things planned!”
No.3 “Family – I’m from a huge family and this Christmas was the first in my lifetime that we didn’t have our usual Christmas morning meeting at my grandparents (now uncle’s) house and exchanging gifts/having bacon and sausage sarnies together before heading home to have a big Christmas dinner with my Mum, Dad, sisters and my beautiful nephews. It really made me appreciate how lucky we are to have each other and I just can’t wait to be back doing all the normal things that we have always taken for granted.”
#16 Which restaurant will you dine at first once restrictions are lifted again?
“All. Of. Them. I am sick of cooking or eating standard takeaway food. I am going to make way more effort to go out for nice meals with friends once this is all over.”
#17 What would be your five film recommendations to watch during lockdown…
“Clueless, Rush Hour 2, Coach Carter, The Devil Wears Prada and Man On Fire.“
#18 What book would be top of your lockdown book list?
“I actually don’t read all that much. My business Partner, Donna, is a massive bookworm and goes through so many and is always recommending great books I should read. I got half way through the book Get Your Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight and didn’t ever finish it, but I like to think that’s because it was so good I was too busy getting my sh*t together and I didn’t have time!”
#19 Name an odd purchase you’ve made during lockdown…
“Well they weren’t exactly a purchase as we rescued them, but we got two kittens, Pixie and Bella. They are absolutely beautiful and it feels like we have always had them, they’re such a joy to have around and it’s been amazing having so much time to spend with them.”
#20 The best gift you received this festive period?
“Ooooh that’s a hard one. Probably my Ninja air fryer (so rock ‘n’ roll)!
#21 Name a brand you would love to collaborate with…
“There are so many designers we love, Suzanne Neville is one. But honestly I’d love us to collab and work with as many other businesses as possible. We’ve got lots of fab ideas for styled shoots and as soon as we are able to I’m going to get cracking on them.”
#22 What’s your advice to lockdown brides?
“Try not to worry. Easier said than done with everything going on right now I know, but this is all so out of our control that worrying is just going to rob you of any joy in the present. Download the Calm App and take ten minutes when you’re feeling everything is getting on top of you and try and remind yourself that your day is coming. You will get married!”
#23 Your favourite beverage?
“Wine – A nice New Zealand Sauvignon (Apello is a lovely one!)
Cocktail – Frozen strawberry daquiri
Drink – Gin & Tonic.”
#24 Name your favourite magazine to curl up with.
“Any home/interiors magazines.”
Head to Willow & Grace Bridal’s beautiful website to discover more.
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