Natassia – A Real Bride Story

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Natassia’s Story

Bride & Groom: Natassia & Aaron Soper
Planning & Styling: Jaspers Berry ( they don’t allow for external stylists)
Gown: Lee Petra Grebenau
Venue: Jaspers Berry
Photography: The Evoke Company
Videography: Mitch Hickman Films
Floral: Flowers on the Mill Berry and Jaspers Berry
Cake: Adrienne Cakes
Hair: Zoe Blackburn Hairdressing
Make-up: Nadeen Hunt Makeup

How did you and your husband meet?

Aaron and I grew up in Wollongong and had a number of mutual friends, so it was inevitable that one night our worlds would collide. We were both out at a local bar, when I slipped and fell on the floor. Aaron came to my rescue, but also lost his footing and we both ended up back on the floor in a fit of laughter. I was immediately taken by his cheeky smile and gorgeous caring eyes. To this day we joke that he literally swept me off me feet.

How did he propose?

On our first date Aaron set up a sunset picnic, with my favourite wine and cheese at a quiet local beach. I moved states for a few years, however, every time I returned home, we would take a long walk back along that same coastal stretch and dream up our future together. 5 years later, we went for that same walk at sunset and he had once again set up a surprise picnic amongst the dunes, however, this time he had packed expensive champagne and diamond ring.

Bending down on one knee, he asked “Will you marry me.” I was so overwhelmed by the moment and taken by surprise, there were a few nerve racking minutes for Aaron, before I replied, “ Of course.” For those that know Aaron and I, it was a perfect proposal.

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What was your vision for your wedding day?

Our main focus was to make sure every one had fun and that no one would go hungry or thirsty - I am Italian after all.

It was an end of summer wedding, so I wanted the day to feel fresh and elegant, with whimsical elements. I mainly used white flowers, as it’s a classic colour, with hints of blush pink, gold - and lots of greenery.

I wanted guest to feel transported to another wold and that’s mainly the reason why we chose Jaspers Berry. The huge heritage property is surrounded by insanely beautiful gardens, with hidden rooms and spaces filled with vintage antiques and is pretty perfect as it is. We made sure the wedding was staged in different areas over the night, so that people had time to explore and enjoy all the grounds had to offer. On arrival we had roaming canapés, a grazing table and aperitifs. We cut the cake outside on the deck, before moving every one inside to the reception hall for shared meals, dessert and dancing. The night ending with night caps and smoked ham sandwiches in the bar and sitting room. The wedding planner at Jaspers and I worked hard to make sure guests would always be entertained, comfortable and no one ever had and empty hands or would go home hungry.

Where did you look for your wedding inspiration?

While I always knew I wanted to get married, I was never the type of girl that had my big day pre-planned. So, l drew a lot of inspiration from the reception venue, Jaspers Berry. It was so magical, that I just wanted to build on the story the venue told and add to its vintage beauty.

I worked with the team at Jaspers to enhance the beauty of certain areas, and they were so great in bringing that vision to life. It’s so easy to be swept away in wanting all the trimmings, but sometimes you have to look at the backdrop you have to work with and appreciate its beauty.

Other then that I trawled social media, Pinterest and vendor websites, grabbing images of styles, colours and decor I was drawn to and incorporated elements of different weddings and ideas into my own.

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What drew you to your gown from Helen Rodrigues Bridal?

After having quite an unsuccessful run, I was pointed to Helen’s store by a friend. As soon as I stepped inside the boutique and saw her stunning gowns, I knew I was going to find the one. I literally felt a weight lift from my shoulders.

Lee Petra Grebenau’s collection instantly drew me in - the dresses are classic, yet modern in style and the intricate fabric and beading caught my eye. On my first visit, I found my dress! Helen and her staff were fantastic - they understood my vision, picked out the exact styles that suited my body shape and gave me real feedback ( even if I didn’t want to hear it )

At the end of my fitting, I had two gowns I was deciding between. The girls said, ‘which one did you love on the hanger and could see hanging up on the day of the wedding.’ As soon as they said that, I knew my dress was the one. It gave me all the feels, as soon as I put it on.

The other thing I love about Lee’s dresses, aside from their beauty, is how comfortable they are. It even had built in underwear! I wanted a dress that was easy to wear and I could dance the night away in. Not once did I feel uncomfortable in my dress… I felt like an absolute princess.

A big thank you to Helen’s team for not rushing my decision. The fittings were fun, conversations always flowed and I truly felt welcome…it was sad to say goodbye. Overall, it was an experience I hope every bride gets to have.

What was your wedding planning journey like for you? How far out did you start planning?

