Ten Wedding Dress Shopping Tips

by | Bridal Fashion, Bride


Wedding gown by J’Aton Couture Photo by Marcus Bell of Studio Impressions from Athena and Dariusz’s Sophisticated Brisbane Wedding

Following on from my last wedding planning list, I thought today I’d write one for dress shopping. It’s such a big, overwhelming task that I would love to hear your own tips you’ve figured out!

1. Keep an open mind

This is always said, but its one of my top pieces of advice I have heard again and again from brides is that you should try on gowns you never thought you’d pick. Lusting after that strapless ruffly number? How about trying on the v-neck slinky gown? Sometimes our perceptions and knowledge of what we wear every day can get lost when we go bridal shopping. Love V necks and constantly wear them? Experiment with a V neck gown. Trust your designer or consultant if they suggest styles out of your ordinary. Go to the bridal salon with an open mind as you may just be surprised at what you fall in love with!

2. Break out the good stuff

If you’re a little nervous about getting half naked in front of a shop assistant, it’s going to happen at your bridal fitting because you’ll definitely need help getting your head through the many layers, zipping up the back and adjusting the gown. So here’s an obvious but probably forgotten tip – wear your best underwear! It helps if it’s nude or white coloured too so you can’t see it through the dresses. If you’re looking at trying on strapless gowns, it might pay to invest in a decent strapless bra as not all gowns have support built in. If you’re really worried, perhaps wear a slip.

3. Style it up

While full hair & makeup is not the most practical for wedding dress shopping, styling your hair in the basic style you’d like to wear and making up your face can go a long way to how you feel when you look at yourself in the mirror. If you’re planning on wearing your hair up and having a formal wedding, it pays to spend some time styling your hair into an up style and putting on a little makeup so you can get a better feel of how you might look when everything comes together.

Gown by Connie Simonetti. Photo by Deus Photography from Belinda and Christian’s Elegant Beach Wedding

4. Elevate yourself

If you think you’ll wear heels on your wedding day, bring a comfy pair along. They don’t have to be your wedding day shoes, but if you’re like me, you walk differently, hold yourself differently in heels and it makes a difference to how you look and feel in your gown. The same goes if you want to wear flats on your wedding day!

5. Give it time

The timing of your dress shopping is a pretty important point! It needs to happen after you’ve figured out the style, dress budget and timing of your wedding (because shopping for a ballgown and then deciding you’d rather marry in Thailand in a light chiffon number can be a costly change!) but you also need to give enough time for the bridal salon to make your gown or order it. Then there’s fittings! The earlier you can start, the better! Most couture bridal salons need at least five months notice, some salons ordering in gowns need at least eight. I promise that’s the only “timeline” I’ll include in this post!

6. Downsize the entourage

You know that saying’ too many cooks’? It applies to dress shopping too! Dress salons are often pretty small when there are numerous brides inside and a plethora of opinions can sometimes make your very solid decision turn into a completely confused one. Stick to a max of two or three people that you really trust the opinion of and consider inviting loved ones for fittings or different dress shopping excursion. You don’t actually have to buy a dress on your first shopping trip, or your second, or even your third. You can buy your dream dress in your own time.

7. Fill your belly

Are you one of those people who forgets to eat and then feels all funny and realises it’s because you’re actually really hungry? (Or is that just me!) Eating a decent breakfast the morning of your bridal gown trek is vital. This also goes for lunch- make sure you stop and take a break if your mind is filled with layers of white silk, a coffee and a few carbs can help clear your mind!

Gown by Johanna Johnson Photo by Pobke Photography from Emelia and Anthony’s Coastal Glamour Wedding

8. Designer date

If you’re buying a made to measure gown or one off the rack, keep your eye on their websites for designer days. Often bridal gown designers will travel the country visiting salons that stock their gowns. You’ll not only get personal attention from the salon, but the designer will be there for an extra special experience in choosing your gown and there may even be a plethora of special offers for you to choose from!

9. Leave the camera at home

The bridal gown market is a tough one and with online sales and copyright, most salons nowadays don’t allow photographs to be taken in store.  It’s best to leave the camera at home, or at least ask before you snap away at pictures of yourself in the gown. The last thing you want is to start the experience with your bridal gown shopping, by offending the bridal shop owner.

