Originally posted on Polka Dot Bride on June 18, 2009 


Today’s expert is the supremely talented Joy Morris (pictured above right with Cathy Thomas), co designer and director of Australian couture bridal house Pallas Bride. Joy Morris has been in the fashion industry for over 25 years and spent twelve years as a fashion buyer.

Pallas Bride create soft, romantic beautiful gowns which compliment the curves of the female body. Pallas Bride have dressed celebrities at award shows (most recently Fifi Box and Kylie Gillies at the Logies) and have even dressed TV brides such as Amanda Vale (played by Holly Brisley) on Home & Away.

I interviewed Joy recently to talk about the opening of the new Melbourne boutique Pallas Bride and the Pallas Bride ready-to-wear collection Ruby Pallas.

What inspired you to start creating wedding gowns rather than other areas of design?

Wedding gowns are a woman’s dream, what better piece to create. Also, we’re not just designing traditional wedding gowns, ours are quite fashion-forward.


Where do you draw inspiration from?

Old Hollywood glamour, digging into the archives of some of the top designers throughout the world and Haute couture fashion. I’m constantly inspired to find a way to bring that old-style glamour into a modern context and make it relevant to today’s bride.

What are brides looking for in the upcoming season?

Soft, flowing gowns inspired by romance and with a strong emphasis on glamour.

What should a bride start with when searching for her wedding gown?

Research through bridal mags, websites, recommendations or anywhere else you can get the information from. This will help them decide which bridal house designers they are drawn to. From this research they can go and see the 3 or 4 that they are drawn to with some reference images about what brought them there.

What are the steps are involved when having a couture gown designed by Pallas Bride?

After the initial appointment where you will have discussed styles and shapes with us we would then begin honing the design. Many of our brides love many features of our various samples so we specialise in taking different aspects of gowns to create their perfect dress. For a couture gown you would then have 5 fittings and a beautiful dress rehearsal not long before the big day. The most important thing is to find the right shape for each bride and then making it work for her with styling elements. We want every bride to look perfect.


What are the features of your favourite wedding dress?

My favourite dress is always the next one I create so features are always changing. I do always love the unexpected surprise – a feeling of Paris meets Pallas that is one of our signatures.

‘Ruby Pallas’ is Pallas Bride’s made to measure line. What was your inspiration behind this?

We wanted to be able to meet a particular price range without compromising on the quality of our beautiful gowns or service. The Ruby Pallas range allows most girls this opportunity using similar fabrics to our couture range and still having a Pallas gown.


Pallas Bride is now open in Melbourne – what led to this?

Strong demand from Victorian brides.

Tell me about your new Melbourne boutique? What services will you offer the bride who would like a ‘Ruby Pallas’ gown? What services will you offer the bride who would like a couture gown?

Everything we offer in Sydney and Perth will be available to all brides in Melbourne. Our collection of gowns will be on display and whether a bride purchases a Ruby Pallas gown or a couture gown they will still get the same level of service and attention to detail as in Sydney or Perth.


What is your Number #1 Tip for brides to think of when searching for their ‘ultimate’ gown?

Know your figure and bring one person who knows you intricately. Someone who will give you an opinion without looking at it from their style but from what they perceive yours to be.

What do you love about Australian brides?

I love the way they embrace our philosophy of design and the fact that they are truly romantic about their weddings. These are beautiful traits to work with everyday.

Thank you for joining Polka Dot Bride today Joy! The Melbourne Pallas Bride studio is open by appointment and located within the Lyall Residences at 18 Murphy St, South Yarra, Victoria, Ph (03) 9868 8203 or you can visit their Sydney and Perth studios. For more information view the Pallas Bride website.

Originally posted on Polka Dot Bride on May 4, 2009


I feel really honoured today! Peter Phillips, a civil marriage celebrant based out of Sydney is today’s expert! There are so many myths and misconceptions when choosing a civil marriage celebrant, I was thrilled when Peter joined Polka Dot Bride to give advice to Australian brides to be!

What attracted you to becoming a Civil Marriage celebrant?
I have always worked in customer service, and I enjoy ‘helping people’. Getting married should be the happiest day of a couple’s life, up to that point in time. The next biggest event is the birth of their first child. If I can contribute to that first happy event, then well and good.

