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The Knowledge: Mr Dave Cowling, Wedding Cinematorgrapher

The Knowledge: Mr Dave Cowling, Wedding Cinematorgrapher

Ah, videographers. If the pundits had their way they'd have you believe that the chances of photographers and videographers getting on with each other at a wedding is about as likely as vampires and werewolves slow-dancing at a Twilight convention.

It's true that on a wedding day there is competition for space, and the clients' time and attention, but professionals from both disciplines know how to communicate, coordinate and waltz around each other to multiply the overall value to their clients.

One such professional representing Team Video is Dave Cowling from D'nM Wedding Films. Apart from being a super nice guy, Dave is one of Sydney's leading wedding cinematographers and he and his team have won more awards for their films than James Cameron. Possibly.

When once upon a time a wedding video literally meant hours and hours of footage from a handycam in a static position, Dave produces professionally edited showreels that condense the visuals, sounds and emotions of the day into brief but highly-charged, tear-inducing movies.

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to assist Dave at a wedding, and so in the interests of always learning something new (especially how to switch my camera into video mode!), I eagerly accepted.

Before the wedding I caught up with Dave to learn the ropes and find out what the difference is between a videographer and a cinematographer.

 Dave Cowling from D'nM Wedding Films

Dave, can we start by hearing a little about how you got into videography?

I've always had an interest in both photography and making videos. I started out making short videos for friends through the 90s and filmed my first wedding for a friend in 2004.

I found that I had a knack for emotional content and was able to make my friends cry (in a goodd way!). I have a background in professional audio engineering, which is an extremely important part of filmmaking. Wedding videography was a great way to combine my love of documentary-style video and my love of audio.

And what made you choose wedding videography in particular?

This is the second part of the first question really. I was also a wedding DJ in a past life and loved the atmosphere of weddings, but found as a DJ that I wasn't really involved. I did consider photography but I didn't think I had the outgoing, loud, confident personality required to be a wedding photographer. I thought that my quieter personality was more suited to video. 

I've since discovered that you don't need to be loud or brash to do either job, but I love being a video "ninja" just working away in the background and quietly gathering wonderful stories throughout the wedding day.

Do you still love photography?

Yes, I still love photography as a hobby and have photographed a handful of weddings alongside some friends who (like yourself) are amazingly talented photographers!

Thanks Dave! And how is the wedding videography market going? Are you seeing an uplift?

Absolutely. The standard in wedding films has changed dramatically over the past few years. New technology, education and easy access to other filmmakers all over the world has helped to lift the standard of the films being created.

We are certainly seeing more brides now considering video as a necessity than as an option as they discover how amazing their wedding day can look on video.

I think it's also reflective of society in general. Video is increasingly becoming a part of our everyday lives (on our computers and mobile phones for example) and I think video will become more embedded in our world and that future generations will expect the current generation to have such an important family milestone captured on video. 

You've been giving me some training this morning ahead of the wedding where I'll be assisting you and I'm finding it fascinating, especially with regards to the importance of audio and the amount of audio equipment that's required. Do you think that audio is overlooked by people looking to get into videography?

Yes. I think that people often fall in love with the imagery before they think about the audio side.  It’s sometimes said that audio is 50% of the film; if it’s done well, you don’t really notice it, but if it’s done badly you will definitely notice it!

There’s a constant influx of new wedding photographers due to the accessibility and declining costs of gear and websites. Do you see the same with wedding videography or does, say, the whole audio aspect create a barrier to new entrants?

Yes, it's a similar situation as the costs of equipment and websites is also declining for videographers and we are certainly seeing an influx of new startup businesses.  

But rather than fighting against this we try to help to educate the "newbies" and keep raising the demand for videography so that there is more work for everyone. I am also involved as a director of which is currently the only educational workshop for wedding videographers in Australia.

Have you noticed any big trends emerging in the world of wedding videography?

The biggest trend has been the "DSLR revolution". This is a change to newer cameras that has enabled a much more cinematic / filmic look to the videos being created. As a result lots of videographers have now dubbed themselves "cinematographers". To me "wedding cinema" is much more than just the camera you use - it’s about knowing when to use the tools with a specific purpose in mind, it’s about knowing light and using it well, and it’s about a specific approach to the editing to best tell a unique story.

Before DSLRs it was the transition from standard definition to high definition while the next thing on the horizon is "Ultra high definition"! 

We have also filmed a handful of weddings in 3D.

Wow, that sounds exciting! So with all these techniques going on do you have a signature style?

Yes, I would say that we do.  I would describe our approach as very natural and candid.  As mentioned earlier we are sometimes described as "video ninjas" as we like to be discrete and often go unnoticed when we set about capturing the day. We aim for the perfect balance between documenting the events of the day and achieving beautiful / artistic footage to complement the story.

And we are always looking for the unique elements of the wedding which reflect the couple and their story.

Ever recreated a music video like "Gangnam Style" for a bridal party?

Ummm, we try to avoid cheese in our videos :P

Seriously though, we could certainly do something like that if it were done well. We created a video for a bridal party which was played before they entered the reception. It was based on the Miami Heat player intro video:

It was a great way to introduce them to the room and hyped the crowd right up!