Because our reception venue is so popular, we had to book in our wedding earlier than anticipated, which meant I had just 9 months to plan. ( eek! )

Lucky for me, the team at Jaspers Berry took on most of the planning responsibilities - with everything done in house, from catering, to flowers and decor. There were many emails between us to make sure every detail was perfect. The team really goes above and beyond to ensure your vision becomes a reality - this took a lot of pressure off me.

I really enjoyed the process and surprisingly it was very stress free.

What was the biggest decision you had to make?

The dress! Thank god for Helen’s team, otherwise I would still be roaming bridal stores trying to find the one.

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What was the highlight of your wedding day for you?

This is a hard question to answer - from getting ready with my bridesmaids, to walking down the aisle with my father, speeches and first dance - the whole day was perfect.

However, marrying the love of my life and watching the smile on his, my family and friends faces, definitely stands out for me.

Is there anything you would do differently?

Nothing! We dream about reliving it every day. It was hands down the best day of our lives!

Is there any advice you would give other #HRBride’s?

Have faith in the process and trust the advice given to you by the people in the industry. They know what they are talking about and have years of experience. Sometimes we can get stuck on an idea, and not see the forest through the trees.

Don’t stick to a budget. If you love a dress and it makes you feel beautiful and confident for your big day, buy it! I have no regrets.

Don’t sweat it on the little things, in the lead up to the big day. I know some problems seem like mountains and have great importance, but on the day they honestly don’t matter. You are so swept up in the joyous occasion, all that noise fades away.

I was given the advice to take 5 minutes with your new hubby to step back, sit and watch your party unfold together in silence. It’s that quiet moment in the chaos of the day that we can look back on. It was great to see all our guests enjoying themselves, and made all the hard work and time worth it.

Helen Rodrigues talks all things New York Bridal Fashion Week

Monique Lhuillier Fall 2020 Collection

Monique Lhuillier Fall 2020 Collection

Helen Rodrigues goes to New York each year for the Bridal Fashion Week to view the collections and place orders to bring Australian brides gowns straight from the runways. Helen shares bridal trends for 2020 and her favourite fashion week moments.

Which shows did you attend at NYC Bridal Fashion Week?

This year I attended some incredible shows including designers within my boutique portfolio including Lee Petra Grebenau, Inbal Dror and Monique Lhuillier.

What were your stand out moments from NYC Bridal Fashion Week?

A stand out moment for me included Monique Lhuillier’s hand designed botanical prints combined with light, airy fabrics that move so beautifully. It is pure romance.

Almost every single dress that Lee Petra Grebenau sent down the catwalk was breathtaking. I adore her use of the pearl as her inspiration for the collection and the way in which she used her fabric to mimic the shape of the pearl. The classic, pure elegance with the modern twist of sheer cut out panels in the bodice, the puffy billowing sleeves and the accessories of belts to highlight the female form and waist. The uniqueness each gown brings.

Suzanne Neville’s beautiful clean lines are timeless. I have never met a designer whose corsetry is so impeccable. Her gowns give brides the confidence to wear her designs on their wedding day. They are comfortable as well as being elegant. Each Suzanne Neville gown is hand made in England from fabrics sourced from France and Italy. Crisp silk organza teamed with stretched crepe create movement and a perfect fit.

Monique Lhuillier Fall 2020 Collection

Monique Lhuillier Fall 2020 Collection

What are some of the key bridal trends you noticed?

The bridal trends I noticed were:

  1. Floral /botanical fabric

  2. Sheer panels in bodice 

  3. Puffy sleeves 

  4. Billowing sleeves 

  5. Pearls

  6. Detachable sleeves /capes 

  7. Clean lines 

  8. Dramatic veils

Behind the scenes in the Lee Petra Grebenau Couture House

Behind the scenes in the Lee Petra Grebenau Couture House

When will the gowns be available to brides in Australia?

We are so excited to be bringing these gowns to Australia straight off the back of these shows through our exclusive Designer Trunk Shows.

The way Trunk Shows work is that it gives Australian brides access to the latest collections just launched on the catwalk that would not be available in other stores for at least 6 months. It enables brides to Pre-shop the latest! They then are one of the first brides in the world to be able to order and wear these magnificent gowns on their wedding day.

The gowns are in the boutique just for 2 days so it is important to book in advance. It is an incredibly special opportunity to have something different. It also enables brides the opportunity to see and try on a greater range of the designer gowns than what is usually available in the boutique. There are usually special incentives in place for brides who purchase at the Trunk Shows including a personal styling session with me.

