July 21, 2011

Kate Moss & Jamie Hince tie the knot!

While the world continues to be Kate Middleton mad, it was another Kate that all eyes were fixed upon last week when waif-like model Kate Moss tied the knot with The Kills' Jamie Hince.

The couple wed in Southrop, England, with the bride donning a cream silk gown and a delicate floorlength lace veil with a vintage-inspired headpiece both by John Galliano.

Venice: A honeymooner’s guide

While Paris may be the City of Light, Venice is the City of Romance.

And it is truly a delightful city to uncover. Narrow canals replace streets, with arched bridges connecting the honey-coloured stone buildings. Alleyways wind through the city like a maze, unexpectedly opening up into sunny piazzas with stone fountains and colourful flowers cascading over balconies.

The most breathtaking view of the waterscape in Venice is by the Grand Canal. The largest and widest of the canals in the city it is lined with Gothic buildings which date from the 13th to the 18th centuries.

One of the most striking attractions in Venice is Palazzo Ducale (the Doges' Palace). Built in a typically Byzantine style, it houses paintings by Tintoretto and Paolo Veronese, which glorify the Venetian state. A tour of the palace gives you access to the famed Ponte dei Sospiri, or "Bridge of Sighs," which connects the Doge's prisons with the inquisitor's rooms in the main palace.

The palace neighbours the famous San Marco Square, thought to be one of the finest squares in the world. It boasts a number of famous cafes where visitors and Venetians alike enjoy the open-air atmosphere. While it is alive and brimming in the day with local vendors, restaurants, cafes and local artisan shops, it is magical by night when the square is alight.

The famed Harry’s Bar is nearby, where imbibing in a peach Bellini is on any tourist’s top 10 things to do, given the bar is the birthplace of the cocktail.

Ernest Hemingway was a frequent visitor, while the bar has also played host to Alfred Hitchcock, Truman Capote, Orson Welles and the Princess Aspasia of Greece.

A visit to Venice wouldn’t be complete without a gondola ride. Once the main means of transportation for Venetian nobility, nowadays it’s only the tourists who enjoy this sedate and romantic way of roving the hidden canals that run through the heart of the city.

When to visit: Venice draws legions of tourists during the peak travel months of June through September, so consider timing your visit from October to April. You may encounter fog or a little rain during the winter months, but mild and sunny days are also common.

Stay at: Boutique Hotel Ca' Gottardi, Venice.

July 11, 2011

Planning the perfect vintage wedding

When it comes to your wedding theme, old-world vintage is one of the most romantic options to consider.

From the Lincoln Center, New York to the Grand Palais, Paris, collections from the Spring/Summer 2011 runways showcased a plethora of vintage-inspired wedding gowns.

The likes of Lanvin, Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera and Monique Lhuillier sent romantic, vintage creations down the runway, many in Alençon and Chantilly lace, with unique detailing such as a long-sleeve coat, satin sash or an interesting neckline.

Clearly the vintage wedding trend is here to stay for at least another season.

Recent bride Elyse Ogston, 23, chose the vintage theme for her wedding to Radek Graczyk, 28, as she feels the look is timeless.

“Vintage is so classic and I wanted to choose a style that I could look back on in 20 years time and still love,” she says.

If you’re opting for a vintage-inspired wedding theme – from your venue, music and cars to your invites, bomboniere and flowers, one of the most prominent ways to channel vintage is with your wedding dress.

In fact, your wedding dress sets the mood for the entire day – most eyes will be on the bride after all!

Dresses from yesteryear (whether original or not) are not only glamorous and inspiring, but are often more romantic than their more modern counterparts.

If you’re sourcing a truly authentic vintage dress you can canvass friends and relatives who may be willing to give, lend or sell you a dress which has been passed down through generations, otherwise you can scour specialist clothing stores or eBay.

However, don’t feel obliged to buy an authentic vintage dress. If it's really only a certain silhouette you're after, you can very easily have a reproduction of a vintage gown made.

Designer Angela Marcuccio says the 30s, 40s and 50s are a big inspiration for her current collection.

