6 things to have done before shopping for a bridal gown

An Evening in Prague

1. Have a budget

Work out how much you and your partner are able to spend on the wedding, how much others will be giving you (your parents, his parents, other relatives and friends etc). Now do some initial research about the cost of various elements of the wedding. Have a rough cost of the reception per head, invitations, flowers, various types of gowns, transport, rings, etc...Now go back to your budget and work out what fits and what needs to be trimmed a bit. Before going out and falling in love with a wonderfully expensive gown, decide which proportion of this budget you would like to spend on a gown, and book shops/designers accordingly (for Couture Gowns I have noticed that the average spent on a gown is 10% (approx) of the overall budget of the wedding, just as a point of interest). 

2. Have a firm date booked

It is important to have a firm date booked or at the very least a specific time of year for the wedding. Different seasons mean you will want to or have to choose differently from what you may have in another season.

3. Book the venue

Have the venue booked for your service and reception, or at least know if you will be using a church or outdoor space etc. 

4. Do some research

Put together a “Look Book” for your wedding - gowns, colours, flowers, decorations etc... this all helps wonderfully for the designers to “get inside your mind” and help make your dream a reality.

5. Make a list of designers or labels

It can be very handy to keep a list of designers or labels that have gowns you like the look and feel of. It is better to keep the list to about 3 to 6 designers/shops. Any more than 6 can become confusing, not to mention exhausting.

6. Keep a very open mind and plan to have a wonderful time

Plan stops for lunch and coffee or drinks afterwards.....what other time will you ever get the chance to play dress-ups with so may stunning (and expensive) dresses!

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How will I know which wedding dress is the one?

Temptress of Seville w Roma Veil

There is this myth that married women seem to circulate that comes true for about 30% of Brides To Be - that you will try on a dress or see a picture of a dress and know it is the one! Just like meeting your future husband for the first time and knowing he is the one.

For those fortunate to have that experience it is easy, you get all goose bumpy and may be a bit teary and go ahead and book the design with no hesitation.....for those other 70% of Brides To Be, the process is a bit trickier....

Here are some of the best tips I have to help sort out which dress is the best for you. There are basically only 3 things to choose. Try to focus on each one separately to make to process simpler for yourself:

1. Choose a colour

even if you try on a dress you don't like, take note of the colour and see how you feel in the various bridal shades....White, Ivory, Cream, Coffee tones, Pale blush (pink) icy Silvers and Blues ....I have had girls who look amazing in Red just decide to go with a red dress because everything else just looks bland! Now once you have decided on this, it is time to focus on...

2. The shape of the gown

There will be one shape that you keep on being attracted to, it may be a full dress from the waist or a bias slinky style (sadly the more model like your body the more choice you will have...I think this group have the Hardest time choosing)....if you have a body part(s) that you think needs to be hidden, then wedding dress shopping is heaven...there is a style for obscuring every bit ....I could write a book on each style of dress, but basically choose you most favorite physical asset ie. waist, legs, bust, long neck, skin, even your hair! and make that the focus of the outfit...(this goes for everyday dressing too!!) Then choose the bit you want to hide and find a style that glosses over it.

3. Choosing the outer details

Finally the fun bit! These have a lot more to do with your taste in dresses than with you body shape, although if you are trying to look thinner, lots of ruffles and flounces are not going to do you any favours. If in everyday life you like to keep things simple, keep a simple element in you wedding gown too, if your everyday dress style is over the top bling.....take that into the dress as well.

Final thoughts

If you find yourself hesitating on making the final decision about a particular dress, try to imagine looking at pictures of yourself wearing the dress at your wedding....but looking at the photo 5 years in the future, do you truly think you will still be happy with your choice? If yes then get that dress.

If you can't choose between 2 dresses, toss a coin. This always seems to work because suddenly if faced with a coin toss result that instructs you to purchase one of the dresses, but deep down you know the other one is best, you will choose the other one!
It suddenly becomes magically clear!

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How to get started on planning your wedding

'Midnight in Paris' gownThere just seems an overwhelming number of decisions to make when planning a wedding...

Here are some suggestions to make the process easier. 