10. Celebrate

You know I’m a big believer in celebrating, so make sure you buy a bottle of bubbles, or go out for a glass after you have made that final decision. Buying your wedding dress is special. Finding the right one deserves celebrating!

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Bec and Sean’s Classic Vintage Wedding

by | Australia - New South Wales, Bride, Inspired Weddings,


Bec & Sean

I love Bec and Sean’s wedding. Not only because Bec wore a gown I have loved for ages (and it’s so much better seeing a gown on a real bride in a real wedding!) but because of all the nostalgic, family driven touches. Bec wore the same polka dot gloves her mother did on her own day. Her grandmother made her veil, her mother dreamt up the wedding cake, Bec & Sean made their wedding stationery and Bec wore the same necklace her grandmother was married in 50 years ago.

Bec explains how she met her husband. “Sean and I actually met at the age of 3! We both grew up on opposite sides of a park in the same tiny suburb and as our mothers were both nurses and were friends we became playmates. At the age of 5 we decided we should be boyfriend and girlfriend and shared our first kiss! When my parents moved to Tasmania a few years later we lost contact and by the time my family had moved back again we were at different schools and Sean’s family had also moved. 12 years later I went out one night with my sister and met Sean again through a mutual friend of my sisters. We recognised each other immediately and I just remember thinking how tall, confident and good looking he had become! We met up the following afternoon for a catch up and ended up finding so much in common and talking the entire night. By the time the sun was up we hadn’t slept a wink but were head over heels in love. Sean was in the Navy at the time and living in Wagga Wagga so we spent a lot of time apart for the first few years together but we look back on that time fondly. It was hard but it slowed that magical time at the beginning of a relationship down and we got to know each other better through long phone calls and old fashioned love letters.  After 7 ½ years together and a trip around the world living in each other’s pockets, Sean proposed. He took me to a waterfall where we both used to play as children and means a lot to both of us. Sean proposed as the sun was rising with a beautiful ring and bottle of Moet. Sean is my closest friend and together with my father, brother and grandfather, is one of the best men I have ever met. I love his playful nature, his intelligence, his confidence and his old fashioned manners (he still opens doors for me, gives me his coat if I’m cold and never lets me carry anything heavy!).”

Photography is by Welsch Photography who have captured the day with the intensity and grace it deserves. Beautiful, classic captures.

Bec wore the  Watters “Escalante” wedding gown. She remarks “It’s an ivory silk taffeta gown with a hand embroidered v-neck bodice, capped sleeves and full skirt. It also has pockets. Pockets! In a wedding dress! Genius! It’s a bit of a vintage style dress which wasn’t what I was looking for but it’s the one that felt right and the one that I felt amazing in. I  didn’t know what I wanted when I was looking for a dress. I was very open minded and tried on everything. When I saw this one I thought it was beautiful but only tried it on because my mum wanted to see me wearing it. As soon as it was on and I looked into the mirror I just knew it was the one, especially after I saw the beautiful lace back and the way the skirt fell out behind me. The give away was when my mum, the sales assistant and I all began tearing up at the same time and I knew that the search was over!”

Bec wore pink shoes from Wittner called ‘Jingle”. She remembers “Sheer Pink leather with a tiny leather bow on the front. I wanted something cute with a bit of colour that I would wear again and fell in love with these shoes! I also needed a bit of height as Sean is a little over 6 foot 2 and I’m just under 5 foot 5! Because they were leather they also stretched to fit my feet and despite the heel, were quite comfortable to wear all day.”

Bec and her bridesmaids had their hair styled by Nikki from Franck Provost Hair Bec says “She is so talented and was such a great energy to have around us on the morning of the wedding. I really wanted it up but soft and girly with a braid incorporated into it. Nikki came up with this style and I loved it” and makeup was styled  by Nicky from Inner Sense & Beauty (Engadine) 02 95486949. “She did an amazing job and is so professional. Although it did get a bit confusing having Nikki the hair stylist, Nicky the makeup artist and Niki the bridesmaid!”

