So much of a bride’s journey to her wedding day has a focus on that one elusive bridal gown. I am always so fascinated to learn about the life, inspiration and passion of a wedding gown designer and Pina Fiorenza with her label Fiorenza is one of those designers I’d love to meet over a glass of wine to hear her stories. Today I’m honoured to have her join us on Polka Dot Wisdom to share a few of them with us!

Tell me a little about yourself? Was there someone in your life who was especially influential in you starting on your design path?

As a young woman you never listen to your mother, and I was no exception. She begged my sister and I not to go into fashion; as a fourth generation designer she wanted us to do something different. But deep down she knew it was too ingrained in us; we both grew up to be designers. As a young girl, I was inspired by my dad’s sister – who founded the first fashion college in my ancestral region in Italy – she was such an innovator, while my mother’s perfectionist pursuit of the ultimate look also inspired my passion as a child. Even now, four years after she passed away, it continues to drive me to perfect every collection.

What was the catalyst for starting a bridal and evening gown business?

Bridal wear was not my primary passion; fashion was. There’s no gown more symbolic, more powerful or poignant, than the matrimonial gown, so I infused by love of fashion with my reverence for what the bridal gown represents.

What is the ‘design philosophy’ for your business?

Reflecting over the past two decades, the underpinning philosophy has always been the pursuit of perfection; the constant evolution with each gown that draws upon the fashion eras that came before me, constantly improving and building upon those founding principles to improve the label. My style is founded upon the principles of tailoring; even if something is pretty, it has to have a concept that makes sense. I cannot tolerate having fabric for the sake of having fabric; it all has to make the woman look her best.

Do you have a signature ‘style’? If so, how would you describe your ‘style’?

I’d describe it as ‘global glamour’. Interlaced with a sense of luxury, each gown has vintage references with a contemporary twist. Marked by lush fabrics, flawless construction and elegant embellishments, the style is also infused with European couture design principles.

Your gowns have a luxurious textured feel with draping, beading, beautiful fabrics used in interesting ways. When sketching your designs, what is it that most inspires you initially?

I travel the world for inspiration, I look back at what has been done in the past by the masters of fashion (after studying the likes of Dior, Balenciaga and Chanel for 40 years, I am still discovering inspiration from their lessons) and I interact with over 500 brides, hearing their thoughts and desires at designer days around Australia each year. In quiet moments when I sit to sketch, these inspirations culminate in the gowns I create. And that’s just the start…

How do you decide on the colours and designs for your gowns for each collection?

Each collection for me has a story with the story it comes the era, with the era, colour plays a part. Style and colour must go together, I don’t like colour without purpose.

How do you keep your ideas fresh and different each season?

I am open minded; I travel to source the best from around the world, I talk to hundreds of brides in stores around Australia and I look at what has been done, and what can be done better. I then get feedback from the people I work with, and apply a huge filter based upon what I know the core of my label to be.

There are a lot of lonely moments, a lot of thought and each gown in a true labour of love. Which is why I struggle with the concept of people pressing a button to buy a dress online. Each gown should be a story, hand designed and crafted to perfection, not the fabric equivalent of fast food.

How many collections do you design each year?

I do two collections a year, with infusion collections of award gowns, couture runway designs and special red carpet gowns for my celebrity clients.

What sets you apart from others?

It’s not something I have ever needed to be conscious of; I had been designing for many years and realised that people perceived the label as something quite apart from the other cookie-cutter styles out there. My mother always used to say that you don’t have to do what people say, but always find the time to stop and listen for a minute to what they have to say.  There’s always something to learn. Look closely at each collection and you’ll see something that has never been done before.

What do you dream for your business in three years time?

After so many years, I still dream about the future of the label. I want to improve and evolve each year; that is our legacy and it doesn’t stop until God says so.

You are stocked in most States of Australia, as well as in Auckland, New Zealand. Tomorrow, the world?

I have never wanted the world, Australia is where my heart is; where by brides are. Local acclaim – amongst the people I know and the people I design for  – has always meant more than any international recognition I have received. Australia is the world enough.   

Do you see any trends in the bridal industry, in the next 12 months?

Yes yes yes. And I think everyone will be surprised.

What are your favourite wedding ideas?

I love weddings that make it an all-day affair. Fill in that hungry, listless space of time between the ceremony and reception with coffee and cakes. The best wedding ideas are often the simplest, most basic principles of good party hosting.

Five things a bride should consider when choosing their wedding dress?

  1. Where are you getting married? The setting should suit the dress; a cathedral wedding with a bias cut gown? Not a good idea.
  2. Set out with an idea of what you like and don’t like, but be willing to try on different styles. You want to find the right gown for your body and personal style, and you might be surprised – it’s not always the one that you tore out of the magazine.
  3. Don’t sacrifice comfort for beauty. A cleverly made gown should give you an incredible sense of well-concealed support without feeling uncomfortable.
  4. Choose a boutique with staff who understand your body shape, and select a gown that accentuates, flatters and conceals where desired!
  5. Wear your gown with pride; bathe in your glory. Unless you bought online.

Thank you for joining us today Pina! Find out more about the Fiorenza label and where you can buy it by visiting the Fiorenza website.


