June 27, 2011

Spa appeal: De-stress and pre-prep your bridal beauty routine

Call the experts to action when whipping face and figure into top shape for your big day.

It goes without saying that all the planning and preparation that goes into organising a wedding can take its toll on your physical wellbeing.

Stress caused from constant phone calls to caterers, florists and of course, finding that dress, can cause or further aggravate many skin conditions including acne, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea and cold sores – and who wants a break-out on their big day?

“Ongoing day-to-day stress adversely impacts your immune system,” says world-renowned ayurvedic dermatologist Vaidya Rama Kant Mishra.

“The skin is an organ, widely connected to the rest of the physiology as well as the mind. So it’s natural that like the rest of you, your skin can be negatively affected by stress.”

One of the best ways then to combat both stress and skin complaints, and to ensure that you’re relaxed and revived on your wedding day, is to visit a day spa.

In recent years, the humble day spa has come a long way. A hybrid of a beauty salon and a health retreat, day spas, also known as destination or medi spas, place a greater emphasis on a client’s overall health – both inside and out.

With experts on hand and treatments ranging from therapeutic Swedish massage, shiatsu, aromatherapy and reflexology to non-surgical facelifts, botox injections and even nutritional advice, day spas offer enormous benefits, including minimising the effects of stress on the body, preventing premature ageing and even helping to assist weight loss.

Australian celebs like Laura Csortan and former Miss Universe Jennifer Hawkins have long championed the positive health benefits of visiting a day spa, so calling a revitalising ‘timeout’ should be a mandatory addition to the to-do list for all brides-to-be.

Day spa at home

If you prefer the comfort of your own home, or your wedding budget doesn’t stretch to professional treatments, make your own bathroom a day spa with these top tips for a DIY day spa experience.

Switch off. For ultimate relaxation and de-stressing put your mobile phone on silent, take your home phone off the hook, and don’t be tempted to check emails. It’s not the time to think of these things.

Prepare. Get all the products you’ll need together (think: bath oils, shower gels, exfoliating scrubs, loofahs, essential oils and moisturiser). Grab a bathrobe and slippers, and for a true day spa experience, heat up some towels in the dryer so they’re toasty warm.

Light up. Candles create a relaxing atmosphere. Place a couple around your bathroom, and if you have one, an oil burner as well. If you have a favourite relaxing CD, put it on too.

Scent it. Adding a few drops of essential oils to your bath will make your bathroom smell delicious. Having a shower? Put a little of the essential oils in each corner – the scent will rise with steam.

Start with a scrub. Ditch scaly dry skin with an exfoliating scrub or loofah brush. Dampen your skin first, and then hop out of your bath or shower. Using an exfoliant while in the water is a waste – it’ll wash straight off. Apply your scrub, and work on one area of your body at a time, focusing on drier areas such as your heels, knees and elbows.

Rinse and relax. Follow with a yummy bath or shower gel. If showering, try a spot of at-home hydrotherapy. Turn your shower on full blast and let the water jet give your back and shoulders an excellent massage. If returning to the bath, add some Epsom or sea salts and let any aches or pain soothe away. Relax for around 20 to 30 minutes and let your thoughts go, before hopping out.

Moisturise. The best time to moisturize your body is straight after bathing while your skin’s still warm. Slather on a hydrating cream or body butter, and don’t rush. Take time to massage your limbs while rubbing it in and then cover yourself up with a robe and socks to keep heat in. If you want to follow up with a skin-toning product, now is the time.

Chill. Don’t rush back into your daily duties. Make the most of your cleansing and calming routine and refrain from strenuous activities. Drink plenty of water.

The price of love

A little confused over who should be paying for what when it comes to tying the knot? Here’s a handy guide according to both modern and traditional standards.