UPCOMING DESIGNER TRUNK SHOWS

Lee Petra Grebenau 2020 Trunk Show
Date/ Time: 8th (10am-5pm) & 9th (9am-5pm) November 2019
Click here to book your Lee Petra Grebenau 2020 Trunk Show appointment

Inbal Dror 2020 Trunk Show
Date/ Time: 22nd (10am-5pm) & 23rd (9am-5pm) November 2019
Click here to book your Inbal Dror 2020 Trunk Show appointment

Alon Livné 2020 Trunk Show
Date/ Time: 13th (10am-5pm) & 14th (9am-5pm) December 2019
Click here to book your Alon Livné 2020 Trunk Show appointment

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Holly - A Real Bride Story

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Holly’s Story

Bride & Groom: Holly & Clay
Planning & Styling: Laura Frappa, Exclusive Italy Weddings
Gown: Monique Lhuillier
Venue: Villa Cimbrone, Ravello, Italy
Photography: Tali Photography
Floral: Flower Addicted Angelica

Over the course of our 4 day event

Welcome Dinner – Torre Normanna, Maiori, Amalfi Coast
Wedding – Villa Cimbrone
Recovery – boat trip to Da Adolfo which we booked exclusively for the day
Second recovery – Boat trip to Capri with lunch at Il Riccio

How did you and your husband meet?

We met at the gym four years ago. I thought he was very handsome from afar, but he would never make eye contact with me... so I ended up asking him for training tips and the rest took care of itself!

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How did he propose?

We bought a new house in Vaucluse and we went to look at it before we moved in,before getting to the house we took a walk in Christison Park (my favourite park in Sydney) and he organised my dog Peggy to run out of a bush with the ring around her neck. If anyone knows me they know that is my dream proposal!

What was your vision for your wedding day?

The most important thing for me was my guests to have the best time possible. We had 100 people fly over from Australia – so I knew I had to make it worthwhile for them.

I love white because it’s classic and never dates – so I wanted all white flowers, with warm gold hints and a few modern elements to give it a contemporary feel.

I wanted lots of ‘wow’ moments for the guests. The Cimbrone is absolutely stunning as it is – but I wanted the setting to be one the guests would never forget. We staged the wedding over 5 parts of the grounds of the villa. Every different stage of the wedding from the drinks, ceremony, aperitif, dinner and dancing all had to have their own story, moment, memory and look. We worked hard to make sure the guests were always comfortable, drink in hand and never waiting around. I wanted them to feel like they had stepped into an Italian wonderland and thanks to my wedding planner we achieved this outcome tenfold.

Where did you look for your wedding inspiration?

I had a very strong vision for what I wanted – and it was a collaborative effort between myself and my wedding planner, Laura.

Jeff Leatham is my favourite florist so we looked at elements of his work for the florals, I used the Great Gatsby as the inspiration for the dancing section of the night and the cake cutting. Another big inspiration for me was Giovanna Battaglia (if you haven’t seen her Capri wedding you should!). The Villa Cimbrone is inspiration in itself – for instance the dinner was held in the most magical room I have ever set foot in and the Belvedere (infinity terrace) is unlike anywhere I have seen. So with these stunning backdrops the question was always not how to change but how do I enhance this area?

I really know what I want, so I combined elements from my favourite films, weddings and florists to create what was my dream come to life. I wanted an Italian dream for my guests... Most of the credit must go to Laura (my wedding planner), she surpassed everything beyond my wildest expectations. She is a true artist and expert in her craft. When I saw the Crypt (dining part of the evening) I cried because I could not believed the enchanting and ethereal spectacle she has created. She is magic!

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What drew you to your gown from Helen Rodrigues Bridal?

Helen stocks the best wedding dress designers in the world. Question answered.

I always wanted to wear Monique Lhuillier – and on my first fitting I found my perfect dress. Helen’s staff are incredible and made the whole process a dream. Helen herself is so supportive and has so much experience – it was a fabulous experience and I loved every minute of my fittings at her shop. I will miss our lovely conversations at the fittings.

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What was your wedding planning journey like for you? How far out did you start planning?

We planned very far out – for a destination wedding you must give your guests a lot of notice especially when travelling from Australia. I did three trips to Italy over the course of the planning to make sure every detail was perfect. As I said, for us, it was all about the guests having the best time possible so I wanted every detail from the accommodation, to the food and wine to be perfect and of the highest standard. I absolutely loved the planning. Watching your vision for a four day event take shape and come to fruition is a fantastic and extremely gratifying experience. I just loved every minute. I believe we gave our guests around 16 months notice about the wedding being in Italy. From day one working with my wedding planner was the best experience – I know it would not have been what it was without her. It was all so fun to create this incredible experience for our families with Laura.

What was the biggest decision you had to make?

Two:

We would only have our wedding in Italy if Clay’s grandparents could fly over.

