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Behind the Scenes with One of Australia’s Hottest Designers

Brides, you’re in for a very special treat today — not only are we getting to know bridal designer Moira Hughes better thanks to Sonia Allen Makeup‘s fabulous profile, but we’re getting a peek into the designer’s salon and her gorgeous dresses! Take a virtual tour of Moira’s beautiful loft courtesy of Natasha Foster and Angela Rose Photography and see why we have a major crush below!

From Sonia Allen Makeup When asked about her inspiration, it all comes down to brides and fabrics! “Meeting someone who is newly engaged, hearing about their wedding and learning about their personality. A picture starts to form and excitement between us builds on the perfect wedding gown. Seeing all the new laces come through from Paris is incredible and sparks so many new ideas. Sometimes a unique lace will stay in my mind just waiting for the right dress and when it all comes together this is really inspiring.”

A Moira Hughes bride is…“a bride who wants everything! They want the timeless gown to love in 50 years time but also a dress that is young, modern and unique. She wants to look incredible but also be really comfortable to drink, eat and dance her night away! She is not afraid to stand out but also wants that romantic elegant and demure silhouette.”

I ask Moira how long her gowns take to make and what the design process involves and am thrilled to learn that all dresses are made in Sydney (pretty rare in 2016!). “A couture gown is usually started about a year in advance. The first step is securing the fabrics and laces from Paris, ensuring the time for the gown to be created has been booked out and everything is ready for the bride. Closer to the wedding the fittings start, the last taking place just two weeks before the big day to make sure the fit is really perfect.

The fact that everything is made in Sydney means we have complete control over each design and can create dresses really close to a bride’s wedding date, allowing her as much time as possible to get her ideal wedding day body!”

With the bridal industry being no stranger to trends, Moira gives me her predictions of what we can expect to see in bridal couture. “Its all about the back! Low, low backs, higher necklines and more detailing. Other tones are starting to creep in too – bridal blush and dove greys are emerging for the more fashion-conscious bride.”

And finally, Moira’s advice for a woman deciding on her dress…“Stay true to your personality, perhaps pick out a couple of words to describe yourself on the day. If it is classic, modern, pretty or glamorous- use that as a guide. You will regret wearing a dress you were talked into, hair you never usually like, shoes that are too high or make up much heavier than usual. Stay true to yourself and you can’t go wrong!”


From Sonia Allen Makeup… One would say that having incredible talent, passion and drive alongside being warm, energetic and fun is a winning combination…Profiling Moira Hughes, I discovered she is just that combination! The British-born designer has always known she wanted to design wedding gowns and spent years working with some of London, Dublin and Sydney’s best designers before creating her own label and opening her Paddington Boutique.

Starting every day with a cup of tea (she has never had a cup of coffee!), Moira says that designing is something that has always come naturally. “I have little sketches of wedding gowns everywhere- even without realizing it I suddenly have little brides spinning around a notepad.”

Moira’s boutique, nestled in the heart of Paddington, is a merging of New York loft meets Parisian chic. A converted barn with exposed brick, high ceilings and raw finishes, her space cleverly combines the finest components of classicism with an elegant and refined twist. The boutique is light, airy and modern, yet very intimate.

“The beautiful space has the convenience of being near the city combined with the romance to reflect the craftmanship of our gowns. Each bride has the whole boutique to herself, it adds to the experience.”

With such an enthusiasm and genuine love for her craft, Moira says the best part of her job is meeting with brides. “The excitement in designing a gown she will remember forever and feel the best she has ever felt is infectious! I find myself thinking of brides and their dresses on the weekend, particularly on their wedding day. It is a whole journey I am so grateful to be part of.”

From Moira Hughes

What is your party trick?

I can make the best Whisky Sours! Always popular at parties.

Describe the colour white to somebody who is blind?

White is the colour of peace, innocence and a blank canvas. It is the colour you see if you stare at the sun and also of a bride walking down the aisle!

What is your favourite 90s jam?

November Rain- who doesn’t love Guns n Roses?!

If you were 80 years old, what would you tell your grandchildren?