I’ve seen some videographers offering “same day edits”. Can you explain what these are, how they differ from what you do, and how they can be created so quickly?

Same day edits (SDEs) are films that are created on your wedding day, usually to be shown at the reception. They're an impressive way to entertain your guests!

The way that we approach SDEs is to bring an editor with us who is collecting and editing the footage throughout the day. It can be quite stressful to put together something that is entertaining, emotional and creative in such a short space of time, but when we see the couple and their guests blown away by it, it’s all worth it!

What’s the best way for couples to approach a videographer? - that’s pretty much all you need to know :)

Seriously though, it’s as simple as getting some referrals (from friends or other vendors), checking out some work online to see whose films you connect with, and then make an appointment to meet with the filmmakers.

As with anything in life you get what you pay for. A high-quality wedding film starts from around $5,000.

And what’s the usual turnaround time for a wedding video?

Our turnaround time is approximately 3 months on average and I think most videographers are around that. It also depends on what time of year the wedding is; if you have a wedding at the end of wedding season (e.g. in May / June) then you might have to wait a little longer.

Some clients have expressed concerns about booking videographers because they’ve been to weddings where there have been five or six videographers as well as two photographers. Realistically, how many videographers are required?

Five or six videographers would be overkill for pretty much any sized wedding!  Actually, I once worked in a crew of five; that was a million dollar wedding in Los Angeles and for that one we probably could have used a sixth person!

It really does depend on the individual wedding where factors such as locations, number of guests and the schedule can all influence how many crew are needed. We have options with one cinematographer but we most commonly work with two cinematographers and an assistant.  

Finally Dave, do you have a quick and easy tip for our couples with regards to getting the best from their video?

Be yourselves! Don’t worry about the cameras and don’t try to act, simply focus on each other and we can do the rest :)

Thanks Dave!

If you have any questions about video or wedding cinematography that you'd like Dave to tackle, please leave a comment below and we'll provide the answers asap!

Say hello or stay in touch with Dave: | 0419 997 397 | website | facebook | twitter

The Knowledge: Ms Stephanie Lee, Stationery Designer

The Knowledge: Ms Stephanie Lee, Stationery Designer

As our lives become more and more digital the novelty of finding a envelope in the good old-fashioned mailbox becomes increasingly thrilling. And if the envelope is particularly gorgeous there's little chance it's going to be junk or a bill and a high likelihood that you have been specially selected to attend a really big celebration. After working out how to open the envelope whilst causing the least amount of damage to it, you take a deep breath and carefully slide out the contents.

It's exciting hey? Yeah, being invited to a wedding is way up there on the top ten list of events to add to the calendar, and the top ten reasons to go shopping. And it all starts with the invitation - that piece of card whose considered design speaks volumes about the style and formality of the wedding, and the attire that will be considered appropriate for it.

So no pressure on the stationery designers whose job it is to encapsulate the personality of the couple and the style of their wedding day into a few square inches of space! To find out how the experts weave their magic I caught up for a coffee with one of the friendliest designers in town: Stephanie Lee from Stelloberry Designs.

 Image: Milton Gan Photography

Image: Milton Gan Photography


So how did you get into stationery Steph? Were you one of those girls who hang out in Smiggle after school? 

This may be showing my age, but specialty stationery stores like Kikki K, Typo and Smiggle weren't around when I was a schoolgirl, otherwise I'd have been there every day! I've always adored paper and visited Eckersleys and Lincraft as often as I could to get my art and craft fix.

I was (and still am) the kind of person who would save pretty pieces of paper just in case I could use them later which sounds strange to most people but it was highly satisfying to have them littered around my room! I started handcrafting greetings cards after high school and then did a short design course a couple of years ago. From there I started Stelloberry Designs which has grown and taken on a life of its own. I feel very lucky to be able to do what I love every day of the week.


What's cooking in your studio right now Steph? 

Invitation designs are in full swing now that this year's wedding season is upon us, and there's a variety of themes amongst the weddings I'm designing for. Included in the mix are a few rustic vintage designs, an invitation for a fairytale wedding, a very modern black and silver design as well as several traditionally elegant pieces. 

In addition to the invites I've also got some corporate Christmas designs on the go. As strange as it may seem when you're outside of the industry, it's the norm for businesses to start preparing for Christmas in July/August so I'm working on some lovely festive creations for the end of the year. Throw in a few branding projects and it makes for a widely varied workload!


Have you noticed any trends emerging in the world of wedding stationery?

Amongst the couples I'm working with letterpress is still going strong and this season there's been a definite trend towards classically elegant black and white invitations. This type of design makes up around a third of the weddings I'm working on this year!

In the big wide world of stationery, on the other hand, I've noticed there's a lot of focus on bright colours, particularly neon. I just love how incorporating colour can make your stationery really pop. Other trends to watch out for are watercolours, papercuts and the use of hand-lettering.


Do you have a signature look or are your designs based on your clients' specs? 

Around 95% of my work is custom designed, which means that I have the pleasure of incorporating as much of my clients' personality as possible into the invitations.  It's the most rewarding kind of experience, especially when you hit the mark and get it right first go. I love watching how each couple's unique style is expressed through their wedding - it makes my job that much more enjoyable.