The first decision is the date and the venues for the service and the reception. This should then give you a good base for developing the “Vision” or “Picture” of your wedding, so you can imagine how you would like the day to look.

I highly recommend creating a “Wedding Folder”. Plan to keep all quotes and receipts in this folder, as well as any inspirational photos you find of dresses, hair, makeup, decorations that you like the look of for your wedding. Pinterest is a wonderful site to help collect and file any number of inspirational photos for your wedding too.

Set a budget

Add up the amount of money you and your fiancé are able/willing to spend on the wedding. Ask both sets of parents what they plan to contribute (and any other friend or relative that has offered money)

Set a date

Set the date for your wedding and preferably select a venue for your service and reception.

Choose a Bridal Gown

I recommend this because, for you as the Bride it is possibly the biggest decision (after deciding on a Groom!) you will be making for your wedding and therefore will carry the greatest stress until that decision has been made.

Bridal Gowns, whether Couture or Off-The-Rack, generally require 6 to 9 months to order.

Many decisions hinge on the the style of Gown you choose to wear yourself. ie. Your hair-style, jewelry, make-up, shoes and underwear. It will also impact the decisions you make for Bridesmaids dresses (hairstyles, make-up, jewelry and flowers), the Groom's and his men's attire, the decorations in the church/service area, as well as at the reception venue, the invitations and the wedding cake. It could decide what kind of bridal car you will need to travel in and may affect the dresses your Mother and your future Mother-in-law will choose to wear.

Wedding planning

From here, there are lots of wedding planning tools for keeping check of all the little bits and pieces you will need to get done. Many Bridal magazines and newsagents have “Wedding Planners” with a list of everything you will need to do.

The website i-do.com.au has a helpful wedding planner that includes a budget calculator and offers a free wedding website for you to use to post updates and pictures during your planning process.

Keep in mind that local invitations need to be posted 6 to 8 weeks before the wedding date. For an overseas wedding or overseas guests the invitations will need to be sent earlier.

Also remember that for those brides getting married in November or early December, they will be competing with not only other weddings, but also school formals for men's suit hire and car hire....so book early.

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D.I.Y. wedding vs a Venue wedding

Often a choice to have a “Do It Yourself” (DIY) wedding is made to save money, however this is not always the outcome of DIY weddings, not to mention all the extra stress and hours of organizing the day all by yourself.

Of course if you want to get married on a family property for sentimental reasons, then the costs of a semi DIY wedding is the cost you will need to pay obviously. However if you are trying to save money, make sure you calculate all the various components before committing to this DIY idea. Think it all through very carefully.

For example, you might need a marquee, tables, chairs, crockery, cutlery, glass wear, alcohol, bar staff, serving staff, a catering company, Decorations, maybe fans or heating, a dance floor, toilets, one or two parking directors, music - either a DJ or band. etc. Then if this is on a private family property, there is all the cleaning, gardening, cooking (if you are taking the DIY as far as that) as well…..Oh dear! I am getting exhausted just thinking about it!

Before finally deciding on the exact wedding type you choose, It is probably well worth looking around at some venues, and just getting quotes on how much they would charge to do almost everything.

You only get one day to get married, you really want to be able to relax and thoroughly enjoy that very special day with all your nearest and dearest.


Best of wishes,

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What is the difference between "Couture" & "Off the Rack" dresses?

Couture Gowns

Couture Gowns are hand made in Australia (or in whichever country the company is based) by a designer and his/her staff and is made specifically to fit your body, with the proportions of the gown adjusted to suit you precisely. It usually requires around 5 fittings and a lead time of 6 to 9 months, (but can be up to 12 months).

Having a couture wedding gown designed and hand made for you is a very indulgent and luxurious experience, and what better gown than your wedding gown to experience such lavish attention and perfection. The advantage of a couture gown is also that you are working with a designer so all your tiny personal preferences can be catered for. I should also mention the wonderful wealth of knowledge and advice they have on styling your wedding for spectacular results as well as almost all other aspects of weddings - which you can make use of for free.

Off-The-Rack Gowns

Off-The-Rack Gowns are imported from overseas generally. They are mass-produced to standard sizes, meaning they cost quite a great deal less than the couture gowns. These gowns can be ideal for brides wo are on a budget and are a standard size. If you are not a standard size, always choose a dress that fits your biggest bit; it is not impossible to take in a dress but virtually impossibly to let out a dress any significant amount.

