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“Ok – family photo time!” Cue eye rolls, toilet breaks, and lots of dragging of the heels…
Just when everyone was having a lovely time celebrating the end of the wedding formalities, the wedding photographer shows up with a list as long as their arm, corralling family members away from all the fun… GROAN.

Ain’t nobody got time for that on a wedding day! But…there’s absolutely no need for it be a total drag – in fact, quite the opposite! And the resulting photos don’t have to be boring groups of stiff-necked rellies with plastered on smiles either. Think outside the box in terms of the location, positioning of the family members – and have a laugh about it!


Here are a few simple tips to make it a fun, even ‘bonding’ time, for the family to share:
Get organized…
Before the wedding day, make a (concise!) list of the groups you want to capture, being mindful of any family politics and being realistic on your priorities (is it really worth your precious time and effort to round up the 17 cousins you haven’t seen since Summer ’09..?). Rather, the sweet spot tends to be between roughly 6 and 10 group combinations (I make the list with couples in our final meeting a few weeks prior).

For example, start with your parents, add siblings, then partners and kids, and possibly grandparents. This can be repeated two to four times depending on the structure of each family.
Then – choose a photographer who’s a good fit for you and your family – as they will then strike the right balance of friendly assertiveness and organisation (and will hopefully throw in a few laughs along the way – because, no, it doesn’t have to be so serious!). Surprise the family by making it much less painful than they were imagining.


Timing
The best time to take family photos is typically right after the ceremony. After a ew congratulations from family and guests, seize the moment before people start to disperse. Your photographer will likely choose a location close by with the best light and a suitable backdrop.

I like a simple background to ensure the outfits and colours stand out, without becoming too busy. Couples can sometimes feel obligated to start directing their family immediately, but resist the urge, and allow your photographer to move you into position…and the family will follow!

Just word up the relevant family members prior, that this will be happening. Family members will enjoy watching and chatting as you begin, and can then easily pop into position when required. If you have a pro-active, loud friend or family member, you might want to give them “rounding up” duty, to help work through the list – but this can sometimes get a bit confusing.

Have a chat to your photographer, as they might find it easier to take control and therefore keep a closer track of things (this is my approach). This allows them a little more flexibility to make decisions on the fly if needed.


Enjoy it!
OK, so you’re JUST married and all you want to do is relax and celebrate…but once we get started, the family photos can take as little as 10 minutes to knock out. And then you’re free to mingle and the family is released for the rest of the night! Again, this is where it’s important to choose the right photographer for you. They need to be organised and appropriately assertive, without being in a rush. They will also help to set the tone, and ensure that everyone is relaxed and comfortable. Family photos can actually be a great opportunity to spend some quality time with your crew – enjoy it!


The ‘whole group’ photo
Is the group photo worth it? Well, it depends. Logistically, it can be a helpful way of creating a focus point to then direct family members to photos and the guests on to drinks, particularly if the timing between the ceremony and reception is tight. However, it can really break up the flow of congratulations and well wishes, which is such a joyous part of the day. So if you feel luke-warm about it – then give it a miss, and enjoy the moment! Otherwise, if you really really want a shot of your whole group in a single photo. ensure you have a photographer who can work a large crowd.


Kids
Ah, working with kids. Only one suggestion here: be flexible! If the kids are good to go – grab the opportunity before it passes, and if they aren’t, try to change up the order of things until a more suitable moment arises. Well-meaning family members can often make things more difficult by trying to cajole the kids into looking at the camera, which results in said child eventually looking at the camera…while everyone else looks at the kid! Try to just stay in your own lane and let the photographer use their tricks to make it happen.


Get creative
To work through the list of family photos in a timely and enjoyable fashion, there’s really only time for the classic line up – neat, flattering without being to staged and fussy. However, if you have a bit of time up your sleeve and have a fun, accommodating family or bridal party, you can really get creative!

One of my favourite ‘twists on tradition’ is what I call the ‘Vanity Fair’ style spread. They can take a little extra pre-organising, but are so much fun to do and the result can be quite spectacular.  I often finish my coverage with an outdoor night ‘hero shot’, and I’ve had couples bring their family or bridal party to be a part of it. This could include light painting, an epic rural or urban backdrop simply lit by stars or streetlights or a champagne spray. What a finale!


The real family photos
At the end of the day, remember what it’s all about – celebrating your marriage with family and friends. More than likely, your favourite images will be the ones you don’t even notice being taken; a kiss from dad, a cuddle from your bestie or that glance from your new spouse. So don’t get so wrapped up in getting the ‘perfect’ shot, that you miss the real moments.

Jerome Cole is a Melbourne based photographer who loves shooting real, documentary-style images as well as epic, cinematic portraits. When he’s not photographing weddings, he’ll likely be chasing his 2 small kids around with his camera – so he has a few ideas to share when it comes to approaching family photos! He has a Fine art background and has been photographing weddings all over Australia for the past 10 years.