Do it! Make things happen and if you make a mistake it is better to learn from it than to always wonder would have happened.


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Photography: Natasha Foster | Photography: Angela Rose Photography | Design: Moira Hughes | Hair + Makeup: Sonia Allen Makeup | Venue: Moira Hughes | Model: Abby Roll | Producer: Sonia Allen Makeup

Proof a Winery Wedding Doesn’t Have to Be Rustic

Winery weddings tend incorporate rustic touches, so this modern take on a winery wedding is a breath of fresh air. From the reclaimed wood chevron ceremony backdrop (that we want to display as a work of art in our homes) to the clean, simple reception décor to the gorgeous Beacon Lane stationery, this day is as pretty as they come. See it all from Tim Coulson in The Vault!

Al Fresco

From The Bride…Andrew and I met working at the casino in Sydney. Andrew worked in IT and I was his boss’ assistant. When we first started dating, we kept things quiet to try and keep the office gossip to a minimum. When things were going nowhere fast, I decided to go and do some traveling…and as fate would have it after 6 months, I was contacted by the casino and asked to come back to work on a project. I moved back to Sydney and we picked up where we left off. Within our first year we’d done passed all the major tests for a new relationship – moving in together, moving interstate, changing jobs. It was all so natural and right – we both knew we’d found the one.

Andrew proposed while we were visiting family in Cairns and I had no idea it was coming. We’d spoken about it previously but I didn’t expect it right at that moment! Andrew kept asking me to go for walks on the beach while we were there and I kept inviting the whole family along. Eventually, we went out to breakfast together and we were standing on Trinity Beach on a beautiful morning. I was taking a photo and turned back around to find Andrew on one knee – I thought he’d fallen over! We were both so excited we couldn’t eat breakfast and remained giddy for the rest of the week.

Both of our families know how to throw a good party and we wanted to capture that for our day. We wanted it to feel like a relaxed, family gathering at home. We both love food and wine, so that was always going to be a focus for our day.

We wanted to have our ceremony and reception at the same place as we wanted to keep the party flowing while we had photos. Terindah Estate has beautiful views overlooking the You Yangs and back towards Melbourne, as well as amazing vines and access to the waterfront. The venue ticked all of our boxes – coastal, country and winery.

We decided on a small guest list as we wanted an intimate wedding that focused on the people who mean the most to us. We wanted to be able to get around and speak to all of our guests while still being able to enjoy the day. Andrew and I both had an amazing day and felt so relaxed.

In terms of styling, we wanted to focus on the backdrop for the ceremony. We had wine barrels for all the important things like programs, but the rest was simple. Terindah Estate provided the chairs, which suited our overall style perfectly.

We wanted our guests to be relaxed, so they were offered a drink on arrival before the ceremony.

When I arrived on the day, it was raining and we almost had to move the ceremony to the balcony, which would mean no backdrop at all. Thankfully Andrew made the call to stay where we were, and just as I got out of the car it stopped raining. I’m so thankful we didn’t have to move it!

My Dad and I got so excited walking down to the ceremony that we went the wrong way and missed the aisle! After some whispered comments from the bridal party, we got back on track and made it down the right way (after some giggles!)

For the reception, we really wanted the room to speak for itself at Terindah Estate. We chose the restaurant section as it had such a fantastic feel to it – rustic and full of character.

We opted to have bare tables with a scattering of table arrangements and table numbers from Better Off Wed. We had menus, place cards and a seating plan printed by Beacon Lane and I spent the days before the wedding folding napkins and tying them up with the place cards.

I found a vintage key cabinet on eBay and as I’ve always collected old keys but didn’t know what to do with them, we decided they would be our guestbook. We asked our guests to leave their key to a happy marriage on a tag attached to a key and plan to hang the cabinet in our home. We loved reading the keys when we got back from our honeymoon.

The food at Terindah Estate blew us away. We worked with them to have an Oyster Bar for our guests while we went to go have our photos taken…which unfortunately meant we missed out on it! We wanted to make sure there was plenty of food, so we opted for canapés and a shared menu. We wanted to create a family feast type vibe. It was so special to share our first meal together as husband and wife with our friends and family, just as we would at our own table.