We weren’t sure if we could get Da Adolfo exclusively for the day and had to wait months before they would would commit to giving us the beach club for the day. The wait to find out was excruciating! They don’t normally book it out entirely for a day and I only wanted to go there for the recovery. So if they came back and said no we may have been in trouble! BUT we stayed strong and they agreed in the end (because Laura somehow creates pure luck and magic) and the guests said it was one of the best of the 4 days.

What was the highlight of your wedding day for you?

Wow – that is a difficult one to answer. There are so many highlights for me – getting ready with the bridesmaids, the moment before I walked down the aisle with my father and mother and seeing Clay down the end of the aisle for the first time.

I am a passionate fan of the opera. During the dinner I surprised all the guests with a performance by an Italian tenor. He sang Nessum Dorma and Con Te Partiro – we were in the most magical setting, I was in the arms of my new husband and it was a perfect moment of synergy that words cannot express. Everyone was speechless and you could have heard a pin drop in the room.

 Is there anything you would do differently?

NOTHING. Can I do it again now?

Is there any advice you would give other #HRBride’s?

Trust your vision and always put your guests first. Yes, everyone is there for you and your husband but your primary focus should be making sure your guests are comfortable and happy.

Enjoy every minute – it's such a cliché, but the day flies and you will wake up and think ‘did that just really happen?’ Take a moment every hour and look around the room and drink it all up – because words cannot describe the feeling of seeing your favourite people all in the same room to celebrate you and your husband.

If you can use a wedding planner – USE ONE! They are the experts – I cannot explain the peace of mind they bring to your day.

One thing that resounded above all else though: it is the people there that make the wedding, not the flowers or the setting or the food. If you are surrounded by the ones you love on the most important day on your life – then you have your dream wedding. Everything else is icing on the cake.

Adriana – A Real Bride Story

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Adriana’s Story

Planning: me! I had an epic “little black book” of my organised wedding planning. This also included creating and developing my own wedding stationary.
Styling: Events by Grey
Gown: Lee Petra Grebenau
Venue: Doltone House Darling Island
Photography: Mark Jay Photography
Videography: Honeybear Films
Floral: Mali Flores
Make-Up: Tannia (@tannia_t on Instagram)
Bridesmaid dresses: Bec & Bridge
Chandeliers: Chandeliers to Die For

How did you and your husband meet?

We met in high school! Although, we didn’t start dating until Anthony had finished school and I was in Year 12. He had met my mum before me, when I was about 14 and mum was working with his sister. She told him about me and he found me at lunch one day and said he would marry me one day…and he did! Almost “high school sweethearts” – we’ve been together for 7 years.

How did he propose?

We got engaged in Queenstown, New Zealand! It was perfect. We were on a short trip for our 5 year anniversary, we were on our 3rd day in and headed to Skyline (overlooking all of Queenstown). We decided to get some photos before devouring our lunch and at this point Anthony had asked a nice lady to get these photos for us. Getting ready to pose, I was excited for a new Facebook profile picture, until Anthony paused and said that I needed to take off my gloves. I was confused, thinking at the time that they maybe didn’t match my coat, I kept asking why – and then he came down on one knee with a box! Of course I said yes and we were lucky to have it all captured by this lovely woman (who had no idea what she was in for at the time!).

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What was your vision for your wedding day?

I was always after the modern-minimalist style of a wedding. Although, coming from a Croatian and my husbands Italian background, it was going to be quite a large and very traditional wedding. I call it modern-traditional – but it was the best! I love the way both cultures celebrate weddings and I really wanted that element to stand out and it did!

For the reception, I kept everything black, white and gold with my flower palette very neutral, including pink tones and some greenery. For my invites, I matched my navy bridesmaid dresses and designed this on a navy card with silver foil. I kept things simple, elegant but still effective (or so I think anyway). I liked including some quirky elements (a bit like Anthony and I) with my wedding favours, being an illustration of both of us on an air freshener. It was one of my favourite elements! Other than all of that, we both wanted a lot of dancing and to just have a good time – which worked out perfectly in the end.

Where did you look for your wedding inspiration?

Pinterest and Instagram! It’s easy to get caught up though and I tried to steer away from over-doing it. Keeping my minimalist/ elegant theme. I also got great ideas from friends and family! I think it’s good to stay open minded.

What drew you to your gown from Helen Rodrigues Bridal?

