Jessica Minh Anh’s J Spring fashion takes to the sea

On March 14th, Jessica Minh Anh wowed Sydney set against the backdrop of its iconic harbour.


Jessica Minh Anh, model and catwalk producer took to Sydney’s harbour for her 12th and latest show. Jessica has dominated various global landmarks transforming the most unlikely spaces into a catwalk and wowing guests across the globe. London’s Tower Bridge, the Grand Canyon and the Eiffel Tower have all set the stage for models in the past, and Monday saw Sydney’s turn to take centre stage.


Guests stepped aboard the Costa Luminosa anchored close to Bradley’s Head, and made their way up through the boat to the top deck of the cruise ship for a catwalk with a view rarely experienced.


With the magnificent backdrop of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, the J Spring Fashion Show presented six designers; Begitta, Rouba.G, Jad Ghandour, Syeda Amera, Beverley Riverina of Blackhills and Chotronette.


A beautiful mix of styles and designs were showcased including Begitta’s bridal wear replete with tulle, dusty pink tones and sweetheart necklines, Jad Ghandour’s sophisticated silhouettes dotted with dark sequins and dashes of white and gold and Rouba.G’s colourful creations, many of which seemed to be inspired by tropical birds with their bright pops of pinks, oranges and blues and extravagant shapes.


Orchestral music accompanied, setting the scene as the models showcased both haute couture and ready-to-wear pieces with the sun, sea and sensational city-scape behind them.

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The best bridal inspiration from the Oscars so far

The 88th Academy Awards ceremony is under way at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood and we’ve spotted some beautiful bridal inspiration. From Cate Blanchett in her light blue floral creation to Lady Gaga rocking the contemporary pant suit, this year’s Oscars are already having us dreaming of waltzing down the aisle in style.

Heidi Klum looks stunning in Marchesa.

Embed from Getty Images

Lady Gaga in Brandon Maxwell and Taylor Kinney

Olivia Wilde in a plunging Valentino Haute Couture gown

Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher in Marchesa

Rooney Mara in Givenchy Haute Couture

Cate Blanchett in Armani Privé

Priyanka Chopra in Zuhair Muhad

Emily Blunt in Prada

Brie Larson in Gucci

Jennifer Jaon Leigh in Marchesa

Daisy Ridley in Chanel Haute Couture

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Backstage at One Fine Day

If you missed One Fine Day wedding fair last weekend, fret not! One of our fashion interns was lucky enough to be a part of the event, heading backstage to suss out all things expo, and getting up close and personal with the designer gowns being showcased at the event’s renowned fashion show. Words and photography by Katie Stow.

Last weekend over 5000 bride-to-be’s, armed with their mums, bridesmaids and a few reluctant fiancés, flocked to Sydney be a part of the wonderful One Fine Day Wedding Fair.

One Fine Day wedding fair

Guests were welcomed with a glass of champagne from the One Fine Collective team, along with a bag of goodies from the teams’ ever-growing list of vendors, into the unrecognisable Australian Technology Park. What was once a slightly run down old train carriage warehouse was adorned with twinkling lights, cascading flowers and filled with live acoustic music sets – transforming it into the wedding wonderland that One Fine Day promises and always delivers.

A stand out vendor on the day was the genius team behind She Designs who dressed a number of stalls at the event – including the popular ‘Bridesmaids Corner’. The team’s event styling is focused on florals with lashings of leaves draped from floor-to-ceiling and clever uses of little candles and large chandeliers. Truly stunning creations that would convert any venue into a fantasy escape.

Suzanne Harwood, Alison Davis and Sant Elia all debuted their 2016 collections at the show (alongside 14 other brilliant bridal designers) and the dresses were something to behold. Strutting down the catwalk to Justin Bieber’s ‘Sorry’, there were certainly nothing to apologize for, as the audience were presented some of the best and most beautiful of Australian bridal fashion.

Opening with Suzanne Harwood, brides were thrown in at the deep end with harsh angles, strong sleeves and dramatic accessories. Regardless of a slight mishap backstage with a pillar box, red lipstick and a clumsy model, the collection was stunning with its stark white gowns and clean lines. Two of the signature pieces featured a thick padded fabric with deep V cuts into the cleavage and sides. Aptly named ‘neo-Victorian’, the collection pays homage to a time in fashion history where impeccable detailing and finish were paramount whilst toying with modern silhouettes and fabrics was almost never seen on bridal runways.

One of the stand-outs from the collection was a buttoned up black tulle neck piece – think  royal Elizabethan neck ruff crossed with the Orphan’s black ribbon staple. It looked phenomenal.