Although it's hard to see when you're so immersed in your designs every day of the week, I've been told I do tend to have a bit of a signature style, which I think probably arises from the fact that I always design for others what I'd love to see in my own stationery!


Letterpress printing always looks beautiful. Is that something you can arrange? 

Oh yes, I love having the opportunity to provide couples with letterpress stationery. It's a type of printing that requires a lot of labour and love to get it right. This means the finished product is absolutely beautiful but it also makes it more expensive than other types of printing. I find it's not the right choice for every couple, but I do like to offer it if my couple's style and budget allows. One day I'd love to be able to letterpress in my own studio, but for now I outsource the printing to some very trusted, high quality letterpress printers.

Gorgeous printing doesn't end with letterpress either; there's a whole world of techniques available to couples who want their stationery to have that "wow" factor, including foiling, embossing, debossing, edge painting and  screen printing. It's also possible to mix more than one printing technique for wedding invitations that are true showstoppers. 

 Image: Milton Gan Photography

Image: Milton Gan Photography


The brilliant Jess and Russ wedding website that went viral is a good example of how weddings are becoming increasingly digitised. Have you had any requests for digital invites and do you think it's inevitable that they'll become part of your product list?

I'm completely and utterly in love with Jess and Russ' wedding website! I must admit I have a bit of a design crush on Jess actually, she's an amazing talent and her work is simply inspiring. So it's no surprise that her wedding website is beyond beautiful, not to mention clever.

I haven't personally had any requests for digital invitations, but I find that couples are requesting digital versions of other stationery items such as save the dates in order to save money or out of consideration for the environment.

I think it can be an effective way to save money if you're strapped for cash, but I think it's very important not to lose sight of the type of event you'd like your wedding to be. The invitations are the first glimpse guests have of the big day and will set the tone for the event to come.Digital invites, whilst they can be beautiful if done well, will not alway leave the kind of impression you want guests to have of your wedding day. 


What's the usual turnaround time from designing to printing? 

I often get asked this question and honestly I have to say it varies widely between clients. I've had couples who are super-prepared and approach me many months before their wedding to have their invitations printed. This provides room to go back and forth as many times as needed to revise their designs until their stationery perfectly reflects what they had in mind for their big day.

Other couples come to me with weddings that are only a couple of months away (the shortest timeframe was for a wedding that was only a few weeks away!). This does mean that there's less time for revisions but it's still possible to squeeze a custom design into this timeframe (although rush fees are likely to apply for this service).  

As a general rule I think it's a good idea for couples to start ordering their stationery, especially for a custom design, around 4-5 months before their big day. This will give them time to work with their designer to create their dream wedding invitations without feeling the pressure of having to get them sent out asap.


Do you think it's important for all the stationery to match, from the save the dates to the invites and thank you cards, or is it good to mix it up a bit? 

I think it's good to have an equal measure of both! Your stationery doesn't have to match exactly - it can be quite fun and visually appealing to have multiple design elements woven through your invitation suite. Having said that, if you're going to go down this route I think it's a good idea to have a few elements that remain consistent throughout your stationery to tie the suite together, such as a monogram that's used in each piece, or repeating the same pattern or colour scheme.

 Image: Milton Gan Photography

Image: Milton Gan Photography


And are there benefits in having them all made at the same time? 

There's definitely cost benefits to be had from getting all your stationery printed at the same time, but this doesn't always happen when printing for a wedding. 

Generally there'll be two lots of printing you do for your wedding. The first part includes all the materials you need to invite your guests to the big event such as the invitations themselves, reply cards, maps and any other additional information. 

The second print run will take place once your RSVPs have all come in and will include your "day of" stationery (such as orders of service, place cards, menus,and  table numbers) plus your thank you cards.


You also design for the corporate sector. Do you find that helps you with ideas that can be applied to weddings?

Although I love weddings to bits it's easy to get immersed in them to the exclusion of everything else! I feel that working on stationery for the corporate sector exposes me to a very different type of design, and I often find it advantageous to mix the two worlds together; bringing some of the elements I use in my wedding work to the corporate sector and vice versa helps to keep my designs fresh and unique.


What's the best way for couples to approach a stationery designer? 

I think every designer works slightly differently, but I definitely prefer to meet couples first (either face to face or if that's not possible then via Skype)  to discuss their stationery requirements. I find this is the most effective way to determine exactly what their vision is for their dream wedding invitations, and from there we can work to find a solution that fits perfectly with both their wedding and their budget. Any examples that couples can provide at the initial consultation also helps when we're brainstorming ideas.

 Image: Milton Gan Photography

Image: Milton Gan Photography


I just redesigned my website and was overwhelmed by the 4.2 billion fonts I had to choose from. How on earth do you keep up with them all?! 

I must admit I spent entirely too much time browsing font websites, and too much money purchasing them! When it comes to selecting fonts for projects I have tons to choose from (and I'm always tempted to add more to my collection) but there are favourites that I tend to stick to - the kind of fonts that just always work well and when I have one of these as a starting point it makes it much easier to choose others to build on the design.

