May, 2016

Wedding Insider ~ Perth Bridal Fair

Posted by on May 19, 2016 in Bridal Fair | No Comments
Wedding Insider ~ Perth Bridal Fair

We’ve been a part of Wedding Upmarket, a local Perth bridal fair, for the past six years. It’s always been a great event that offers brides a relaxed environment to meet local wedding vendors and chat with them about their upcoming wedding.

This year Wedding Upmarket introduced the ‘Wedding Insider Sessions’. Each session was hosted by Ann Lord and touched on a different category, whether it be photography or event hire. I was grateful to have the opportunity to be the ‘Wedding Insider’ for the wedding gown category and share my expert advice on wedding dresses. If you missed my session, you’ll find my notes for the interview below the photos of this blog post.

This year we also had Elvi Brides Michelle and Sam hop back into their gowns for the morning. Our brides were such a hit with bride-to-be’s, it’s so nice to see real women in their custom wedding gowns and we just love catching up with the girls and hearing all about their wedding and honeymoon!

A huge thank you to Kailah from Elegant Edge and Kristy from Kristy Ellis Makeup Artist for doing the hair and make-up for our Elvi brides. Jane and Jones Flower Co. provided the beautiful flowers.

Images by Lola Images

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Images from our Instagram Account

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‘Wedding Insider’ ~ Sandra Searle from Elvi Design

What does made-to-measure mean as compared to off-the-rack? (how to decide whether to do one or the other?)

If you purchase a made-to-measure gown you can expect to have your body measurements taken and then have your wedding gown made to fit your body shape. At Elvi Design, we use your measurements to create a calico for your first fitting which is essentially a ‘mock-up’ of your gown. This will then be used as a pattern for your custom made wedding gown and so the process of a bespoke wedding gown begins.

If you select a gown ‘off-the-rack’, it means you select a size closest to your body measurements and then when the gown arrives, you will need to arrange alterations to ensure the gown fits you properly. A lot of brides underestimate the cost of alterations, I have known of brides to spend between $500 to $1000 on alterations which can be a rude shock if you don’t factor it into your initial dress budget.

At Elvi Design we provide each bride with a quote that is all-inclusive. It will include your fittings, materials and there is no need to worry about pesky alteration fees.

When should I start looking at wedding dresses? (does the lead up time matter if you’re having made to measure vs off the rack?)

It’s one of the most exciting parts of your wedding so by all means, start looking the moment you get engaged. Go and try on a few gowns (but don’t overwhelm yourself), feel out what you like and what suits you. It will also be a great way to get an idea of what a wedding dress is worth. But then, I suggest you take some time to think about it, do some thorough research and consider which process you’d like to undertake – ‘made-to-measure’ or ‘off-the-rack’.

Our brides will come and see us anywhere from 18 months to 6 months before their wedding. We will discuss their ideas, they can try on our samples and then we will sketch up a design to suit them. They will then book their spot and we will start on their gown 6 months before the wedding. If you leave it until 6 months before your wedding, you may not be able to get in with your chosen designer.

If you select an ‘off-the-rack’ gown, from what I understand, you are also best off ordering six months before your wedding as you will have access to the entire selection on offer at a bridal store. If you have less than six months, it’s likely that you’ll have a limited selection to choose from and you may have to pay a ‘rush fee’ in order to get your gown in time. You might also have the option of selecting a ‘sample’ gown in which you will then also be limited by the sizing of the samples.

Visiting bridal boutiques – making appointments, who to take with you, how many in one day, etc.

I would always suggest making an appointment, most bridal studios are by appointment only. We are and the main reason why is because when we’re not seeing clients we are actually in the studio bringing our client’s wedding gowns to life. We need to manage our time very effectively to ensure we keep up with our busy workload.

I would suggest visiting a max of 2 bridal stores in one day. Any more than that and it’s likely you’ll forget what you’ve tried on and feel overwhelmed by the choices.