To close the show, the One Fine Day fashion team selected Sant Elia. Head designer Stephanie Caltabiano Cherrington, who was extremely hands on backstage, worked tirelessly for the previous two weeks to ready her collection for the show. She had just completed one of the final pieces that very morning! Not that you could tell, because it was faultless. Her four piece collection comprised of a thick lace high neck low back number with a criss-cross tie at the back, a plunging neck tulle ball gown with beaded accents, a heavily embroidered — but otherwise sheer — cross-over dress with bellowing sleeves and a detailed modern crop top with multiple straps paired with a playful full skirt with trim. The varied styles in this group are a reflection of her everyday work as Sant Elia primarily produces custom gowns for brides who have great imagination or a flair for the eccentric. Her collection can be seen below:

So with the above in mind, here are the top trends we loved seeing at the fair:

1. Metal Head.
The metallic trend has been moving on up in the wedding world as we see more copper tones introduced to the make-up palette, and brides switching their stark whites for sparkling silver gowns. However, the models at the One Fine Day fair (styled by PV Hair and Make-Up) showcased a slicked back low twist tangled together with a handful of elastics. This simplistic look provided the perfect canvas for the brush of gold leaf foil painted onto either side of their do – applied by the oh-so-talented Petr Vackar. This touch of shine worked almost as a modern-day tiara, and would be the ideal fix for a bride looking to bling up her look in an alternative fashion.

2. Don’t tie me down
Throw-over veils outnumbered clip-on veils. Along with being pin-free, they were significantly shorter – switching from cathedral and fingertip to elbow or blusher. These cute little alternatives offer couples the chance for a dramatic removal at the altar after the famous ‘you may now kiss the bride’ as the delicate peel back is swapped to a rip off and smooch.

3. Dare to bare.
One of the trends present on this year’s catwalk was the use of mesh and illusion fabrics. At first glance, the show opener looked to have been missing some vital slices of fabric, but when you looked closer there were some extremely clever (and very strategic!) use of mesh panels. In addition, there was a significant increase in heavy lace pieces featuring large gaps in the material, requiring that the bride wear a nude slip underneath. Or, if you are working backstage in a frantic fashion show, then sometimes nothing at all… 22 seconds to get in and out of a designer dress is harder than it sounds!

Ladies, the Perth and Melbourne fairs are coming up later this month, make sure you grab tickets here if you’re in the area!

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How to plan your wedding in less than 2 hours

Grab your best friend, find a high speed wireless connection and pour yourself a glass of wine – because these are the three essential items for planning a wedding in just 2 hours. Remember, the goal here is “Happy ever after” – not wedding day perfection. So let’s plan this wedding and you can get back to the important stuff, like enjoying quality time with fiancé.

Step 1 – Download a fab wedding planning app

One of my favourites is Appy Couple. The app is user-friendly and syncs seamlessly, whether you’re planning from your office desktop (not during work time of course…. wink wink) or on the go via your mobile. Plus, it has three of the things you’re going to need over the next 1 hour and 59 minutes:

• Guest list/rsvp collection and seating plan creator
• Your own personalised website, complete with modern designs (including on-trend looks such as gold and copper, rather than the standard “flowery-wedding” theme.

Because let’s be realistic, if you want to plan your wedding in two hours there is NO time for DIY. Book a professional, put your feet up and let them do all the work.

Step 2 – Write the guest list

Once you know how many people you’re inviting, you know which venues you can look at for your reception. Think of guests in terms of their relationship to you and go through each group methodically.

Now is also the time to make the tricky decision about those pesky +1’s. They are a serious hit to the budget and a source of potential friendship conflict. So have a chat with your fiancé about who can to bring a plus one, and be prepared to stand together as a united front when the questions start to arise.

Don’t forget to include the kids on your guest list too, if they’re invited to the reception. You may also consider adding kid’s entertainment to your budget.

Step 3 – Write your budget

Google Sheets has recently released a Wedding Planning sheet complete with formulas to help keep your Wedding Budget on track. Follow the link below and you’ll be on your way in no time.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1y9bTGzIWCvF0mYv-ZrGVXurAnZuVKkunjwULNXgTgvY/edit

Start by plugging in your total wedding budget (can you believe the average is close to $50,000?!) and this fabulous piece of tech will apportion this total across all the different areas of your wedding.

So, if you’re total wedding budget is $50,000 then your dress should be coming in at around $4,000.

But this is just a suggestion. Now is the time to get realistic about your priorities and put your actual budget alongside the suggested budget.
Don’t forget to mark things off as you pay each supplier. I recommend paying things off over time rather than being hit with a lump sum at the end – paying the bills is a huge source of pre-wedding anxiety!

Step 4 – Set your date by booking the ceremony and reception

Now that we know our guest numbers and budget, this seriously narrows down our options for the Reception Venue. But there’s one more question you need to answer before proceeding: How much work do you want to do on styling the venue?

There are some incredible venues out there that have amazing views, but you’re going to need a small army of stylists armed with beaded linen and drapes to bring the luxe factor you need for a wedding.

So if we’re going to stick to our time limit of 2 hours, I highly recommend one of the Wedding Reception Venues that come with the complete package. Some of my favourites are any of the Le Montage, Sergeants Mess and Doltone House Hyde Park.