You will still need 4 to 6 months (generally) to have the dress ordered and brought into the country, and you will also need to allow time to have any alterations that need to be done on the gown prior to you wedding date. Just a note on the alterations: make sure you check that the store you are purchasing the gown from do the alterations in house or have them recommend someone else to you. Get a quote on the cost of the alterations and details of how long they will take to do. Make sure you book in the alterations as soon as you have decided on the dress so that you can be sure they will be done without rushing before the wedding. 

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Asking friends to help with the wedding
(a cautionary blog post)

Once a Bride announces her betrothal, her friends and family will be so excited and offer all kinds of help…While this is lovely, and will be needed and appreciated, this blog is to caution brides not to lean on one or a few people too hard.

This is so tempting to do when the friend or relative is in an industry whose expertise you will need, ie. they are a florist, dressmaker, chef, event decorator, hair and makeup artist, etc. There are several reasons for this advice,

All these tasks require a lot of effort and a significant amount of money to do beautifully

If the bride is trying to save money, which is why they are probably tempted to ask her friend(s) to help out in the first place, someone will still have to foot the bill. It gets a bit awkward for the friend to tell you exactly how much money they are spending sometimes, not knowing if they are expected to do the task as a wedding gift or just as a friend (do they still need to buy a wedding gift?). How much is the bride expecting it to cost? Is the bride thinking they would pay that cost? What if it is significantly more money? The bride may not be expecting such a high amount.

It is unlikely they can complete this task by themselves and if they have a business they will need to call in staff to help out (wages = more money)

Unless handled very carefully there are so many places here that the person asked to help out can feel taken advantage of and thus strain (or worst, destroy) a friendship.

The Bride will have a lot less leverage on the final product if she hasn’t paid for the service

When you pay for a service you can easily say you prefer this, you want to change that, you want to add in extra something, however if you have not paid, how much control do you really have about the issues that may occur?

Finally, remember that everyone has their own lives, with unique circumstances; some people will have more time to help you out, others will not be able to help out as much due to busy lives or other commitments. Any help you get is a gift and remember to treat it as such. Don’t punish those who just can’t help out too much.

This is one day of your life, albeit a very special day, but you still have a life time ahead where you will need the relationships you have built around you to thrive.

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How to go about getting a custom wedding dress made

glebe studio 2020 novGetting a custom dress made is ideal for:

  • Girls that want a dress that is uniquely their design, or
  • Girls who have a body shape that is not standard, and therefore are finding it impossible to get a dress to fit off the rack.


It is usually quite a bit more expensive, because of the individual attention you will require to design and then create the dress, not to mention paying for the designer’s years of experience and expertise.

It is a very decadent experience, and well worth the money if you can fit it into your budget.

The most important thing to get right is choosing the right designer for you. Some designers are very consultative, others very much take charge of the process and tell you what you should have. Others expect you to have decided on the design yourself. Each one of these ways of designing can suit different types of client personalities, you just need to see which style makes you feel most comfortable.

Here are 3 important things to consider in making the choice:

  • Find someone you feel like you can trust, feel comfortable with and that you have a rapport with.
  • Make sure they come highly recommended; they are working on an especially important part of the wedding, possibly the most important part of the wedding. (Ideally, look at Google reviews, Facebook reviews, and talk to friends that have already been married)
  • Make sure they are not going to charge you wildly over your budget.


Although many designers will work somewhat similarly, I can only discuss our process here.

I really like getting to know my clients, their wedding day plans, the type of wedding they are planning, and a little about themselves and their preferences. I just feel like I am more useful to a client if I can get a little bit inside their heads. I also like to ask about their budget, what looks you have been attracted to, either online or while shopping around, also how many dresses have you tried on and how much have you narrowed down your preferences about the design of the dress.

If the bride has not tried on any dresses (or very few), I like to have them try on some of our Ready-To-Wear collection, just to find a shape that they love and feel comfortable in. From there we have discussions about fabrics, lengths of trans, etc and I can sketch a design or two,as well as cost the designs for the bride to choose from.