“The fabrics that are available at the moment lend themselves to an art deco or vintage feel,” Marcuccio says.

“The celebrities of old were so glamorous and the 40s were such a feminine era. The fashion techniques like handcrafted drapery and hand stitching in these pieces are so special. Vintage wedding gowns really are stunning works of art.”

Elyse achieved her vision of a vintage, empire-line gown with a couture design from Strictly Bridal, which featured a full train, beaded lace bodice, lace cap sleeves and a 3.5 metre mantilla veil with beaded trim.

“I incorporated the vintage theme with the lace in my dress and veil,” explains Elyse. “My shoes also followed the theme and were a French-style peep toe with lace detail and bow.”

“I chose a beautiful antique mauve colour for my bridesmaid’s dresses. This soft shade suited the day perfectly and I believe brought everything together.”

Going to the chapel

There are plenty of venues which cater specifically for couples searching for the perfect vintage setting.

Some great options include a vineyard or winery, a historical ballroom with antique furnishings or a more basic venue which you can “dress up” by hiring chandeliers, candelabras, floral displays, and vintage chairs, tables and linen.

Driving Miss Vintage

Alighting from a silver 1920s Buick or a cream-coloured 1930s Chrysler is the perfect way to make your entrance (and exit) in true old-fashioned style.

Simply picking a car from the era you are targetting is easy and will more come down to the particular look of a car you favour.

Stationery from yesteryear

For invites, menus and place cards, throwback stationery styles, like letterpress printing and tea-stained papers, can instantly enrich your stationery with nostalgic charm. Or try lining your stationery with the same lace you have chosen for your dress.

“A beautiful damask pattern with classic font styles is perfectly matched to a stylish vintage wedding,” suggests stationery designer Christine Levy. “Or go for a more avant-garde design with vintage embellishment.”

“Whichever style you pick out, your invites are the first ‘introduction’, if you like, of your wedding to your guests, so you need to get them right,” Levy says.

A pretty posy

Nothing spells vintage quite like soft-pink David Austin roses, though opting for any flower in a softer colour will help you achieve that vintage look. Think pastel pinks and soft browns, white and cream. Use neutrals to accent, such as chocolate brown or taupes. You can also choose bunches of violets, ivy tendrils, lilies, hydrangeas, peonies, carnations, poppies or cornflowers.

Florist Barbara Jones says once-favoured contemporary colours are making way for a softer look.

“Brides today seem to generally be going for softer and more antique flowers,” says Jones. “Vintage looks are in, with old-fashioned flowers such as carnations and baby's breath making a big comeback.”

You can also have your bouquet arranged as per your era. Posies were extremely popular during the 1910s that were later replaced with shower bouquets in the 20s, which all but disappeared during the more austere 30s, where corsages were often worn.

The smaller touches

There are plenty of personalised touches you can add to take your vintage theme even further.

Scatter framed sepia or black and white photographs of yourselves (perhaps from your engagement party) around your wedding venue. Display vintage pieces among your wedding décor such as old books, a typewriter and vintage-inspired luggage. Place flowers arrangements in antique crystal vases and hunt down an authentic antique cake topper. Give guests favours which tie in with the era, such as monogrammed handkerchiefs for the ‘20s or quirky Pez dispenses for the ‘60s.

Wedding ideas for every era

1920s: Embrace the era of the Roaring '20s with the flapper look. Think dropped-waist dress styles with plunging necklines, ornate headdresses and long pearl necklaces. Have a jazz band playing at the reception and arrange for your photographer to set up an old-time-photo studio where guests can have 1920s snapshots taken.

1930s: As revellers searched for distractions from the Great Depression, this era's fashion was inspired by Hollywood glamour. Go for curve-accentuating dresses with luxurious textures and don Art Deco jewellery. The 30s was also the golden era of the lindy hop - a type of swing dancing. Why don’t you and your groom-to-be surprise guests by preparing a dance routine for the reception?

1940s: Wartime rationing called for simple designs, so opt for a slim fitting suit or a drop shoulder slender fit satin dress with full length gloves and even a hat with a netted face veil. Swing was huge at the time so go all out with a big brass band!