I came up with lots of different ideas for favours – but none that Andrew liked! He wanted something that was going to be useful, and so when I talked about hangover kits it was a winner. I spent hours making them, from carving the stamp for the bags myself to putting them all together. It was worth it in the end, and I absolutely loved how they looked. They ended up being a lifesaver for more than a couple of our guests (including us!)

We put together welcome bags for our guests with local olive oil, sourdough and homemade dukkah, which were a big hit both before and after the wedding.

I wore three rings from family members on my bouquet. I had my great grandmother’s wedding ring, my aunt’s engagement ring and Andrew’s grandmother’s engagement ring. I also had a penny from my best friend that she wore on her wedding day, which was given to her by her grandmother. I loved being surrounded by such precious treasures.

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Photography: Tim Coulson | Styling: Kindred Styling | Floral Design: Moss Industry Florist | Cake: Miranda Jane Cakes | Bride's Shoes: Billy Ella | Bridesmaid's Shoes: Joanne Mercer | Bridesmaids' Shoes: Nine West | Rings: Parker Diamonds | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Review | Catering: Terindah Estate | Hair + Makeup: Blondie Hair & Cosmetica | Band: Jarrod & Zoe | Favors: Kindred Styling | Groom's Attire: Rhodes & Beckett | Celebrant: Jess Hills | Venue: Terindah Estate | Bridal Party Cards: Dear Little Darling | Bride + Groom's Son Attire: Minihaha | Bride's Clutch: Navesdesign On Etsy | Bride's Earrings: Samantha Wills | Bride's Hair Comb: Jeanette Maree | Bridesmaid Gifts: Kate Spade | Cake Topper: Better Off Wed | Ceremony Backdrop: Dress My Wedding | Copper Baskets: Robert Gordon | Custom Hangers: Mishmashoflove On Etsy | Custom ‘Vows’ Books: Noteworthydesignsco On Etsy | Gift From Bride To Groom: Royal Doulton | Gift From Bride To Groom On Wedding Day: Bottle Of Balvenie Aged Whisky | Gift From Groom To Bride: Kate Spade | Groom's Shirt + Belt: Hardy Amies | Groom's Shoes: Julius Marlow | Groom's Tie + Pocketsquare: Mrs. Bow Tie | Groomsman Gifts: Happy Socks | Groomsman Gifts: Prospector And Co | Groomsman Gifts: Izola | Invitations + Stationery: Beacon Lane | Signage: TheBridesCollection On Etsy | Wedding Dress + Veil: Karen Willis Holmes

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A Hilltop Wedding Planned in Just 10 Weeks

Nikki and Aran are Beyoncé and Jay Z crazy in love. How do I know? After getting engaged on Christmas day, the two were bursting with so much love that they decided they wanted to be married as soon as possible. Ten weeks later, and in front of 65 of their closest friends and family, the duo became husband and wife at this romantic hilltop wedding. Experience all the love, thanks to Bayly & Moore, in The Vault!


Al Fresco

From Wonder EventsNikki & Aran are two people crazy in love. They got engaged on Christmas Day and were SO bursting with wanting to get married that they pulled out all the stops and 10 weeks later were standing on top of a hill, on beautiful Waiheke Island celebrating their wedding with all of their loved ones. Just to add to dramatic effect there was even a wild little storm that happened perfectly on cue when all the guests were tucked up inside the marquee enjoying their meals.

We opted for a simple neutral colour palette of whites and greens down two long tables. Guest numbers were around 65 people so naturally this created an intimate setting. A light wood runner anchored the florals in a slightly more contemporary way that worked in well with the rustic Tuscan setting. Menus were printed on crisp white linen napkins which sat atop glass beaded chargers complemented by crystal glassware and rose gold cutlery. A large polystyrene N&A stood tall on the dancefloor with soft fabric draping and fairy lights a focal point of the ceiling.

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Photography: Bayly & Moore | Floral Design: Blush Floral Stylist | Venue: Lavender Hill | Event Planning + Styling: Wonder Events | Furniture Hire: Arkade | Lighting + Drapery: La Lumiere