The Bride and Groom
Bide and Groom's wedding ring
Gifts for the bridal attendants
Gifts for the best man and groomsmen
Suit hire for the groom
Bride's and bridesmaid's bouquets, the corsages and boutonnieres
Celebrant and ceremony fees
Wedding invitations
Wedding cake
Gifts of appreciation
Wedding cars
Bonbonniere, wedding favours
Bridal gown and accessories
The honeymoon

The Bride's Family
Newspaper announcement
The reception venue and food
Ceremony and reception flowers

The Groom's Family
Wedding gift for the bride and groom.
The reception beverages
Any general expenses they may wish to contribute

The Wedding Party
Bride’s maids dresses, shoes, etc
Groomsmen’s suits, shoes, etc
Hens night given by maid of honour or bridesmaids
Bucks night given by best man or groomsmen


The Bride
Groom's wedding ring
Gifts for the groom and bridal party
Bonbonniere, wedding favours

The Groom
The bride's wedding ring.
A wedding gift for the bride
Gifts for the best man and groomsmen
Suit hire for himself
Bride's and bridesmaid's bouquets, the corsages and boutonnieres
Celebrant and ceremony fees
The honeymoon

The Bride's Family
Newspaper announcement
The reception
Bridal gown and accessories
A wedding gift for the bride and groom
Wedding invitations
Ceremony and reception flowers
Wedding cake

The Groom's Family
Wedding gift for the bride and groom
Any general expenses they may wish to contribute

The Wedding Party
Bridemaid’s dresses
Hens night given by maid of honour or bridesmaids
Bucks night given by best man or groomsmen

The bride and groom
Gifts of appreciation for those who helped with your wedding

June 17, 2011

Choosing the right wedding florist

Confused about picking the right wedding florist, let alone the perfect flower arrangements? We chat to Tamar Valley Roses’ florist Megan Lee for some practical advice.

What are some of the things brides should look for when sourcing a florist?

When choosing your florist I think the bride should select one who will give a written quote, who has a proper shop in terms of workspace, cool room, wedding accessories, and a florist who’s shop is clean, seems interested in their special day and most importantly, a florist whom the bride feels comfortable with.

What tips would you give to brides and grooms to make their wedding day run more smoothly?

Be organised! To make things easier work out how the flowers should be packed.

For example, the groom’s buttonhole, groomsmen’s buttonholes as well as parents of the groom’s flowers. These are normally required in a separate box to that of the bridal flowers, as most wedding parties don’t all get ready at the same venue. Brides and grooms need to be aware that the caterer may require the cake flowers at a different time to the collection of the other flowers.

How can a bride and groom maximise their time spent with their florist?

It’s important to have some idea of what you would like prior to meeting with your florist. Everyone has opinions and most people would have seen something at some point that they would have either liked or disliked. I love an organised bride who comes in with photos out of magazines, from the web or even photos of other people’s weddings.

What are some arrangements that you don’t get requested often but you think look great for a wedding?

Very large arrangements for churches and reception venues look great for a wedding. Normally bridal parties have flowers as bouquets for the bride, bridesmaids, flower girls and buttonholes for grooms and groomsmen, etc, but often the venues are quite bare. I think that large classical looking arrangements in the church and the reception venue add to the romantic look of the special day.

How did you get started in the industry?

My family have a commercial cut flower rose growing business and after I had finished school I was offered an apprenticeship in floristry at a shop in Launceston. After I had completed my apprenticeship in 1998 I opened the first Tamar Valley Rose shop store in St John St Launceston and then in 2002 we opened a second store at Mowbray.

What is your favourite part about your job?

Definitely when the wedding flowers are all completed, boxed and have just been seen by the bride for the first time. I love the look of delight on the bride’s face.

What is something unique to your service that you are extra proud of?

I am extra proud of the fact that we grow all our own roses, so any blooms that are used in our weddings are extremely fresh, straight from the farm to the shop. And as we are also an Australian Agent for the French Rose Breeding company Meillands many of our brides are also able to have first choice of new rose varieties, often before mainland brides would even get to see the new rose colours.

June 15, 2011

The bridal beauty countdown... starts now!

Looking picture perfect on your wedding day entails time, organisation and diligence. Our beauty blogger Laura Curtis makes things simple by piecing together a comprehensive beauty calendar for brides-to-be. And the countdown begins...

6 weeks away

It's time to book your bridal make-up artist and hair stylist. Ask friends and family for their recommendations if you are unsure of a good candidate. Reserve a date for a trial with each of them, for a couple of weeks away. Start thinking about the style you would like to wear; browse magazines and beauty blogs for inspiration.