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Choosing invitations can be a daunting task and this week on Behind the Door, I’m heading to the perfect spot to help you choose something beautiful – Paperlust in Melbourne’s inner city suburb of Richmond. Paperlust is not only a gorgeous store to visit but has a fantastic online platform meaning you can order their designs from anywhere!

Brothers Alex and James started Paperlust because they were tired of seeing young designers not being able to get their work seen and sold. “I had a background in print and publishing and my brother Alex, a background in digital, and we were looking for a solution to this problem and came across the stationery market, which had very few options other than Vistaprint and small boutique designers at the time,” says James.

Alex and James grew Paperlust without any external funding and built Australia’s first print marketplace where designers earn commission off every sale. “Paperlust looks after the marketing, printing, customer service and dispatch of the finished printed goods.” explains James, “Our goal is to make this whole process seamless and stress free for the users and we have invested heavily in world leading tech to do this.”

Today, Paperlust offer custom invitation and card designs for every occasion, including weddings, engagements, birthdays and baby showers. You can search their website by occasion but also by colour, style and print type. I asked James what his favourite designs are and he says he’s a big fan of colour stock and foil, navy and black paper stocks with gold or silver foiling, as well as white ink printing. “This type of stock and design lends itself to minimal designs, which are strong on typography,” says James.

James says calligraphy fonts are massive at the moment, mainly using foil printing and floral and botanical are always up top with designs. “The other big trend is vellum (translucent stock).” says James,  “Originally this was just for information cards and wishing wells, but more and more people are using it for the main invitation. It is a little lighter than our other stocks, (it can’t be too thick as you won’t be able to see through it!) but it is fairly rigid.” Paperlust have recently launched their range of foil print on vellum and it has gone nuts!

Something many couples are concerned about when it comes to invitations is sustainability, which is very important to the team at Paperlust. “Environmental sustainability is front of mind for all our processes.” says James “We are committed to finding better ways to deliver the world’s best stationery products and promoting mindfulness in the stationery and events industry at the same time.” I’m thrilled to hear all of Paperlust’s products are fully recyclable as well as all their packaging. Paperlust have recently teamed up with not-for-profit organisation that aims to restore forest areas and with every purchase made through our the Paperlust donate money to One Tree Planted.

As always, I want to know what James’s favourite part of running Paperlust is and he tells me “There are lots of things to love, having a creative business is incredibly rewarding in a lot of ways, however my favourite thing is we produce high-quality printed products right here in Australia and send them around the world!”

Images all by Paperlust

About Amelia Waddell of Moonstruck Bride: I’m a proud bridal store owner with a love of exploring creative spaces. Whether it’s an office, event space, workshop or retail store I love seeing how other wedding businesses create their own special magic. When I’m not fitting brides I love immersing myself in everything wedding, in the name of “research” of course.

I’m not sure if there’s anything more breathtaking than a wedding dress that’s been created from scratch using the world’s finest fabrics and is exactly what the bride envisioned wearing on her special day. We love that the talented team at d’Italia kickstarts this process for brides, and without the designer fee. This is also perfect for the majority of us who don’t fit perfectly into off-the-rack styles or for those who want something a little different. d’Italia has a huge range of designer laces and silks in their Melbourne store, plus dedicated couturiers who can turn your dream dress into a reality. Today we’re chatting to Shuchi Tabeck, one of d’Italia’s incredible bridal consultants. She runs us through the process from selecting fabrics to final fittings, and how they provide an expert service along the way.

Tell us about d’Italia…
The multi award winning d’Italia is Australia’s most beautiful bridal fabric store, that specialises in a range of services. Our main speciality is making one-off bridal couture, mother of the bride/groom couture and haute couture for any type of women’s wear our client desire.

For customers that are talented dressmakers themselves or have their own seamstress can just come in and select from our exquisite designer fabrics from Italy and top-quality bridal silks and French laces. Each season we carry all the new season French laces and fabrics that are in trend, so our brides and customers do not miss out when it comes to designing their dream wedding dress.

Where do you source your fabrics?
We source our fabrics from Florence, Italy and lace mills from France and India.

How do you stay up to date on trends?
We stay up to date through researching new trends, following the latest blogs and our favourite fashion designers.

Image: Corey Wright Photographer

What styles of wedding dresses are your fabrics turned into most often?
We design and make virtually all types of wedding dresses, from the most intricate corseted lace applique gown to the simplest tailored gown or suit. We can provide the right fabrics and dressmaker for any design our clients are after.

Tell us about a few of your favourites and why you love them…
When you are working so many beautiful fabrics and laces, it’s hard to tell which design I love most? However, having said that, I do know I have done my job properly when I assist customers with matching the right design and fabrics to suit their body type and personality, and it makes my job worthwhile to see how happy they are with the end results.

