9 lessons I learnt when finding THE wedding dress for my big day


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I think most girls have this ideal image in their heads about their wedding dress. Let me tell you I was NOT one of those girls. In fact when I had to start looking for my wedding dress I absolutely DREADED it. If you don’t believe me ask my husband-to-be (I still can’t say the fi… word.. it still sounds too weird and perhaps even slighly pretentious.. again you can ask my friends at work about that I still say boyfriend and they all correct me!).

SO what did I learn when I went to buy my wedding dress for my big day?

1) Shop early BUT not too early

If you don’t shop early you are likely to give yourself a panic attack and the girls at the bridal stores a heart attack. You have to remember they make the dresses in your size (or closest to your size) offsite and it can take months. Then when it comes in you have to get fitted into it.. adjusted.. added.. removed.. etc. etc. etc. it TAKES TIME. You need to be looking at the latest 9 months before your wedding. The earlier the better.. you don’t want to be doing it 6 months out.

BUT at the same time don’t be shopping early like more than 12 months before your wedding.. you are more than likely to change your mind.. change your style.. change your body and it will just result in unnecessary expense.

2) KEEP an OPEN mind..

What I mean by that is not being set on a particular design. Because what you think you suit may actually NOT suit you or may not be the BEST choice in the end. SO when the lady at the shops offer you a style that they think you will look great in.. but you think might not be the best choice for your body type, you could be wrong. Just be open minded about trying on anything and everything, because there will be styles that surprise you.


THIS is probably the most important. Don’t bring a HUGE group of people to your dress hunt. TOO many people = TOO many opinions = TOO confusing. Everyone has a different taste, everyone has a different view of what looks good on you. BUT the one person that will ALWAYS be honest is your mother. BRING YOUR MUM and one family member that has a good eye for fashion and style and what will suit you.

I brought only my mum to 80% of my appointments then to the other 20% I bought along my aunty who is good at picking and seeing dresses and fashionable things, because believe me a lot of the dresses start to look the same! Then when I got it down to my top 3 dresses and either my aunty or my mum could pick it, I bought along my BFF who I know will tell me the truth.

4) First boutique should be a store with a big collection of different style dresses

I think your first wedding dress boutique should be one with the biggest section of different style of wedding dresses from plain simple elegant dresses to big puffy ballgowns.. from lace and sparkles to structured cuts.

WHY? It allows you to try EVERY style possible all at once.

This will then give you an idea of what totally suits you and what doesn’t. It will allow you to understand the differences between half boning to full body boning, from tulle to satin to silk to polyester, differences between the lace types (trust me there is a difference), from hoops to slim fits, from fish tails and trumpets, from a-line to sheath. THERE is a LOT to learn!

I recommend going to HOB NOB in Mount Lawley, Beaufort street near the corner of Lincoln street (simply because they have a HUGE space filled with so many different styles of dresses and its kept neat and tidy and the fitting rooms are actually nice and big) AND if you have a very good and patient lady like I did (ASK FOR CHRISTELBELL!).. It will make things (and subsequent visits to other bridal stores) an absolute breeze.

5) Go to a designer bridal store and consider getting your dress made

I think it’s also important to try a few designer bridal store, because believe it or not it may be within your budget.

Why do I say that? WELL, because a lot of the bridal stores have the following costs:

a) cost of the wedding dress

b) cost of modifying the said wedding dress aka you want to add sleeves $$, add more sparkles $$, lower the back/stitch up the front so I don’t look like a tart $, longer train $$$$

c) cost of hemming $

and before you know it.. your budget has BLOWN.

The designer bridal store on the other hand can MAKE THE DRESS to your FIT. They mold the dress to your body.  Which means NO cost  C and depending on what design you want it is usually just the cost of A and very limited cost of B. BUT the MOST important thing to remember is it is more likely to have an overall cost that is less and you WILL get your DREAM dress.

Some of the best local designers I went to and fully recommend are:

Donna Tobin – I was so very close to getting my dress made my Donna. BUT my girlfriend told me the dress at KWH was more me. I loved the dress I found here. It is my ideal princess wedding dress. Think GRACE KELLY. So damn gorgeous.. in fact if I am rich and I will get Donna to make the one I tried on for me to wear to my ceremony and for the one I got from KWH to be my reception gown.. OH in the ideal world!

Karen Willis Holmes (I bought my dress from KWH and OMG… STACEY at KWH is an ABSOLUTE GEM. She was my FAIRY DRESSMOTHER, I cannot recommend her enough so patient, honest (will provide her opinion), sweet and NOT pushy!!!)

Pallas Couture

6) TRUST your instincts and get a dress where YOU wear the dress and not the other way around..