The bouquets and button holes were made by Flower Factory Neutral Bay. Bec explains ” I had actually planned to make 5 bouquets and 6 button holes myself the day before the wedding with the help of Sean’s mum and sister. Thankfully Sean talked me out of it a few weeks before as I ran out of time and it really is something best left to the experts. Sean actually organised the flowers himself! He found the florist and armed with a description and some pictures I had collected arranged it all! I put my full trust in him and when the bouquets were delivered on the morning of the wedding I was in shock as they were absolutely perfect and exactly as I’d imagined them in my head! They were colourful, whimsical and the colours complemented our dresses perfectly! I was just sad I couldn’t keep them forever. I fixed an antique blue scarf clip of my mothers to my bouquet as my ‘something blue’.”

The nostalgic touches started with Bec’s hands. “I wore my mother’s gloves that she wore on her wedding day 30 years ago. My dad says that one of his strongest memories of his wedding day is holding my mothers tiny hand in these gloves. It was so special to hold my dad’s hand wearing the same gloves. I also wore my Nan’s pearls around my wrist that she wore on her wedding day over 50 years ago. She passed away 7 years ago but she and my Pa had an amazing marriage and the kind of love that has always been an inspiration to me. I’m a big fan of the vintage and feel that there is so much history and energy in old pieces as opposed to the new.

My other Nan used to make wedding dresses and made my veil for me as a gift. She hand stitched the lace around the edges and did such a beautiful job. It was a great thing to be wearing something made by her just for me.”

Bec’s bridesmaids wore pale lavender gowns from M-Label. Bec says “The design was found online and the colour and fabric chosen by me but made by M-Label.  It was really hard to find the right dress that fit all the girls and didn’t cost the earth so we had them made. M Label makes the dresses onshore in Sydney which was reassuring. There are a lot of designs on the website to choose from or you can find your own. Choose your fabric and colour, send through all the measurements and the dresses are made and delivered within weeks. I gave the girls Tilkah pink swarovski crystal stud earrings. The dresses had some crystal beading around the waist and the girls were so beautiful that they really didn’t need more than that.”

The couple chose a traditional chapel for their ceremony. Bec explainsWe were married at Monte Sant Angelo’s Chapel which is in the grounds of Mercy College in North Sydney. I was visiting various churches in Sydney and when I walked into this one I just felt completely at home. It’s a very feminine church with natural lighting, colour and was just the right size. It wasn’t until afterwards that I found out my 85 year old grandfather used to serve as an alter boy here when he was a young boy!”

Bec and Sean hired Alchemy A Cappella for their ceremony music. Bec notes “Alchemy is a beautiful A Cappella choir with 12 -14 members lead by the very talented Ronelle Knowles, who is a friend of my mothers. With their help we chose some amazing gospel style music full of joy and energy. They were so professional and you can see in every one of their faces that they love what they do. They sang a few songs as the church was filling up and then began their own arrangement of Ben Harpers ‘Beloved One’ sung A Cappella as I walked down the aisle. Alchemy doesn’t use any instruments except their voices and this just sounded incredible in the chapel. At the end of the ceremony they burst into ‘Oh Happy Day” full of clapping and dancing. Even I couldn’t help having a little groove on my way up out of the chapel!”

Bec says “Our wedding was intimate, joyful and a true celebration of love in every way.  Visually it was a bit vintage, a bit colourful, a bit traditional, and lots of fun!” . The couple were married by Father Patrick Vaughn. Bec remarks “Patrick is a good family friend and has watched our relationship grow from the beginning. He kindly donated all his time and it was an amazing experience to be married by someone who we call a friend and who knows us both really well.

Bec recalls one of the moments of the ceremony. “Our priest forgot our first kiss! I didn’t notice but Sean sure did! He whispered to me as we were preparing to sign the register “when do I get to kiss you?” I was doing my best not to laugh and realised we’d missed the part in the ceremony where it was supposed to happen. We signed the register and Sean whispered to Fr Patrick that we’d forgotten it. He looked at us with a smile in his face and said “well we had better do that next”! We walked back to the front of the altar and Fr Patrick announced to all our loved ones that Sean had just reminded him that he hadn’t kissed his bride! Everyone cracked up as we had our long awaited first kiss!”