Funnily enough, I went to Helen because I knew she had the Israeli designers and looks I was after and initially thought that after my appointment I would simply walk away with inspiration and was planning to get my dress made from scratch. Helen was my first proper designer dress store appointment and the first dress I tried on was my Lee Petra Grebenau ‘Ellie’ dress and it blew myself, Mum and the 2 bridesmaids I had there away. I walked out knowing it was the perfect dress and I never looked back after that. Not only the fact that Helen and the team were more than accommodating and made sure the process was seamless. It was the best decision I made. (Second to marrying my husband).

What was your wedding planning journey like for you? How far out did you start planning?

We booked our wedding ceremony and reception in September 2017, so roughly around 18 months of wedding planning, which again, I believe was one of the best things I had done. It just gave us a bit more time to think things through and save! Weddings are a big cost and we were just about to prepare building our house, so it was essential to plan ahead with extra time. Also, it takes countless appointments and phone calls to plan a wedding and doing it all myself for over 350 guests and 16 bridal party members made the 18 months necessary. I had a little black book with all my bookings, invoices and upcoming payments required and created a spreadsheet with timelines, details etc. Call me OCD but it made the entire process and day run smoothly. It was the marketing in me that caused all this extra organisation.

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What was the biggest decision you had to make?

Besides my dress (although little did I know how easy it would be at Helen), picking our bridal party! I had 8 bridesmaids, 1 junior bridesmaid, 2 flower girls and 8 groomsmen. Crazy! But it was the most fun all day and our hummer ride was extra special with all the extra people. It was a hard decision because we both have big families and are close with our siblings and cousins who would be included but also had friends we desperately wanted in there too. Although a big cost and hard decision, we wouldn’t change a thing. Our bridal party photos are amazing too!

What was the highlight of your wedding day for you?

I don’t know how to narrow this one down! The entire day was incredible and honestly the most perfect day of our lives. Besides marrying the love of my life, one of the best highlights was watching all our family and friends get on the dancefloor to the traditional Italian Tarantella and the Croatian Kolo dance. It was so much fun. We were also surprised by Joe Avati who came out and entertained us and guests with his jokes – a gift from Anthony’s Dad and Uncle!

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Is there anything you would do differently?

No – we loved every second! We just wish the day went slower because it flew by so quickly. There should be a rule with weddings that you get 2 rounds and re-do the same day in a year’s time haha.

Is there any advice you would give other #HRBride’s?

To remember that the outcome remains the same no matter what may go “wrong” - being during the planning or on the day – you are marrying the love of your life and by the end of the day you become husband and wife no matter what and that is the most important thing! Also, to remain open minded and take on ideas that people or vendors give you (even if you may not like all of them). It all goes so fast so enjoy every little second 😊

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In Discussion... DD Letterpress

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What is Letterpress?

Letterpress is one of the oldest forms of printing which creates results that no modern printing technique can produce. It has had an artisanal revival since it was superseded by offset and digital printing. These days, letterpress printing combines modern technology with the age old craft by using printing plates made from computer based artwork. The raised plates are then coated with inks which have been mixed by hand and eye and applied to the rollers of the press (our presses are 70-100 years young). The appeal of letterpress printing in the contemporary world is the tactile deboss it leaves as the paper (usually cotton) is literally pressed with force by these one tonne beauties.

How does Letterpress differ from your standard stationery printing?

Letterpress differs from standard printing in that the original letterpress machines are still used today for letterpress printing and require a printer (an actual person) to manually operate and adjust the press based on each job. The printer applies the ink to the press by hand and adjusts the speed and suction of the press depending on a number of factors based on the weight of the paper, the artwork and the temperature in the studio. Another difference that helps it stand apart from standard printing is that it is not limited by paper weight like digital printing is. Digital printing usually limited to paper weights between 80-300gsm where as letterpress is best printed on paper 300gsm-600gsm. We have even printed up to 1200gsm before which then lends itself to a beautiful painted or foiled edge.

What style of invitation and stationery does it suit?

Letterpress printed stationery suits any style of invitation! The possibilities are as endless as your imagination. Letterpress printing lends itself to minimal colour palette. Usually 1-2 colours is all that is required on an invitation as less is definitely more, letting the tactile nature of letterpress speak for itself. My favourite designs are usually ones that have a blind deboss, which means we have printed the image or text with no ink which can still be seen because of the indent left in the paper.

What is the process?

We work with our clients to create their ideal wedding invitation on computer initially. Some clients come to us with mood boards, while others give us a brief about their wedding theme. We also have a range of designs within our collection to choose from if you prefer to simplify the process and find something that suits. Once the digital artwork has been finalised we then create the raised printing plates from the artwork. This plate is then adhered onto a metal base which is lifted into the press. Ink which has been hand mixed for the project is then applied to the rollers which then roll over the raised printing plate. The press uses suckers to pick up one sheet of paper at a time and feeds each sheet into the press to be inked up and pressed into the plate to create the debossed artwork. There really is nothing else that compares!

