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Originally posted on Polka Dot Bride on January 7, 2010

 

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Today we’re joined by one of Australia’s oldest and most renowned gift registry founders. Karaline Loiterton founded Wedding List Company in 2003. Now they have a fantastic user freindly website and four retail outlets (Perth, Sydney, Melbourne & Brisbane) allowing couples the ease and simplicity when creating a wedding registry.

Tell me about yourself?
I studied Business Degree in Marketing and Finance, but I started my professional life as a Fashion Office Assistant at Vogue Australia. I then realised that my call was in the marketing arena. After two years as Product Manager with Yardley Australia, I moved to London with the L’Oreal Luxury Group where held marketing positions on Helena Rubinstein, Giorgio Armani, and Lancôme. When I left London, I was the Marketing Director of Clinique for the Estée Lauder Group.

How did you come up with the idea of starting a wedding registry business?
The idea for Wedding List Co came when I was living in London and planning my wedding in Italy. Already a logistically challenging wedding to arrange, with guests arriving from all over the world, I suffered further agony having to contend with the only available, outdated gift registry in Australia at the time. So following my less than inspiring experience with a department store registry I identified a clear gap in the market for a service driven alternative. From conversations with friends, many commented that it was the least fun thing about their wedding. It should be one of the best! You should feel like a child again and all your Christmases have come at once. So I wrote Wedding List Co’s business plan while still in London and continued to research the market and brands on return to Australia. And I haven’t looked back since!

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The Perth Wedding List Company store

What is the ‘mission statement’ for your business?
We aim to “under promise and over deliver”. We are totally focused on providing a registry experience for the couple and their guests over and above the department stores.

How do you choose the products that you feature? What inspires you?
The buying team visits the Gift & Homeware fairs and pore through all the latest interiors press locally and overseas. Often new product or brand suggestions come from our customers. They might have returned from overseas and seen a great new brand or item and ask us to see if we can get it.
We aim to offer unique and niche gifts that you cannot find anywhere else, but also all the popular brands found in the department stores. With most couples already living together before marriage these days, they often tell us they have all the basics, so we are always looking for gifts that will excite the guests as well as the couple.

How do you differentiate yourself from other wedding registries?
The best service, the biggest range, plus four stores around Australia for couples to choose their gifts and guests to purchase from. We were the first specialist registry in Australia and continue to lead the way with the most comprehensive website and greatest choice of gifts. We not only offer great homewares but a huge choice of unique options such as artwork, Coco Republic furniture, and a Contribution Registry™ where guests can contribute to a honeymoon, mortgage or other lifestyle options.
Most other wedding registries are online only. This is very limiting for older guests who prefer to come in to a store to choose the gift in person. Couples who set up their list in store with us do so with the help of a Gift Consultant who gives advice from which plates fit in the dishwasher, to what cookware works on induction. These are questions you would be hard pressed to find an available sales assistant in a department store to answer.
We are dedicated to making the registry process the fun and stress free experience it should be. The complimentary drink while choosing gifts in store certainly helps with this!

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In sourcing new products to add to your business, is it an instinct that tells you whether the product will sell?
Instinct but also 3000 registries with 80,000 gifts delivered in 6 years…so experience plays a big part now in what couples want, but just as importantly, what guests like to buy.

How should couples go about setting up a wedding registry with you?
For regional or overseas couples they can set up and choose gifts entirely on line. For those living near one of our stores in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth or now Brisbane, we encourage them to come in for a consultation with one of our Gift Gurus who will give them help with choosing gifts and set everything up for them. All they need do is sip champagne and point!

What are the basic homewares couples should buy when setting up their first home together?
Most couples will already have the basics – an everyday white dinner set, some mixed glasses, cookware they bought while at University. Their bridal registry allows them to choose more qualitative items that they will use for entertaining and enjoy using everyday. We enquire as to their entertaining style and get them to think about what suits their lifestyles. Are they more likely to have friends over for a BBQ than a formal sit down dinner party? At the same time they need to think about entertaining in the future – will they host Christmas lunch or Friday night Shabbat? Guests prefer to buy gifts they know the couple will use for a long time. Many electricals and appliances only have life spans of up to 2 years these days. We encourage couples to keep their more traditional guests in mind when choosing gifts so there is something to suit every guest’s taste and budget.

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Tea Set by Legle de Limoges

Do you ship your products overseas?
Many of our couples live overseas and we can organize the gifts to be shipped to them.