I also do a regular Friday post on my blog called "Fab Font Friday" which I originally started to assist couples with choosing fonts for their wedding stationery, but I now find it comes in very handy as an archive of all the fonts I have in my arsenal!


Finally Steph, do you have a quick and easy tip for our couples? 

The best thing to do before ou embark on ordering wedding invitations is to figure out your personal style as a couple. I find that the couples who have the hardest time with their invites are the ones who were not entirely sure what they were after to begin with, and with so many options, styles and printing techniques out there it's enough to make your head spin!

If you start with a clear idea of the style you're after it makes it much easier to choose from the options available to you for other aspects. It also makes it much easier for your designer as they will have a firm direction to follow.

If you're not sure how to begin working out your personal style, try visiting wedding blogs and magazines and building an inspiration board for your ideal wedding. Whenever you find something that appeals to you make sure you put in on your board (tools like Pinterest can be great for this!) and slowly you'll start to see a picture form of the way you want your wedding to be. Armed with this board you'll be able to approach any wedding vendor to convey to them exactly what your dream wedding would look like, and it will make planning your big day that much easier!


Thanks Steph! 


If you have any questions about stationery that you'd like Stephanie to tackle, please leave a comment below and we'll provide the answers asap!


Say hello or stay in touch with Steph: | 0433 78 807 | website | facebook | twitter | pinterest 

The Knowledge: Milk, Face Place & Spa

The Knowledge: Milk, Face Place & Spa

Amongst the many things a bride may fret about as her wedding day approaches, her skin is right up there. After months of planning and years of dreaming of this day, it's understandable that every bride wants to look as beautiful and radiant as possible.

And from a photographer's point of view the better the skin, the less retouching is necessary and the more naturally gorgeous the bride will look. 

Skilled make up artists such as Megan Vaughan can enhance and perfect the final look, but the ideal base to work from is always clean and healthy skin.

So as part of my mission to get my bride on I dropped by Paddington's Milk Face Place and Spa to chat with Sandra and Sarah about the treatments they offer brides and to test out LED light therapy for myself.

Milk is well established in Sydney, but for readers who aren’t yet familiar with you can you give us a bit of background?

Sure, we've been established in leafy Glenmore Road, Paddington since 2004. We started as boutique spa designed to deliver an exceptional day spa experience. In 2009 we shifted our focus to where we excel: in non-invasive, results-driven, facial rejuvenation treatments.


What would you say are Milk’s specialist services?

We specialise in high performance facial treatments, microhydrabrasion, LED light therapy, and clinical facial peels.


Many brides obsess about their skin on the lead up to their wedding day, particularly with their wedding photography in mind. Do you have a lot of brides and bridal parties contacting you and do you cater for them?

Definitely! Brides are amongst our very favorite clients and are often starting their treatments with us twelve months before their big day.  For each bride we design a facial package that suits them and will deliver radiant skin on her wedding day.

Which treatments are the most requested by brides?

LED light therapy is the most popular, and often combined with hydrabrasion and vitamin C facials. A hot stone massage helps to de-stress and relax, while a body wrap ensures that the skin is soft and glowing for the big day.



You kindly let me sample your LED light therapy and even though I already have amazingly youthful looks, my skin did actually glow and feel more taut the next day! Is it a miracle cure?

Absolutely! LED light therapy is a revolutionary breakthrough in phototherapy skincare. It's medical grade technology, clinically proven, and delivers a non-invasive and painless facial treatment. It's very different from laser or IPL (intense pulsed light) and suitable for both men and women. The benefits include reducing the appearance of visible signs of ageing and damage to the skin caused by time spent in the strong sunlight that we have in Australia.

I hadn’t previously heard of light therapy. Is it new and can you explain in a bit more detail how it works?

LED (light emiting diodes) is a relatively new technology and is pretty straightforward: red, blue and infrared light stimulates the skin at the cellular level to increase cellular activity, and this in turn stimulates the body to build new capillaries and improve the lymphatic system. Both of these are essential to creating younger, more healthy looking skin!

Some of the benefits our clients can expect to experience include:

  • increased radiance (the glow)
  • firmer skin (lifts aged and tired skin)
  • more consistent skin colour and complexion
  • increased circulation (due to formation of new capillaries)
  • increased collagen production for plumper, more youthful skin
  • increased oxoygen, keeps the skin renewed and fresh
  • reduced inflammation in skin conditions such as acne


 And does light therapy still work if fake tans or botox are present?

Absolutely, in fact we've been advised that light therapy can assist in prolonging the product in the system.

You also offer microhydrabrasion; can you tell us a little about that?

Sure. We know that daily use of sun block, moisturiser and makeup will clog the skin and regular cleansing and exfoliation will keep your skin topically cleaned. But what about getting deep down inside the pores to where dirty, blocked skin results in blackheads, congestion and blemishes?  That's where microhydrabasion comes to the rescue!

Microhydrabrasion is a painless, non-invasive, chemical-free treatment that removes the outermost layer of dead skin cells to reveal younger, fresher looking skin. It also stimulates circulation, lifts out impurities and, above all, has a super hydrating effect. Diamond tips vacuum and wash the skin using a system of water and aloe vera to literally flush pores while cooling and soothing the skin.


