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There’s designers in the Australian bridal industry that have been creating designs for such a long time that they’ve become a foundational part of the industry. To me, Wendy Makin is one of them- Wendy has been designing for 30 years and has produced some amazing, award winning gowns in that time. it’s such an honour to have Wendy join  us today on Polka Dot Wisdom to share a little about what makes her so successful!

Please tell me about yourself and your background?

This year represents 30 years in the Bridal Design industry for me. I started with a company, Dundee Fashions, who were arguably the first company to make Ready to Wear Bridal gowns in 1981 as a junior designer and by 1984 I was Head Designer and Patternmaker. In 1993 the Directors of Dundee retired and my husband Geoff and I bought the forward orders and some machinery and started Wendy Makin Bridal Designs.

What inspired you to get into the bridal design industry?

I was making cloths for my dolls at 6 so it was always my dream to be a fashion designer. The first company I applied for a job with was Dundee Fashions and they happened to be a Bridal Wear manufacturer. It was fate more than design and I’m so happy to have had that opportunity and couldn’t have wished for a better side of fashion to be in.

What sets you apart from other bridal designers?

I think my less is best design philosophy. I like to let the fabrics design the gown rather than try to make something what it doesn’t want to be. I also think that my production and patternmaking background have been a big help with the fit of the garment as well as the quality of workmanship that our team produce.

You’re often praised for your ability to provide an extraordinary fit for a bride, how difficult is it to flatter different figures?

It’s actually not that difficult. If you assess a brides figure shape and find the gown that flatters that shape then you’ll make a very happy bride. I always look for a gown that enhances a brides best features.

How do you choose the fabrics and laces used in your Couture collection? Quality, quality, quality. The quality of the fabrics and laces used in a gown is really obvious and if you try and cheat by using a cheaper lace and “blinging” it up…it shows.

What prompted you to launch the BellaDonna line?

The BellaDonna Collection was born out of an ever decreasing pool of qualified tradespeople here in Australia. When we started we made everything in Australia but as our workforce aged and retired we found it almost impossible to replace them so our workroom team slowly dwindled. We realised that to survive, let alone grow, we had to start a business relationship off shore and hence the BellaDonna Collection. It also gave us an opportunity to offer gowns at a lower price point.

How did your “Ready to Wear” bridal dress collection come about?

Ready to Wear are basically our simpler popular Couture gowns made in slightly different fabrics and techniques so that they can retail at a slightly lower price. A number of our good retailers were asking for this and that’s what drove the label. It’s been a really popular decision with both retailers and Brides to Be.

Where do you look for inspiration when making a new design?

Fabrics and Brides-to-Be inspire me. I’m afraid I’m not one who looks at a golden shiny beach with its turquoise blue water and become inspired to design a gown. I’m much too practical for that. I see a design in the way a piece of fabric I buy drapes or sparkles or working with a Bride to create her individual look from my existing styles. This to me is designing.

How do you keep your product fresh and different?

I’m constantly on the look out for new fabrics and laces. My network of suppliers are very attune now to what I look for and are constantly sending me samples they think I might like. I also work with a couple of suppliers on specific beading styles on laces or fabrics. We do travel to the UK and Europe to look at developing trends there and we have an association with a US company were we exchange ideas plus my team are always providing good ideas and inspiration. This all keeps me excited and enthusiastic about my collections.

You have been named Australia’s number 1 couturier in the National ABIA poll?Where to from here?

That is an award for service which we are very proud of but also very humble about. That award was voted for by the Brides and we are very conscious of the tremendous regard with which they must hold us and we constantly strive to uphold that and to improve on it where we can. I also recently won the Supreme Award at the Queensland Bride Design Awards which was also a tremendous honour but we are always aware that tomorrow is another day and you have to keep striving to do better every day.

You often incorporate colour into your designs, do you think a dress needs to be primarily white to be considered a wedding dress, or do modern dresses have to be accountable to tradition at all?

It’s funny you should mention that. In the Queensland Bride awards recently I entered a red wedding gown. It didn’t win anything but I suppose it shows my commitment to pushing boundaries. I don’t see wedding gowns having to follow traditional styling anymore. A bride will wear what she feels suits her personality and if that’s a full silk ball gown on the beach or a little short lace number in red in church then so be it.

What are 5 things a bride must consider when in the market for a wedding dress?

1. Give yourself time so you aren’t limiting your choices.
2. Choose a gown that flatters your figure and don’t be pushed into buying what someone wants you to.
3. Choose a Designer or Bridal Boutique who you feel comfortable and confident with. If you’re being told you look beautiful in everything…it’s time to leave.
4. Choose the right undergarments.
5. Always bring your shoes to your fittings!!

Where do you see your business evolving to in the next few years?

We want to continue to make Brides to Be beautiful and to strive to give them the best quality design, make and service that we can. If we can continue to do that then our customers will decide where we will evolve.

Thank you for joining us today Wendy! You can find out more about Wendy’s designs or find the stockists of the Wendy Makin line by visiting the Wendy Makin website.

Photos from Wendy Makin

A Save the Date Card or Wedding Invitation is one of the first pieces of stationery that your guests will receive and most importantly it will convey the theme and style for your entire wedding day. The style and design will indicate to your guests what to expect on the day. A wedding invitation lets your guests know if the wedding is going to be a formal event, an intimate gathering of close family and friends, a casual and informal affair, or anything in between.

