In pre-pandemic days, Leesburg-based A Wedding Loft was just taking off, garnering a reputation as a one-stop shop for brides to be. Less than a year old, the locally owned concept serves as an office space for small businesses in the wedding industry, as well as any other female-focused companies, offering beauty stations for bridal trials, co-working spaces and meeting rooms for client consultations.
“Loudoun County is one of the most sought after wedding locations in the country, and there were no resources like this that catered to our industry,” says founder and Leesburg resident Barbara Kriss, who owned a stationary and graphic design business for nearly 10 years prior to starting this venture. “We are just offering a physical location for women to belong and get the tangible resources they need to succeed. We just exploded, until the coronavirus happened.”
Like many other small business owners across the country, Kriss didn’t realize the lasting effects of the coronavirus when it first began to spread back in March. She and her team stopped all in-person meetings and closed the on-site beauty stations, but it wasn’t until Gov. Ralph Northam announced the stay-at-home order that Kriss decided to shut down and brainstorm a new solution to survive financially.
Thus, after a little help from some of A Wedding Loft’s members, the idea of hosting intimate wedding ceremonies within the space was born.
According to Kriss, several vendors, ranging from photographers to caterers, immediately offered their services at a very low price point in order to give couples the chance to tie the knot, as many have had to postpone or cancel their previously planned celebrations due to COVID-19. Here’s how it works: Vendor selections and plans are drawn in advance, less than 10 people (typically family members) come together for the ceremony and, on the day of the event, the wedding is very much self-run.
Since the concept launched in early April, Kriss has hosted four weddings within the space, has six scheduled for the coming weeks and continues to receive about two to three inquiries a day.
“We were really nervous to do this at the beginning, but the local wedding community has really embraced it. Mostly because—we’ve put a hard emphasis on this—we aren’t telling you to cancel your big beautiful wedding,” says Kriss, who has made sure the concept meets CDC requirements and statewide regulations. “We’ve gotten the couples who really just need to get married, with varying reasons. They still have plans to do a big reception later or a one-year anniversary. But they want to be married now.”
According to Kriss, the main goal of A Wedding Loft is to provide lead-sharing services, and through this branch of the business, many of her member wedding vendors can continue to operate at a time when revenue would not be coming in. Plus, the experience of witnessing couples get married through a global crisis has been an added bonus.
“It’s been so special,” explains Kriss. “You see weddings all the time but I think these, because of the emotion that comes with it … those 10 people in the room are the ones you really want to be there. It’s all about the marriage, the love, not the nitty gritty, fancy stuff that usually comes with it.”
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