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Do you need to have your invitation designed by an external designer or do you offer design services?

We offer full custom design services as well as having a range of pre-designed invitations to select from. If clients would like to bring their own print ready design they are more than welcome to and they can find file set up requirements on our website.

How long does the process take?

Our standard turnaround time is 12-15 business days for printing however this is project dependant. We offer express services by printing out of hours to ensure urgent projects

meet deadlines. The design process can take anywhere from an additional 2 days to a few weeks depending on how clear the client is on their vision as well as the work involved.

Can you select any colours including silver, gold and rose gold foiling with letter press?

Yes! We love to combine metallic foil printing with letterpress printing. Foil printing is a slightly different process to letterpress in that instead of ink being applied, a metal printing plate is heated and pressed against the foil into the paper which transfers the foil to the paper.

What sort of budget would a couple require for stationery to allow for letterpress?

Letterpress printed wedding invitations start from around $300 and increase in price depending on a number of factors such as the type of paper used, the weight of the paper, the number of colours being printing etc. It’s not the cheapest method of printing because of the time consuming nature however it is by far the highest quality.

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Jocelyn – A Real Bride Story

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Jocelyn’s Story

Bride & Groom: Jocelyn and John
Planning & Styling: Kashaya & Co
Gown: Elie Saab
Venue: Catalina, Rose Bay
Photography: Erin and Tara
Floral: Kashaya & Co
Rings: Matthew Ely
Hair: Julia Homard and Melanie Burke
Make Up: Amelia Axton

‘Helen Rodriques is the Australian authority when it comes to high end wedding gowns. I explicitly trusted her and her team personally in sourcing my perfect gown and I am so grateful for their assistance throughout the process. A wedding is such a big and important day for most women, and having Helen’s advice and expertise on that journey is reassuring, it instils confidence knowing she is an absolute expert in her field.’ Jocelyn #HRBride

How did you and your husband meet?

We were introduced by our dear friends Edwina McCann and her husband David Basha. The four of us went out to lunch and I was incredibly nervous and quiet. Johnny was his usual talkative and hilarious self and I instantly fell in love with his smiling eyes.

How did he propose?

Johnny proposed at Whale beach. It was the day I arrived back from Coachella from a girlfriend’s hens - We drove straight up to Whale Beach as we were staying there for the weekend. As soon as we arrived, we grabbed champagne and glasses and walked straight down the road to check out the surf. It was a windy day and Johnny’s glass smashed on the footpath. I thought he was picking up the pieces when he dropped to his knee so I knelt down to help him when he said “look at me!” I was completely taken by surprise and I love how casual our proposal was – true to Johnny’s personality and a reflection of our relationship.

What was your vision for your wedding day?

Johnny is Catholic and I am Buddhist brought up Catholic, so we wed in Johnny’s local Catholic church, Mary Immaculate in Waverly. I wanted the wedding to be classic, traditional, simple and elegant. We plan to travel to Bhutan for a belated honeymoon to receive blessings from the Tibetan Lamas, which will be my spiritual wedding.

I also worked with trusted suppliers that I knew and loved so I handed over the vision to them. It was a really simple brief – clean, white, minimal, romantic, nothing over the top. I put my trust in Kashaya & Co and Catalina to create the perfect day so there wasn’t a lot of pressure – I really enjoyed the whole experience.

Where did you look for your wedding inspiration?

I didn’t! Even my wedding gown a girlfriend of mine found for me and I didn’t know the flowers in my bouquet until the day of my wedding – I really put my trust in the suppliers in that way. It all felt very easy and natural. I really handed it over to the experts, I tried to step back from the planning so I didn’t get too caught up. I wanted this day to be about Johnny and I without focusing too heavily on the minor details. I’ve never really been a ‘wedding person’… until I met Johnny then I found myself really wanting to get married. The day was incredibly special and I think this had a lot to do with handing over the responsibility to the experts.

For your wedding day what drew you to your gown from Helen Rodrigues Bridal?

My very stylish friend, Nat was helping on reception in the salon and I asked her to browse around online for some wedding gown inspiration. She said her “heart fluttered” when she came across this Elie Saab gown and her adoration was infectious, I instantly fell in love with it! I couldn’t get the dress in Sydney, London or Dubai, luckily Helen Rodrigues stepped in and helped me find it. I bought the dress before even trying it on!

What was your wedding planning journey like for you? How far out did you start planning?

Not very long at all! I only ordered the dress two months prior, I remember when the dress arrived just two weeks prior to the wedding, I’d only had three fittings with Helen Rodrigues – the beauty of working with someone you really trust.

