So in case you haven’t heard, Polka Dot Bride is teaming up with Girl Friday Weddings to launch Project innovate, an education iniative for Australian wedding professionals. We’re pretty excited to announce our first speaker as the talented PR whiz Leila Khalil of Be Inspired PR. If you’d love to hear Leila share her wisdom in person, you can book tickets right here!

I’m quite exited to have Leila in Australia- I’ve been following her work and blog almost since I started blogging and she moves mountains, makes connections and gives such great business advice. I’m delighted to have her on Polka Dot Wisdom today!

Please tell me about yourself and your background?

I went to school for business/marketing, and after graduation began work at a small publishing firm. I enjoyed my job and learned a lot about the publishing world, but it wasn’t until the firm asked me to plan their event of the year that I felt the need to do something more. When I had an opportunity to move on from my position I began working in wedding industry as a wedding planner! I absolutely loved the planning side of things and learned all the in’s and out’s of the industry. It was during this time I started helping high profile wedding planners market themselves and land them media opportunities. With my knowledge in the publishing world and my love for weddings it was a natural fit.

What inspired you to get into the wedding PR industry?

I loved weddings and I loved business/marketing. While working as a planner I saw a need that no one was fulfilling – PR specifically for wedding businesses. I felt it was something that was extremely niche and specialized, and because of that would be highly successful.

What sets you apart in the PR industry?

Be Inspired PR is not only the first full-service wedding PR firm, it is also the leading. We’re blessed to work not only with some of the top wedding vendors in the industry but also with the top bridal media outlets. That is a winning combination that allows us to do what we do so successfully.

What steps do you take to get the most potential out of each client’s brief?

It always starts with communication – making sure we’re on the same page with our clients as far as expectations and goals. When the client is confident in what we can achieve for them and knows we’re truly have their best intention at heart that’s when we’re able to do our job to the best of our abilities. We make a point to always keep our clients updated and informed, letting them know all the exciting things that are coming their way!

What are some of the exciting projects you’ve worked on?

Working with US Weekly on their annual “Celebrity Wedding Giveaway” was very exciting, and we’re currently working on a few fun celeb weddings!

How do you keep on learning and evolving?

My clients are the biggest inspiration to my businesses! Each one is so different and talented, that it drives me to work hard for them. When they bring me a new project they’re interested in that’s something we’ve never done before, it pushes me to make it happen! It’s a constant process of growth and evolving.

You’re a newlywed! We’d love to hear more about your wedding and how it was being on the “other side” with vendors?

Yes! I first must say that my wedding was everything I dreamed it would be – classic, romantic, special and full of moments that my husband and I will always cherish.

I’ve been on the planning side and the marketing side of weddings, but never in the shoes of being a bride! It was definitely a valuable time, giving me insights into the client side of things that I’ve never experienced before. I was blessed though to work with people that I trust and who I know produce quality work.

What inspires you today?

First and foremost I’m inspired by the wonderful people in my life – family, friends, clients and my staff! They give me the drive to reach new heights. I’m creatively inspired by interior design magazines, cooking and traveling… I guess you could say the “nesting” life of a newlywed!

What sorts of wedding businesses are exciting you right now?

Right now I’m especially excited about the niche businesses – people who are concentrating on offering one service and getting that service right.

What trends are you seeing in the wedding industry itself?

I’ve always said that 2011 is going to be the return of classic, elegant and white wedding designs inspired by the Royal Wedding.

Thanks for joining us today on Polka Dot Wisdom Leila! We’re looking forward to hosting you in a few months! If you’d love to meet Leila and be a part of the first Project Innovate event, simply click this link to purchase your ticket!

