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What Would They Know? Sarah Elliott of The Print Fairy

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


Polka Dot Bride

 Invitations that are designed with flair and a unique touch? Invitations printed on birch, cherry or mahogany wood? Innovative designs? Sarah of The Print Fairy has all these and more in her extensive range of stationery. From letterpress to gold foiling and floral designs, Sarah applies her fairy’s dust to  sprinkle some magic on her designs. And apart from being excited by designing stationery – what does this Print Fairy believe in? New season shopping days, true love and listening to your Mum’s advice – and we love that!!

Why did you start your business The Print Fairy?

The Print Fairy evolved from a desire to create a business for myself and after successfully working on the look and style of a few weddings in my spare time, I realised there was a real need for a style overhaul in the wedding invitation industry. I turned that passion into building my website, and 8 years later here we are going from strength to strength.

What is your background in design?

I have built my 14 year career off the back of a design degree majoring in Textiles and Graphic design and from working for a couple of other design companies in both New Zealand and Australia.

What is it that you particularly love about designing wedding stationery?

I have always loved colour and pattern and how the combination of these two elements play such an important role in our everyday life through fashion, interiors and lifestyle. Working with type, colour schemes and textures everyday has always been part of my job description and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

One of my favourite things is when a customer will request an obscure colour combination that we haven’t done before. It just transforms the design and makes even our most popular designs feel totally new and fresh. I feel we have a great standing in the market now and a solid understanding of our customer taste. We know we’re creating what our customers want to use as a part of their styling and our work plays a major role in setting the vibe for the wedding.

My Sweet Love invitations – image by Urban Safari

Do you have signature design style?

Absolutely we do. It’s bold colour, adventurous fonts and on-trend design and layout. If you want an invitation with frilly lace and embellishments you might be looking a while on our site to find something that fits this description!

How often do you come up with new designs for your stationery range?

We are always creating new designs, every week we will come up with something new. Not everything makes it to the online store, so we are quite ruthless with our design process. We are always changing the online store around, just like in a real boutique, we like to mix it up and also change the colours with each season.

What is the starting point for designing a custom invitation suite – and how long does this take to finished product?

Most customers who are after a custom design come to us because they love our style but want something unique to them and their big day. They already have a strong idea of what they are after so we are really here to pull it all together for them and make that vision a reality on paper. From the initial concept to sending to print, it can take around 1-2 weeks. All of our print methods do take different lengths of time as they are all sent off to our specialist printers around the country.

How should a couple approach you about this?

For those who really don’t know what they are after in a custom design, we suggest to do a bit of research on good old Pinterest and send us any images you like of colour combo’s, flowers, bridesmaid dresses, venue styling etc… so we get a feel for the overall look and theme you’re trying to achieve for your wedding. From here we will suggest font types, suitable card stocks, what print medium will best suit your style. We are happy to have lengthy phone conversations regarding the style of invitations and all of the options. We do strongly suggest to any potential customers to purchase one of our sample packs tailored to the type of invite you are after. We have so many different options, it’s always best to choose to see the full sample pack, that way you won’t miss out on something you may not have originally thought of doing.


Birch wood cocktail board – image by Love Note Photography

You offer many different styles of invitation – e.g. invitations printed on wood, letterpress, metallic foil and more. Do you see more wedding stationery being made with these techniques because couples want something really unique?

Our wood invitations are incredibly popular. Yes they are unique, they are the perfect mix of rustic-contemporary which makes them perfect for just about any sort of wedding theme. We have the best suited designs and largest offering for this style of product. As one of the very first companies to do timber invites in Australia, we know the product and we do it very well! We are sending our timber invitations all over the world as it seems they are so unique.

How are wooden invitations packaged to be sent to our guests?

Your wood invites will be delivered to you wrapped and packed securely in bulk for you to place inside the supplied envelopes. The wood itself is no thicker than a standard 300gsm card invitation. It actually travels better through the postal service than a card stock invite as it can’t crease like paper/ card does.

Can you please describe an invitation design that might suit:

  • A rustic styled wedding
  • Our Brand new succulent design in either wood or card stock, or any from our White on Kraft range which is very unique white ink on heavy Kraft board. Or our popular Down the Aisle design is gorgeous for a hit of rustic in neutral browns and white.

White on Kraft range  – image by Urban Safari

- A secret garden wedding

Our delightful ‘In Bloom’ watercolour floral invitation. A gorgeous mix of pretty meets modern. Or go for one of our printed reverse designs in antique rose to add interest to your wedding invite package, seen here with My Sweet Love in charcoal.

In Bloom watercolour invitation – image by Urban Safari

- An urban wedding

Our extremely elegant and contemporary ‘Hello Lover’ Letterpress design in black and white, it oozes sophisticated glam.