Photograph by Studio Commercial for Wedding Gifts Direct

Giving a gift is a way for guests to celebrate your wedding and provide a contribution to your marital home. Having a registry set up is as much for the convenience of your guests as it is for yourselves, the bridal couple. Being well prepared is essential when creating your gift list to ensure that you will be receiving the gifts that you need and want the most. Here’s some top tips to keep in mind when creating your registry.

1. Be prepared – register early

Unless the pressure of wedding planning has taken over, you should still be enjoying the exciting time of your life that is the lead up to your wedding! So what are you waiting for? Registering for wedding gifts should not be the last thing that you think about when planning your wedding. The sooner you get on top of it, the more time you have to browse your options and plan what you need. You don’t need to have the complete registry set up by the time you post your invitations, but you will need to have a good selection in place for those early-bird guests like your family who will be looking to have the first pick!

2. Do it together

The gifts are for both of you, so it is important for both be involved with choosing your gifts. The easiest way to do this is to do it all online. After all, spending endless hours walking around a department store and writing down product codes is the last thing you and your fiancé want to be doing as you plan your gift list. Discuss the style of the home that you would both like, and make sure the decisions are fair so that you are both just as happy and excited about what you will be receiving. Take an inventory of what you have and see where the gaps are, as well as what items may be ready for an upgrade. Make sure there are items on your registry for both Him and for Her.

3. Register for what you really want

Don’t feel obligated to register for the usual dinnerware, glassware, cutlery and bed linen. Your guests will want to give you what you really want, as they will want you to enjoy it. A good online registry will give you a wide variety of gifts to choose from – everything from kitchenware to whitegoods, napkins to outdoor furniture … or even something unique like a chandelier or a piece of artwork.

4. Inform your guests

Initially, when it comes to informing your guests, it is perfectly acceptable to include inserts with your invitations as your guests will want to be informed about where to make purchases from your registry. If your guests do not know where your registry is, they are likely to purchase you a gift elsewhere and it may be something you do not want or need.

5. Be considerate of your guests

It is a real bonus to have your guests be able to make purchases from your registry online, especially if you have guests coming from interstate or overseas. You will also want to have plenty of options available to your guests.  If you are keen on having a Wishing Well for your guests, be mindful that some guests may not be comfortable giving cash. It is always best to have gift options for your guests as well so that those guests who would prefer to purchase you a gift do not feel as though they are being asked for money.

6. Read the fine print

When considering various wedding registry companies it is important to read in detail what the fine print says. Did you know that department stores charge a delivery fee to each guest of between $12.95 to $19.95? Were you aware that some online registry companies do not disclose all of their costs to you upfront to you?

7. Price is important

You will want your guests to feel as though they are receiving the best combination of price and customer service. To go with a heavily discounted online retailer, you may find items at low prices, but you and your guests may be in for a ride with poor customer service, and an impression of your wedding as being ‘cheap and nasty’.

8. Keep an eye on things

It is essential to keep an eye on your gift list. This way you can ensure that your list does not run out of gifts, and also that there are always a good number of options available to your guests. You will not want your guests to be unhappy with the selection available, as they are then likely to purchase a gift for you from outside of your registry, and you will then not have the option to exchange the gift if it is something that you do not want.

9. Say thanks

It is so important to be gracious to your guests and give thanks not only for the gift that they have purchased for you, but also for their presence on your special day. These should be hand written and personalised for each guest. The recommended time frame for sending these is within a month of your return from your honeymoon. When thanking for the gift that they have purchased, it is key to refer to the gift by name.

10. Enjoy!

This may seem like a strange thing to point out in top tips, but you would be surprised how many couples keep their lovely gifts in the cupboard to save for a really special occasion! Your gifts were purchased for you to be used and enjoyed, so make sure you bring these out on a regular or semi-regular basis to make the most of your gorgeous gifts!

Ms Gingham says: Some great advice on a surprisingly sensitive issue. Thanks to Wedding Gifts Direct for the tips.

About Wedding Gifts Direct: Wedding Gifts Direct was founded on a philosophy of providing the ultimate in personal service. It is based on a concept originating in the USA and UK, where brides and grooms desire a more personal experience when creating their gift registry.

Hannah Millerick - Stradbroke Weddings

It’s so inspiring when couples can immerse themselves in nature and throw caution to the wind. This, for me, is the epitome of not a care in the world.

Photography by Hannah Millerick Photography

Ms Gingham says: What a way to “wash” the stress of organizing a wedding away!

Hannah describes herself:

I’m a free spirited, fun loving person who’s good at what I do.
I’m a full-time freelancer for Hannah Millerick (da dah).
I’ve won a couple of International Aperture awards.
I’m an observer.
People fascinate me.
I was a barefoot beach bride to Adrian. We wed on Stradbroke Island with the reception in a Marquee on the beach.
We have just finished renovating our house in Bardon and LOVE IT!
Have a Weimaraner named Merlo.
I’m always on-line, while editing and love listening to Adele.
I’m all for healthy body and mind. On occasion I go on meditation retreats. Keeps me real, honest and open.

Woop, that’s it!