Shoot #1 Credits:
Photographer: Elizabeth Messina
Planner: Mindy Weiss
Florals and Design: Dolce Designs
Desserts: Cupcakes Couture of Manhattan Beach
Venue: Four Seasons Beverly Hills
Stationery: Lehr and Black
Hair 7 Makeup: 10.11 Makeup
Ice Cream Cart – Sweet Lucies
Champagne – Nicolas Feuillatte
Producer: Be Inspired PR

Originally featured in Rue Magazine

Shoot #2 Credits:
Photography: Jose Villa
Planner: Canvas and Canopy
Florals: JL Designs
Desserts: Cupcakes Couture of Manhattan Beach
Venue: Shade Hotel
Stationery: Momental Designs
Hair & Makeup:10.11 Makeup
Producer: Be Inspired PR

Originally featured in Martha Stewart Weddings Brides Guide and Green Wedding Shoes



gettng married on grass0001

Image by Nerida McMurray Photography

I often photograph wedding ceremonies outdoors – Sydney is such a great place for it with our spectacular weather and scenery.  Most often this involves bridal parties standing on grass in a garden or park, and hello, guess what happens to heels in those situations … down they go.

One of my lovely brides told me about these nifty heal plugs (my words :-)) called Starlettos. I’m always surprised how many girls have never heard of them or thought of them for their wedding day, and by the time I show up to the bride prep … it’s too late to go shopping. So I’m spreading the word – these things are great and my brides have told me they work a treat!

Happy shopping 🙂
Nerida x

Ms Gingham says: Interesting … I bet they’d be handy when you’re walking on decking too! No more losing your stiletto heel between the cracks! Thanks for the tip Nerida.

Nerida’s favourite cocktail is: Summer time… Lychee Martini, Winter … glass of Kaesler or any red from the Barossa Valley

When you drive through the gates of Tumbling Waters Retreat you’ll be impressed and surprised. How can this hilltop hideaway be only an hour away from the hustle and bustle of Sydney’s CBD? Then there’s that view. The retreat looks out over the Royal National Park and beyond the trees is the ocean in all its majestic blue glory. It really takes your breath away; so no wonder this quiet spot in Stanwell Tops is becoming an increasingly popular boutique wedding location.

Owners Sonja and Andrew have worked really hard to make this place special, before and after it was first opened in July 2002. “Tumbling Waters Retreat has been designed for couples, a place to come and relax, take time out, rekindle the romance and enjoy the surrounding nature,” they say. “It has also been designed to host small, intimate weddings…we host the most beautiful weddings.”

Weddings take place in the garden or on the deck where the view will make a stunning backdrop for the photos. There’s also a picturesque gazebo complete with a signing table. With the white chairs and rose petals sprinkled down the aisle, the ceremony looks very romantic, and with the trees and the ocean, I have to say very Australian too! In case of bad weather, the backup plan is to hold the ceremony in the glass atrium that feels intimate yet grand (this is next to where the reception is held – and don’t worry, you still get a view from here).

Receptions can be either cocktail (for 20 to 100 guests) or sit down (for 20 to 90 guests). You can read more about their packages here. The food is to die for – I sampled the prawn and avocado stack with coriander and lime dressing (so light and refreshing!) plus the char-grilled fillet of beef, stuffed mushrooms, roasted potato with reduced red wine and veal jus (it was cooked to perfection and the beef melted in my mouth…yum!) You can check out other options on the menu, for cocktail and sit down, here.

The cherry on top of this place is the accommodation. Wow! They’re perfect for spending your wedding night in and I also think they’re great for honeymoons if you’re looking for somewhere secluded in New South Wales. Luxury suites boast a flat screen TV, DVD library, gourmet mini bar, marble bathroom with a large bath, brand-new sandstone fireplaces, Wi-Fi, a comfy bed that looks out onto the view and a balcony that makes you feel like you’re sitting in the middle of a rainforest. How blissful it would be to have breakfast out there the day after your wedding, listening to the birds, breathing in the fresh air and talking about the rest of your lives. Plus there’s a mineral pool on site that is said to have special healing properties.

No doubt it’s a magnificent place and if you’re after a small, private wedding with a bit of wow-factor, you should definitely consider Tumbling Waters Retreat. Sonja and Andrew are experts in hosting weddings here so you can be calm and confident that your big day will run smoothly and beautifully, and probably talked about by all your guests for many years to come!

Photos courtesy of Tumbling Waters Retreat