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Dana and Tim’s Intimate Malaysian Wedding

by | Australia - Victoria, Bride, Inspired Weddings,


Dana and Tim

The wedding of Dana and Tim intrigued me. I am always fascinated by different cultures and how the wedding celebrations are held – different ceremonies, different forms of dress. It was delightful to see that Dana and Tim put their own spin on their Malaysian wedding, which was held in Melbourne in a very normal backyard and as Dana says “under a classic Hills Hoist”. Today’s wedding is full of the intensity that a wedding ceremony brings with the careful acts of paying homage to the culture of the bride and groom.

Dana explains how they met. “We’ve known each other since high school – we were in the same class in Year 7, but we never took notice of each other! Years passed but we got together in year 11, and have been since.”

Photos today are by Daniel Bilsborough, Daniel has taken great care in these images. Each one seems to carry the heavy weight of importance of the day.

Dana and Tim started off getting ready at home with Dana’s hair styled by Marissa Margaritis of Cristique Hair and Beauty (03 9598 1213 ) and makeup by  Casey Malady

For the ceremony, Tim went barefoot and wore a traditional outfit. He explains “I wore a traditional Malay outfit and sarong that Dana’s Aunty had bought from a store in Malaysia. The songkok (traditional Malay hat) was custom made in Malaysia also.”

The couple held their wedding in a Melbourne backyard, Dana remarks “Our wedding was a good old backyard do under the Hills Hoist! Our fathers worked on moving the gazebo and the bamboo fencing, and my mum spent a long time fixing up the garden in the months leading up to the wedding – it helped that it was raining almost every day in the weeks beforehand as it helped make the garden beautiful and lush with greenery (we were told that of the last 12 weeks, it rained every day of the weekend except three of those days – including ours!) .

Our guests sat on Ikea picnic blankets and the draping was bought in giant rolls from Super Cheap Fabric (03 9530 4478)-we hunted down the $2 a metre rolls! We found a Chinese shop in Box Hill that sold the paper lanterns and we bargained them to a cheaper price to buy in bulk. Tim is mad about origami so he set about folding 100 cranes that were hung around the garden and then cut down after the ceremony and handed out with the cupcake bonbonierre at the end of the day. We bought jars from op shops with the idea to hang tea light candles in them around the garden. However we realised you wouldn’t be able to see much during the day, so we alternated cranes and roses in the jars.”

Dana wore a gown made by her grandmother, she explains “My grandmother was an avid seamstress and would often make traditional dress for her children and grandchildren. As she got older and sewing became difficult, she would occasionally get dresses tailor made for my mother. Mum just happened to find this in the back of her wardrobe and asked if I would like to use it for the wedding – I loved it on first sight. It turned out to be the last dress my grandmother designed and had made for my mother before she passed away.

My mum tailored it herself to fit my measurements. I adored it on its own, but Mum insisted it needed a bit of sparkle if it was to be a wedding dress. I finally gave in to very subtle detailing! Mum sewed on the pearls from one of the decorative pillows from her own traditional wedding 30 years ago, as well as crystals and beads from her own collection. I found the silk and lace edging for my veil from Spotlight in Box Hill – it was sewn by Melissa of Think Sew, Carnegie (03 95695033)”

For her bridesmaids, Dana asked her sisters, she explains, “My  bridesmaids were my sisters. We had no specific dresses for them, but we asked all immediate family members on both sides to wear shades of blue and green.”

The couple had a traditional Muslim ceremony performed by Imam Majidih from Lysterfield Mosque.

For their wedding rings, made by Steve Milonas, Dana says “We were referred to Steve through friends of ours who had just gone through a wedding themselves. He was wonderfully helpful in the process of designing our own rings.” Tim adds “The yellow gold actually comes from my Grandmother, who brought this ring down from Estonia with her to Australia, and passed it on to Mum. She passed it onto us and with her blessing, it is a part of our wedding rings. ”

During the signing, the couple’s  talented friend Christian Meyer performed some original music on his guitar.

The couple chose to only have a bouquet for Dana and corsages for the families. Dana explains “Cobie from Flowers of Canterbury was terrific and created the corsages for our families. We bought the peony roses from Dandenong Market and I created the bouquet myself the night before.”

