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Ten Reasons to Love Winter Weddings….

by | Wisdom, Wise Words


Katrina Reynolds

australian-winter-wedding042Image by Solas Wedding Photography via Celeste and Alten’s Australian Winter Wedding

Winter has always been a favourite time of year for me when it comes to weddings, for so many reasons. Importantly for brides though, it’s the time of the year when are better able to pick the best of the venues as there is less demand. In peak season, wedding venues all book up so quickly – but in winter, you’ll have more choice. Remember though if you’re looking at venues on a warm summer’s day, try to think what it will be like in winter; you may need to find a space for stunning indoor ceremonies with plenty of options for photographs by the fire!

Here are my Ten Reasons to love Winter Weddings:

  • You’ll probably be getting a better deal with your venue in winter, which allows you the flexibility to invite more guests at your wedding rather than having to limit numbers to fit your budget.
  • Use the season to your advantage; scarves and gloves are wonderful favours for guests as well as being useful; they’ll be used every year, with your guests remembering you both and your special day.

Elegant-Black-Tie-Wedding1714Image by Warren Photography via Koren and Dave’s Elegant Black Tie Wedding – Part 2

  • Have lots of umbrellas ready and create some unique wedding photos. As long as you enjoy your day, your wedding photos will be beautiful – no matter what the weather.
  • Dress up your wardrobe; your groom will be comfortable in a warm three- piece suit whilst the bridesmaids can add layers with shawls and faux furs. Have some fun with your dress too – pull on some gumboots for photographs; they are a practical way of getting around outdoors and will ensure your wedding shoes are still in perfect condition for your reception.

outdoor-bbq-wedding036Image by Tigs Macallan via Kell and Paul’s Outdoor BBQ Wedding

  • Experiment with colour. Any theming choice for your reception works in winter – so go bold with a pop of red or choose classic black and white. Pastels are still soft and romantic.

lauren-and-warwick_resizedImage by Pixray Photography via Yarra Valley Estate

  • Candles, candles, candles! There is nothing more romantic than candles….they add warmth and set the mood for your reception also.

garden-twilight-wedding52Image by Thorson Photography from Sam and Will’s Garden Twilight Wedding

  • Natural winter light sets the scene for beautiful photo opportunities during your ceremony and reception. Remember, having your family photos during the reception or even before the ceremony will save time with the natural light for your all-important bridal photos.
  • Enjoy comfort food and warmed drinks such as mulled wine, hot chocolate and Baileys!

Elegant-Black-Tie-Wedding1711Image by Warren Photography via Koren and Dave’s Elegant Black Tie Wedding – Part 2

  • Let your wedding dictate your honeymoon destination – go somewhere warm and sunny with a bikini and a hat after your winter ceremony!
  • Christmas and summer holiday plans are miles away! Know that you’ll have higher acceptance of guests, as you are giving them something to look forward to in the middle of the year!


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Ms Chinoiserie Says: Thanks Katrina – now I know why I love winter weddings too – definitely for the mulled wine and hot chocolate! Yum!

About Katrina Reynolds:  With experience running wedding venues in Victoria’s Yarra Valley and now as General Manager at Yarra Valley Estate, I have seen brides enjoy this part of Victoria through all the seasons. With cooler temperatures and crisp air, winter is definitely my favourite season!

What Would They Know? Georgia Green of Coombe – The Melba Estate

by | Venue Wisdom, What Would They Know?, Wisdom


Polka Dot Bride

Georgia  - Coombe The Melba Estate

Right on Melbourne’s doorstep is one of the most significant estates in Australia – Coombe – The Melba Estate. Located in the Yarra Valley this estate was once the home of Dame Nellie Melba – the renowned classical musician and opera singer of the early 20th Century. Now owned and operated by her descendants, and available to bridal couples, the magnificent gardens, and restaurant situated in the restored motor house and clock tower, offer a taste of history with thoroughly modern touches. Dame Nellie Melba once walked these paths, marveled at the oak tree and entertained famous guests within these walls – and now her ‘impeccable sense of style’ lives on in weddings, opera events and private functions. It seems to me that we should raise a toast of Coombe Farm wine to the very special lady whose house this once was.

Coombe – The Melba Estate has quite a history – would you please explain it?

Coombe the Melba Estate was once the home of Dame Nellie Melba and is still owned by her descendants and great grandsons. The Estate opened to the public in September 2014 and has quickly become a must see in the Yarra Valley… well I think so anyway!

Coombe the Melba Estate -daniel-john-bilsborough

Image by Daniel John Bilsborough

Please describe:

The restaurant – sits within the restored old motor house, the bricks have been bead blasted back to create an industrial look. The old clock (that still chimes on the hour) has been brought down from the clock tower to feature in the restaurant. The restaurant is modern, spacious yet intimate and overlooks the landscaped market-style courtyard of the beautifully restored facilities. The view from the conservatory is of the Coombe cottage garden ‘avenue’ and gives glimpses of the oldest swimming pool in Victoria.

The buildings –

Sitting alongside the Melba Gallery, the providore and the Coombe Farm Wines cellar door offer restaurant guests a gourmet wine, food, retail and artistic experience in one unique location and all situated within the old stable block.