Before jumping head first into this process it is worth taking a step back to consider the appropriate etiquette for your wedding stationery which will in turn help the day’s events seamlessly follow on from one to another with no hiccups allowing you and your guests to relax and simply enjoy the day.

So here are a few of my suggestions on wedding stationery etiquette to start you off on the right path:

Do consider sending out Save the Date cards. These are particularly appropriate if you are having a destination wedding as it will give your guests the time to organise leave from work, flights and accommodation etc. You’d kick yourself if you thought that more of your lovely family and friends would have come to your wedding if only they were given more notice.

Simplicity Save the Date Card by mini Moko

Simplicity Wedding Collection

Do send an invitation to everyone that will be attending your wedding. You can’t leave people out, such as your family or close friends on the basis that it is obvious they will be coming.

Delightful Dahlia Wedding Invitation by mini Moko

Delightful Dahlia Wedding Collection

Do always send your wedding invitations out at least one month prior to your wedding date. Even this is cutting it a little fine and you should ideally send them out at least 6-8 weeks before. This allows your guests to plan accordingly for the big event!

Classic Monogram Wedding Invitation by mini Moko

Classic Monogram Wedding Collection

Do ensure that you wedding stationery communicates all the details about the day’s proceedings. Times, locations, directions and maps all help to save confusion on the day. If you are having a destination wedding it may well be helpful to include the location details of hotel accommodation in the local area as well as transport information if needed.

Regency Information Card by mini Moko

Regency Wedding Collection

Do write exactly who you are inviting, onto your wedding invitations. Rather than putting Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Family, it is wise to consider exactly who you are inviting from the family. For example, you may not wish to have very young children at your wedding and so it avoids writing ‘no children allowed’ which is a big no no! This way you are tactfully expressing who is invited and who is not. This allows the guests to make arrangements for babysitting of the younger family members if that is what you wish. Obviously if  ‘the more the merrier’,  put every family member’s name down.

Vintage Circus Wedding Invitation by mini Moko

Vintage Circus Wedding Collection

Do proof read your wedding invitations before they get printed. Even get someone else to go over them as well with a fresh pair of eyes as you’ll be devastated if they come back with typos.

Embellish Wedding Invitation by mini Moko

Embellish Wedding Collection

Do remember that your wedding day is all about fun and family. Make sure that your wedding invitations reflect the tone and style you have set for your wedding day in both design and the level of formality of wording.

Peonies Wedding Invitation by mini Moko

Peonies Wedding Collection

Do always include return postage on your RSVP card. It is something that guests still expect and it is not the place to try and economise.

Regency RSVP Card Wedding Invitation by mini Moko

Regency Wedding Collection

Do include first name and surnames on your place cards. This saves so much confusion for your guests when they arrive at the reception and they are trying to decide where they should be seated. Inevitably you will get duplication of first names and you don’t want these poor souls to be walking around wondering whether they have the right seat or not!

Starfish Place Card Wedding Invitation by mini Moko

Starfish Wedding Collection

Do always send out Thank You Cards to your guests no more than 6-8 weeks after your wedding day. These can be personalised with your guests’ names, however the wording inside should really be hand written and personal to sincerely show your appreciation.

Lovebirds Thank You Card by mini Moko

Lovebirds Wedding Collection

So as you can see there are a few things to consider when thinking about your wedding stationery. However, it’s not difficult and when done properly you’ll certainly reap the rewards. Good Luck!

Ms Polka Dot says: Ellen from mini Moko Designer Stationery has given us some well thought out advice for getting your wedding stationery just right. Just follow her advice and you won’t go wrong!

Ellen says: Our extensive wedding collections include a family of twelve products to choose from, ranging from Invitations and RSVP’s through to Place Settings and Guest Seating Charts. Within each collection, all stationery has been designed around a single, continuous theme ensuring your guests received the best impression of your wedding from the first moment they receive their Invitation through to receipt of a Thankyou Card at the end.

Furthermore, should you desire something truly unique for your event, we also offer a custom design service to make your day even more special.

Images from mini Moko Designer Stationery

Education is something I never tire of, I’m always reading, always learning- for me it’s vital to the success of my website. I’m always incredibly fascinated by wedding professionals I admire- learning how they got where they are, thoughts that have led them their and their infinite wisdom.

The 21st Century Bride is a conference kicking off in New Jersey on Monday the 28th of March. But this is a conference with a difference- not only can you attend in person. But the entire event will be live streamed, so you can access the amazing speakers, the knowledge, the wisdom without leaving the comfort of third floor Brisbane studio or your Sydney home (and ugg boots).

The 21st Century Bride will feature speakers like Anne Chertoff (Previous editor in chief of Aisledash, Anne has worked on numerous wedding titles like Modern Weddings & Martha Stewart Weddings) speaking on  “Blogging Best Practices”,  Alan Berg VP of Market Intelligence at The Knot speaking on Closing the Sale… The Missing Link” and “Components of a Successful Website”, Amy Wilkins Senior Vice President, Publisher, Martha Stewart Weddings on “Understanding the 21st Century Bride”  among many more.

The 21st Century Bride is a conference focusing on how to focus your business, your brand. It’s designed to be a conversation, not information overload, a fun event where you can learn while being in an environment where the speakers are talking with you- not just to you.

Polka Dot Bride readers can get a 15% discount off the registration using the code WPN2 just visit The 21st Century Bride website to register (registration for inline closes Monday morning on the day of the event.