Of their photographer, Dana says “In the beginning, we weren’t going to have a specific photographer – we simply didn’t have the budget for it, and we knew our siblings and friends were fantastic photographers themselves. We were going to set up a Facebook page where everyone would upload their photos from the day and we would select our favourites to create our own wedding album. One day, Tim came across a status update of an acquaintance through basketball that said her brother was looking for willing participants to help him build a wedding portfolio. We met up with Daniel and had a long chat – we knew instantly that the three of us were on the same page. From the beginning he explained to us that his photography style was about telling a story and catching moments as they happened, he wasn’t really into forced poses and awkward smiles. Natural, spur of the moment and real.  We jumped on board straight away! His easy going personality fit in so well with our family and guests, it was as if we’d all known him for a long time. Throughout the day, Daniel was invisible in the absolute best way possible – he never stood in the way of our guests or shouted out orders for poses or people. Yet he was always there every time we needed him for the group shots that we wanted – that picture with Grandma, one more shot with the work people before they left, a silly pose with the cousins. For our set shots in Wattle Park, his only instruction was ‘Just walk around guys, and I’ll let you know if I need you!’ Once or twice he directed us to specific spots around the park that he had discovered when he did some reconnaissance the week before, but even then we just chatted naturally and hardly posed. Daniel is professional, humble and extremely talented, and rarely a day goes past where I do not recommend his website and his services to anyone in need.”

After photographs, the couple returned home for a feast. Dana remarks “Our mums took care of the food, of course! Many friends and relatives, young and old, were recruited as helpers. Traditional foods and contemporary delights kept everyone happy. Later in the evening, we invited our guests and extended friends to New Guernica (Little Collins St, Melbourne) for delicious dumplings and Sunday drinks.”


Congratulations Dana and Tim! Thank you for sharing your wedding day with us on Polka Dot Bride! Thank you also to Daniel Bilsborough for sharing today’s photographs.

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Ali and Lee’s Colourful Teepee Wedding

by | Bride, Inspired Weddings, International,


Ali and Lee

Sometimes, love is just the tip of the iceberg for a completely awesome wedding and by that I mean, not only are Ali and Lee madly in love with a beautiful story to tell, but they had their wedding reception in a teepee. Yes, a teepee and for that reason alone, they themselves are awesome – wouldn’t you agree? Today’s wedding took place in England, but as with all Australians who end up in England, we shall call Lee and claim him as our own! Hence the beauty of this English/Australian celebration!

Ali explains how she and Lee met. “We met in a bar in London on the night of the football world cup final. My best friend had come in to see me at work earlier that day and said that she had seen a glint in my eye so she knew something was going to happen! Must say I didn’t think that the something was going to be that I would meet my future husband!! Lee had just arrived from Australia to start his stint in the UK after doing a bit of traveling around Europe and was looking for fun. I was going through a difficult time and wanted some distraction so we met each others needs perfectly! I eventually followed him out to Australia (although I always said that I was just going to say hi but he says he knew I would stay). He proposed 3 years after that in the airport car park at 4.30 am on Christmas day.”

Photographs today are by Richard Ford. I love Richard’s fun and vibrant captures from today’s wedding- it’s an adventure to capture a teepee wedding and I think Richard showcased the atmosphere perfectly with his photos.

Ali wore a knee length gown from Thurley with beautifully coloured shoes from Ted Baker. Jennifer Lucy Makeup styled all of the hair and makeup.

Ali and Lee married at Ali’s parents’ home in England. Ali remarks “I had always wanted to get married at home (wherever home was, we had moved quite a bit) in my parents’ garden. They had just bought a new house in Rogate, UK with big plans to renovate inside, redo the roof and redesign the garden when Lee popped the question. I thought that we would have to rethink the venue as it was going to be a massive job and we weren’t in the country to help but they wouldn’t hear of it. They were amazing and after a massive 9 months of very hard work and dust, they managed to pull it off completely and the finished result was beautiful. We actually only saw the house and garden for the first time a week before the big day and it was even better than expected.”

Ali explains the mood for the day “The theme for the day was colour. Everything was based around pink, orange, red and yellow. The groom wore an orange tie and the grooms men had hot pink ties which matched the dresses of the bridesmaids. My Dad wore an awesome yellow bow tie. Even the groom’s Dad wore a pink tie. It was fab, everyone made such an effort”. Ali gave her bridesmaids handmade coloured earrings from Linkeldesigns.

Ali was walked down the aisle by her father and the ceremony was performed by “An awesome man called Jim Trimmer which we found off a Humanist website. We picked him as he seemed good fun (we weren’t wrong) and had nicknamed himself the flying humanist while family and friends played the tunes and pitched in.

Ali explains “My Aunt and Uncle are professional musicians and  they played three jazz pieces throughout the ceremony. One of which was composed especially for us by my uncle which was based on a relationship – the happy times, the difficult times and the make up times. Hannah, a lovely friend who I used to work with in London did my beautiful bouquet and the flowers for my bridesmaids.”

