At New Year someone close to me raised a glass and said “May we live in interesting times!” Interesting times? It doesn’t quite cover the range of emotions that we as a country have had in just a few short months. Oh how we wanted the uncertainty of Brexit to be over, regardless of politics, we just longed for a time when the B word was not top of the daily news broadcasts, or on the lips of consumers and businesses - “After Brexit, ….”

We knew that once January 2020 was over, whether we agreed with it or not, there was a new chapter, and there was the hope that Brides would start making plans again, and the industry would flourish. But straight after B, comes C - and within days of the Brexit celebrations, or commiserations depending on your point of view, we had a new word to worry about ‘the C word” - By February Coronavirus was still on the other side of the world, we didn't think it would affect us, the only worry was the effect it would have on deliveries. No one saw this coming - somehow we thought we would be immune!

Now Covid19 seems to be the only topic. The effects it has had on people’s lives has been devastating, it has not only changed lives, but also ended some. For many families, life will no longer be as they planned, as the loss of loved ones puts things truly in perspective, The cruelty of this virus knows no limits. Unlike Brexit, it doesn’t divide us, it has united us, we don’t get to choose a position, we can’t argue our point of view. Covid19 can be gentle, or brutal, and we don’t get to vote on which way it goes.

The enforced shut down has brought with it a roller coaster of emotions, the initial panic was heightened by brides calling in despair and devastation. We watched weddings start to be postponed one by one. The Nations strap line became “When things get back to normal ….. ”. When the doors were locked and the shutters came down, with no definite date as to when they were to be opened, I have to admit It was unnerving. Then came the period of complete bewilderment. That first Saturday, with nowhere to go, no one to see, no celebratory message to post. I found myself singing a very poor tribute to Dusty Springfield “I just don't know what to do with myself.” Because I didn’t. My normal became temporarily obsolete - but in many ways, what it has given us all, in a perverse and twisted way admittedly, is a gift.

It has brought us together, we can see that we are not alone, and whilst everything has been paused, we have been given time to reset and review our own situations. Once we realised that worrying wont change anything, and once we put our personal/family needs to the top of the to do list, to make sure our loved ones were disinfected, sterilised and set up to be fed/ entertained around the clock - we had time to think. For many of us, we have been so busy with our businesses, so focussed on today, this week, as well as the future, we haven’t given ourselves time to actually think about what really matters, and what we really want. Staying at home has given us time to hit the reset button. We have all been given a lesson in what really matters to us, what we take for granted has suddenly had a big spot light shone on it, and if we weren’t aware of it before, we surely are now. We know what truly matters, and we are aware of how quickly things can change.

Do we want our working life to return to ‘normal’? Do we want it to be ‘business as usual”? Has this time forced us to reassess our situation? For some of us, I know that spending time with family and loved ones, has made us question the work/life balance. The thought of going back to normal, fills us with dread, and the time has been used to contemplate a change of direction. Life has suddenly given us an insight into how things could be, if we no longer did what we have been doing for years - and that new path is exciting, and full of opportunities, that we are now able to see quite clearly. Difficult times can often bring a new perspective, and that can never be a bad thing. So for some of us, the downtime has confirmed what we already knew deep down - it is time for a change, and we are now emboldened to take the first steps away from Bridal.

For some of us though, it has been a time to plan, re-look at not what we do, but how we do it. The usual noise has silenced, and we have been given time to think without interruption or distraction, we can plan, prepare, and look at ways to come back, bigger or smaller, - but better. Preparation for a successful return is key, and we have had plenty of preparation time. Once the doors are open, the usual housekeeping matters will keep us busy, reorganising, refreshing and updating the premises, social media will be jam packed with ideas and excited posts letting Brides know what is to come, what there is to see, and we will be joyfully sharing all that there is to look forward to; there is so much to plan for, now that the madness is behind us. We have been given a gift of looking at all the positives, and cutting out the negatives, and now is the time to act. The excitement is back, we remember why we do what we do, we can’t wait to seize all the opportunities that we have identified and we wont take it for granted - yet.

But in all our come-back plans, are we preparing for when madness strikes again, because we need to. We didn’t see a pandemic coming - but once again we have been given a gift, we are now in the very fortunate position of knowing what we need to do to survive another one. This maybe a once in a lifetime pandemic - so far, and whilst we all hope we won’t see another one, none of us knows what the future will bring. There is no guarantee that we only get one life changing event on this scale.

Hindsight is 2020 has never been more true!

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