We did most of the organising a month before the wedding and Johnny actually did most of the planning - he chose the church and our reception venue, Catalina. He booked the venues early on and we left the rest of the planning until a couple of months prior.

However, the one thing I did get on top of early was my skin – I started working on my wedding skin very early. I put myself on an intensive skin program for glowing, dewy and radiant results, it was important to me that my skin more luminous that it has ever been.

I booked in my salon as a client for a facial every 6 weeks.

I alternated the skin brightening peel with the skin perfecting Azyme peel every two weeks and at 6-week intervals I had the Heart Chakra Prescribed Facial. I added an omnilux booster to every peel or facial as well.

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What was the biggest decision you had to make?

The only time I felt I had to make a big decision was when other people were involved eg. Where they were sitting, who they were sitting with, what the bridesmaids had to wear etc.

What was the highlight of your wedding day for you?

My little sister’s speech and her incredibly powerful words was an absolute highlight!

Is there anything you would do differently?

I didn’t have a change of shoes with me and I wanted to dance more throughout the night but my feet were hurting from my heels. Always bring a change of shoes!

Is there any advice you would give other #HRBride’s?

Listen to Helen and her recommendation, trust in her expertise and her team. We made a fair amount of alterations to my dress and I went with whatever she recommended. I had complete trust in Helen Rodrigues and it turned out perfectly!

Also, focus on your skin early! Work with a great salon who can put you on a personalised skin plan in the lead up with regular facials every 6 weeks.

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Montarna – A Real Bride Story

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Montarna’s Story

Bride & Groom: Montarna & Nick
Planning & Styling: After The Rock Weddings
Gown: Inbal Dror
Venue: Redleaf, Wollombi
Photography: Erin and Tara
Floral: Grandiflora

How did you and your husband meet?

Nick and I met via mutual friends in 2013.

How did he propose?

In October 2017 Nick tricked me in to thinking I was heading to Sean’s Panorama at Bondi for his belated birthday celebration. Actually I arrived to the private room filled with flowers, candles, Celine Dion playing and he was down on one knee! Both of our parents were waiting excitedly in the next room so once I’d said yes they joined us to celebrate our engagement. It was so well-planned and it caught me completely off guard – no easy feat!

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What was your vision for your wedding day?

We just wanted our wedding day to scream ‘us’. Aesthetically we went for an eclectic vibe reflecting our home. I loved that Redleaf has a European feel and wanted to teleport our guests to the vibe of a private villa in the Italian countryside.

 Where did you look for your wedding inspiration?

We drew inspiration from everywhere but mostly from interiors, and our personal style when we renovated our home and my office. Our wedding planner Georgie was amazing – once she got my vibe she was great in sourcing further references and really pulling everything together.

For your wedding day what drew you to your gown from Helen Rodrigues Bridal?

I chose a wedding dress from Israeli designer Inbal Dror – it was everything I thought I wouldn’t wear! My style usually has a masculine edge but this was all-out girly, it even had a huge bow on the front and an incredible princess silhouette. I like to be bold with my fashion choices so a simple white dress wasn’t going to cut it on my wedding day!

What was your wedding planning journey like for you? How far out did you start planning?

We started planning shortly after getting engaged. Nick and I both have busy careers and we needed enough time to create our perfect day alongside everything else life throws at us. I work in PR and events so the actual organisation and logistics didn’t phase me, but our wedding planner Georgie was a godsend in keeping us on track and taking the time-intensive tasks off our hands.

What was the biggest decision you had to make?

Definitely the venue. We didn’t make life easy for ourselves with the choice of location. Redleaf is stunning but it’s very remote so it took a lot of checklists, dotting i’s and crossing t’s to ensure we remembered everything ahead of the day. And with Redleaf being a private property rather than a dedicated wedding venue we had to bring in all styling and catering elements ourselves - although personally I loved this aspect, taking a beautiful blank canvas and making it completely our own.

What was the highlight of your wedding day for you?

I surprised everyone by walking down the the aisle to bagpipes playing Flower of Scotland. We had three pipers with one leading my dad and I to the top of the aisle. When he started marching in front of us to get into beat we both got very emotional and everything became very real all of a sudden. We then came around the bend and I saw Nick for the first time - I’ll never forget that moment!

 Is there anything you would do differently?

Not a thing – it was perfect!

 Is there any advice you would give other #HRBride’s?

I love these wise words from Helen Rodrigues at my final wedding dress fitting - “don’t worry if some things don’t go to plan, as nobody knows the plan!

