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Tips for Dress Shopping

For any bride, finding the perfect dress is one of the most exciting parts of the wedding planning process. But having a plan of attack rather than just hitting the shops can save a lot of time if each one is ticked off.

That’s why we have put together a list to finding the perfect dress to make sure it goes without a hitch, and you come away looking and feeling stunning.

Forming the budget

Talking about the budget should be one of the very first steps in planning a wedding. If you know the limit, then it is much easier to stick to. Otherwise, you’ll be shopping around, wasting time looking at dresses outside the budget.

Budgets can obviously differ from each couple to the next, but there are many factors that all couples have to factor when deciding: will you buy a brand new dress, get it made or find a pre-worn gem, what accessories will go with it such as a veil, shoes and jewelery.

Research time

Some woman know the gorgeous dream dress they will wear, and have so for many years. But for others who aren’t as prepared, set time aside to flick through magazines, Pinterest and wedding blogs for inspiration.

If this is done before going into a store, the search may be easier than going in with no direction. But bearing in mind, each dress looks different on every woman, so single out a handful of the most stunning dresses during research and have a rough idea before hitting the bridal boutiques.

However, the old saying goes, the dress you chose is one you never would have thought of.

Know the wedding date, style and venue

Certain dress lengths, styles and fabrics can depend on which season the wedding will be in, where it will be held and what the theme of the wedding day is.

A beach wedding will call for a different style to a traditional church wedding ceremony. Knowing these details, or having a rough idea can narrow down dress shopping styles as well as ensure that you look the part on the day.

Mark it on the calendar

It may sound straight-forward, popping into a handful of bridal boutiques with girlfriends and pulling out the perfect dress. But time is key when looking for a dress. Leaving it to the last minute to find it will only stress you out with the rest of the wedding to plan is not what any bride wants.

Marking days on the calendar in which you know you and a few girlfriends will be free to go shopping is vital. Leaving it last minute won’t allow for any fitting, ordering delays or alterations. It also shouldn’t be rushed, looking and feeling amazing on the day is important, and the dress is the key to that. So having dates to work to cane put that time pressure at ease.

Shopping support

Dress shopping can be a special time for a bride and her bridesmaids as well as close friends and family. Not a large group of support, but having those with you who you know have a great sense of style and will be honest has to be a weight off your shoulders. However, there is nothing wrong with going along on the first shopping days before getting second opinions on your favourites. Enjoy

Lastly, the moment you find the dress that you fall in love with and look and feel amazing is is the best feeling. So enjoy the experience.

#FridayFlorals: Floral Wedding Gowns

For today's installment of #FridayFlorals, we thought we'd take a different tack and showcase floral wedding gowns, an alternative for the bride who isn't too keen on white or is planning an exquisite garden wedding.

Many bridal designers have been showcasing some truly stunning floral gowns this season inclusing the incredible Carolina Herrera with a focus on soft, pastel tones and soft, subtle watercolour prints.

Some have chosen a slightly different route and have incorporated your 'something blue' by opting for a chinoiserie style print either as the main focus or as an underlay on the skirt so you catch a glimpse as the bride walks the aisle.

The benefit of choosing a floral gown is that you'll not only stand out among a sea of white and have a truly unique gown but you'll also likely save a pretty penny considering you don't need to limit yourself to bridal collections.

Many eventwear stockists may have just what you need or alternatively, you can take a bridal pattern to a dressmaker to have your perfect gown crafted out of your chosen fabric - which will be dramatically less expensive than anything in the realm of bridal fabrics. You can also usually get away with calling it a 'ballgown' and not having the added 'bridal' markup added to your creation.

Floral gowns can still be paired with traditional veils so aren't a complete escape from the classic bride yet do allow you far more options in regards to accessories and bridesmaid attire.

Perfect for the unconventional bride!

Choosing Your Wedding Dress


When it comes to weddings, the dress is often the most important aspect - the gown the bride will wear as she walks down the aisle and into her new married life can be one of the hardest decisions of the entire wedding planning process.

We've collected a few tips to help you in this process:

Browse the pages of wedding magazines and pore over internet wedding designer sites and make a note of styles and designers you like.

Familiarise yourself with the kind of terminology used so you can accurately convey what design you’re after. Even if it doesn’t look good on the hanger, try it on anyway - you’ll be surprised what looks good on your body shape and vice versa - a style you've seen on a mannequin or in a magazine may be the worst style for your shape, so just try things on and get a feel for what suits you best.

Complement that by trying different necklines and silhouettes, cuts and styles to find what will best simultaneously diminish problem areas and highlight good ones. Even ruching and beading can draw attention away from certain areas and provide embellishment or sparkle at the same time.

You’ll need to keep in mind that it will take between 3 and 6 months to receive your dress through a boutique or between 6 – 9 months for a custom-made gown, plus you’ll need to leave a few extra weeks for alterations before the wedding. You may find what you want off-the-rack but you’ll also pay around $100 as a ‘try-on fee’ (usually credited towards your gown purchase instore) and most dresses will be in sample sizes or not available off-the-rack so there will be a wait either way.

