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Maternity wedding dresses a hit in Japan as ceremonies pushed back amid crisis

A woman, right, is seen wearing a maternity bridal gown in a way her body shape is expected to be in at the time of her wedding, in Nagoya's Nakamura Ward on June 21, 2021. (Mainichi/Sanami Kato)

NAGOYA -- As some women have conceived or are trying to get pregnant after their wedding ceremonies were pushed back amid the coronavirus pandemic, more people are apparently seeing pregnant brides in a positive light, and shops for maternity wedding dresses are receiving a flood of inquiries.

    According to estimates by the Tokyo-based Bridal Institutional Association, about 270,000 couples are assumed to have postponed or canceled their wedding ceremonies in fiscal 2020. It is estimated that as of May 2021, the economic loss to the bridal industry has exceeded some 1 trillion yen (roughly $9 billion) amidst the pandemic. Though apparently the industry is now on a recovery track, it is still in a difficult situation.

    In late June, a woman from Mizuho, Gifu Prefecture, attended an event held by Jadee Co. -- a company only selling maternity wedding dresses based in the capital's Shibuya Ward -- to try on wedding gowns at a hotel room in the central Japan city of Nagoya. The 32-year-old, who is now six months pregnant, submitted a marriage registration in the summer of 2020, but came to know that she was pregnant while searching for the right time to hold her wedding ceremony amid the crisis.

    One of the concerns of such pregnant women are the dress; whether there is one that suits their body shape and if there is a variety to choose from. Tokyo-based Recruit Co. -- publisher of Zexy, a magazine with information related to marriage -- says every year readers express concerns such as, "I don't know whether I'll find a dress that I like and fits," and, "Are there cases where the body shape changes, and you can't fit into them anymore?"

    At the event, Juri Hanatani, 58-year-old head of Jadee, predicted the body shape the woman will be in on the day of her wedding ceremony based on information such as her height, weight and her history of exercise. Hanatani had the woman wear the dresses with towels and cotton inside a special undergarment, and checked the fit and comfortability with the part of the belly expanded. The woman tried on a total of eight wedding gowns and said cheerfully, "They fit so well. I didn't feel any pain."

    The woman is a wedding planner, and said she has seen many pregnant brides. "I sometimes felt that their dresses were a little big, but I thought that was how they were supposed to be." According to Hanatani, when a pregnant woman wears a regular dress that is not exclusively for maternity use, the chest and other parts may become too loose as the gown is made to fit the size of the belly.

    Jadee's gowns are made so that the stomach area has elasticity, and they have a high waistline, which reduces the burden on the woman's body while having an appropriate fit and a gorgeous look.

    From around the beginning of this year Jadee has been receiving more inquiries such as, "I got pregnant after our wedding ceremony was pushed back. Since I won't be able to fit into the dress that I already decided on, can I change it to a dress that you have?" Another person asked, "We are planning on holding a wedding ceremony, but we are trying to conceive now. Are there dresses that will fit even if I get pregnant?"

    Hanatani pointed out, "In this situation where wedding ceremonies are being postponed, it seems that more and more people are seeing marriage with a pregnant bride in a positive way." Until now, many have selected gowns that are structured to hide the stomach, but amid the crisis, the percentage of brides who choose dresses that emphasizes their stomach has apparently increased.

    The company's sales, which had been zero for some months amid the coronavirus pandemic, roughly doubled in May compared to the same period two years ago. It seems that Jadee is also increasing demand by holding events to try on their products in various areas including Osaka Prefecture and Hokkaido, and using social media to spread out information.

    Hanatani stressed, "Even if you become pregnant, there are dresses that will fit you. We want you to have a wedding ceremony in the most beautiful dress at any time."

    (Japanese original by Sanami Kato, Nagoya News Center)

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