The garden and vineyard –

Our vineyard is located on St Huberts Rd and were established on the estate in 1998, when 60 hectares of vines were planted on both sides of the Maroondah Highway.

Coombe Farm’s Chardonnay is much sought after and widely regarded as some of the best in the Valley for both table and sparkling wines.

The gardens of Coombe Cottage were prepared in 1909, under the personal direction of W.R.Guilfoyle the curator of the Melbourne Botanical Gardens.

Behind the six hundred metres of cypress hedge lie a succession of terraced lawns, native, Mediterranean and vegetable gardens, a croquet lawn, an old tennis court, a newly established rose arbor and the oldest swimming pool in Victoria.

The gardens contain beautiful old world trees, including an English oak rumoured to be over 180 years old. As Coombe Cottage is still a private residence access to the gardens is via appointment only or a guided tour.

Other (Estate) attractions –

We also have a Gallery that houses various artworks, and timeless pieces that were given to Dame Nellie Melba. It’s nice to gain a little bit of insight into the History of Coombe and the world’s greatest opera singer of her time Dame Nellie Melba when people visit.

Do the bride and groom have exclusive use of the Estate for the duration of their wedding?

We only conduct evening weddings, so couples have exclusive use of the Garden for their ceremony and restaurant for their reception. The Estate closes at 5pm so essentially unless we have a private function at ‘Hedge’ they have the Estate exclusively. And we will only ever have 1 wedding per day.

Is the bridal couple able to have their ceremony on site? Are there wet weather options? 

Yes! We have seven acres of manicured gardens, there is so many options that couples can choose from. From underneath the Old Oak to the ‘rustic’ Mediterranean garden or the open space of the old grassed tennis court. And our Gallery space is the perfect setting for an intimate wet weather alternative – a must have due to the wonderfully unpredictable Melbourne Weather!

Coombe The Melba Estate Blumenthal Photography 1

Image by Blumenthal Photography

Do you have a favourite garden or property location for photo opportunities, or ceremony/post ceremony drinks?

You can’t go past the Old Oak at the front of the Cottage, for a ceremony location. The Tree is over 180 years old and is charismatic, couples usually see this and instantly fall in love too!

For photos though it’s too hard to choose just one! The Hole in the Hedge, the oldest swimming pool in Victoria, the spiral staircase on Coombe Cottage – I’ve been told it’s a photographers dream & I’d agree (I may be a little biased!)

Please describe the areas/rooms of the Estate buildings suitable for a wedding reception?

Our Restaurant is best described as Modern Industrial. Bead blasted bricks, ambient drop pendants lighting, concrete flooring and bare timber tables. Floor to ceiling windows that retract to allow the outside in on a warm summer’s night. The room speaks for itself and doesn’t require a lot of dressing.

Coombe The Melba EstateBlumenthal Photography 2

Image by Blumenthal Photography

How many guests are you able to accommodate at a reception?

Our restaurant space fits 150 guests with a sizeable dancefloor.

Estate grown produce is a hallmark of your menus. What do you grow and use from the Estate?

Our Kitchen garden is a feature at Coombe and we are very proud to offer estate grown produce as much as possible.

We have tomatoes, fruit trees (apples, pear, persimmon, lemon and lime) a variety of herbs, parsley, coriander, mint, basil, thyme… the list goes on.

One of the dishes Risotto of zucchini, 20 year aged balsamic pear and rocket is just one of the current Kitchen garden offerings (well except for the rice!)

Can you describe some menu favourites for the coming winter months?

I can’t go past one of the newest additions to our menu, “Shady Oak free range chicken, our chef’s foraged mushrooms, pearl barley, wilted parsley, jus” with a side of “Roast pumpkin, feta, pinenuts, mesclun pickled red onion salad”. It has everything I want in a hearty winter meal and goes perfectly with our Coombe Farm Pinot Noir!

Coombe The Melba Estate Blumenthal Photography 3

Image by Blumenthal Photography

Do you offer a wedding planning service?

We don’t, but it is something we are considering.

How much (or how little e.g. on the day) assistance can you give the bride and groom with their wedding planning? Do you offer packages?

We don’t offer a structured advice package as some couples have a clear picture in their mind and already know who will be supplying their wedding. Others book with us then admit they have no idea what they are doing and it’s those couples I could sit with for hours and help them plan. I love to help couples any way I can.

What do a bridal couple need to bring in themselves?

Our reception packages take care of almost everything! We have a fantastic florist Youki from Sugarbee Flowers who works with the couples in terms of floral arrangements for both the ceremony and reception. The couple just need to arrange their cake, an awesome band or DJ and any extra items such as a photobooth or favors for their guests.

Can you recommend vendors for the couple to use?

Most definitely! I have worked with some amazing vendors and even if what the couple is looking for isn’t on our preferred suppliers list I can assist with other recommendations.

Is there accommodation for wedding guests, close by?

We can recommend a variety of hotels, cabins, houses, B&B’s all within a 15-20 minute radius of Coombe.

Are you able to offer a brunch or afternoon tea to departing guests the next day?