What other new technologies can we expect to start seeing in Australia?

LED is leading the way at the moment, but there are always new treatments being tested and we keep a close watch on them so we can always offer our clients the healthiest, safest, and most beneficial treatments.


You mentioned that brides quite often start their skin treatments twelve months before the wedding, but are there any last minute fixes that brides can book in for?

Muscle melt is an amazing body treatment and massage combination, and a single light therapy session the day prior will hydrate the skin. It is also deeply relaxing and a win-win for brides after their months of organising their wedding day.


Ever had a bride rush in on the morning of her wedding in a panic about her skin?

Not yet!


And let’s not forget the grooms who also love some pampering! What can you recommend for them?

Hydrabrasion with a mask would be perfect for that special man on his big day as it will deeply cleanse and brighten his face. A manicure would also be highly recommended, especially bearing in mind those close up photos during the exchange of rings. And a relaxing, hot stone massage is a perfect way to de-stress.


Finally, do you have a quick and easy tip for our couples?

Water, water, and more water!  A jug filled with ice, filtered water and fresh mint will assist to hydrate the body, while cutting some fresh ginger into hot water and sipping it during the lead up to the wedding day will help to calm those last minute nerves in the tummy!


Thanks ladies! 

If you have any questions about face and spa treatments that you'd like Sandra and Sarah to answer, please leave a comment below and we'll get back to you with the answers asap!

Say hello or stay in touch with Milk: | 02 9331 7933 | website | facebook | pinterest


The Knowledge: Ms Megan Vaughan, Make Up Artist

The Knowledge: Ms Megan Vaughan, Make Up Artist

Bride's prep is one of my favourite times of the wedding day. There's a great buzz of excitement and anticipation as the girls fuss over each other and are transformed one by one for the big day ahead. However, I'll admit that until recently I didn't really know what was going on. It was just a big blur of brushes and powders. No good. I realised that as a wedding photographer it's my duty to understand exactly what brides go through, so I decided to get my bride on and find out what bridal make up is all about. And there's no better educator than Megan Vaughan from Makeup By Megan. I spent a few hours on location with Ms Vaughan to learn the ropes whilst watching her at work, then caught up with her again over email as she enjoyed the Florida sunshine during her end-of-season vacation.

 Image: Milton Gan Photography

Image: Milton Gan Photography

So Megan, how's the US? 

Heavenly. The US has been my home away from home for the past 18 years. I have a lot of dear friends and family here and it's the perfect place to recuperate from a busy wedding season and prepare for the next. It’s also the perfect place to re-stock my kit given the high Aussie dollar and super cheap US prices!


I love watching the US version of Four Weddings because their weddings are so over the top compared to Aussie weddings. Do you notice any differences in US make up styles compared to ours?

I am obsessed with the US’ infatuation with celebrity, and a lot of the bridal makeup trends tend to stem from celebrity styles. In general it is a lot more heavy handed than Australian make-up styles, and not surprisingly, given the current economic climate here, a lot of girls are selecting to do their wedding make-up themselves.


A lot of Aussie brides will be scouring wedding blogs, magazines and of course Pinterest for make up inspiration. Do you encourage them to bring their look books to their make up trials?

Definitely! It's always best to have a visual reference to work from, and this is why I established my bridal Pinterest page. I have a lot of clients tell me that they don’t bring images with them because they know I can’t make them look like the model or celebrity pictured. But it’s not about that; images give us a reference point. It might be the eye make-up from one image and the lip colour from another. It starts the conversation about what we can and can’t achieve, and shows me your style preference. The classic request I am given is “I would like a smokey eye and a nude lip”. This in essence is a simple request, however there are a million ways to do a smokey eye, and the same quantity of varying intensities. An image clarifies that we are both envisioning the same result.   


And if a bride is set on a particular look but you don’t think it’s quite right for her skin tone, gown or theme, will you advise her?

Of course! I want my brides to look like the very best versions of themselves for their wedding day, but most importantly to be comfortable with the way they look. To achieve this, all pre-wedding trials begin with a 10 to 15 minute conversation where we discuss what the client wants and what my recommendations are. If it means we have to do one make-up style the way the bride has requested it and another with my recommended look then that is what we do. We take pictures of both styles and then the bride can decide which she prefers, even if it means something in between the two looks. To date I have not had a bride leave a trial unsatisfied and this is a record I am determined to maintain.


Unlike other elements of a wedding, make up is something that brides could do themselves. What’s your advice to someone considering doing their own?

Don’t! Your wedding day is the one day you should leave it to the professionals. It is a day you should be relaxed,and happy and should not have to worry about a thing. There are days when I need to look my absolute best, and even though I'm a make-up artist I know that when there are time constraints, nothing goes to plan and I end up panicked, flustered, and in a lather of sweat trying to get my look right. You don’t need that pressure on your wedding day! Not even the world’s best make-up artists do their own makeup on their wedding days. I hired someone else!


What do you see as the biggest misconception about bridal make up?