1950s: Ultra-feminine styles were the "in" thing in the ‘50s, represented best by Dior, with full skirts, rounded shoulders and a very emphasised waist. Incorporate polka dots, stripes and ribbons into your invites, arrive at your wedding nuptials in a Pink Cadillac and try novel ideas like a jukebox as well as a rock ‘n’ roll band and set up a soda fountain for guests.

1960s: Wedding attire was influenced by the über fashionable Jacqueline Kennedy, and featured A-line dresses with three quarter length sleeves or lacked sleeves in favour of formal gloves. To really channel this groovy era, use lava lamps as table centerpieces, scatter love beads and daisies at place settings and serve Champagne in a coupe – the shallow, broad-bowled, stemmed glass that was the glass of choice during the 60s.

Classic beauty for every bride-to-be

When it comes to choosing your wedding make-up style, the choices are seemingly endless. Bride Tasmania's resident beauty blogger Laura Curtis keeps things simple by pinpointing four classic looks brides-to-be can choose from to suit their own style.

Elegant Bride (a la Carrie Underwood)

Carrie's flawless skin, defined eyes and glossy nude-pink lips are the ideal choice for the "perfectionist" bride, who wants to look like a princess on her big day.

Emulate Carrie's make-up by:

Perfecting your complexion with a foundation that gives a soft-focus glow. I recommend Nars Sheer Glow Foundation.
Lining eyes with waterproof black eyeliner, like the foolproof Stila Smudge Stick in Stingray.
Applying a pretty pink lipgloss. YSL Shiny Lip Plumper in Candy is lovely.
Sweep an illuminating pink blush on the apples of the cheeks. I can't go past cult favourite Nars Blush in Orgasm.

Glamorous Bride (a la Kiera Knightly)

Kiera's more dramatic make-up will suit a bride who wants to look a little sexy and edgier on her big day. The differences between "Elegant" and "Glamourous" lie in the details: Kiera's eye make-up is more smokey, her lip and cheek colours are deeper with a matte finish and her brows are fuller and more defined.

To upgrade to Kiera's glamourous face, try:

Adding a strip of false lashes to your top lashline.
Staining lips with a rosy matte lipstick like Chanel Rouge Coco in Mademoiselle.
Contouring cheeks with Nars Bronzing Powder in Laguna and Chanel Joues Contraste Blush in Rose Dust.
Filling in brows with a taupe brow powder like Nars Eyeshadow in Bali.

Romantic Bride (a la Scarlett Johanssen)

Scarlett's soft, pretty make-up style will flatter a minimalist bride who wants a chic and timeless look.

The key characteristics of Scarlett's look include:

Black eyeliner along the top lashline only, paired with a blendable mauve eyeshadow like Nars Eyeshadow in Ashes to Ashes.
A soft peachy blush lightly tapped onto cheeks. Nars Blush in Amour is beautiful.
A glossy nude lipstick. Chantecaille Lip Chic in Sari Rose is a staple in my bridal makeup kit.

Natural Bride (a la Keri Russel)

Keri's pared-back style will suit a low key bride who wants to keep things simple and pretty. Her "natural" look can be differentiated from Scarlett's "romantic" look by a lighter coverage foundation with a sheen, matte lips and dewy cheeks.

For Keri's natural look:

Apply a light layer of sheer, hydrating foundation like makeup artist favourite MAC Face & Body Foundation.
Blend a light pink cream blush onto the cheeks. Stila Convertible Colour in Lillium is a classic.
A matte nude lip colour. Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Bettina appears effortless, without making its wearer look washed out as some nude shades tend to do.

So there you go! My four favourite bridal looks. Which is your pick?

Laura Curtis is a beauty writer and make-up artist. To see more of her writing and beauty advice, you can visit her blogs One April Morning and Pretty Poesy, and follow her on Twitter (@laura_valerie).

July 01, 2011

For the grooms: Dealing with nerves

Every groom gets nervous on his big day, but some simple calming tips will be sure to keep the jitters at bay.

