An online petition to allow hairdressers and make-up artists to attend to brides on their big day has attracted more than 500 signatures to date.
The petition, initiated by wedding photographers Ray and Irene Terry, comes as new Covid-19 rules have deemed hairdressers and make-up artists as non-essential for weddings under Level 5 restrictions.
The move has drawn criticism from those working in the wedding sector and from brides-to-be, who may have to resort to DIY glamour on their special day.
The wedding industry, which includes venues, retailers, entertainers, photographers, and hair and beauty, employs an estimated 45,000 people across the country.
For bride-to-be Rachel O’Sullivan from Knocknagree in Cork, who supported the online petition, the pandemic has already led to her wedding plans being shifted from May to October and now possibly before the year-end.
With so much uncertainty, Rachel and her partner Rogan are now hoping to have a smaller wedding in December, with a larger ceremony to renew their vows at a future date so friends and family can travel from the UK.
The current restrictions on hairdressers and make-up artists are “very unfair” and a “step too far”, she said, adding that she sees hair and make-up as an important part of the day.
“Hair and make-up is so important; it’s part of the whole thing,” Rachel said.
“Hairdressers and make-up artists have proven that they are more than capable of putting everything in place to protect themselves and their clients.
It was understandable, she said, that some brides may reconsider the need for a photographer: “I would feel very upset in December if I can’t get my hair and make-up done”.
Cork-based make-up artist Sarah Cummins, who specialises in weddings, said hair and make-up is an essential element of the day.
“For a wedding day I do think it is essential. Weddings cost thousands and I can’t imagine that a bride is going to pay a couple of thousand euro for a photographer to have their pictures taken and not to have their hair and make-up done,” Sarah said.
“I’d imagine there will be some brides that will cancel their plans again because they won’t have hair and make-up,” she added.
In the meantime some make-up artists and hairdressers are offering online tutorials for brides-to-be, who will otherwise be left to their own devices under Level 5 restrictions.
“You could do a lot in an hour. If we could just look after the bride on the day that would be a big step,” Sarah said.
Kinsale-based Aisling Kelleher from Polkadotdreaming, who specialises in bridal hair, said the tougher restrictions left many brides-to-be “devastated” and “heartbroken”, while also leaving many in the industry out of work.
“Our industry is on its knees. Hair and make-up is a huge part of a bride’s day. There are shops open at the moment that aren’t deemed essential so it’s a real kick in the teeth,” she said.
An exemption, Aisling said, should be made for brides so that they can look and feel their best on their big day.
“Brides got their heads around new restrictions and other requirements, such as cutting down the number of wedding guests but now they’re facing this. It’s a massive part of their day,” Aisling said.
“Even if we were given an hour with a bride that would help. I would be willing to put on a hazmat suit if I have to; I don’t care once the bride feels good,” she added.
The Irish Weddings Industry Federation estimates that, before Covid-19, around 26,000 weddings take place every year, generating €2.5 billion in revenue last year alone.