That it's not as important as other components of the wedding and should be inexpensive! There are a gazillion make-up artists in Sydney and over half of them are cheap. But a lot of these girls use stock images on their websites that are not their own work, they use cheap products, never wash their brushes, are not formally trained and only do makeup every other weekend when they have a wedding booking. This is not who you want to trust with your wedding day! Like everything in life you get what you pay for. Make-up artists are not out to rip off brides. Most of us have been brides ourselves and understand how expensive a wedding can be and how budgets are pushed to the limit. However, just like every other component of your wedding, a quality make-up artist is not cheap. BUT they will not cancel on the days or weeks before your wedding, they will use prescribed products for your skin type and those of your bridal party, they will arrive on time, remain with you as long as they need to, and will be a calming but fun influence on your wedding morning preparations. Most of all they will ensure you look AMAZING in real life and in your photos and that your makeup lasts the test of time!


 Image: Photography by Nadean

Image: Photography by Nadean

What’s the best way for a bride to prepare her skin for the big day?

This varies from bride to bride in accordance with their skin type and condition, and it is a huge part of what we discuss at the pre-wedding trial. But the one piece of advice I offer everyone is: look after your lips! Exfolliate them with your toothbrush after brushing your teeth every morning to remove loose skin and always keep them hydrated. Nothing looks worse than lipstick or gloss on chapped lips, and this is a very difficult problem to get rid of or disguise on the wedding day.


Like me, you’re always working on location. What’s the ideal scenario for a room set up so you can produce the best results?

I request to be set up near the best source of direct natural light. I bring my own seat but do require a table to set my gear out onto. The room also needs to be cool. It's difficult to apply makeup to a sweatty face and it's uncomfortable for all involved, so I also request that the air conditioning is running before I arrive or that a pedestool fan is provided if there is no air con available.


What’s your favourite style of make up?

It varies according to the client. I personally love that Victoria’s Secret dewey, soft and natural look. But that doesn’t suit everyone. A black flick is a classic eye catching look from an era I LOVE too.


Which celebrity bride do you love for her look?

Caroline Bessett Kennedy. Classic, natural & flawless. Simple elegance!


And the most unusual wedding make up you’ve done?

Heavy black eyes and deep red lips for a gothic bride. She was one of the sweetest girls I have ever met.


 Fake tans - help or hindrance?

This is a personal choice. I can colour match skin to any fake tan shade so this is not a problem. It is my view however, that with fake tan comes risks: breakouts, uneven coverage, or rubbing off onto your dress. If my brides really want my advice on tans  I usually say don’t do it! But I will happily work with it if they do.


A wedding day is pretty long and in the summer the location photo session can mean being out in the sun and heat, so do you have any tips for touch ups throughout the day?

I prepare skin, use waterproof products and apply the makeup in such a way that it will not move even on the hottest of days, so my recommendations to my brides is simple: invest in the blotting papers that I sell, to blot any oil that comes to the surface of the skin. Blotting papers are amazing! When used correctly they will remove oil without moving the makeup, and they don't accumulate in creases and clog pores like pressed powders do. I also sell the lipsticks I apply and pots of the glosses I use, so my brides can touch-up their lips through out the day and night too. But this is all they need. These two miracle items will maintain their look for the duration of their day and night!


The size of the bridal party can vary considerably. For me that means selecting a lens appropriate for the group size, but how does that affect you? Do you have a maximum size that you’ll accept, or would you bring in a second make up artist for a particularly large group?

This varies. In peak wedding season I will rarely take on a group that is larger than I can accommodate myself, and the size of the group is dependent on the time of the ceremony and the allotted time I am given to apply the makeup. I have accommodated bookings of up to 8 people on my own and much larger groups with other artists in off-peak seasons.


Last month our celebrant friend Robyn revealed she will sometimes have three weddings in a day. Do you multitask as well?

Rarely! One of my selling points is that unlike a lot of other artists I rarely book more than one wedding per day. This is because I like to remain with my clients until they get dressed and complete final touches as they walk out the door. I do not want to be watching the clock or rushing any component of their wedding preparations. There are occasions, however, when I will have a brunch wedding in the morning which allows me to accommodate the makeup requirements for an afternoon or evening wedding as well without clock watching or rushing.


 Image: Serendipity Corner

Image: Serendipity Corner

You also do a lot of work on fashion shoots where the sole purpose of the make up is to make the photos look good. Does the same thinking apply to weddings?

Makeup for a fashion shoot is very different to makeup for a wedding. In technique and the way it's applied. Makeup for a magazine shoot is generally more dramatic to counteract the heavy lighting on set. And it only needs to last from one shot to the next. Plus I am there for the duration of the job to retouch the look as they shoot it. The makeup for a wedding is applied in the morning and on average has to last at least 10-12 hours. It needs to look flawlessly natural in person as well as in images, and while I offer a full day wedding package that includes unlimited touch-ups and a change of look,  I am not always booked to be there to touch-up throughout the day and night so it has to look the same at the end of the night as it did when I applied it in the morning.


One of the easiest ways to tell how a good a photographer is from one of their photos is to see how they’ve posed the subject's hands. Is there a similar tell tale sign to judge the skill of a make up artist?