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Working with Helen was a dream in the lead up to my wedding. She suggested the dress to me, and I’m so happy I listened to her as otherwise I would never have found my perfect bridal gown. From selecting the dress and being on hand for fittings around my schedule, to picking my dress up the day before the wedding and giving me so much trusted advice on all elements of my big day, Helen became a close confidante during my bridal journey and she’s an amazing support to women planning their wedding. MONTARNA #HRRealBride

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Julia - A Real Bride Story

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Julia’s Story

Bride & Groom: Julia & Luke
Planning: Bride & Groom
Styling: Megan Morton
Gown: Monique Lhuillier
Venue: Public Dining Room, Balmoral, Sydney
Photography: Danelle Bohane
Florals: Saskia Havekes, Grandiflora

What was your vision for your wedding day?

When Luke and I talked about our future wedding we always knew we would get married on the anniversary of the day we met, so we were destined to have a winter wedding. We had spent 11 years celebrating that day rugged up in knitted blankets by open fires, champagne in hand, dining over long lunches or degustation dinners, surrounded by candles, tea-stained florals and moody palettes. Our vision was an extension of these ‘Wooly’ moments – we wanted to host a warm, intimate, relaxing, long Sunday lunch surrounded by our very nearest and dearest.

For your wedding day what drew you to your gown from Helen Rodrigues Bridal?

My only grandmother Betty owned a bridal boutique and made wedding gowns and bridesmaids dresses with lots of hand-beading and lace appliqué. As a little girl I was obsessed with the hundreds of teardrop pearls, beads and jars of silk-covered buttons in her store. She made my mother’s wedding gown, my high school formal dress and all of my childhood pyjamas with beautiful hand-smocking details – all from hand-cut patterns she pinned on me with such care. Sadly, severe rheumatoid arthritis robbed her of her craft and passion far too young and sadder still, we lost her 5 years before our wedding. Needless to say, my dress was always going to be a special tribute to her and I was very touched when my father gifted this to me – such a treasured gesture of understanding and love.

My everyday style is feminine but with a touch of edginess, so I was after a timeless, classic look with a modern twist. In keeping with our intimate Sunday lunch reception, I wanted a dress that wasn’t too structured or formal, but still made me feel like a bride. My husband Luke has always loved my legs so when I laid eyes on Monique Lhuillier’s ‘Hartley’ Lace Dress and removable ‘Lana’ Ball Skirt complete with pockets and a split just for him, I instantly knew that was the one! It was romantic and pretty yet playful and simple. As luck would have it, Helen Rodrigues is Australia’s official stockist of ML and with Helen’s boutique in my neighbourhood I had walked past her stunning window displays many times during my relationship knowing that one day it would be my turn to step over that threshold!

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What was the highlight of your wedding day for you?

The absolute highlight was the indescribable feeling of love!

From the minute I opened my eyes and hotel room door that morning to be greeted by the warmest of hugs from my mama, to holding on to my dad’s arm for support as he walked with me down the jetty in my rose gold Sophia Webster ‘Chiara’ heels (another subtle tribute to my grandmother as she was obsessed with butterflies). From the look in Luke’s eyes when he saw me in my dress for the first time, to gazing into every single one of our guests’ souls during our ceremony. From speaking our rawest truth during our vows without fear or judgement, to hearing our talented friend play live the songs my now-husband had composed for me during our early years together. From dancing the night away on our floating dance floor with all of our favourite humans to all of our favourite songs, the love was all-enveloping, palpable, uplifting and existential. As our stylist Megan Morton said of the day, ‘Some Sundays are better than others’ and we couldn’t agree more.

Also, I couldn’t possibly not mention Mother Nature, who blessed us with the most perfect winter day. There has not been a blue sky I have lived under since where I am not reminded of and grateful for that memory!

Is there any advice you would give other #HRBride’s?

Be clear on what is most important to you and your partner and stay as true to that and yourselves as possible.  

Without prejudice, don’t be afraid to be selfish as this is your wedding day and your declaration of love as you wish to show and share it.

Make decisions together and share the journey – every high and every low – your day and memories of it will be richer for it.

Embrace your vulnerabilities. It’s empowering to be and show your true self.

And last but not least, finish writing your speech before the night before! I was still finding the ‘right’ words after midnight and with less than five hours sleep was not an ideal way to begin the biggest day of my life . ..

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‘With my mama based in Brisbane and breaking with tradition by not having a bridal party, Helen became my stand-in mum, bonus bridesmaid and fairy gownmother all in one!

Helen is so welcoming, warm, charming and generous and calmly took on the challenge with perfect ease and grace. I felt completely at ease, never alone and supported at every fitting. It was one of the least stressful parts of the whole wedding, it seemed too easy to be true, but it was!’ Julia #HRBride

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