Was there a particular event/catalyst that inspired you to become a celebrant?
Yes, many years ago, I attended the wedding of some very close friends, which was conducted by a celebrant. I thought I’d like to do that, but it was not until many years later that I was able to realise my ambition.


How much study is involved and what do you learn about?
Quite a bit in fact. Lots of reading and research. You are required to complete many assignments, which are then ‘marked’ by the instructor. I worked out a timetable, did the work and completed within the required timeframe.

What is important for couples to know about a Civil Marriage Celebrant?
Firstly that we are non religious, and that certainly in my case I am there to help and make the day a special occasion for the bride and groom. Whatever they want, they can have, and hopefully I can guide them, towards achieving the best possible outcome for them.

How does the ceremony differ from a conventional church based ceremony?
No reference to either God or the Church. Rather than get the Church ‘boiler plate’ service which is very impersonal, the couple can tailor the service, which is all about the Bride and Groom, and include family and friends who may read a poem or do a particular reading that holds special significance for them.
What are the roles you perform for the couple?

Checking that all of the required documentation, is correct and in order, and completed within the correct time frames. Helping them choose the ceremony that is right for them. On the day, it is actually the Bride who marries the Groom, and vice versa, when they say their vows. ( It is not about me )

What do you talk to couples about prior to the ceremony?
Firstly and most importantly establish, what it is that they want. How long do they want the ceremony to last, who else do they want involved in the ceremony. Active listening and then communicating with the couple. I meet with them, as many times as they want, until they feel comfortable that they have the service that they want.


How do you personalise their ceremony for them?
Every service should be a personal service as it relates to the individual Bride and Groom. Whilst I can and do make suggestions, I never use a ‘boiler plate’ service. Use of special verses, poetry that one will say to the other, music that has special significance to them both ( ie it was the song playing on their first date ) and the involvement of their family and close friends.

What are the legalities a couple must undertake in order to get married?
As the Celebrant I have to correctly establish their bona fides. Establish who they are, by sighting original birth certificates, or overseas passports, divorce papers if either of the couple have been previously married, and that they are over the age of 18, and not related to each other either by birth or adoption.


What are 6 things for a couple to have clear in their minds before talking to a marriage celebrant?

What day they want to get married on, the time they want to get married, the type of service they want, how long they want the service to run for, and the location of the service ( park, beach, hall etc )

ALWAYS have a Plan B, when they are planning on an outdoor location for their weddings.
These days you just cannot count on any particular time as being certain that it will be fine.

What is your philosophy about your role in marrying the couple before you?
It should be the happiest day of their life, so relax, enjoy it. The mere fact that they have chosen a Celebrant, suggests that they don’t want the ‘formality’ of a Church serivce. Whatever they want, they can have. I’ll look after the legal paperwork, and as I stated before they marry each other. It is certainly not about me.

What do you love about Australian brides?

I love all brides. A bride, is a bride, is a bride. It is their day to SHINE, so they should just relax and enjoy the experience. In my experience ALL brides know the significance of what they are doing, and in the majority of the weddings that I have conducted, the Bride has been a ‘traditional’ Bride. Even from an early age, I suspect that all girls want to be a ‘Bride’.

Thank you for joining Polka Dot Bride today peter! You can learn more about Peter Phillips at his website Peter Phillips Celebrant

All photos courtesy of Peter Phillips Celebrant

Originally posted on Polka Dot Bride on April 28, 2009


Today we’re joined by photographer Meaghan Cook. Meaghan Cook owns her own photography studio (Meaghan Cook Photography Boutique) and is based out of Geelong in Victoria. Meaghan has a keen interest in engagement shoots and is sharing her top tips with Polka Dot Bride readers today!

Tell me about yourself?

I’m domestically challenged and that doesn’t bother me at all. I’ve got one child who’s favourite food is cold scrambled eggs, and another who insists on calling me daddy. I’ve got Cherry Ripe’s hidden in the cupboard above the fridge. I was lucky to find lasting love at a young age. I’ve been a journalist/schoolteacher/ bunny at a children’s birthday but it’s photography that makes my heart really sing.

How did you get into photography?

When I was working as a journalist, there was a story that I was sent to without a photographer. Instead my editor thrust a camera at me and said ‘you get the shot’. I did, and I’ve been getting the shot ever since.


What inspires you in your photography?