EYEBROWS! I was originally trained by Rae Morris and she has made me obsessed with eyebrows. When I look at a makeup the first thing I notice is whether the brows have been combed up and shaped correctly. An inexperienced makeup artist always leaves the eyebrows untouched, fills them with the wrong colour, overfills them, or shapes them incorrectly. A really poorly skilled makeup artist also doesn’t colour match the foundation correctly and often applies it too heavily. I could go on and on but these are the two most noticeable things for me personally.


Did you always want to be a make up artist?

I was always obsessed with makeup but didn’t always know that it was a potential career option. I had wanted to be an animator for Disney studios and a rollerskating snow flake in the Walt Disney World Christmas parade!


 Cute! When we last caught up you mentioned that make up artists wear little or no make up when they’re working. So does it help to be good looking and not self conscious if you want to get into the industry?!

Good looking might be helpful I guess but by no means necessary. It is important that you are well groomed and knowledgeable. Brows, hair, nails and toes are important. Having an interest in the fashion industry and keeping up with worldwide trends is equally important. Confidence is important in any career but arrogance is a hinderance, and for some people it’s a fine line. Determination is key. I once heard one of my mentors talking about the drop out rate for makeup artists, from when they study to when they establish their careers. I wish I could remember the exact figures but to me they were startling. And the point that stuck with me the most was that the person who was at the top of their class at graduation was rarely the person that made it to the top of the industry. It was the underdog who had to work and work at their skills and was determined to get there that was victorious. That was a wake up call to me. I was at the top of my graduating class and it's my goal to be the exception to this rule!


Finally Megan, do you have a quick and easy tip for our couples?

Relax and enjoy the day. Once the day is here you have done everything you can. Roll with the hiccups, enjoy every second, and take a few moments to yourselves as a couple to soak it all in. These will be the moments that you remember forever!


Thanks Megan! 


If you have a question about bridal make up that you'd like Megan to answer, please leave a comment below and we'll get onto it straight away.


Say hello or stay in touch with Megan: | 0421 610 150 | website | facebook | twitter | pinterest


The Knowledge: Robyn Pattison, Wedding Celebrant

One of the things I love the most about the wedding industry is how we love to network. From photographers and make up artists to celebrants and stationery designers, we eagerly jump at the chance to meet new people and catch up with old friends. Perhaps this is because many of us work alone or in small teams and so the need to socialise regularly becomes even more important for our well being. But there's also something else: a collective passion to make every wedding the very best it can be and a belief that the only way this can happen is to share our experiences, insights and ideas so we can learn from each other and ultimately invest this knowledge into the weddings we become part of.

Over time I've become friends with many wedding specialists and my highest recommendations are listed on my website as The Circle Of Trust.

Today I'm delighted to announce that each month I will be featuring a conversation with one of the Circle so you can get to know them better and pick up some tips and ideas along the way. Welcome to The Knowledge.

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Photo by Alegria Photography

This month I have the great pleasure of introducing one of the best wedding celebrants in the business: Robyn Pattison. Weddings come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from registry offices to the big, fat, gypsy variety. But none of them have any legal significance without the involvement of a wedding celebrant. Robyn is the hardest working celebrant I know and she is ruthlessly efficient in learning everything she can about her clients in order to take their ceremonies beyond the ordinary and make them as personal and meaningful as possible. After a busy season Robyn has just returned from a well earned family holiday in Bali.

Hey Robyn! Firstly, how was Bali?!

It was great! I only get a few days holiday a year (always in the dead of winter!) because that's not supposed to be wedding season. I've already done 60 weddings this year so it was definitely about time to recharge and spend some time with my husband and my kids! Although I did spend quite a lot of time using the wifi by the pool and answering emails from new brides and grooms. Now it's well and truly back to work!

And I imagine it's going to be another busy season coming up! You're one of the most established wedding celebrants in Sydney and recently won the best in NSW for 2011 as voted by your clients. What's your secret to being so loved?

You are too kind Milton! I do believe that you get back what you put out. I put a LOT of hard work, dedication, and love into to every couple I marry. I'm not a plumber - I can't go back later to fix a leaky tap, so I have to treat every wedding as though it's the only wedding I will ever do, and of course it is the only wedding for each couple (usually) so I don't cut corners. Oh, and I never leave a wedding without a hug and a photo with the couple, and then the love just seems to come back!

So there's a lot more to finding the right celebrant than just someone who's available and has a mic?

That's just box-ticking! Anyone can pick up a microphone and talk, but not many people are really fabulous public speakers who can truly engage and entertain a large group of people who expect to be bored. Not many people care enough to try. Personality is everything. You should know you have found the right person if you are excited to listen to them. If they aren't excited and enthusiastic about celebrating you, how will your guests feel if they have to listen to them?!

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Photo by Matthew Mead

Good point! So how many weeks or sessions does it take to work through all the details and really get to know your couples?