Bec recalls “One of my happiest memories is Sean and I walking arm in arm out of the chapel followed by our bridal party and the choir singing ‘Oh Happy Day’ at the top of their lungs! They followed us up the corridor outside the chapel and into the sunlit garden. I just remember holding my new husband’s hand, surrounded by the choir singing to us and thinking that it couldn’t be possible to feel any happier than I did at that moment. Oh happy day indeed!”

Of their photographers, Bec says “Bec and Karl Welsch are so talented and highly professional without being overbearing or pretentious. They were a perfect fit in every way with us and our wedding as they really understood what we were looking for, had a sense of humour and shared a mutual dislike of ‘table shots’! Their photographs and the way they use light is incredible and they were such a pleasure to be around all day. They somehow found a way to disappear most of the time. I can hardly remember seeing them!”

Bec and Sean chose the Royal Automobile Club of Australia (RACA) for their wedding reception. Bec says “We though this place was a bit of a hidden gem and was first and last place we looked for a reception venue! It’s got such a classic old vintage charm to it and the walls are covered in old war and car memorabilia. It’s a beautiful sandstone heritage listed building and the club has been there since 1903. There are two rooms available for receptions and we booked the Macquarie Room. This is a grand old ballroom with high arched windows, chandeliers and wood panelled walls. One of the best things about booking the RACA was that we were given an entire floor to ourselves which meant we had three very different rooms. One which was smaller and more intimate for our guests to enjoy pre dinner drinks and canapés and the other was a cosy little room with couches and books that the bridal party used to relax before the reception began. We had some time here to sit down, enjoy a glass of champagne and really just catch our breath before the reception started.”

The gorgeous floral centrepieces were styled by Designs by Boo Shi. Bec recalls “The cost was included in the wedding package with the RACA. This was great as they coordinated everything directly with the RACA and all I had to do was tell them what I wanted! They were amazing to work with and were happy to help work within the budget that we had. The centrepieces were 3 different glass vases filled with a variety of country garden style blooms in shades of white and lilac/pink.”

Bec remembers, “Our gift table had a collection of framed pictures and two custom made posters that I had ordered on Etsy. The first said “having a place to go is a home, having someone to love is a family, having both is a blessing”. The other said “this is our happy ever after” and really is how we feel about our marriage. Also on the gift table was our “guest book”. For this I had a big empty jar and a box full of coloured squares of paper. Beside this I had two sundae glasses filled with pens and coloured pencils. Guests took paper and a pencil and wrote a message for the bride and groom before placing it in the jar. I liked this idea as it means guests could write their messages seated at their tables and not have to stand at the gift table. I later scrap booked these messages into a photo album.

I also had framed photographs of my parents and Sean’s parents wedding day and a picture of my Nan and Pa’s wedding day. This was great because you could see my mum wearing the gloves and my Nan wearing the pearls that I was wearing. Sean and I are lucky enough to have parents who are still very much in love and have been married over 30 years. Theirs and my Nan and Pa’s marriage of over 50 years is what Sean and I aspire to have and we have both learnt a lot from observing our own parents love for one another.”

Bec remarks, ” One of the things I loved about our wedding was having all our dearest loved ones in the one place at the one time. The love and positive energy around us on our wedding day was something we just were so blessed to experience and just added to the overwhelming happiness we felt. I can remember taking a few minutes during dinner when everyone was busy eating and chatting away to just look around and take it all in. I could see a room full of all the people Sean and I love most in the world, and sitting next to my new husband I just felt like the luckiest girl on the planet.”

The sweet treats were handmade. “My mum made the cake. She dreamt it up, practiced and made it not only look beautiful but taste amazing! She made a 3 tier French Vanilla Gateau iced with vanilla butter cream icing. She decorated it with silk flowers and ribbon and surrounded it with tea lights and the beautiful Vera Wang cake knife and champagne flutes she and my dad gave us as an engagement present. There was a whole lot of love in that cake!