While for many grooms-to-be the most nerve-racking experience is out of the way once your bride-to-be has said yes to your proposal, as the special day looms closer, the realisation dawns that this may have been a piece of (wedding) cake in comparison to what comes next.

Standing up in front of family, friends – sometimes in a cast of hundreds – can be a daunting experience for even the most confident of grooms.

And with so many things to juggle on the day – remembering the vows you’ve so carefully prepared and memorised; ensuring you don’t trip over your bride’s $8,000 Alex Perry gown during your first dance together; keeping everyone mingling and having a good time at the reception; praying that your best man omits any embarrassing past indiscretions during his speech – can all spell major stress time for grooms.

For recent groom Dennis Perry, 35, who married Anna, 33 in a lavish yet intimate ceremony at Riva in Melbourne, keeping his nerves in check was all about remembering why he was there.

“I was pretty nervous before the ceremony,” he admits, “but I just thought about how special Annette is to me and how excited I was to stand up in front of everyone to make our commitment to one another.”

“Once I was just focused on Anna, I forgot about everyone else in the room.”

As for the speech, says Perry, it was a matter of relaxing and just being himself.

“I didn’t prepare a great long speech. I jotted down a couple of things before the day and then just went off the cuff once I had the floor. I wanted my speech to come from the heart anyway, corny I know, but I didn’t want to be wooden and rehearsed.“

“Plus a glass of Champagne beforehand really helped!” he laughs.

For grooms really trying to battle the nerves the key is to remember you are there to have a good time, and remember that the people attending are there to share in your happiness. Also, try the following:

Write down a few key points you want to include in your speech prior to the day. For grooms who are a little stuck, try retelling the story of how you and your bride first met – guaranteed to garner some “awww’s”.

Big day jitters? Presentation skills trainer and coach Nigel Heath advises taking some big deep breaths to steady your nerves. “This is so simple and obvious that many people dismiss it without trying it. That’s a pity because it is really powerful,” says Heath.

“Just notice what happens to you when you deliberately take three slow, deep breaths, preferably in through your nose and out through your mouth. This simple exercise will bring you a deep sense of relaxation and calm.”

Get a good night’s sleep the night before. And whatever you do – schedule the buck’s night at least a week before your wedding day.

While it may be tempting to down a few glasses of Moet for a little “Dutch courage”, don’t go overboard. You want to remember the day after all!

Patagonia: A honeymooner's guide

Straddling both Argentina and Chile, Patagonia is home to the World Heritage National Park Torres del Paine and some of the most breathtaking, untouched vistas in the world.

The Park itself is full of stunning glaciers, lakes, fjords, mountains, wild flowers and colourful birdlife, and getting back to nature is easy with plenty of hiking trails, nature walks and river kayaking.

As for accommodation, EcoCamp Patagonia gives you the opportunity to stay in this remote wilderness while having as little impact on the natural habitat as possible.

EcoCamp provides igloo-like eco “domes” – of which there are three types – Core, Standard and Suite – but considering you are on your honeymoon, we recommend opting for the latter.

The Suite Domes are built in the same way as the ancient native Kaweska's dwellings, who were the first inhabitants of the area. Each dome has a private bathroom, surprisingly plush double beds and are heated by modern low-emission wood stoves.

The domes are designed to produce minimal environmental impact, with each one having its own composting device to process waste, while electricity is generated with a micro-hydro turbine and solar panels.

EcoCamp will also help you plan an itinerary of activities during your stay (as gentle or adventurous as you choose). Local guides will lead you on treks, horseback riding, kayaking, mountain climbing, fly fishing and sailing – pretty much every outdoor activity you can think of!

When to visit: Weather is often unpredictable in Patagonia, with strong winds and sudden storms common. Summertime (December through February) is the best time to visit as temperatures are generally warmer and trails are more accessible.

Must-do: A tour of the Perito Moreno Glacier is touted as the most spectacular excursion in all of Patagonia, where you’ll take in impressive natural sites such as Lake Argentino, as well as quaint Patagonian farmhouses peppered along the Mitre riverbank.

Stay at: EcoCamp Patagonia.