In terms of who to take, you need to think about who is going to listen to you and be supportive of your decisions. You don’t want Aunt Betty picking on your posture or your sister-in-law comparing every gown to her own wedding gown. I’ve heard it all! This day is all about you as cliché as it sounds and you want to enjoy the process. Your best bet, is your Mum, sister or best friend. If I was to be really honest, I’d limit it to a max of 2 people. Once you’ve made your decision, then bring along the entire bridal party if you wish.

I think ultimately the key to the whole process is keeping it as relaxed as possible. Make sure you feel good (do your hair and make-up), put nice neutral underwear on as it’s likely you’ll be trying on gowns, make arrangements for lunch or afternoon tea with whoever you take with you. It’s much more fun if you make a day of it and have a bit of fun! You might even want a glass of sparkling to celebrate along the way!

I’ve seen something I like in a magazine or online; how do I know if it will suit me?

You don’t hear this very often but I really do believe that every bride knows what suits them, they might need some guidance but usually they’re on the right track. I suggest brides have a think about their own personal style… are you relaxed & bohemian? Pretty and romantic with a love of vintage frocks? Clean and minimal? Each time I meet a bride I observe their personality and ask a lot of questions about their wedding to get an idea of their style.

Obviously it’s always a good idea to try on some gowns and make sure it suits you but if you’re not able to, enlist the help of an expert and they’ll be able to guide you through the dress design process.

What if I lose weight?

Eeeeep, this is a tricky question! (And yes, we get asked this all the time. For us, we ask our brides to talk to us about the intentions so we can schedule their fittings accordingly. As I’ve mentioned before, we start on our brides gowns six months before their wedding and we ask that our brides are within a couple of kilos of their goal weight by their second fitting. The reason why is that the moment the boning and the lace go into their gown, it becomes very difficult to alter their gown. Ultimately, if you’re planning on losing weight, try and get to your goal weight before you start the process of a made-to-measure gown or your alterations appointment if you purchase a gown off the rack.

The importance of well fitting undergarments?

So important! We encourage our brides to ensure they have a good strapless bra or torsolette from the very beginning. For bride’s with low backs or plunging necklines we’ll add bust cups. Changing your underwear half way through the process can change the fit of your wedding gown. We provide a lot of advice to our brides and ask that they bring their underwear and shoes to their first fitting.

What should I expect to pay?

It really depends on what style you’re after and where you purchase your gown from. If you opt to buy a gown online or buy a designer gown (that’s not essentially a wedding gown) from Myer or DJ’s, you can expect to pay up to $1500.

Low-end, mainstream bridal stores will offer a range of off-the-rack gowns from $1500 to $3000.

Mid-range bridal stores and made-to-measure bridal designers will offer gowns from $2,500 to $5,000.

High-end bridal stores and couture bridal designers will offer gowns from $5,000 to $10,000.

Just remember you need to allow for alterations when you purchase off-the-rack.

I’ve seen something online; should I buy it?

It depends. If it’s direct from China, probably not, you don’t know what you’re going to get. But look, if it’s a steal and you don’t mind taking a risk, go for it! If it’s a reputable brand that has an Australian head office, it’s probably a bit more trustworthy but I guess like all things, it’s so much better if you can touch and feel what you’re purchasing. If you buy something online, be prepared to get it altered and I know a lot of dressmakers that won’t touch gowns from China because they are bad quality and more trouble than they’re worth.

I’ve had a few brides that have bought a gown online and then given up and come to see me. They will often show me pictures of what they thought they were buying and what they ended up with. The bonus is, when they come to see me, they feel our fabrics, try our gowns on and they can see the quality of their work so they know it’s worth spending the money on having a gown custom made to suit them.

Other questions? We can talk about veils and accessories but we also have Holly Barker coming up so let’s not focus on that too much. Do you do either of these now?

Yes, we do. We often make veils and lace headpieces to our brides requirements. We’ve even made flower girl dresses to match our bride’s gowns.



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