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How the coronavirus is impacting Sacramento's wedding industry

Wedding dress designers are facing major shipping delays from China for the materials they rely on to make their custom gowns.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The coronavirus outbreak is starting to have an impact on small businesses, specifically, bridal shops.

For context, the American Bridal and Prom Industry Association said roughly 80 percent of all wedding dresses come from China, where the coronavirus outbreak originated.

And weddings dresses are Phuong Sayre's livelihood.

"We do custom made wedding dresses," Sayre said.

Sayre has been running Elegant Designs bridal in Sacramento with her mom for the past six years. For them, it's always been a seamless business strategy, until a few weeks ago when they hit a snag.

"Our custom made wedding dresses, we make here in the U.S., but the materials that we buy are from factories and the factories are telling us, we have to wait for the shipping and everything to come through," Sayre said.

They were told, the fabric, the lace, and the sparkle they had ordered from a factory in China before the Lunar New Year wouldn't arrive until the end of January, then February and now, mid-March, all because the coronavirus forced factory closures.

"I was a little shocked because I know it's going to happen and now we're worried because it's like OK, we have brides that are getting married, they have a specific time, we have to make this dress in time for them," Sayre said.

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Elegant Designs is now crunching on a tight deadline, designing dresses for two weddings coming up in June and Sayre says, if these shipping delays keep up, their business is at risk.

"If this is like a forever thing, then we're going to have to look into something else, and find a different way to live because shipping, purchasing, a lot of that, is coming from China," Sayre said.

The coronavirus is having a bigger impact on the smaller, locally-owned businesses like Elegant Designs Bridal, rather than the bigger companies like David's Bridal. Representatives for David's Bridal told ABC10 they're not impacted because its shops have more than 300,000 dresses ready to go.

Richard Markel, president of the Association for Wedding Professionals International, says Sacramento County and the surrounding counties will see around 12,000 weddings in the coming year, with families spending an average of $28,000 per wedding.

"There's no reason to panic," Markel said.

And even if custom gowns are put on hold, he says brides shouldn't have anything to worry about when it comes to getting their dress in time. Brides will have options like buying off the rack or buying last year's gowns that didn't sell well and are now heavily discounted.

"In fact, there are lots of places, thrift store wise, where you could get a gown if you needed to," Markel said.

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