You need to trust that you know your own body, your own style and what you want to PORTRAY at your wedding. If it is a fairytale princess wedding idea then go for that.

JUST remember if you are small and petite a HUGE puffy gown is likely to SWALLOW you up and hide you and WEAR you than you wearing the dress.

So the biggest LESSON and advice I can give you when buying THE wedding dress for your big day is … buy a dress where YOU are wearing the dress.. where the dress accentuates your assets and hides your flaws! and do NOT buy a dress that wears you.

7) Don’t go to too many boutiques in one day

REMEMBER YOU NEED TO BOOK AN APPOINTMENT to try on the dresses, especially on Fridays and Saturdays. Go to a boutique early in the morning.. try the dresses on.. then go to lunch.. talk about it.. rank them.. remember them.. write them down..

Then go to another one in the early afternoon.. try the dresses on.. then go an have coffee.. talk about it.. do NOT do more than two boutiques in any one day.. it’s too much.

You won’t remember them all and you will get confused.

8) NEVER get bullied by the salesperson

This is VERY VERY VERY VERY IMPORTANT. You have to remember that the person helping you in and out of the wedding dress and the person grabbing the dresses are exactly that… salesperson. Wedding boutiques are still selling something. Don’t get pushed around. TAKE your mum with you and let them help you. DON’T rely on the salesperson because there are some that just want you to buy the most expensive dress there is (not all of them are like this but some of them are…).

They will do their best to sway you especially if you have put a deposit down and have NOT yet ordered a size. I didn’t order my size because I said that I wanted to lose a bit of weight and then I started to have second thoughts because it has been a bit too long since I’ve seen the dress and because I was on pinterest a bit too much. Then THE OWNER got involved and SHE was pushy as.. trying to make you stick to your original dress choice. I SUGGEST YOU STAY FIRM (I did) and SAY you will retry the dress you chose but will ALSO TRY on other dresses just in case. PS. in the end I stuck to my choice because it’s still gorgeous.


You only get to technically do this once in your life. ENJOY IT. CHERISH it. LOVE EVERY MOMENT OF IT. Because once you have THE dress you won’t be going anymore. I MEAN how many times do you really get to try on ball like gowns.. beautifully intricate gowns?

I hope these 9 lessons I learnt from my wedding dress shopping experience will be beneficial to you! Because by the end of my experience I absolutely enjoyed it. I loved how some places served champagne and how some places provided you amazing services. There were a few that didn’t give a S*HT and treated you like crap even though you made appointments. In fact they made you wait for 15 minutes and even forgot about you. Those a places you do NOT buy your wedding dress from.

Just enjoy it.





Smelling Sweet at Cleanslate Perfume Workshop

Cleanslate Skincare perfume Workshop

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I’m a perfume addict. A really bad one.

I have a couple of scents on rotation and the fragrance of the favourites have evolved over time but still I have too many and possibly too many that are half used.. or are on seasonal rotation.

As such I’m dead curious about perfume making and despite having the pharmacy knowledge to make such things I still like to learn from the perfumery experts when the occasion arises as I am no perfume maker.

So when I heard that Cleanslate was having a perfume workshop, especially one where the products are organic, vegan and allergy friendly… I jumped at the chance. (Side note: For those who haven’t heard of Cleanslate it’s founder Katrina Snowden gave birth to the company out of necessity for products with no chemical nasties or irritants as she had really bad eczema. With a background in aromatherapy, natural medicines she dedicated 12 years to craft an artisanal range of natural, vegan skincare products and very fragrant soy candles for the home and made onsite at the Perth Treasury/Cathedral Square building). 

NOW you know why I got excited when I heard and saw the opportunity to go to the workshop.. so I booked myself in for their first one of the year.

Cleanslate Skincare Perfume Range

Cleanslate Skincare Perfume Range

The workshop is located in Cleanslate Skincare’s retail/workshop store in Perth city at the recently revamped Cathedral Square/COMO Treasury Building. If you haven’t been.. where have you been? It’s like the most talked about location at present .. and get there ASAP!

The Cleanslate retail store is absolutely beautiful! Located at the basement of the COMO Treasury building, it has exposed brick walls and pipes, huge open space to eye off their manufacturing processes (or perfect space for workshops)… not to mention it smells absolutely divine thanks to their fragrant candles, soaps, perfumes and other skincare goodies.

cleanslateshopcleanslate cleanslateinterior

The workshops are small and intimate with only 12 people and personally taught by Katrina.

It allows for lots of one on one guidance as she is able to move around the class and talk to everyone.

It also allows you to mingle with your “classmates”.

Cleanslate Perfume Workshop

Without revealing too much of the class.. because you should really go to it… Getting the right mix of smells into a perfume is a lot harder than one thinks!