What do you see for your business in 3 years time?
To be the most recognized and respected bridal registry in Australia so that when a guest opens a wedding invitation and sees our name they are delighted as they know they will have a choice of beautiful gifts at great prices. And that every couple who comes to us will do so because not just 1 but several of their friends recommended our outstanding service.

What are your favorite wedding ideas?

We had a couple recently who said all they wanted was a beautiful dinner set. They decided upon the divine Legle de Limoge dinnerware from France in a rainbow of colours. As each piece is not inexpensive they said to their guests they wanted them to just buy one piece – a plate, or cup or bowl etc. They monogrammed the initials on the bottom of the guest who purchased it after they received it. They then invited them all to dinner (possibly at different times!) so they could appreciate their contribution. I thought it was so touching and will be a truly memorable symbol of their marriage.

What are the biggest mistakes you see couples making when setting up a wedding registry?
More recently there has been a trend in couples saying they would like to ask for cash in lieu of a gift. We undertook a survey* asking over 1000 guests their thoughts on this. An overwhelming 89% responded they felt it was distasteful and were uncomfortable. Many of those said they would just take a gift of their choice instead. The 11% who didn’t mind were of cultural backgrounds where giving cash is the tradition – such as Chinese, Greek and Lebanese weddings.

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Vera Wang natural 4 piece place setting

Couples need to remember that the registry is as much about their guests as it is about them. Just because you ask it doesn’t mean you will receive! Guests will buy a gift or other as they choose and don’t feel pressured to use your registry or respond to your request for cash. The best way to encourage guests to use your registry is by choosing gifts with a large cross section of prices, ensuring there is plenty to choose from right up to the week before, and giving them the option of buying online or in store. These are things that Wedding List Co. offers.
*For full results see the attached press release “Guests prefer gifts”.

Cleverest ideas you’ve seen?
To be honest – some of the new functionality on our website! Couples are able to:
• Add a personalized message and photo to the top of their registry
• Mark a gift as a favourite to helps their guests in their choice
• Split expensive gifts into shares so guests can just buy a portion

5 things a bride should consider?
For her registry:
1. Will my guests have the option to buy online or instore?
2. Will I be able to easily add more gifts across different prices as they are bought or will I have to go back into the store (as with the department stores).
3. Will there be flexibility to swap some items in case of double ups or incomplete sets being bought?
4. Are there enough unique gifts for my friends who will want to buy something more personal?
5. Will I have to stay home on a weekday (as with the department stores) or can my gifts be delivered on a weekend (as with WLC!)

Thanks for joining us today Karaline! You can find more from Karaline and visit her in store via the Wedding List Company.

Originally posted on Polka Dot Bride on November 5, 2009

 

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Today’s expert is Sydney wedding planner Angela Wilson. Angela owns eventing planning company Elite Events and recently opened the Angela Wilson Boutique which stocks international brands such as Amsale and Ceci NY. Today Angela’s going to share her secrets and inspiration!

Tell me about yourself? What is your background?

My background is in event management, business, fashion and interior design. I completed studies at Whitehouse School of Design and Macleay College which gave me to tools I needed start Elite Events. I am really driven to provide something unique in everything that I do.

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Have you always been passionate about weddings? Or do you love the organizational aspect of pulling lots of different things together and making something beautiful for the bride and groom?

Yes I have, I attended my first bridal fair at age 16. I love the logistical side of weddings and I am motivated by the challenges involved in creating a wedding, my goal is always to deliver an event that exceeds the expectations of the client and reflects their personal taste.

 

What was the catalyst for setting up your Elite Events and Angela Wilson businesses?

Elite Events was a natural progression from my studies, I was inspired to start a business when I identified a large gap in the bridal market for tailored wedding planning and styling specific to each bride and groom.

Angela Wilson was also created due to a gap in the middle market in bridal for gowns and bridesmaid dresses that reflected international trends and offered something different. The Amsale Maids range is now exclusively stocked in our boutique and was a direct result of the frustration of clients to find something unique for their bridal party.

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What services do you offer the Australian bride?

The business is a multi-layered business. Elite Events offers planning and styling and the Angela Wilson boutique in Paddington showcases items from New York and abroad.

Our service is based on a detailed orientated approach whether the brides focus be jewellery, table décor, invitations or bridal wear. We handle everything from start to finish and in between.

Does a bride have to have a large budget in order to engage your services? Are there different ‘levels’ of service you can offer?

