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Getting a gown custom-made can be a very exciting, yet daunting experience for anyone who hasn’t done it before. Asking the right questions is extremely important to ensure you get exactly what you want…but what questions should you ask?
It’s important to be clear about your budget from the very beginning. Creating a gown isn’t as simple as smacking on a set price tag. Throughout the process you are bound to make slight changes and modifications to your gown, which is completely normal. With this, the price can often increase. Make sure your dressmaker and designer clarify all the associated costs and any possible future price increases.

This will better prepare you and will ensure that you don’t surprisingly exceed your budget goals. Along with this, the fabric is a very important topic to cover with your designer. Asking lots of questions about the process will also give you more ease and clarification as your custom journey begins. Here’s our top recommended questions that you should be asking your designer.

Image by Julia Archibald Photography

1. IS MY BUDGET REALISTIC?
If you are in the early stages of your research you will soon discover the importance of budgeting. It’s important to have a rough idea of what you would like to spend and what design you are after. Ask your designer if your dream gown is possible with your set budget. If the answer is no, then you may need to be open to compromising on your style and understand that certain features on the gown may need to be tweaked in order to bring it into your budget. Quite often, dressmakers can modify the style ever so slightly to reduce the cost significantly without compromising too much on the gown. Be open to discussing this option.

Image by Julia Archibald Photography

2. CAN I SEE PICTURES OF YOUR WORK?
Just because you go to a reputable dressmaker doesn’t mean they can nail your style and bring your specific vision to life. Finding the right dressmaker suitable for your style is crucial! It’s very beneficial if your dressmakers style aligns closely with you and your personality. This will ensure you get the best possible outcome. Seeing pictures of their work and the quality is a must!!!

3. WHAT ARE THE COSTS AND ARE THERE ANY HIDDEN FEES?
Throughout the custom process you are bound to modify your style and design features ever so slightly. This is commonly done throughout the mock-up toiling stage. It’s important to note that if you make significant changes to your gown, your dressmaker may charge an additional fee. This may be due to the style becoming more complex or needing more time to produce. Ask your designer from the beginning what hidden fees could occur so you are prepared.

4. WHAT ARE YOUR FABRICS AND WHY WERE THEY CHOSEN?
A great designer will not only show you a range of suitable fabric options to recreate your dream gown but they should also explain why those materials were chosen. Understanding the fabrics chosen will give you a better visual and idea of how the end product may turn out. Ask your designer why they’ve chosen those fabrics so you can be reassured that it will definitely achieve what you’re after. If not, now is the time to look at some alternate options. Be clear with what you are after. If you cannot describe it, then we always suggest bringing images along.

5. CAN YOU DRAPE THE FABRICS ON ME?
Getting a bridal gown custom-made can be a daunting and nervous concept for many brides. The main reason being, that most brides struggle to visualise the final product. Ask your designer to sketch up the gown and to then drape a bunch of fabrics and laces on you. When you see this on you in a mirror you will have a much clearer idea of how the fabrics will drape and how the lace will be placed and sit. It’s important to note that most dressmakers will do a calico toile (which is a mock-up gown from a cheaper fabric). At this point in the process you will have a much better idea of how the gown will look.

Image via Clarisse Weddings

6. DO I REALLY NEED A CORSET?
Corsetry is often used to provide structure and support in a bridal gown whilst also contouring and creating a clean, smooth finish. Whilst most brides love the idea of a corset, it can often be expensive. The price will vary depending on your dressmaker but quite often it will cost an additional few hundred dollars. Ask your Designer if your gown needs corsetry and if there is an alternate option that may be cheaper.

Depending on the style you may be able to get away with minimal boning and fusing. This is a much cheaper alternative that could save you heaps. But keep in mind it may not be suitable for your style dress. Trust the guidance of your designer and dressmaker as they will recommend what is best for your gown and your body shape.

About the author D’Italia: Bridal couture and custom made wedding dresses are a specialty of d’Italia. Whether you are looking for a vintage wedding dress stores in Melbourne, a lace wedding dress or any style at all – you are assured the exact bridal style you want, with custom-built corsetry to fit you perfectly, at a fraction of the cost of bridal-boutique gowns.