Our favors were brightly coloured old fashioned hard boiled lollies I bought from Goody Goody Gumdrops Sean and I bought striped and polka dotted fabric which we sewed into small bags. My bridesmaids and I filled these with the lollies (and taste tested them of course)! My mum, sister and Sean’s mum and sister then helped to tie them all with lilac ribbon and attach tiny silver bells and the name of each guest so they doubled as the place cards. They looked adorable and added a pop of colour to the tables! We also scattered edible conversation heart lollies all over the tables for added colour and a bit of fun.”

Bec says, “The speeches at the wedding were incredible. They were each so different but so personal and touching. It was my husband’s speech though that absolutely took my breath away. I could have exploded with how much love I felt for him in that moment! I was so proud of him for his raw honesty and emotion in talking about his feelings for his family, friends and for me. A few people have said afterwards that it went down as the best grooms speech they had ever heard and I’d have to agree. ”

For their first dance, Bec recalls, “We danced to ‘Angel’ by Jack Johnson played by the band. Sean and I were camping a few months before the wedding and while listening to this song in front of our campfire, Sean said that if he had a musical bone in his body and could write a song about me then this one would be it. I was so touched that our first dance was decided there and then. We didn’t plan or practice our steps as we wanted it to feel natural. It’s strange but we have no recollection of anyone else in the room while we danced to this.”

Congratulations Bec & Sean! Thank you for sharing your wedding day with us! Thank you also to Welsch Photography for sharing today’s photographs with us!

Photographer: Welsch Photography / Bride's Dress: Watters "Escalante" / Bride's Shoes: Wittner Shoes / Bride's Jewellery: Vintage / Groom's Attire: Studio Italia / Bridal Party Flowers: Flower Factory Neutral Bay / Reception Flowers: Designs by Boo Shi / Bridesmaid Dresses: M-Label / Bridesmaid Accessories: Tilkah / Hairstylist: Nikki from Franck Provost Hair / Makeup Artist: Nicky from Inner Sense & Beauty (Engadine) 02 95486949 / Invitations & Stationery: Handmade by the bride & groom / Ceremony Venue: Monte Sant' Angelo's Chapel North Sydney / Reception Venue: Macquarie Room, The Royal Automobile Club of Australia / Ceremony Officiant: Father Patrick Vaughn / Ceremony Musicians: Alchemy A Cappella / Band: Press Club Band / Wedding Cake: Bride's Mother

Katherine and Jeremy’s Traditional Melbourne Wedding

by | Australia - Victoria, Bride, Inspired Weddings,


Katherine & Jeremy

Katherine & Jeremy’s classic Melbourne wedding has all the classic element and all the little touches that make it personal to their sunny lifestyles. Katherine and Jeremy even met before the ceremony in one of Melbourne’s graffiti ridden lane ways and captured the best of Melbourne’s backdrops!

Katherine explains how they met. “We both met when we were 18 years old, when Jeremy moved out of home with  friend of his. There was no funny business back then as both were in long term relationships but we were friends for a few years until we fell out of touch. 5 years later we ran into each other at a party and despite living in Sydney at the time, I knew it was love and I quickly packed my stuff up and moved back to Melbourne and straight in with Jeremy.”

Photographs are by Sunny & Scout Photography. I love Lou’s fresh and fun captures with a ton of personality and no lack of moments.

Miss Aimmey styled Katherine’s hair and makeup.

Katherine wore a strapless gown by Zhanel Couture with shoes from Piotr Antoni and jewels by Georgini. The yellow and white floral arrangements for the bridal party were styled by Flower Trends by Elena.

The couple met in the city for photographs before their ceremony which turned into one of Katherine’s favourite moments of the day. She remembers “I loved having a ‘first look’ before we got married. I was originally hesitant because it broke tradition but I am so glad we did this and it didn’t detract at all from the excitement of walking down the aisle. We had a 6pm ceremony so it was also good opportunity to have photos before hand and we have a mix of urban versus golf/bush photos.”