The complexity of essential oils mixing with one another and trying to figure out if the scents work together is no easy task for your olfactory senses.. especially if you have one like mine which isn’t very sensitive at all.

It’s also pretty amazing to smell/learn for yourself how the oils themselves can change in just a few minutes time and mixture of smells you thought was fragrant one moment may not be so umm.. sweet in a couple of minutes.

cleanslateperfumeworkshop5 cleanslateperfumeworkshop cleanslateperfumeworkshop4

I have to mention that during the class there was water/green tea available and light freshments of cheese, crackers, brown rice sushi, hummus and fruits.. which were somewhat forgotten as we were too excited to make our perfumes. But we still managed to nibble our way through it all.


The 90 minutes class went by so quickly! and having to decide on your favourite scents to bottle within that timeframe proved to be a challenge.

But by the end of the night we bottled TWO of our most favourite scents with the option of coming back and getting Kat to tweak it during the week if it didn’t go according to smell.

Cleanslate Perfume Workshop

The end product produced by moi

Overall, it is a fun class to try and something completely different to do.

It makes a great gift or better yet maybe a hen’s party? (Yes.. unfortunately everything is wedding related thoughts and ideas at the moment!).

For more details check out the Cleanslate Perfume Workshop here. The next one is held in March and remember spots are limited to 12 places so be QUICK before it gets booked out!


Designing your engagement ring – what to know beyond the 4 C’s


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Its about 11 months until my wedding and my wedding planning is temporarily on hold as the Festival season begins. Plus it’s starting to get annoying to have to think about it and since the excitement of wedding dress shopping has passed I really can’t be bothered at present.

BUT I thought I’ll share you my experience of designing my engagement ring. Yes, my other half and I picked our diamond, drew up our ring and got the guys at Jogia Diamonds to make it for us. So, it wasn’t so much of a surprise that he was going to propose, but when and how was.

As everyone knows about engagement rings and diamonds there are the 4C’s…

1) Carat

2) Clarity

3) Colour

4) Cut

And really there is a balance between the 4 C’s and budget.The most important balance is to make sure that the cut is brilliant, excellent and symmetrical so that light that goes in can go out and make the diamond sparkle. Then after that the next important thing to consider is the clarity and colour of the diamond. This is because clarity and colour determines HOW much it sparkles, WHAT kind of sparkle it is.. is it going to be white/omit light or is it cloudy (cloudy is NOT good) and last but not least is the carat.

People focus too much on carat, but what is the point of having a HUGE diamond that doesn’t sparkle because the quality o the clarity and colour is below par? I wouldn’t want a diamond like that. We opted for lower carat so we can have higher clarity and colour with a triple excellence cut.

I don’t want to go too much into the 4 C’s as there are so many articles out there for your research purposes. I want to go beyond that and into the designing of the ring.. the thing that will be holding that gorgeous rock.

Trust me there are many things to consider, and I’m hoping this will help you out (because I wish I had this article when I was designing!).

So to get started the first thing to consider is how that precious stone is going to be held..


What are prongs or claws? WELL.. it’s those little metal arms that hold the diamond in place. You can decide whether you what 4 claws or 6 claws. I prefer the 6 claw with my round diamond simply because it keeps the “circle” shape of the diamond. Also in my head it is more secure, after all there are 2 extra claws to hold the diamond. But in the end it’s up to you.

Then you need to consider the shape of the prongs themselves. Do you want them rounded? OR do you what something a little sharper, literally pointed prongs (known as cat, bear or eagle claw prongs)? Alternatively, why not forget the prongs altogether and go for a bezel setting?

engagement design prongs

Image by: Kimberfire Rounded vs. Sharp/Point vs. Bezel

The next thing to consider is whether you want to add any more diamonds to your centre stone.

The first of those consideration is to..


Basically halo means that your centre stone will be surrounded by a circle (or two or more!) of smaller diamonds or would you rather just want the main diamond to shine on it’s on and go solo (otherwise known as a solitaire setting).

Halos look great with pretty much any size diamond… up to a point. Once you’re in the 1.50ct+ range, keep in mind that the halo will make the center stone appear even larger. NOT only that keep in mind that when you have to buy your wedding band, having a halo engagement ring means that your ring may not sit flush and if you do want it to set flush you will have to get one with a U-shaped band, meaning if you want to wear your wedding ring by itself, it may look a little strange.

Personally, I’m not a fan. I mean why hide the star of the show with diamonds around it?

Engagement ring design halo or solitaire

Image by: Kimberfire Solitaire or Halo

Diamonds down the band?

Both solitaire and halo style engagement ring settings look beautiful with or without diamonds down the band.