Polka Dot Dream Team...

The below wedding vendors made this magic happen and are an approved part of the Polka Dot Directory. Visit their portfolios to learn more and enquire about their services!

Unlike serving a traditional slice of cake, dessert tables at weddings or events, are not only amazing to look at and to eat from, but the variety, flavours and creativity all laid out as a visual feast brings joy and happiness to the occasion. Dessert tables are all about having fun and wow factor – however executing one takes effort and careful planning.
Here are my top tips for a stunning and memorable dessert table.

BE PREPARED
The sweet options are almost endless and knowing where to start can overwhelm you. So, choose your theme or colour and build your buffet from that. If you choose pink as your colour, you can have flavours such as Raspberry, Rosewater, Boysenberry, Cherry, Strawberry, Watermelon and even Pink Champagne Jellies! Pink Lemonade could be served in a big glass jar with a ladle. Add some pretty pink and white flowers with some greenery in washed jam jars!
Tip: Don’t go for anything too polarising for example a Citrus theme. You may lose people altogether. Think crowd pleasers like the classics, fruit flavours or chocolate.


BE CREATIVE
I don’t just call my cakes “Chocolate & Caramel” or “ Lemon and Vanilla.” I have given them all names! For a children’s party, my “Vanilla Ice Ice, Baby” is very popular. This is my favourite song to sing at karaoke and it makes vanilla cake with vanilla frosting and syrup sound a little more interesting.
TIP: Make sure each component of the table is lovingly labelled.

Image by Kerryn Lee Photography

BE PERSONAL
I like the idea of adding something very personal to the couple within the cakes or desserts. For example, you might include Maltesers because the couple love to eat them while going on a cinema date. My husband and I love Coconut Rough so I’ll add that to our Anniversary cake! I sometimes suggest a PB ’n J cake for an American and a Lamington cake for an Australian couple who are tying the knot. Even adding crushed Tim Tams to a Caramel Delight cake or Oreos in-between the layers of a chocolate cake!  It’s a nice way for the wedding guests to taste two different cakes.

BE SURPRISING
For my cupcakes, I always add some flavour to the centre. If I want the cupcakes to have a little surprise, I add Chocolate Ganache, Raspberry Jam, Caramel or Lemon Curd.

Image by Kerryn Lee Photography

BE PRACTICAL
You can thank me later for these tips…
– If you’re having a dessert table outdoors during the summer, be mindful of using frostings that are not going to melt.
– If using fresh cream, also be cautious you could end up with some unwell guests if the cream sits in the sun for too long.
– Use cloches to keep the nasty flies off your food.
– Consider your guests dietary requirements. It’s easy to add some macarons for coeliacs and even some Oreo’s on a platter for vegans and the lactose intolerant sprinkled with some pretty rose petals.

BE STYLISH
When considering styling the dessert table, try not to mix more than two materials, e.g. glass, wood, different metals, black etc. The optic of the different coloured platters will take away from the beauty that is presented and make the table look too fussy.
Place the tall platters at the back of the table so guests won’t get their sleeves stuck into the frosting of a cupcake! Have the height at the centre of the table and cascade the desserts, ascending order towards the outside ends of the table.

Ms Zebra Says: Yum, yum, yum! Who doesn’t love a dessert table? These are great tips to create your own too! Happy baking!!!

About Bakes By Jean: Baking has always been Jean’s first love! Jean started baking at an early age with her Mother in their kitchen in Offaly, Ireland. Bakes by Jean was born in 2015, specialising in custom designed creations. Jean creates and bakes from her council registered kitchen in Travancore, 4km from Melbournes CBD. Jean doesn’t try to be the best cake maker but she hopes that the love and soul she puts into every creation shines through her cakes.

Polka Dot Dream Team...

The below wedding vendors made this magic happen and are an approved part of the Polka Dot Directory. Visit their portfolios to learn more and enquire about their services!