Katherine says “Our wedding day was beautiful, relaxing, intimate and so much fun! ”

Katherine and Jeremy held their wedding ceremony and reception at Huntingdale Golf Club. Katherine explains “Huntingdale Golf Club is very special to us. We are both keen golfers and are members there. But that is not the only reason we chose this venue. It has a beautiful rose garden which was perfect for our outdoor ceremony, plus while we had our hearts set on the terrace the indoor option was just as good.  The food at HGF is exceptional and Marg Monaghan who is the Functions Coordinator there is so creative and accommodating. I left her completely in charge of the Lolly Buffet and as the photos prove – it was just stunning!”

Katherine walked down the aisle to “Sail Away” by David Gray.

Katherine remembers one of the funnier moments of the day “Having a beautiful long train is great, but just as I entered the archway, my dress blew into the rose bush and I got caught (TWICE!) – the photos and video captured my shocked face perfectly.” The couple were married by Alan Jacobs of Seven Blessings.

The wind proved an extra addition to the unpredictability of the wedding day. Katherine says, “We were praying for a balmy summer’s evening, unfortunately we forgot to pray for no wind. Lucky for us the chuppah stayed in the ground and despite having to move part of the dance floor inside we still had such a great night!”

Of their photographer, Katherine says “Louise from Sunny & Scout Photography was AMAZING! We originally found Louise on Polka Dot Bride and after seeing her beautiful photos (and getting to know her via her blog) we immediately knew we had to have her. We did an Engagement Shoot in St Kilda & Melbourne City and the photos were so awesome we couldn’t wait for our wedding photos. Louise was incredibly professional, friendly and super quick to deliver us our photos. We are just so happy she does family photos as well as we need a reason to use her again in the future!!”

The stationery for the wedding day was by Papyrus Design.

The cupcake wedding cake was made by Sophisticakes. Guests received cupcakes as favors.

The reception has the couple’s sweet yellow and while colour scheme. Katherine explains “I had spent 7 months addicted to reading wedding style blogs, buying all the wedding magazines, trolling Etsy and local markets. We had a DIY candy buffet, table numbers, name banner (thank you to my wonderful sister in law), put up all the lanterns (thanks to my wonderful cousin – owner of Laulukatu).”

The couple’s first dance was to “Turn Me On” by Norah Jones.

Congratulations Katherine and Jeremy! Thank you for sharing your wedding with us! Thank you also to Sunny & Scout Photography for today’s photographs!

Photographer: Sunny & Scout Photography / Bride's Dress: Zhanel Couture / Bride's Shoes: Piotr Antoni / Bride's Jewellery: Georgini / Groom's Attire: Hugo Boss / Hairstylist: Miss Aimmey / Makeup Artist: Miss Aimmey / Bridal Party Flowers: Flower Trends by Elena / Reception Flowers: Provided by Huntingdale Golf Club / Invitations & Stationery: Papyrus Designs / Venue: Huntingdale Golf Club / Ceremony Officiant: Alan Jacobs of Seven Blessings / Music: Tim Mitchell & the Tone Tone Semi Tones / Wedding Cake: Sophisticakes / Trans[prt: Lifestyle Limousines of Melbourne / Lanterns: Laulukatu

Collette Dinnigan ‘Enchanted’ Bridal Gowns

by | Bridal Fashion, Bride


Isabella Beaded silk crinkle gown

Ah Collette Dinnigan, your gowns never fail to have me lost in dreams of beauty and elegance and it appears the Dotties love you just as much, which is why I am so excited to show the 2012 Collette Dinnigan “Enchanted” wedding gown collection.

In true Collette style, the gowns are simply beautiful with classic cuts, understated shapes and interesting, elegant details like beaded straps, crystal dragonflies, beautiful laces or interesting panels, Collette’s gowns are nothing if not sophisticated, understated beauty.

Chantelle V-neck luxe silk satin panelled gown, Olivia Silk satin asymmetric embellished gown

Gisele Beaded straps and dragonfly empire line silk crinkle gown

Mirabella Tier French corded lace bodice with tulle and silk crinkle skirt, Mirabella French corded lace with tulle neckline and lace train

Pearls & Palms beaded bodice with silk organza and silk satin skirt

Photos by Collette Dinnigan