Location: Pier One Sydney Harbour Hotel
Photography: Keegan Cronin
What was your vision when you first started Helen Rodrigues Bridal in 2001?
I wanted to offer the opportunity for brides to be able to try on beautiful designer gowns in a personalised, small boutique. I wanted to offer these gowns so brides could try on a gown and know exactly they were getting.
I had visited beautiful stores in the UK when I got married in 1999 - I was able to go in, try gowns on and decide and know exactly what I was getting. When I did my initial research in Australia, there were lovely designers that you could go and see and they would sketch something for you. This is fine, if you are good at visualising things ... but like me not everyone can! There was no store that offered any international designers in Australia, let alone more than one designers under one roof. This is how Helen Rodrigues Bridal was created nearly 2 decades ago! The vision was to open up the first exclusive boutique, offering luxury international bridal designers.
What draws you to a particular Bridal Designer?
The designer needs to be offering something unique that is not available anywhere else. Their gowns also need to complement the rest of our gowns, so they sit well in the boutique. They need to use beautiful fabrics and be well made. In addition, they need to be boutique and international as this is our point of difference. We have always offered international designers.
What does it mean to you to bring these incredible International Designers to Australia?
My designers become part of my extended family and is wonderful to work with them on collections and see your input come to fruition. It is wonderful that we can bring all these masterpieces under one roof, which enables brides to be able to come in and try gowns on in the home country instead of having to fly to USA, Israel, Lebanon, UK to name but a few. It is so rewarding to share these gowns with Australian brides.
Often brides will say they saw a beautiful gown in a magazine or Instagram and thought they would never be able to see it in real life let alone wear it on their day - then they did some research and realised we actually stocked it! That makes me really happy that we are constantly being able to fulfil girls dreams.
From your extensive experience with bridal gowns what advice would you give a new bride to be embarking on the journey of finding her perfect bridal gown?
I think it is always best that brides have their wedding date and venue booked. This helps them know what season/ weather they can expect and also the theme the wedding will be. That said, we often see brides who do not have either of these booked and they find their gown. At the end of the day - when brides love a gown, they will love wearing their gown anywhere and in any weather!
Its also good for brides to have an idea of a budget they would like to keep their gown to and check with boutiques they intend to visit prior to see they can work with them. We often recommend brides have had a look at our website and Instagram so they are aware of what we offer. I believe the main point is to come to the appointment with an open mind.
I had a bride who came in the other day and wanted a high neck, long sleeve lace and no strapless gown. I can confirm this is not what she ended up with. Since 2001 we have helped thousands of brides - so brides should be open to trust us to try on something a little different.
I would say don't look to much - it can be very overwhelming. Maybe select a couple of your top boutiques and then see how you go. Also don't bring too many people to your appointments as it can be very overwhelming again and too opinions can be tough!
Be relaxed, have fun and trust your gut. Buying a wedding gown is not about doing a spreadsheet on the pros and cons but about how you feel. How would you feel waking up on the morning of your wedding and seeing your wedding dress waiting for you. Would it make you excited and smile!
I would recommend start looking 12 months before your wedding but we often help brides who have a longer lead time and also who are getting married in a few months!
What does the 2019 Iconic Sydney editorial shoot represent for you?
We have access to beautiful imagery from all our designers who do amazing shoots throughout the world. I wanted to take our gowns and shoot them in Sydney so they were more relevant for our Australian bride. We have such iconic landmarks in Sydney that I very much wanted to have them as a backdrop to our gowns.