The creation begins

Once a design has been decided on, deposits paid, fabric swatches given, measurements taken and appointments all booked in, the process of creating the dress begins.

We start new designs with a toile (a cheap fabric version of the dress, usually in calico). This gets fitted on the bride and adjusted to fit perfectly; the original patterns are then changed to reflect this perfecting of the pattern. Next we cut out the base of the dress (not the fancy beaded fabrics or appliques), sew this up and do another fitting to make sure this is perfect before we go ahead and add all the embellished fabrics.

We do another fitting to make sure it is still a perfect fit, allowing for any weight loss or change in fit because of the addition of the embellished fabric. Finally we finish the dress and have the bride return about 3 weeks before the wedding to try the fully finished dress on one last time and, assuming the fit is perfect, the dress goes home with the bride.


May all your wedding dreams come true.

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photographer1How to look your best in photos
(from a bridal designers point of view)

Let me just start by saying that if you are really nervous of the photo taking on the day, choose a photographer that is really good at candid shots… these are photographers that have a natural gift of seeing when the perfect pose or shot is just about to happen, and then grab it, all while you don’t even realise it happened.

You can find these photographers by looking at their social media feeds and seeing how much of their work is casual non-posed photos…. ideally almost all of it.

Even if you forget most of what you read here on the wedding day, believe me, after about 10 minutes, you will be swept away by all the excitement and love of your big day, not to mention, once a hairdresser and Makeup artist have finished with you, you will look better than you ever have before in your life… now that’s a self esteem boost, and that will show through in all the photos.

So here are my tips for looking your best in photos:

Do pilates or Yoga before the wedding to learn what good posture feels like and practice it.

I can always tell a girl who has been doing ether discipline, because they stand taller and straighter.

Hold your Bouquet LOW.

It will feel a bit funny, because, especially when Brides feel a bit shy and insecure, they tend to hold their bouquets high, up in front of their chests. This hides the smallest bit of the female body (the waist) and makes you the body look chunkier on the top.

My advice is to practice in a mirror before the wedding… Wear reasonable tight clothing, Get anything to hold instead of a Bouquet…a small pillow, a stuffed toy, a t-shirt folded up small etc.

Stand straight on to the mirror, and hold your “Bouquet” low…down in front of your tummy and keep your elbows out a little wide. You want to clearly see your waist in the mirror, Now hold the “Bouquet” up higher on the waist or above, and see the difference.

Know your best angle

Try selfies until you know your best angle… it may be tuning slightly to the left or right (see Kylie Jenner), it might be putting you head down a little (see Lady Di), held up a little high (see Diane Keaton) or with chin pushed forward slightly to make a jaw look sharper (see Dame Judi Dench)

Choose your best stance

Stand with your legs together, or one foot and leg a little infront or the other one (this gives that curvy Hollywood look).
If you feel a little wider than you are happy with, turn slightly sideways to the camera.

Models spend hours perfecting their perfect poses, and you are spending a lot of money on this day and photos, so practice until it feels natural, and stand tall and proud.


The very best of wishes,

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Second-guessing wedding planning choices

In the pressure cooker couple of weeks before a wedding, I see so many girls start to second guess the decisions they have made for their wedding.

They start buying a second (or third) pair of shoes, different jewellery, adding in more decorations, more flowers, more elaborate bonbonniere, etc.

You can really blow out your budget in these last weeks.

These second guesses about your original choices are to be expected….this is the biggest, most intricate event you will ever have to organise in your life (unless you are a function co-ordinator at work!). And the pressure that weighs on a bride’s shoulders is massive…you certainly feel like you can’t just mess up this time, then do a better job next time (no one is planning for a next time are they?) and you know lot of people have travelled far to come to this event, so you want it to be perfect for them.

So, when you feel insecure about your choices, try to just sit still for a moment, before launching off on a shopping expedition, trust that the decision you made (when you were in a more stable state of mind) was the right one.

You certainly don’t want to get to the wedding day still having to decide which shoe you will wear, or which earing you will use.
You really don’t need alternatives,…just try to trust me…you will just be spending more money on things no-one will even notice.

Cheering in your corner,

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