What’s a typical day at work look like for you?
Typical day at work starts with booking in design consultations for potential clients to come and meet our lovely team of bridal consultants. Consulting brides, mother of bride/groom and so forth with their designs and referring each client to one of our amazing couturiers. We work by appointments, so appointments can be lengthy process can take 1 to 2 hours or more, depending on the design. Then there are all the not so exciting admin duties we must be on top of!

Images: Alma Photography

What’s your showroom like?
Our beautiful store in Malvern is a piece of heaven for any bride or designer. If it is your first time coming in you will be in awe…

Here at our store we have on display all our stunning designer fabrics and French laces. We have a very organised system so our clients can be free to touch and feel the fabrics and laces during their consultations with us.

We also have examples of our couturier’s work in our store and on all our social media sites.

You offer one-on-one consultations. What usually happens in those sessions?
During our one on one design consultations we go through in detail the client’s ideas, inspirations, then we sketch and put all their ideas together and fine tune the design. Once we know the basic shape then the fun begins with selecting the most suitable fabrics, colours and laces for the particular design our client is after.

Does a bride need to know exactly what she wants in terms of style or are your dressmakers able to make suggestions?
Absolutely not! The bride does not need to know exactly what she wants. We do need the client to have done some research and bring in their inspirations and ideas as a starting point. However, the designing process is something we can guide people with according to their body shape and personality. The team of our couturiers are top notch designers and we hold our client’s hand all during the fittings.

Image: Ephemeral Creative

How long before her big day should a bride source from d’Italia?
We do final finishing up close to the wedding but the process usually starts 12 to 18 months in advance. As everything is hand made and designed in Melbourne, fabrics, especially laces can take up three to four months when it needs to be made and hand beaded from scratch from Europe.

After selecting the fabric, what’s the process with your couturiers? How many fittings will a bride have etc?
With our couturiers our clients have unlimited number of fittings. It will be up to the individual person and what design they are going for to determine the number of fittings required.  We don’t charge extra for fittings or alterations, it’s all included in the price given.

What about veils? Why is custom made the way to go?
Our d’Italia bridal couturiers do make absolutely beautiful custom-made bridal headpieces and veils. Many girls tend to use the elements from their lace fabrics to design a matching headpiece. Custom made veils are a better option as the tulle fabrics we carry are really good quality bridal tulles. Not like the cheap plastic tulles you may find with ready made veils. Also, we find some bride’s struggle to find a ready-made veil to match the colour or lace of their wedding dress. Having it custom made gives people the option to design their own.

Images: Sarah Jane VR

You also assist with mother of the bride dresses. What’s your main advice for the mother of the bride when it comes to choosing the best type of attire for the occasion?
I absolutely love helping mothers with their outfit. Mothers are a lot of fun and they also want to feel and look special on the big day. The best advice I always give is to always feel comfortable, confident in what you choose to wear. You can still look fabulous if you stay true to yourself and your body type. Just because you are certain body shape or age, does not mean you cannot look stylish.

What trends have you noticed for mothers of the bride in 2019?
The trends I have noticed for mothers this year are a lot of vibrant colours for summers, and for winter weddings mothers are drawn toward the textured patterned brocades and jacquards.

Can you share any lovely stories or testimonials from brides you’ve helped?
We receive so many lovely testimonials from our d’Italia brides everyday. Just visit our Instagram and Facebook page. Many lovely brides send us their photos showing off the end result of them in their custom made and designed wedding dress on their very special day!

Most memorable was a delightful lady from New Zealand, who designed her very own red haute couture wedding dress. She got married in Italy and her photos were absolutely beautiful. She selected the most stunning French red corded lace. Every visit she made to Melbourne, she made it a point to include me in every decision that needed to be made, as she said I was a big part with the design process and she could not have made it without my guidance. It was lovely to see her fittings and her dress coming to life. Her photos are again on our Instagram page.

Image: Gab Connole Photography

What’s the most important thing you’ve learnt after working with brides for so long?
The most important thing I have learnt after working with brides for so long is ALWAYS important to listen to what the bride is after and really take the time and go that extra mile to put their dream wedding dress together.

Even though we deal with brides on a daily basis and certain designs do get repetitive, we still must not forget that the experience is still new and exciting and that they are doing this for the first time. It shouldn’t be stressful, or difficult, as a bridal consultant we are there to make the process pleasant right from the beginning until the dress is completed.

What do you love most about your job?
What I love most about my job is the fact that each day is different. My job is never boring. It’s always exciting to help a new client with a brand-new design. Even if someone walks in with the same ideas, when they walk out the door, the design is always very unique! And that I love most, because why should people compromise and wear a design someone else has worn before, especially on their wedding day!

Thank you Shuchi for sharing d’Italia’s story and services with us today! Your job as a bridal consultant sounds extremely rewarding (and also a lot of fun). Looking to get your wedding dress custom made? Or something for your bridesmaid, mum or future mother-in-law? Check out the beautiful range of fabrics and find out more about d’Italia over on their website.

Headshot courtesy of d’Italia