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When I got engaged I was extremely excited to be married to Jo and at the thought of our wedding, but because as a young girl I was never one to think or dream of myself as a bride, it was only after I bought my wedding dress that I could truly imagine myself walking down the aisle.

My first ever bridal dress shopping day out was very exciting, as I’m sure all brides feel when they try on their first dress. I went with my mum, sister and a couple of bridesmaids to Mariana Hardwick where we were welcomed with champagne and had a fun morning trying on many beautiful dresses. I loved them all, but this first day, was a day just for looking. I then spent another 3 or 4 afternoons shopping in Melbourne to see what else might suit me. I found a dress with a few different layers. It was a bit unusual, which I guess is something I’ve always liked – being a bit different. My favourite style, you might say, is a touch bohemian, but although I found the look that I liked, this particular dress just didn’t feel that good. So with this in mind, I went back to Mariana’s emporium and explained the style that I then knew I wanted, and at last found my dress. I had not tried this particular one on during my first visit to Mariana, and I immediately fell in love with its beautiful flowing layers of lace, tulle and silk georgette. It had everything I loved in a bridal dress, but most importantly I just felt good in it, and I was confident that the end result would fit perfectly.

Suzie assisted me in the emporium and she was brilliant. She wasn’t pushy or overpowering, just kind and lovely. I think she helped me enormously by narrowing down the many choices of stunning gowns through a process of elimination. She made me realise that the most important thing is how wearing the dress made me feel.

The second and final fitting was a great experience. I couldn’t believe that there were no further alterations needed. I felt like a real bride. Wow, it was all happening. I was so excited that this was my dress. My beautiful dress. My mum and sister’s reactions were overwhelming and I simply couldn’t stop smiling.

Wearing my gown on my wedding day – one word; amazing. I knew I would be nervous as a bride, having all eyes on me, but for some reason when I put on my dress, all nerves rolled off and I became excited to see my groom, and excited for the party to begin! I felt great in my dress, like all brides should feel.

The entire day itself was without a doubt the best day of my life. But when talking about specific moments, walking down the aisle with my dad and dancing with my husband are two of my best memories from the day. Overall, having so many wonderful friends and family in South Africa to celebrate with my husband and I was special beyond words. Being an international couple, we will probably never get that experience again where all our friends and family will be in one room and we are so grateful that they could share such a special day with us.

For me, I had the best day, because I felt a million dollars wearing this dress. I felt comfortable and just really happy. My advice for other brides would be don’t be rushed into buying your wedding dress. Unless you’re sure you love it!
The dress is not the focus of the day, but what a difference it makes when you get it right!

I did also take into consideration our location of the wedding. We were married on a winery in Stellenbosch, South Africa and my husband wore a morning suit. So I felt my dress suited the romantic setting and had the elegance to match a morning suit. But I think ultimately I would buy a dress because it makes you feel amazing in it.

Photography by Susie Leblond.

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Mariana Hardwick

Mariana Hardwick

© Mariana Hardwick 2018

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