Telling stories. Of course I’m inspired by beauty, colour and pushing the creative envelope, but it’s being able to tell someone’s story that really inspires me.

Why is an engagement session particularly important?

It’s the couple’s chance to get comfortable in front of the camera. Most of us, and I’m no exception, don’t love getting our photo taken and usually become quite tense. An engagement session is the place to get rid of those nerves and become comfortable showing your love for your fiancé in front of the camera. Then the nerves are gone for the wedding day.

What locations would you use for an engagement shoot?

I personally prefer locations with meaning to the couple, such as a café they frequent or their favourite beach. Even a couple’s home can be great. It’s about the couple having a connection to the place, so the photos have more meaning. The end result then tells a more detailed story about that particular time in their lives.

What clothes should people wear for their engagement photographs?

Clothes from their cupboard! By saying that I mean clothes that they would usually wear, and will feel relaxed in. If you’re not a heels kind of girl, don’t wear them. If you’re not a collared shirt kind of guy, then don’t wear one. Just wear what is ‘you’.
I suggest wardrobe change halfway through a session too. One casual outfit, and one a little dressier. The change adds variety to their photos, and adds some spice.

How do you plan your shots so that each bride has a unique ‘story’ of her wedding?

I plan with the bride and groom. I talk to them about their vision for the photos. I discuss what they have planned for their wedding and the best way to capture it. The bride and groom are the best resource for helping a photographer, and way too under utilized.


Do you try to get to know the couple so that you can capture their unique personalities in your photography?

Of course. I ask lots of diverse questions such as how did you meet, and what music do you listen to. It all helps me understand the couple better, and get to know their personalities. I’m then able to photograph their wedding knowing exactly where they are coming from, and what has brought them to this time and place in their lives.

You emphasize a ‘non intrusive’ approach to your photography. What are you trying to achieve by doing this?

Non-intrusive means that a wedding is not about me. Not at all. So I won’t interrupt a hug, a moment, a congratulations just because we are running on a schedule. I prefer to let these moments happen naturally and fluidly. I don’t want guests to even know I’m there. This doesn’t mean I don’t get all the important shots, its just means that I let the natural magic of a wedding day unfold on it’s own. I stand back, and capture it all.

What is your number one tip for brides?

Make sure you really like your photographer. You’ve got to spend a lot of time on your wedding day with your photographer, and if you don’t like them it could really bring down the mood of your day. If you’ve developed a real and trusting relationship it means your photos will be more beautiful because you’ll feel at ease showing your natural happiness in front of the camera.

What are your favourite wedding photograph ideas?

Apart from engagement sessions, it would have to be the ‘First Look’ option. A ‘first look’ is where the bride and groom opt to make their own tradition by seeing each other before the ceremony, and having their formal photos taken then. It gives them privacy to really express how they’re feeling about being married, and the photos can be taken in a relaxed way. The best part is that there’s no waiting for guests between the ceremony and reception.


What do you love about Australian Brides?

I love that Australian make their weddings very personalised affairs. At every wedding I photograph I see subtle touches that uniquely represent the couple. It makes each wedding just so special.

What was your most memorable wedding moment?

The very fist wedding I photographed was of a very dear friend. When she stepped out of the car she turned to me and winked at me. My heart absolutely flew because I knew just how amazing she was feeling right at that moment, and how nervous she was, but she still had time to think of me and how nervous I was too. She had faith that I’d nail the photos, which gave me faith in myself.

What are the biggest mistakes you see brides making?

Following tradition for tradition’s sake. Bride’s should think about every aspect of their wedding, and consider if it holds any relevance to them.


5 things a bride and groom must get right?

1. The bridal party. Choose people who will make your day the best it can be, not ones that you know will be difficult to convince to get into the spirit of the day.
2. The timing of the day. Don’t make guests wait around too long between the ceremony and reception. They want to see you and enjoy your day with you.
3. Stay true to yourself. Don’t follow trends, follow your heart.
4. Keeping the day in perspective. Remember that it’s the first day of the rest of your lives together, not your only ever day together. This will help you not to feel too overwhelmed.
5. Did I mention staying true to yourself?

Thanks for sharing your knowledge and advice on Polka Dot Bride Meaghan! You can check out more of Meaghan’s work over at her website Meaghan Cook Photography Boutique.