Out tailored approach extends to our services which we cater to different budget levels. Particularly with Elite Events where we offer either a comprehensive service or simply consultation on styling and advice, I can create a wedding to your taste and budget.

How do you keep on learning? How do you keep up with the latest trends?

Continually sourcing new materials, predominately from larger markets like the UK and US. But I tend not to be a huge trend follower, I like creating an event design that is unique in order to keep my role challenging and interesting.

What inspires you about Australian women/brides?

I love their approach to creating their wedding, they are so enthusiastic and willing to try new ideas. I find Australian brides are happy to work with you. I admire their approach to thinking outside the normal realm of wedding design.

Do you have a ‘special look’ that sets you apart from other wedding stylists or do you tailor the look to each couple’s style?

We definitely tailor the style of each wedding to the couple, although key to my style is layering elements and textures to create a subtle, elegant look.

One element that is consistent across my design is carrying through small design cues from conception to event, I am all about the details.

What ideas should brides start with when they come to see you? Should they have a theme established firmly in their minds or do you prefer to guide them?

I am quite flexible, if they have a theme, whether it be related to style, colour, tastes, location or atmosphere then I love working with an inspiration cue. That said, if a bride is not sure of their look I find that once I get to know their personality and we take into account the venue and other elements it is just as easy to guide them towards a style that would be fitting to the look they are trying to achieve.

What is your number one tip for brides?

Always stick to your gut instincts, don’t try and mix too many ideas together –simplicity is best.

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What bridal trends do you see in the future?

From a coordinating point of view destination weddings are starting to emerge as a strong trend.

Internationally I have noticed that sex is out and refined is in, think ‘Gone with the Wind’. Bold jewellery is becoming more of a stand out feature to complement the bridal gown.

Could you give us five tips and tricks for the bride and groom?

  1. No red wine when you are in your wedding dress
  2. Brides: The key to a good spray tan is planning it 2 days prior to the wedding. Grooms: Do not try and sun bake to get a summer glow in the lead up to your wedding.
  3. Have all rings and jewellery cleaned 2 days prior.
  4. Grooms and groomsmen: Steer clear of hair cuts in the week leading up to the wedding.
  5. Consider purchasing a good quality eye drop that promotes clear eyes and reduces redness for great pictures.

Thank you for joining us today Angela! You can find Angela at Elite Events and the Angela Wilson Boutique .

Originally posted on Polka Dot Bride on September 1, 2009

 

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Today’s expert is fairly new to the wedding industry, but he’s certainly not new to his craft of cinematography! Having worked for the BBC and in Australia various television networks, Allen Mechen of Highlight Films on Queensland’s Gold Coast is passionate about his craft and he joins us here on Polka Dot Bride to share the secrets behind his success with film.


What is your ‘mission statement’ for Highlight Films i.e. the filming of weddings?

We believe a wedding/marriage is a cinematic experience. What does that mean? Well, just that the quality and feel of the wedding feels more like a film that you would experience at the cinema – emotional breathtaking and artistic with high production values. We feel as excited about your wedding as you, its a one of a kind, a one off
production that deserves the absolute best.

Your portfolio includes a wide variety of assignments. What interests you about wedding videography?

Marriage and your wedding day are uniquely special. It’s a huge event in one’s life and every wedding is a love story just waiting to be told. For me it’s the chance to share in the day but also to create something truly emotional on lots of different levels. To take the viewers on a rollercoaster ride of emotions, to capture the essence of
the man and woman. Creatively, we get to make one-off special films.


What should brides look for in a videographer?

Well, that’s simple. Strip back all of the equipment, awards and packages. Just look at the work of the filmmaker -their portfolio. Look at the creativity and style, and the way it has been filmed and edited. If their films grasp you and inspire you, then it’s for you.

What inspires you about Australian brides? Is there a special ‘Australian’ quality about brides from this country?

Australian brides are so diverse, with many different tastes. I love the fact that we could be shooting a ultra modern city wedding or a traditional country farmhouse wedding. The brides have this really great attitude to life which I think is really an Australian thing. I think Australian brides know what they want, but are also willing and open to ideas.

Do you take ‘traditional’ videos of brides or do you strive to be different? What sets you apart from others?

I think the days of traditional wedding videos are numbered. Brides are using the internet and seeing what is available and what is possible and are wanting more. For a long time I believe there has been a lot of laziness in the industry, the internet has opened up a whole new breed of filmmakers to brides. I really believe it is about educating brides and grooms about what can be achieved with video. Creative talent is also a key factor when choosing.