Hello Lover letterpress invitation – image by Urban Safari

If we love one of your signature designs but want a different font can we request this?

Yes you can choose a different font. We have literally hundreds in our font library, but we have spent many hours perfecting the look of each of our designs based around the fonts we have chosen to be the best fit. Often when a different font is requested it makes the design off-balance and the customer wonders why it doesn’t look like it does on the website when they see their proof. It’s fine to play around with a few different looks at design proof stage though.

Do you see any new trends happening in colour and design for weddings in 2015, which is reflected in the stationery?

Metallic foiling is getting huge again and not just on white card, we are seeing foiling incorporated in lots of unusual ways. We are investigating some new top-secret techniques right now.

The rustic-floral trend is booming and I don’t see it going away any time soon and we have it covered right throughout all our range offerings.

We are also looking into some laser-cut and three-dimensional pieces to take it to the next level.

Invitation with gold foiling – image by Urban Safari

What books are on your beside table right now?

No books, I’ve never been a huge reader, I’m far more entertained by visuals and creatively put together type, images and layout. So I do have the very latest Australian interiors magazines to keep myself on-top of colours and pattern and my iPhone for news, blogs, trends and social media.

Do you have other creative interests that you are passionate about?

I do actually love to paint on canvas. I have a passion for bold and colourful abstract art which I have dotted around my house, but I do think it’s time I picked up the paintbrush myself again.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

With running my own business and also raising 2 young daughters, I rarely get any time to myself. We have also just recently purchased an old 1950’s period home that we are renovating and needs some serious TLC. My husband and I now can’t remember what we used to do in our spare time! But when I do get time to sneak off, it’s usually hanging with the fab girlfriends I have in my life, eating, drinking and laughing the day/night away.

Thank you Sarah for sharing your story with us. To find out more about The Print Fairy visit the website.

Headshot by Kate of Urban Safari

What Would They Know? Sonya Robson of food&desire

by | Food & Catering Wisdom, What Would They Know?, Wisdom


Polka Dot Bride

Imagine a dedicated professional team catering impeccable food and wine, served with flair, with a choice of around fifty venues at your disposal. Imagine your wedding styled to the highest standard – bringing together all the elements you’ve ever dreamed about, to your wedding day. This is the ethos of the team behind food&desire caterers who are passionate about all things weddings and events. Sonya is the Event Sales & Marketing Manager of food&desire and tells us the story of this amazing business. Prepare to be inspired!

How long has food&desire been operating?

Food&desire is now in its 15th year of business, has grown from three full time staff to today’s thirty three wonderful team members. Our team is constructed from true hospitality professionals who are dedicated and passionate about professional service and have the experience and knowledge surrounding food.  Truly a team of passionate foodies who love creating memorable events and ensuring it’s a fun journey in the process.

What was the catalyst for starting this business?

Directors Leigh Worcester and Asaf Smoli recognised, in 2000, that the Melbourne catering and events scene needed a premium catering and kosher catering service. Their vision was to bring fine dining food and service into the events arena, ‘wedding food’ was an abhorrent idea to them and they could not see why on the most important of occasions food should be standardised. So they upped the anti bringing fine dining to anywhere you please and then also made it accessible for everyone with their established waterfront venues. Food&desire continues to be at the forefront of Melbourne’s wedding scene.

Please describe the 5 venues you are associated with. 

Aerial, South Wharf, Melbourne is food&desire’s newest venue, opened in November 2014, city views based riverside in South Wharf, seating up to 468 guests with dance floor.

Carousel, Albert Park Lake, iconic waterfront venue, lakeside and remarkable skyline views.

State Library Victoria, Swanston Street, Melbourne CBD, iconic venue featuring some of the most beautiful architecture, hosts seven event spaces, and the Dome in La Trobe reading room.

Harbour Room, Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron, St Kilda beach, rooftop and bayside views.

Other Melbourne venues such as Richmond Rowing Club, Pavilion, warehouses, galleries, park lands, marquees, locations from Portsea to Lorne or just at your private home.

However, if a bridal couple chooses another venue, are you able to provide your services to them?

Depending on the venue, and the venue’s catering policy, food&desire can cater in around fifty other venues and event spaces in Melbourne.

Do you offer a full service to couples from food to flowers and decor, to marquees/venues, function staff (and even a wedding co-ordinator)?

Absolutely. food&desire can arrange your COMPLETE event from beginning to end and all things between. Along with your wedding co ordinator and our friends at Where the Grass is Green, our teams can style, interior design, event manage, and cater at your venue of choice, for the full list please visit  . Food&desire will assist and support all your wedding details to make your wedding very special and of course…memorable. Food&desire understands bringing people together, creating great hosts, and celebrations!