You’ve got to love a hair and makeup artist whose passion is for natural glamour. Vivian Ashworth of Vivian Ashworth Hair and Makeup has over 30 years experience in her industry, so you know when you’re booking her you’ve scored yourself a total pro. Vivian uses bridal trials to get to know her clients so she can best understand their wishes and needs, and ultimately what looks will suit them best for their special day. Below, we chat to Vivian about the styles she loves and is best known for, her top tips for keeping calm on the wedding day, and her most memorable wedding to date.

How long have you been doing wedding hair and makeup?
30 years now. I started out doing fashion and advertising shoots. I started up my bridal business 20 years ago, when my children where young. The wedding industry is more family-friendly, so I could juggle both my career and family.

What do you love about it?
Working with families, it’s one of the happiest days of people’s lives.

Is there a particular style you are known for?
Natural glamour, beautiful and light wearing. Never thick, but good coverage for photography, enhancing the eyes, and using cruelty-free products.

Images: Tess Follett

How has your business changed since you first started?
It’s now accepted that 95% of brides will book a hair and makeup artist. And styles have become more relaxed instead of heavily sprayed hard hairstyles.

When you’re in high demand during wedding season do you have a team to help you out?
Yes I do, but I don’t like to give work to any artist that I haven’t worked with, for over two years, to keep up the standard of hair and makeup. I work on 95% of my bookings with the help of my girls on the day. The other 5% when I am booked I offer to industry friends, if they are available, then it is up to my client if they would like to book one of these artists directly.

Can brides still specifically request you?
Always. I keep my business small so that I can work on 95% of my bookings.

Images: Tess Follett

You’re Melbourne based, but do you travel?
Yes. I travel up to one to two hours for weddings all over Victoria. When I have early starts and long distances to travel, brides will cover an Air BnB or motel for the night.

What’s the process of booking you in?
My brides will email me from my booking page on my website, asking location/date and time/numbers and availability and price. I will email back and follow up with a phone call a few days later; I always try to respond within 24 hours. If the bride is happy we will arrange a trial.

Tell us about your trials…
Usually a bride will organise a trial first then book. But as I book out fast more and more brides are booking up to a year in advance, so will pay the deposit and do their trial closer to the wedding date. Approx. three months before the wedding.

What’s a wedding day like? How early do you start and how long does everything take?
Hair and makeup can take up to two hours per person, so typically a wedding party could have four to seven people. So with two artists (all my girls can do both hair and makeup), it can take four to seven hours, so sometimes we need to start by 5/6am. Depending on the time of the wedding.

Images: Megan Aldridge Photography

What’s harder – working with a bride with very specific ideas or one who leaves everything up to you?
Most of my brides bring suggestions only and are happy for me to work with them to create the best possible look for them, as close to their visual ideas as possible, but knowing that sometimes a look needs altering slightly to suit face shape, skin type and hair length.

What are your top tips for keeping calm pre-ceremony?
Calming music, food for snacks/lunch so no one is edgy. Not too much alcohol.

What trends are you noticing in hair and makeup in 2019?
More hair down or half up half down, with soft waves not curls. Golden tones in makeup shades, soft lipsticks colours.

What’s your favourite bridal hairstyle of all time?
A classic messy bun.

The secret to incredible wedding makeup is…
A soft touch, no harsh lines, nothing heavy, and definition on the eyes.

Image: Kane Jarrod Photography

Most memorable wedding you’ve worked on?
A rustic barn wedding in the country side where the bridal party had helped the bride with some of the decorations and had made a beautiful cake decorated with flowers. Such a loving family and friendship group.

Biggest career highlight?
Every weekend is a new wedding and a new highlight. Weddings are a calling not a job.

On a day off, what’s your personal go-to hair and makeup look?
Tinted sunscreen and red lipstick.

Thank you Vivian for sharing your story with us today. Bridal parties are obviously in great hands when they choose you for their big day. To find out more about Vivian and her services, head to the Vivian Ashworth Hair and Makeup website, or check this brilliant business out on the Polka Dot Directory.