NB: Chair covers went out with the last century. If your venue only comes with chairs that require covers, keep looking. It’s an extra expense that a good full service venue should include.

Now is the time to decide if you’re going to pull out your “Sunday Best” and become an active part of your local parish, or follow the growing trend of making the most of Sydney’s amazing outdoor locations. For a fab guide to ceremonies in Sydney, check out these two websites:

Outdoor locations in Sydney
http://sydneywedding.com.au/top-10-ceremony-locations-in-sydney/

Church and outdoor locations in Sydney
http://www.inlighten.com.au/ceremonies/

If you can find a Reception and Ceremony venue available on the same date – SNAP! You have a wedding date!

Step 5 – Dress time!

Time to get off the couch and hit the dress shops. You definitely cannot order your dress online. Here’s a tip you might find surprising: do tell the Bridal Shop Assistant what your real budget is. And DON’T try on anything over it. There’s no point getting your heart set on something you can’t afford, trust me.

Step 6 – Get off social media

Social media is a fantastic place for inspiration. But it sucks for actually booking in suppliers. So once you’ve used Pinterest and Instagram to find a colour palette and theme you like – put yourself out of your misery and stop screen grabbing floral designs from overseas luxury weddings. Instead look to local wedding publications where you can find a directory of suppliers for each category.

Step 7 – No seriously, just make a decision and book it in

There are a lot of beautiful distractions in wedding world. So be decisive, tick off your list and move forward!

Step 8 – Hire an “On the Day Planner”

Even the greatest control freak in the world cannot manage her wedding day. As the bride you will be at home getting ready while the flowers and reception are set up. So to avoid any last minutes stresses, book in an “On the Day Planner” to take care of all the last minute details for you. Most wedding planners will provide this service.

Planning your wedding should be fun – for you. So whether that means planning your wedding over 2 years or 2 hours, enjoy the experience and don’t be afraid to be bold and decisive. Your wedding is a reflection of who you are as a couple, so don’t feel like you need everyone else’s opinion. Know who you are, relish it and plan away!

One of the country’s most in-demand Bridal Coaches and Director of Inlighten Photography, Rachael has been involved with over 1,000 weddings in the past 10 years. It’s safe to safe she’s seen it all.

Today Rachael devotes her time to running Inlighten, while also hosting group coaching sessions for brides. She advises women on everything from event styling to seating plans, and helps to alleviate the stress associated with planning a wedding.

Rachael will host her next bridal coaching session in February 2016. To keep up to date on session dates as they are confirmed visit http://www.rachaelbentick.com/events/

For more information about Inlighten Photography visit www.inlighten.com.au or call 02 9550 0332

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Celebrating Excellence: The WIPA Awards

It’s always good to know that the people planning, hosting and capturing your special day know what a real festivity is all about. Earlier this week, the head honchos of the wedding industry gathered together to celebrate and appreciate the hard work of their fellow businesses at the Wedding Industry Professionals of Australia (WIPA) awards.

Hosted by Wedding & Events of Australia (WEOA), the Awards were the perfect excuse for business owners in the wedding industry to glam up and enjoy a night of socializing and networking. The evening was held at the spectacular Doltone House, Sydney and was filled with a selection of Oyster Bay wines and the sweet melodies of musical duo, Duke Music.

The most significant event of the night was, of course, the announcement of the winners. Each WIPA submission received a rating against the Diamond Standard, and businesses who were awarded with one, two or three diamonds were recognized industry-wide as having excelled and flourished in their work.

What we love the most about the WIPA Awards is that they not only draw attention to the efforts of individuals in the industry, but are also a way of encouraging wedding businesses to pursue their highest aspirations.

Amongst the 45 businesses who were successful in receiving a 2 Diamond Rating were Couture Wedding Planning, Inlighten Photography, Lilli Marcs and The Honeymoon Boutique. All were recognized as being well-established businesses who boasted an abundance of positive testimonials.

Returning from the Awards with a more prestigious, 3 Diamond Rating were only seven businesses, including Makeup and Hair Boudoir, Milque Photography and Untitled Film Works. Receiving 3 Diamonds is a huge privilege, and is offered only to those who are stand out leaders in their field and who have little room for improvement. Congratulations to all those recognized for their enthusiasm and excellence!

For more information about the WIPA Awards and this year’s winners visit weoa.com.au/wipa-awards.

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Style Shoot: Jasmine Hoffman

We’ve developed a real liking for Jasmine Hoffman, a professional makeup artist, who takes to her clients as deliberately as a painter would take to a blank canvas, using ten years of experience and her manifest skill to create that enviable glow of bridal beauty.

Jasmine believes that every individual’s makeup can be the ultimate artistic expression of personality and charm, and should always leave them feeling completely radiant – a task that is somewhat second nature to Jasmine, as seen through her style shoot this month at the whimsical Whitecliff Park, Vancouver.