How can couples tailor a package to suit their budget?

Prices range for wedding from $135-225+ per person.

Do you have any tips for brides to consider when booking a caterer? What are the advantages in having your wedding catered?

Personal service is the key, finding a caterer with great food knowledge and delivering exceptional product that will keep your family and friends talking about your wedding, they remember the food! You will need a caterer like food&desire who can deliver flexible and tailored menu plan, through to wine matching, cocktail creations, visual presentation to food styling, and of course serve your guests in a timely manner. I also believe planning your wedding is a journey of undertaking timeline tasks so be comfortable with the people advising you and knowing you are in the best hands, then you can trust in the process and sit back and enjoy your wedding planning.

Look for caterers leading food trends and taking food experiences to the guest, food is the best entertainment –  having open kitchens with chefs on display, theatrical food etc.. Look for true scope on food style they offer, flexible menu choices, variety of product available, very high standard of skilled chefs, and quality food handling and presentation. A truly great caterer has the ability to serve private dinners for 50 people and then to 500 people and quality should not be compromised.

Look for culinary experience and the ability to create multi cultural food styles, fusing together different food cultures while ensuring tradition is upheld. In summary personal service, guidance and expertise in food, and then being able to pull it off and making it look easy!

Do you offer flexibility in your menus to each couples’ requirements?

Creating customised menus is our forte, although we do have brilliant menus to select from, so many of our clients have specific catering briefs, food passions and personal preferences, at food&desire we are always creating, changing, developing menus to suit couples, their friends and family. Designing menus can be half the fun! And the food&desire team help with this too.

Can you provide a tasting to help couples make their decision?

Absolutely, food&desire offers two varieties of menu tastings for our couples. There is an additional charge but clients love them and always tell us they are definitely worth it!

Are you able to accommodate vegan, vegetarian, kosher and food sensitivity requirements?

Our menus are vast and we can accommodate all mentioned dietary requirements. Yvan Meunier (now his tenth year with the business) creates menus for every couple and their guests’ dietary needs. Food&desire specialises in Kosher catering and has their own state of the art commercial and kosher kitchen in Kensington. No matter what the food sensitivity or dietary requirement food&desire will always accommodate each individual request.

When designing a menu, what should the bride and groom consider?

– Food style or cuisine

– Variety

– Balanced menu

– What do they want to eat on the night, their ‘first meal as husband and wife’

– Guests requirements

– Duration of wedding; supper, extra canapés, dessert either player or food station, even roaming style dessert

– Whether they want food as the feature, to be entertained by food (have a element of theatrics), or sit down and plated.

 Do you offer a food and wine matching service to brides and grooms?

Absolutely! Menu tasting is the chance for brides and grooms experience food and wine matching. All our menus have sommelier selected matched wines.

What are your favourite wedding food ideas for the coming year?

Stand up roaming entrees on balconies and rooftop spaces, taking in the venues or outside spaces much more

Shared food; tapas style with more food courses of smaller portions or banquet style dishes in the middle of the table, lots more variety with people helping themselves and sharing the food experience like you would at your dinner table (less of the per person plated dish, (or 50/50 option). Couples and family members enjoying more menu flexibility, and guests just loving choice on the night. We see more interaction with food as a coming trend.

Interactive food stations with chefs on display, chefs demonstrating their abilities, coming out from behind the scenes to being involved in your wedding, this can be a big wow! factor for real foodies.

– A definite modern Asian theme is emerging, as is an extension of tapas style dining with twist.


What are your favourite things to do in Melbourne when you’re not working?

– I just LOVE Melbourne! Love;

– Going to the beach with the kids (Half Moon Bay in Sandringham) with fish ‘n chips on the beach for dinner.

– Eating at Movida on date night with my partner (beef cheek on cauliflower purée is just insane!!)

– Visiting Melbourne’s food & farmers markets, my favourites South Melbourne and Collingwood Farmers Market, produce so fresh and fabulous!

– Sitting in a cafe (my favourite Fordham’s Milk Bar, Camberwell) slipping on a latte, watching my kids play or reading a magazine.

– Going out with the girls for movie night followed by cocktails and tapas in some of Melbourne’s awesome bars, my favourite Bomba ( Spanish tapas bar).

– And of course…shopping!!!!

Thank you Sonya for sharing food&desire’s story with us. To find out more about food&desire visit the website.

Images courtesy of food&desire.

What Would They Know? Rachel Uys of Lavande Designs

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


Polka Dot Bride

With a love of all things flowers, it follows that Rachel of Lavande Designs is also aware of creating an impression of style and beauty with her work. Flower arrangements crafted with respect and care are her signature touch – they bring together the colour scheme, add softness and a celebratory atmosphere, and above all, make people happy. Add to that Rachel’s hire service of crystal candelabras, unique lanterns and vases and your wedding will sparkle with your dream vision.