Ali remarks “We actually had two parts to  the wedding as we had to do the legal bit in Australia before we left. The first part was done as quietly and as basic as possible at a registry office in Perth, WA. We only had 2 witnesses and it happened very quickly, followed by cocktails, champagne and pizza to celebrate!

The second part was in West Sussex, UK at my parents house which was organised over many, many Skype sessions! We wanted the day to have a real party atmosphere and for everyone to have a good time. It was at the end of summer and as the ceremony was held in the garden the weather had to be good. Luckily my Dad’s tradition of burying a silver spoon in the garden to ward of bad weather worked. (It poured the next day!)”

Of their photographer Richard, Ali says “He was awesome. He was recommended to us by a photographer that a friend had used for their wedding. We wanted to have a relaxed feel and for the pictures to be a story of the day/ party and definitely not just about us.

Neither of us wanted to be having to wait for ages for all the family shots to be taken as we wanted to spend more time with our guests and he understood that. They were done in record time. He was very professional but had a quirky sense about him that made it all really good fun. The pictures are even better than we thought, I love looking at them and seeing bits that we missed and remembering the day through them. He captured the day, the people and the colours perfectly.”

Ali describes the day as “It was the brightest, happiest day filled with the best people, lots of dancing, laughter and colour.  Massive cliche but it really was a truly wonderful day.”

The second theme may have won my heart a little! Ali says “Shoes also became a theme of the day… I had wanted to have coloured shoes and found pink shoes with red bows which I loved but the real shoes of the day were those of my older sister. They were from a different world with wings and feathers! Amazing!

We had teepee tents in the garden for the reception and they had such a magical feel to them. It was a bit different to the usual white marquee. I think what made them so special was that they had to be erected around a tree which my sisters nicknamed the tree of love!” The couple hire the teepee tents from Beautiful World Tents.

The flowers were beautifully coloured. Ali explains “As I am a florist the flowers were quite important. We had domes of dahlias, one colour per vase that formed a line down the centre of the tables arranged by a local florist called The Blacksmith’s Daughter. The napkins and water glasses were coloured as well.

For their registry, Ali and Lee did something personal, Ali says”We decided to set up a charity page so that our guests could donate to the MS Society both in the UK and Australia. It was a token for my Mum who had suffered from the disease.”

The couple had their wedding catered by Jacaranda Catering. Ali says “It was delicious.  Cheesecake was a must!”

Ali remembers her favourite part of the wedding day as, “Having all of our families together. One sister lives in New Zealand, my brother lives in New York and my other sister lives in the UK so it was so fantastic being together again after 2 years. There was such a party atmosphere in the week leading up to the wedding as gradually more and more of the Aussies arrived.

We had 20 people from the Australian side  make it over and that was amazing. It is such a distance and for there to be so many that made the effort to come was really special. It was a perfect way to catch up with friends and family.”

Their first danced was a classic, but humorous affair, Ali says “My Dad nicknamed it the clutch and shuffle as we were both pretty nervous about it. We danced to  ‘Let’s stay together’ by Al Green which felt very romantic. In the end it went really well and we were able to do something that resembled dancing. Thankfully, everyone joined us on the floor just before we reached the edge where we would have had to have maneuvered a turn, little bit daunting with everyone watching!”


The music kept guests on the dance floor all night light, Ali recalls “Lee loves music and I love dancing so we wanted to make sure we found the perfect band. It was a really difficult decision as it could make or break the evening!  Finally we decided on a band called “SuperNova” who had played at my sister’s wedding a few years ago. They had played at a number of my sister’s friends weddings too and had rave reviews so we booked them. They were fantastic and did not disappoint.

Their breaks were filled by my brother in law who was nicknamed DJ Supreme and kept everyone on the dance floor. It was so much fun and the floor was packed throughout the evening!”
Congratulations on this new stage in your lives Ali & Lee! Thank you for sharing your story with us! Thank you also to Richard Ford for sharing today’s images!

Photographer: Richard Ford / Rentals: Beautiful World Tents / Bride’s Dress: Thurley / Bride’s Shoes: Ted Baker / Bridesmaids Jewellery: Linkeldesigns / Flowers: The Blacksmith's Daughter / Officiant: Jim Trimmer / Music: SuperNova / Catering: Jacaranda Catering

Wedding ‘Dress Code’ Guide

by | Bridal Fashion, Bride, Bridesmaids


I’ve started decoding dress codes over on Polka Dot Groom and I’ve had a few requests to decode them for the ladies too. I thought it might be a helpful guide, especially with wedding season upon us! You know the couple best though, so if there are variations or you know them to mean something different in your circles, then wear what is most appropriate! (Thank you, Captain Obvious!)