We do strive to be different in terms of our approach and techniques. We like to get involved in the process from the beginning and talk to the couples, get to know them, find out their personalities, what they like etc and create a film and a story around them.

Song for the Lovers |M&D from allen mechen on Vimeo.

Where do you find inspiration to keep your filming of the couple cutting edge, and your interest in it fresh?

My inspiration comes from movies, music and music videos, and books. This may sound odd but a good story can give me heaps of inspiration. Photographs and art can give me ideas of composition, styling and look. I also will spend time on the internet looking at other filmmakers in all fields.

What feelings are you trying to capture when filming the bride and groom?

Have you ever had that nervous little tingle in your stomach, or cried at the end of a really great movie or book, or laughed out loud at comedy? That’s what we aim to capture. I am greedy – I want the viewer to feel it all.

What techniques do you use to capture the ‘uniqueness’ of each couple?

Good research, talk to the couple find out about them, ask questions and discuss ideas. Locations can also make a big difference. We always use a minimum of 2 cameras on each shoot for great coverage, more if needed. We also storyboard and go to rehearsals.

What is your number one tip for brides when being filmed by you?
Brush your teeth! No seriously. Just relax, all the planning has been done. Try not to rush through the day. Just enjoy each other.

How can the couple look natural in front of the camera?

Most of the time because of the enormity of the day, couples can get very nervous, which is not a bad thing. It’s such a big deal with all the planning that has gone into the day and with every important person in your life in attendance. My advice is to just savour every moment of each other, stop and check yourself and take it all in. The cameras will pick up all the energy, nerves and emotions, which is what it is all about.

It’s important that the couple know exactly what we will be doing and where we will be on the day and they are comfortable with that, and that comes with talking and rehearsals.

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Where do you see videography fitting into the wedding day? As an adjunct to stills photography, or taking the place of it?

I think we are in the middle of a very exciting time in wedding video. The market is really changing with the advent of new equipment being made available to filmmakers which is changing how we photograph and film all sorts of productions. I do not think video will take the place of photography, however, we will start to see a lot more couples making more educated decisions and being very specific about what they want, and it’s really about education. In the past, lets face it, wedding videos to some degree have had a bad rap and that is partly to do with videographer and partly the equipment – bad shaky shots, long zooms, bad lighting, and editing have not helped. As well as inexperienced operators,
who have tended to be portrayed as a friend of a friend who does a bit of video work on the side. Now we have a whole new breed of “filmmakers” coming through from industry backgrounds who know how to use the new equipment and are shooting exceptional work.

When brides start seeing what is available and what can be achieved, then I think we will see more brides opting for both video and photography as standard and not one or the other.

What do you love about the wedding industry?

For me it’s the diversity of the work, and the people. It’s all about relationships.

What are the biggest mistakes you see couples making?

I have been involved in a number of bridal expos and the one thing I ask couples is, “have you thought about a wedding film?” The reply I normally get is “not really”. A wedding film is the last thing on a brides list and the first thing to be dropped, which is understandable on past form. I would encourage couples to spend as much time looking for a filmmaker as a photographer – there are some really great companies making some great stuff out there, it pays to research especially with the internet at your fingertips. A wedding film is probably viewed as much as your photographs – if not more when it is good!

If money were no object, where and how would you photograph a wedding?

Ahh, the big budget question. I am an old romantic at heart. I would love to film in Rome – The Vatican city. Followed by the Tuscan countryside in the evening at the magic hour when the sun is that beautiful golden yellow amber. I would keep it really simple and use music from Ennio Morricone with huge wide angle sweeping shots in true cinemascope, 2:35:1. Ohh, I had better stop, way to much geeky info!

What other services do you offer your brides?

We offer a range of services, from trash the dress and love story (la tua storia d’amore) shoots, engagement shoots, parent and friend tributes and online wedding invitations (where we film the couple and send it out to family and friends). We look at ourselves as boutique and are always open to ideas and customising packages to suit.
We also offer a streaming service which is hosted on our server, which means its a very quick delivery in terms of viewing. We host a 5 minute highlight clip of the wedding which the couple can then send to family and friends whilst on their honeymoon. They can then download that in flash or quicktime or ipod, iphone and facebook.

Thank you for joining us today on Polka Dot Bride Allen! You can find out more about Allen’s work at his website Highlight Films and stay tuned for a fantastic Highlight Films competition shortly!