How long have you been in the business and where did you train?

It’s been 10 years this coming September since I set foot into the New York Flower School. I was very lucky to be given the opportunity to start my career there, sitting amongst other students who have since gone on to achieve great success. From completing a master class series there, I began to intern at a design studio in New York before working my way up to Senior Designer roles. Upon return to Sydney, Lavande Designs was established and it continues to flourish!

Image by Liv Style Photography

Do you have any mentors whose expertise you call on?

I keep in touch with many people I worked with in New York. I follow a lot of designers I worked for and admired on social media so I feel I am mentored daily, inspired by their work and all the design projects they are undertaking.

How did your training in New York influence the floral designs you do today?

In New York and how I was trained in particular, the design aesthetic has a focus on an abundance of blooms. That’s how I tend to still design. I use beautiful colour palettes which may be mixed or monochromatic and a classic style of design.

Image by Blumenthal Photography

Do you have favourite flowers that you use time and again?

Of course…. sweet pea, peonies, hellebore, snowball viburnum, ranunculus, water lilies, large vanda and phalaenopsis orchids to name just a few!

Do you love putting together unusual combinations of colour and/or texture, or unusual elements in your floral arrangements?

Absolutely. Colour is everything! Getting the colour palette balanced is the key to designing a striking bouquet or arrangement. Beautiful berries, herbs, figs and lotus pods are just a few textural elements I love to use in designs to add interest. Those alone can change a design instantly.

What role do herbs and greenery play in your arrangements? 

Foliage and herbs can absolutely play a starring role in an arrangement. A composition of all green toned flowers and foliage can be stunning and surprising. I love to include plants such as maiden hair ferns and pots of rosemary on tables amongst vases of flowers.


Image by Blumenthal Photography

Which flowers are most often requested by brides?

Peonies and David Austin roses are always a bridal favourite… I’m not sure if that will ever change! If I had to name one, I would say peonies.

What flowers would you like to use more of in weddings?

I love it when brides suggest a colour palette for their wedding flowers and don’t limit themselves by having their mind set on a certain flower type. More often than not, the result exceeds their initial expectation. Large, graphic blooms such as water lilies, lotus flowers and vanda orchids instantly tell guests this wedding is something special.

Do you prefer to work with seasonal blooms?

Of course, I think that’s what makes working with flowers so special is that we all look forward to the sweet pea, jonquils, blooming branches and ranunculas creeping into the market, as it’s a sign of spring!

Image by Studio Something

And what about Australian indigenous flowers?

I’m finding that brides enjoy the texture and the ability to create an unusual combination of flowers by incorporating native flowers into a design. At the moment you just can’t go past the sea of pink, ruby and coral flowering gum at the market.

You offer a styling service for weddings. Can you offer us some simple styling tips for maximum impact?

Think about the vase you use for your wedding flowers. Take an arrangement to the next level by having it designed in something different other than clear glass. Wooden vessels, antique mercury glass or glass lined are some of my favourites. Finish a table setting off by placing a single bloom on each napkin for the final touch and you can never have enough candlelight!

Are there any ‘styling rules’ – for example, does the styling have to match the style of the venue?

I think using your discretion about the style you use at a venue is key. Some venues are blank canvases which can handle any style of design while others have a very particular look. Traditionally these places call for styling which compliments the space and can look stunning but if it feels right to mix it up without going over board, than do it. Set your own rules!

Can you describe a day in your life?

I’m a quick riser. I’m not one to hit the snooze button. Once the alarm goes off at 4.15am, I can be in the van and at the flower markets before 5am when it opens. The markets are vibrant, and you have to be ready to hustle! I often take a quick walk through and make a visual note of what particular elements look best with which grower, then go back and buy. I fill the van and it’s back to the studio to get to work….. but not before a takeaway coffee from my go-to cafe in Neutral Bay. With two kids, it’s always a juggle to make sure lunches are made, school drop offs are complete and then it’s time to design flowers, plan upcoming meetings with brides and chat to clients. My clients tend to have fabulous ideas which we just build on, so the collaborative creativity process is very rewarding.

Image by Gemma Clarke Photography

I would give the gift of ..biltong to my husband… he has deep South African roots!

My favourite romantic restaurant is:

Bathers Pavilion at Balmoral Beach. A casual dinner even in winter time followed by an after dinner stroll along the beach. Perfect!

Thank you Rachel for sharing your story. To find out more about Lavande Designs visit the website.

Headshot courtesy of Rachel of Lavande Designs.

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