Of course! Our restaurant is open 9am – 5pm and we can offer larger groups either al la carte or a set menu. Bookings are essential though!

Coombe The Melba Estate

Image by Coombe – The Melba Estate

I love working here because………. I love Weddings and Coombe is such a magical place, its perfect for weddings! As an event manager my favourite moment at a wedding is when everyone hits the dance floor with big smiles, a belly full of delicious food & wine ready to celebrate.

And when I’m not organizing weddings and events I love to……

I love to discover new restaurants and coffee hang outs in the city. There is nothing better than good food and coffee.

Thank you Georgia for sharing your story. For more information about Coombe – The Melba Estate visit the website.

Headshot courtesy of Georgia Green.

Preparing for New York International Bridal Week 2014 – Behind the Scenes

by | Behind The Scenes, Fashion Wisdom, Wisdom


Dan Jones




Images via Unbridaled By Dan Jones Bridal Gowns

As I pack my debut bridal collection ‘Unbridaled by Dan Jones’ and get ready to jet set to The Big Apple in preparation for New York International Bridal Week 2014, I’m excited about showcasing my red carpet worthy, shape defining silhouettes  – and a bit of all round Dan Jones pizzazz! Perched high above New York’s beautiful skyline and with Manhattan’s stunning cityscape as a backdrop, I’m preparing to meet with some of America’s most prestigious bridal salons and boutiques.

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“First and foremost, upon arrival, we had the arduous task of steaming and preparing all of the gowns and the suite for client meeting and showings. This is my absolute favourite part  of the job, as it gives me (especially after a long flight) the ultimate excuse to pour a glass of champagne and put the I-Pod to good use! We chose to stay at the Standard High line. The hotel is divine with slick interiors, incredible views and one very fabulous nightspot on the roof!”

“In preparation for showings and the following days, we venture out for a walk along the scenic High line, before getting distracted by the iconic DVF boutique and slipping in a spot of retail therapy, we headed to Chelsea Market to make our selection of delicious sparkling rose and sweet treats.”

“On this trip not only did we take our ‘Unbridaled by Dan Jones” 2014 collection, but also a sneak piece of new bridal and evening wear pieces from 2015 collection that we had been working on. Our new collection includes pieces inspired but the princesses of disco, in a selection of stunning Indianesque hues adorned in delicate Rajasthani inspired crystal embellishments.”

..”Firstly we met with renowned American bridal retailer BHLDN who stock some of the industry’s elite designers. Although from this point on our schedules were quite jam packed with appointments, we were fortunate enough to be invited by The Knot for a tour of  The Knot Couture Show . This amazing insight was followed by a meeting with New York International Bridal Week organisers to check out their New York Bridal Show  – a collection of different events that run simultaneously across one week, with each event providing a different platform for the designer….so amazing!”

“As day broke on our second day we were excited to catch up with our exclusive Sydney and Melbourne retailer, The Bridal Atelier over a glass of sparkling rose! We were able to through our newer styles that were produced specifically for the New York bridal market.

Bridal (sneak peak)- NYIBW

“We kept our third day free for our own ‘Unbridaled by Dan Jones’ trunk show. These are more personal, one hour appointments where we meet with the brides  personally.  This was a great way for me to meet and engage with real NYC brides-to-be. After three long, hard working days I decided we would enjoy a delicious rustic Italian feast at Barbuto in the West Village. We took a stroll along 5th Avenue and managed to catch the famous Barneys New York windows which were revealed in the later hours of the evening; we were in for such a treat as their display was dedicated to New York designer Thakoon – ‘Ten Years, The Capsule’.

“To say we were prepared is a major understatement. New York is a ‘big city that never sleeps’. There are over one million people following the same dream, but to our surprise we were quite taken back by the common themes in the traditional bridal styles; this really in turn highlighted the fresh approach which ‘Unbridaled by Dan Jones’ bought to New York.

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“It was important for us to connect with European bridal retailers who had shown an interest in our brand. Throughout the trip we learned that American and European markets differ dramatically. We managed to secure appointments with two of London’s premier bridal boutiques and one particularly important boutique in Belgium, which we specifically flew to Antwerp to meet with.

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JPC Collection is Antwerp’s highly acclaimed bridal and evening wear boutique, stocking high profile brands like Jenny Packham, Elie Saab and Christian Lacroix. After an extremely successful meeting with JPC Collection, I’m very proud that Dan Jones is now housed along side these leading brands in such an impeccable boutique.”

“I feel most at home when I am in Europe and I feel a strong connection to my European roots. Whilst my French is not what it should be, I can’t ever leave Europe with out stopping in visit Paris; I find the Parisienne lifestyle quite rejuvenating  – there is plenty there to inspire!


Rupublique - Paris

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Images via Dan Jones

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Ms Chinoiserie Says: “What an amazing trip; can’t wait to hear what the New York Bridal Show 2015 has in store!”

About Dan Jones: Luxury ready to wear and bespoke fashion designer Sydney-based, Dan Jones creatively blends fine craftsmanship with an effortless fusion of beautiful fabrics, shape defining silhouettes and exquisite craftsmanship.

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