Choose a wedding fragrance. Try to find something unique and fresh, like Byredo La Tulipe, Kai or Renee Tuberose. You will know if it is "the one" the first time you smell it on your skin. (Just wait a few minutes for the alcohol to dissolve). An Eau de Parfum formulation is best, as it is more concentrated than an Eau de Toilette so it lasts longer on the skin. If you want to indulge, complement the EDP with a matching body lotion and a handbag-sized mini, for extra staying power on the day. I would recommend starting to wear it now, in the lead up to the wedding. The planning and anticipation are part of the memories to reflect upon when you catch a whiff of your fragrance years later.

Invest in skincare. Ask a beauty therapist or beauty consultant for a skincare consultation, and explain your skin type and concerns, as well as the changes you would like to see in your skin before the wedding day. A cleanser, serum, moisturiser, eye cream, mask and exfoliant will make up a comprehensive regime that will give you a healthy, even-toned bridal glow.

4 weeks away

Now is the ideal stage to have any heavy-duty facials done, including microdermabrasion, Omnilux, laser, extractions or a glycolic peel. All of these treatments have long-term results that will last until the wedding.

Try to schedule your make-up and hair trials for this week as well. When you talk to the artists, be clear about what you want. Show them pictures. Be honest. If you don't like what they have done for you, tell them so they can alter it. Ask someone (your bridesmaid, mother or friend with good taste) to come along for a second opinion; bring a digital camera with you so you can see how the style will look in photos.

2 weeks away

Have your hair cut and coloured. You will need at least two weeks to let the new style settle; for the layers to grow out and the colours to blend. Don't make any drastic changes you may regret – you want to look like yourself on your wedding day (just extra glowy, polished and gorgeous!).

It's also time to buy make-up products for the wedding day. A lipstick, blush and pressed powder will keep your make-up fresh all day long. I love Chanel Rouge Allure Lipstick, Nars Blush and By Terry Teint Terrybly Compact Powder Foundation. Tatcha Japanese Blotting Papers are a must for oily skin.

2-3 days away

Time to get waxed at a beauty salon. Wait at least 24 hours after waxing to have your spray tan. Two days away from the wedding day is ideal as it will allow the telltale fake tan aroma to dissipate and the colour to fade to a natural looking shade. Ask your spray tan technician to lightly mist your face and neck to avoid looking pasty in photos; your make-up artist's bronzing powder will do the rest.

Have your brows professionally shaped and tinted. And by "professionally", I mean enlist a brow expert. It may be expensive (up to $90), but it will make all the difference.

Get a manicure and pedicure. A classic french manicure is always lovely, but feel free to express your individuality through your nail colour. Midnight blue (Essie Nail Colour in Midnight Cami), lilac (Chanel Nail Vernis in Lilac Sky), aubergine (OPI Nail Polish in Lincoln After Dark) and taupe-rose (Mecca Cosmetica Nail Colour in Maria) are unique, yet still elegant and bride-appropriate.

The night before

It's crunch time! Use your skincare products to give yourself a mini-facial. After cleansing, use a scrub or peel to lightly exfoliate your skin. Elemental Herbology Radiance Peel leaves the skin smooth and glowy. Follow with a hydrating mask. I can't go past the SK-II Facial Treatment Mask for an instantly silky, soft, plump complexion.

Wash and treat your hair. Use a gentle, moisturising shampoo and rich, buttery hair mask. The Bumble & bumble CrËme de Coco range is perfect.

The morning of your wedding

Gently cleanse your skin (Eve Lom Morning Cleanser is a lovely option), and finish with a lightweight moisturiser like Estee Lauder Daywear Advanced Multi-Protection Anti-Oxidant SPF 15 Lotion.

Apply a light layer of your fragranced body lotion and spritz your Eau de Parfum behind your knees, on your wrists and at the nape of your neck (to greet all the congratulatory hugs and kisses to come).

Look in the mirror, take a deep breath and smile. Your wedding day has arrived. Enjoy it!

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).

June 10, 2011

Tying the knot: The second time around

Not too long ago, many couples believed that getting married for the second time called for a smaller, more pared back celebration, rather than the elaborate and extravagant event often denoted by first time nuptials.

Today, however, with second time weddings becoming more commonplace, staging an event with all the trimmings is entirely up to you – and also marks the chance to get things right!