Remember that you’ll be contorting yourself in all directions – sitting, dancing, posing for photos, standing for long periods of time and trying to take a ladies break all while wearing this gown, so it needs to be comfortable and unrestrictive.

Ordering dresses online may seem a cheaper and easier alternative but more often than not, the product isn’t what was ordered, is made using inferior work, isn’t made to the provided sizing even though you gave them around 20-25 different measurements of your body and add to that, the cost of rush alterations, import taxes, delivery fess and usually, a replacement gown and you may as well have just bought a dress locally from the outset. We constantly hear horror stories from bridal boutiques of brides who have ordered online only to end up at the boutiques in a panic a few weeks before the wedding because of disasters with online ordering.

Buying locally from a reputable vendor or having something custom made means you have the ability to go in for regular fittings and alterations and to see the product from start to finish. You’ll be able to choose your fabric and not end up with an inferior fabric that wasn’t outlined in the online copy - not to mention that buying locally is much more effortless and therefore again, takes away unnecessary stress. Many brides-to-be think that ordering online is far cheaper and easier however ordering from a gown designer can most of the time be relateively inexpensive and save you a significant amount of stress. Our favourite gown designer has gowns from around $1,700 to $7,000 adorning their racks so there's always something for any bride's price point.

If you’re voluptuous, look for a gown that will hug but not cling to your curves. You’ll want to choose stiffer fabrics like duchesse satin or taffeta. If you want to make it look softer, you can always use these as a base and then add a thin overlay of embroidered tulle for sparkle and romance.

Slim Draping or pleats will give the illusion of curves and an A-line skirt will give fullness.

For the petite or athletic bride, a sheath- style gown will elongate your frame and drop waists will even out the ratio of torso to legs. Opting for a deep V-neck will suit those with a slender upper body or a low-cut back will flatter sculpted shoulders.

Don't follow the trends too closely, remember that puffy sleeves and hoop skirts were trending in the eighties - fashion may be cyclic but choosing something a little more timeless will make you still love those wedding photos a couple of decades in the future.

Gown Designer Profile: Vinka Design

Image by Kate Little for Harlow Garland

Image by Adelina Photography for Harlow Garland

Image by Kate Little 

Image by Angela Taylor 

Image by Adelina

Image by Kate Little 

Image by Angela Taylor 

With so many silhouettes, lengths, fabrics and necklines, the world of wedding gowns can be an overwhelming one often brides have a portfolio of gowns in a certain look that they absolutely must have, and often, they're let down when they find the style just doesn't suit them.

This is where it pays to go to someone who knows gowns, who understands your form and how best to flatter it.

Whenever we want gowns, we head straight to see Anita at Vinka Design. Not only are each of her many gowns a handcrafted masterpiece but Anita is the ultimate designer - she knows exactly what will look good and what won't.

Anita lives and breathes bridal gowns, she's a second generationdesigner with her mother, Vinka - the company's namesake, having been the go-to designer in her time. Vinka's care and attention to detail was passed on to Anita who has grown her skillbase and eye for design to a whole other level.

We've taken models and brides alike to see Anita and everytime, they leave the appointment floating on air. Even if they had a certain idea going in, they're never 'let down' that a certain style won't suit and Anita's talent for knowing her gowns and knowing what will look best on your figure means that every bride is given the utmost in care and attention until they're happy with their gown.

Vinka Design have also helped many a bride who has ordered online only to be devastated by the quality or fit of their purchase and have headed to Vinka dEsign to find something they can truly fall in love with.

As well as a plethora of ready-to-wear gowns hanging on the racks, Vinka Design create bespoke gowns to cater to your dream wedding vision. Whether it's a plain bohemian style gown for a rustic country wedding or an opulent Victorian style lace gown with beading, she can create it.

A trip to Vinka Design is an absolute delight and is reminiscent of all those stunning bridal boutiques you see in film that are so lacking in real life. Wandering down a hallway adorned with photos of past brides wearing Vinka Design creations you're greeted by a palette of soft feminine tones and racks of gowns in all manner of white tone, texture, glitz and femininity.

A comfortable consultation corner awaits with a stack of wedding magazines to peruse and the counters of wedding accessories are enough to make you swoon until you see the sheer selection of laces and fabrics just waiting for you to fall in love. The workroom is also on site and is constantly buzz with busy fingers meticulously stitching beads onto delicate lace.

This post shows a small selection of the gowns we've sourced from Vinka Design, as you can see, the variety is wide, the detail impeccable and the beauty of these gowns, striking.

If you're at the gown-buying stage, Vinka Design should definitely be your first and last stop. The gowns are incredible and won't cost you a house deposit, the service is impeccable and the craftsmanship unmatched - don't just take our word for it though, head in for a consultation, no commitment required, to see what we're talking about, feel that confidence and bask in your wedding gown hunting glory.

Vinka Design

Level 1, 242 Queen Street, Auckland

(09) 300 3047

Lavender Fields