Elenora gown from Rachel Gilbert, Simple Glamour earrings from Mimco, Wonder clutch from Mimco, QOPH heels from Mollini

White Tie

The most formal dress code of them all, white tie demands a floor length evening gown with a glamorous edge. Accessories should be decadent – beautiful earrings and bracelet or a beautiful beaded necklace. Wear heels in a evening style (like metallic or silk) to match the formality of the occasion while keeping your makeup and hair pristine and beautifully made up.



Anywhere But Here frock from Alannah Hill, I’m Over The Moon headband from Alannah Hill,  crystal dome studs from Mimco, Sparkle high heel from Witchery

Black Tie

A step down from white tie, black tie invites the wearer to don a floor length evening gown or glitzy, elegant cocktail gown in an evening fabric – such as silk, chiffon or even taffeta. The dress should be a dark colour or be matched with dark accessories. Keep accessories in the after 5pm style- sparkly, dramatic and pretty and add beautiful shoes. Keep hair beautifully styled and makeup as if you were heading out after dark.

Halli halter dress from Forever New, Chandeliers At Dusk earrings from Samantha Wills, Moonsky hardcase clutch from Mimco, Try shoes from Wittner


A step down from black tie, the formal dress code suits pretty cocktail dresses in beautiful fabrics – silks & chiffon are perfect for this. Formal allows a little more flair than black tie, so  add colour through metallics and pretty accessories.


Sunset ruffle dress from Gorman, Floral Divina Choker from Mimco, Eloise heels from Diana Ferrari

Lounge Suit/Semi Formal

A sweet cocktail dress or dressy skirt and top are just right for a “Lounge Suit” or semi formal coded wedding. A touch of fun can be added with a bold piece of jewellery or a vibrantly coloured accessory – like an orange clutch bag. If the wedding is an evening celebration, think of darker colours. Heels are a must.


Chevron stripe dress from Country Road, Sachie mixed stone drop earrings from Forever New, woven wallet from Gorman, Meg sandal from Witchery


Feel free and comfortable when dressing for a casual wedding. A lovely summer dress (or even a maxi) in a light fabric like cotton or jersey. Flat shoes or wedges and a colourful piece of jewellery to style it up.

Kim and Dean’s New York Engagement Session

by | Bride, Engagements


Kim and Dean

To celebrate the fun competition we have running for Jen Huang’s first Australian workshop, we’re sharing the New York (New York you are on my mind!) shoot of Kim and Dean shot by Jen on the blog today! There’s something about New York taxi cabs and the sophistication of the city that sucks me in – every single time.

Kim explains why she and Dean chose New York for their photographs. “Dean and I had planned a summer wedding in the Rhode Island beach town where my parents have a home. Because all our wedding photos would be there, we really wanted to have engagement photos taken in the place where we met and made our first home together: New York City. We live near Central Park and it was cherry blossom season. We also took photos in Columbus Circle where we had our first date. It was just one of those perfect New York afternoons and Jen Huang did a fabulous job capturing it all.”

Kim and Dean met through a friend and their story? Well I’m not one to gush, but I think Dean’s response to Kim might have made me cry, just a little! “I met a lovely couple at my sister’s birthday party and after just a few minutes, they told me I had to meet their dear friend. They said he was South African, handsome, and lived in New York City (where I also lived). That night they called Dean and told him they met his wife. We met and were quickly smitten. One night months later, as we fell asleep, Dean blurted out, “I’m falling madly in love with you.”  I had been desperately waiting for those words and I told him I was falling in love with him, too. Without missing a beat he whispered, “I said madly.” We now say it daily to each other and it is the inspiration for my blog which is a collection of all other things that I love madly. Food. Travel. Style. DIY Projects. For the Home. And often, so much more.”

Dean proposed at Christmas time, Kim recalls ” I was antsy for a proposal. It’s true that you fear it’s never going to happen until the moment it actually does. It was the holidays and we were exchanging gifts. I can’t even recall what I gave him, but he gave me a Kindle e-reader. He told me to turn it on and test it out. Many titles were already downloaded and I sort of laughed at their cheesy titles. “Every Day I Love You More and More,” “Now and Forever,” “Meant to Be.” But, then I got to “The Big Question” and “Happily Ever After” and I looked up to find Dean on one knee with a beautiful engagement ring and tears in his eyes.”

Photographer: Jen Huang Photography
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