Remember that the focus should be on celebrating having found new love and embarking on a new beginning, regardless of whether it’s your second trip down the aisle.

In truth, how you celebrate your wedding can be as elaborate or intimate as you choose, but keep in mind there are still certain things to be mindful of when saying “I do”… again.


While it seems to be popular opinion that your second wedding dress should be considerably more understated, many second-time-around-brides are disregarding stuffy and outdated protocol and wearing something a little less conventional.

If you prefer to wear white, do so, or alternatively this is your chance to wear a truly remarkable gown in any colour you wish. If you really want to break away from the traditional bridal look a sexy slip dress or beautiful suit will certainly save you from looking “the princess” on the day.

Your second wedding dress should ultimately reflect your personality and fashion sense – without necessarily adhering to the traditional “bridal” look. Also, take your cue from the style and formality of your wedding ceremony and reception, as your dress should be a reflection of this.


While many couples these days are already paying for their weddings anyway, when it comes to second weddings, the cost most definitely falls to you.


As you will be covering the cost for the entire wedding – and since you probably have accumulated enough household goods already – consider setting up a honeymoon gift registry. Another popular idea is to have a “wishing well” whereby guests can give money anonymously.


It goes without saying that inviting guests from your past may throw up certain questions as to what is appropriate. Every couple’s situation is different, but as a rule it is advisable to avoid inviting former in-laws and ex-spouses, even if you’re on good terms.

You may also want to keep your guest list free from those people you’re “supposed” to invite, who often make the list for first time weddings, such as a distant second cousin or family friend you only see once a year.


Once upon a time wording wedding invitations was a pretty basic part of the wedding planning process – as the bride’s parents were traditionally paying for everything, wedding invitations were from them.

These days however, with divorce, blended and untraditional families, invitations have become slightly more complicated. As a result many invitations can now be quite informal, lending a much more modern and personal touch to these invites.

With second weddings, many couples word the invitations from themselves, eg. “We request the pleasure of your company for our special day”.


Generally, the bridal party is smaller the second time around. It is perfectly okay to use the same friends or family in your second bridal party as the first, but keep in mind this may be a good chance for a close friend or family member to be included that wasn’t the last time. It’s also completely acceptable to have no bridal party, too.


Writing your own vows the second time around is a romantic touch and a nice way to personalise the ceremony, instead of using formal vows. Some couples find it a nice thought to include the children from previous marriages into the vows, thereby ensuring they feel included and accepted into the new family. Again, this is a personal decision dependant on the family dynamics and is entirely up to you as a couple.


Any reference to you or your partner’s previous marriages is a big no-no. Not only will it make guests feel awkward – not to mention you and partner – it will serve as an untimely reminder that you’ve done this all before and is obviously not the most romantic anecdote to the day.


Particularly when your previous wedding – or in some instances, weddings – was a traditional church ceremony followed by a large sit-down reception, you and your partner may decide that something a little more intimate or informal is appropriate for your nuptials.

As is the case with every wedding, the location really comes down to personal preference and what you want your wedding day to entail. Parks, beaches and gardens are all fabulous options, but it is equally fine to remarry in a church (if your religion permits).

A large number of second time around couples do decide to elope to minimise the fuss and the stress of planning a wedding. For others, a destination wedding is the best fit and many of the world’s premier locations – from Fiji to Los Angeles – all offer fabulous wedding packages where an expert team will take care of everything, from your dress to your accommodation to the flowers and even the photographer.

June 08, 2011

Engagement blingspiration: How about Kim Kardashian's sparkler?

The latest celeb set to tie the knot? Kim Kardashian of course! Who announced her engagement to Kris Humphries by sporting a rather sizable 20.5-carat ring worth $2 million, that was designed by friend Lorraine Schwartz.

We take a look at some other celeb engagements rings that could serve as great blingspiration for your own sparkler.
Kristin Cavallari

Natalie Portman

Kate Middleton
Zoe Saldana

Reese Witherspoon

Katy Perry

Emily Blunt

Katherine Heigl

Beyoncé Knowles

Ali Larter


Carrie Underwood

Mariah Carey

Megan Fox

June 01, 2011

Perfect your bridal make-up look à la Rachel McAdams

With destination weddings becoming increasingly popular, brides are seeking advice on how to apply their own wedding make-up. Our resident beauty blogger Laura Curtis gives advice on how to create a beautiful bridal look.