A traditional classic solitaire does not include any diamonds other than the center stone, but adding diamonds down the band can lend some extra sparkle.. if that’s what you’d like.

I’m generally not a fan of diamonds down the band, because to me I want the centre stone to shine and if it is a pretty diamond I don’t think anything else is needed. But my other half really wanted me to get it, so my engagement ring has it. The extra bling is really growing on me. After all, it is more diamonds and they are a girl’s best friend right?

Engagement ring design, side diamonds or not?

Image by: Kimberfire Solitaire or side diamonds?

After all that design around the stone the next important and often forgotten thing is the band.

And trust me, after trying on so many different designs at the jewellers, the band can totally change the design of the whole ring.


The biggest question is STRAIGHT or TAPERED band.

Personally, I love the tapered band. It lifts the centre diamond up and gives it the illusion of it being bigger. I love the taper look where the band gets skinnier as it get to the diamond. BUT you can have the reverse taper where the band gets wider as it gets to the centre stone. OR you might not like it tapered at all and just have a straight no-fuss band.

engagement ring design band

Image by: Kimberfire Straight vs. Taper vs. Reverse Taper

The next thing to consider with regards to the band is the SHOULDERS.

Yes your engagement ring has SHOULDERS. What this basically means is the height of the band as it approaches the centre stone.

They can be as low as the band with the basket sitting on the top or they can rise towards the diamond as they approach it – known as a cathedral setting. The higher the cathedral the more “elegant” the diamond appears, but also the more cumbersome the ring becomes to wear as it is likely to get caught on your clothes.

A low shoulder is also a very nice look, and slightly more modern. BUT you have to remember not to make it too low otherwise your wedding ring can’t sit flush to your engagement ring.. unless you don’t want it to sit flush.

engagement ring design cathedral setting or not

Image by: Kimberfire No Cathedral Setting vs. Cathedral Setting 

The last thing to consider is… if you have side diamonds or halo design, you need to consider what kind of setting you want those diamonds to be set into. NO, they can’t just be carelessly placed… YES, you need to think about the how they are going to be set and how it is going to be designed. Again, the way it is designed and set greatly affects the overall aesthetic of the engagement ring.

So the question is do you want..U-set, bead-set, channel-set, we all set?

You are probably thinking.. what does this all mean?!

U-set diamonds have spaces for them drilled into the band, creating small u-shape windows from the profile view. This is a classic, end-to-end look as all you see is diamond from the top view. The diamonds themselves are held into place by tiny prongs formed out of the metal, giving the entire piece a uniform and smooth look – also known as “pavé”. Because I like simplistic clean lines, I’m not a huge fan of this as it can look a little messy.

Bead-set diamonds are also set with tiny prongs formed out of the metal, as per u-set, but a slight border accompanies them. This is a very elegant and classic look. I think this kind of setting goes well with vintage designs as you can also have little carving designs on the border.

Channel-set diamonds are contained within a border as per bead setting, but rather than being held in place by prongs they are held by the border itself – basically held by tension. This is for those lovers of simplicity, clean lines and minimalism. This is what I have.

engagement ring channel

U bend vs. Bead Set vs. Channel Set

There you go…

A lot to think about right?

The best advice I can give you is to really think about it. Try a lot of different designs at your jewellery stores. Make note of the little details that you like about the rings.. and make note of things you don’t like. And if you can take a photo take a photo!

And when you are ready.. take photos.. draw.. search on the internet. And when you finally approach a jeweller to design your ring make sure the jeweller can show you a 3D image of your design.

Having said all of this, make sure you are 110% happy with it, after all you are going to be wearing this for the rest of your life. It is an investment.

Yes, there is a lot to think about and a lot to consider, but I think designing it together makes it so much more special.

Where did I design mine? I got my diamond wholesale and on the advice of Jogia Diamonds (We picked a couple of different diamonds and they advised as on which one is the best of the ones we’ve chosen – and trust me the ones we chose also required a lot of understanding of the 4 Cs).

Then we did the above processes and emailed and made appointments with Jogia Diamonds (about 4 appointments!). We gave them copies of our drawings and designs, along with changing our minds about 5 times and then getting them to redraw on their 3D imaging twice. They were brilliant about it all though. Very patient.

And the end product?

Absolutely amazing and dazzling (see the top photo.. yes it is a side view but meh got to save some of the photos for the engagement session).

I’ve had such beautiful comments from everyone I know and from complete strangers.

So if you are looking to design and chose your own diamonds.. make sure you check out Jogia Diamonds (they are based in Perth BY APPOINTMENT ONLY and can also ship to anywhere around the world).

Anyway, I hope this helps out those who are thinking of designing their unique engagement ring.

Let me know your thoughts on this article and how you go with your design!


ps. images by KimberFire 

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