I meet my couples at least twice, or as many times as they need me, plus rehearsals if they want them (the more time I spend with them the more excited I am on the big day!). Then there's hours and hours of writing ceremonies. I never, ever do the same one twice so that takes a huge amount of preparation. But it's absolutely worth it when the groom's mother comes rushing up to hug me because she has never been to a wedding so personal or so entertaining before this one, and she laughed and cried the whole way through. Or when I get a text message the next day from the newlyweds who are about to board the plane, saying how much everyone loved the ceremony.

There are always clear trends in aspects such as dresses and hairstyles, but have you noticed any trends with ceremonies?

People are starting to pay more attention to the ceremony itself - finally! After all, it's the most important part of the whole day. Without the ceremony it's just a big, expensive party! With a fabulous ceremony the party has already begun and everyone is talking about it! I tell everyone to forget the bonbonniere and just make sure you don't bore the pants off your guests during the ceremony instead. The ceremony is starting to be treated more like an event with the comfort and enjoyment of the guests being taken into consideration: champagne service or refreshment stands, food, beautiful decorations, lots of DIY details, with humour and personality.

Cool! While we're on the subject of trends, quite a few celebrants are now using iPads. Have you gone techy or staying traditional?

I love my iPad! No more stoppping to turn the page, no more wind flapping my pages around, no wasting paper. Best thing ever!

Do you have a favourite wedding venue?

Oh, there are so many! But I do love the ceremony venues that have a really good option for bad weather (like Taronga Zoo where it's light and airy and surrounded by glass, but there are walls and a roof to protect against rain or harsh sun). The weather is so unpredictable at the moment, you can never tell what will happen. Wet weather back ups at different places - or worse - different times of day are a real problem as are gardens with no shade in the middle of summer.

Robyn, you're well known to be pretty fluent in several languages due to the huge range of cultures you've work with. How many are you up to now?

Ok Milton, the truth is that I speak English VERY well and I also do the fakey fakey phonetics in Cantonese, Mandarin, Thai, Indonesian, Vietnamese, German, Spanish. I'll do anything to make non-English speaking guests feel welcome and valued, and a few words of welcome can go a long wasy to showing them we care and respect them (sometimes my Cantonese and Mandarin phonetics are better than the groom's! Ha!).

And I imagine you're pretty familiar with a whole range of cultural ceremonies and traditions?

Most of my gorgeous couples are not of Anglo Saxon descent. I work with a lot of Chinese and Vietnamese couples and I'm starting to do more Indian / Hindu fusion style ceremonies too. I am pretty familiar with a range of cultural backgrounds and (importantly) parental expectations of what a wedding should be. Sometimes (often actually) the part I play in the day is the only part of the entire day that actually reflects who the couple really are and how they live day to day. The rest of the day can be all about cultural and parental expectations, so I make sure that I give them something that is truly their own. Having said that, I am open to anything!

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Photo by I Love Wednesdays

At one of my weddings the bride surprised the groom with a birdcage full of butterflies for him to release. What's the most unusual or exciting thing you've seen?

One of my first weddings was very, very unusual. We were in the national park. The bride came down to meet us on her hands and knees, crawling through the bush. The bare chested groom, also on his hands and knees, crawled around to meet her and they played a tribal-style game of cat and mouse until he finally "caught" her. That was just the start of what was one of the most deeply moving, absolutely personal and romantic ceremonies I have ever been a part of. Although it sounds quite odd they were a very spiritual couple, dedicated and connected to the earth and they did it their way!

And the longest time a bride has kept her groom waiting?

Two and half hours! It was my second ever wedding. I had to entertain 150 guests for all that time whilst fielding comments and questions from the guests. It was hot - almost 35 degrees! The guests were cranky and sick of waiting and there was no shade and no water. Really awful. I never did find out why she was so late...

Actually that's a serious point as sometimes you have 3-4 ceremonies in a day, right?

True! Timing is so important. No one likes a late bride. Being late messes up the timing of the entire day, and if you are really, really late you might miss out. Three in a day is normal for me in busy months which sometimes means it's three costume changes on the run to make sure i coordinate with the bridal party! I never get tired of it. I bounce into every wedding exactly the same way because I may have already done two weddings that day but that was for two other couples and I have never married this one before! I've never, ever been late either. But four is hardcore! I've only done that a couple of times.

I'm sure you've seen the video doing the rounds of the bride singing down the aisle. Seen anything like that yet?

No brides singing for me yet - I'm still waiting for that one! But I did have a groom sing to his bride as a surprise before his vows! It was so beautiful that everyone was crying, including me!

Well it's not a wedding without a few tears, hey? I suppose that means you're always fully stocked with emergency tissues?!

I buy packs of tissues in bulk! Then I give them to the groom to hide in his pockets. It's his first job as a husband to wipe his bride's tears (and quite often his own). If the groom doesn't have them they usually have to be pulled from the front of the bridesmaid's cleavage!

Finally Robyn, do you have a quick and easy tip for our couples?

Smile! This is your big, beautiful day so make the decision to laugh and smile through the whole thing. Leave all the stress and worries about things going wrong on your pillow when you wake up and enjoy the day! Oh, and dont worry about the ceremony - I'll take care of that!

Thanks Robyn!

Say hello or stay in touch with Robyn: | 0413 886 026 | website | facebook | twitter