To keep things simple, I'll focus on my most frequently requested wedding make-up look, as modeled beautifully by Rachel McAdams at Cannes: a flawless complexion, flushed cheeks, softly defined eyes and classic pink lips.


Start with a primer. It will create a smooth base and keep your make-up lasting all day long. Hourglass Mineral Primer has a lovely silky matte texture and gives SPF 15 protection.

The next product you will need is, by far, the most important: foundation. When choosing a shade, try to match it to your decolletage, to create a uniform skin-tone from head-to-toe; but don't go any more than two shades darker than your natural skin-tone as it will make your complexion look muddy. Test foundation formulas on the back of your hand to find one with a satin finish that sits on your skin seamlessly. Giorgio Armani Designer Shaping Foundation is my pick; it provides a full coverage yet natural looking base that looks amazing in photographs.

Use a little concealer to hide dark circles under your eyes, redness, discolourations and/or blemishes. Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage covers beautifully, without looking cakey or heavy at all.

A dusting of loose powder will set and perfect your make-up. The ideal loose powder will be talc- and sunscreen-free, so it doesn't come up white in photos, with pigment that matches your skin-tone, rather than being translucent. Nars Loose Powder is a lovely finely-milled powder with a soft-matte finish.


To create your eye make-up look, select three colours: light, medium and dark. The medium colour will be your base; apply it all over the lid (up to the crease) and along the lower lashline. The dark colour is your contour shade. Apply it in the crease of the eye – three-quarters of the way along, and stopping just above the outer corner (any lower will drag your eye down). The light colour is a highlighter. Applying it on the brow bone, inner corner and centre of the eye. To recreate Rachel's gorgeous bronze look, try Nars Eyeshadow Duos in Cordura (medium and dark shades) and Silk Road (highlighting shades).

Apply eyeliner along the top lash-line. Rather than using a pencil, use a gel eyeliner. It will appear much more natural, yet give more precise definition. Bobbi Brown Gel Eyeliner is a cult classic.

To make the eyes pop, use a bronze eyeliner pencil along the lower inner rim. MAC Kohl Pencil in Powersurge is one of my all-time favourite make-up products and so easy to use.

Your mascara should define and lengthen your lashes, without clumping or smudging. Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Mascara is a winner.

Lightly shape your brows with the wonderful Chanel Brow Set. Defining your brows will frame your face beautifully.


Delicately apply a rosy-hued blush on the apples of your cheeks. Take care not to deposit the colour too low as doing so will drag your face down. Nars Blush in Deep Throat is a lovely pinky-apricot coloured blush with subtle shimmer.

For a glow, use an illuminating powder, liquid or creme on the high planes of the face, where the light naturally hits: your temples, cupid's bow, forehead and bridge of the nose. Chanel Bronze Universel de Chanel Sun Illuminator is lovely for light-medium-dark skin-tones, while fair brides should try Benefit High Beam.


Start by lining your lips with a pinky-toned lip liner pencil, such as Nars Lip Liner in Miss Sadie. Lip liner will enhance the longevity of your lipstick, provide definition and prevent feathering.

A soft pink lipstick is almost universally flattering and coveted by most brides who want a classic look. Chantecaille Lipstick in Camellia is my go-to bridal lip colour. (The "Sari Rose" shade is an equally popular warm-nude version.)

Finish with slick of subtly shimmery pink lip gloss. Chanel Aqualumiere Gloss in Diamond Rose is a beautiful shade that will imitate Rachel's pearly finish perfectly.

Voila! A lovely bridal look at your fingertips. My final pieces of advice:

if you can, book a make-up lesson with a professional make-up artist who can help you choose the perfect colours and products for your skin and the look you would like to achieve. Ask friends and family for recommendations or visit a reputed beauty counter; Mecca Cosmetica offer make-up lessons for a redeemable fee of $150.
Invest in some quality make-up brushes. They will be pricey but they will last for years, help to make your make-up application easier and give your make-up a picture perfect finish.
Practice, practice, practice!

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).