“Some people assume that anyone purchasing their wedding gown from us is a full-on goth!” says Lara Ravasini, owner of Gothic Weddings.
But the truth is quite different, with the majority of Lara’s customers simply wanting to stand out from the crowd on their wedding day–and know that they can look back on the experience knowing that it was a unique and memorable one.
“Most customers have a very specific gown in mind for their big day and have planned the gown down to the finest detail,” she says. And those who come to Lara typically do because they are unable to find the style they’re after in a traditional wedding store or in the portfolios of many of the major designers.
Having worked in a traditional wedding store as well, Lara saw this happen time and time again. “We found that more and more customers wanted gowns to reflect their personality and lifestyle. They didn’t want to just settle for the standard white or ivory gown.”
Lara believes that weddings have evolved to become not only a celebration of love and commitment, but also a chance to express one’s lifestyle and cultural beliefs, and the bridal gown was seen as an important way to do so.
“We found that people were asking for all kinds of alternative styles–and were finding there weren’t many places that could cater to their needs,” says Lara. Determined to find a solution, Lara and her team pooled their network of designers and manufacturers, creating Gothicweddings.com.au.
The store, launched in 2010, is online-only, and offers a range of classic and modern designs. Lara notes that the available designs rotate frequently, so keeping abreast of the site’s Facebook page updates is always a good idea. If something does sell out, however, Lara’s team can modify any of the available gowns or have one custom made from a picture or drawing.
“We try to be as flexible as possible with what can be done,” says Lara. “We also have very experienced staff who can help–we have created thousands of gowns in the past so we know what will and won’t work.”
Speaking of things that don’t work, one thing to bear in mind when purchasing a gothic-influenced gown is when you plan to hold your wedding.
“Most gothic type gowns are created from heavy and dark types of fabrics such as velvet and brocade, which can get very hot in summer,” says Lara. As a result, many gothic weddings are planned for the cooler months. Still, lovers of summer can opt for lighter fabric choices such as taffeta and satin whilst still availing themselves of the rich, dark colours that form the gothic palette.
Lara’s customers aren’t only after gothic-inspired wear, however. The site offers gowns that fit into niches such as Victorian, medieval, vintage and Celtic–just to name a few.
“In the past we’ve had some fantastic requests for gowns, one being an ‘Ice Queen’ gown, similar to that see in the Narnia movie, for a customer in Poland. The customer was married in the snow, and so the dress was very fitting. Another memorable gown was an ‘Army Camouflage’ gown made for a customer here in Australia who was marrying a soldier in the Army.”
Lara also has a soft spot for Dita Von Teese’s wedding dress, which due to popular request she hopes to recreate next year.
But these pale in comparison (pardon the pun) to the most memorable commission of all: a customer in Canada who wanted a Halloween wedding. “We created a beautiful heavy black lace wedding dress for her, and instead of walking down the aisle she was wheeled down the aisle in a coffin! It was very dramatic!”
But what of the groom? Surely he can’t expect to wear a standard suit or tux if his partner is opting for something so glamorous?
“This can be an issue,” says Lara. “Personally I think that if the person you are marrying is going to the trouble to create a certain look, then the whole bridal party should go with the theme. Most of our brides know exactly what they want but are unsure about how their partner should be dressed.”
Lara says that sometimes less is more, with a top hat and tails a classic pic–a cape is an option as well. Props, such as swords, can also be an addition that work well with the gothic theme.
Brides, too, have myriad accessory options at hand, although Lara notes that the gown should always be considered to be the “centre” of the theme, with any accessories then added to it. “Some people make the mistake of swamping themselves with way too many accessories,” she says.
Lara recommends the following: using a circlet or cape for a medieval gown; a mini top hat or a bird cage veil are popular for gothic weddings, as are coloured veils; and Mantilla veils or a French or birdcage veil are popular for Victorian styles. Tiaras, however, have waned in popularity amongst alternative brides, notes Lara.
As many alternative brides opt for quite elaborate old-world hairstyles, Lara recommends that they take any hairpieces to a hairdresser for a trial rather than selecting a hairstyle and then attempting to add a hair accessory.
When it comes to jewellery, the most popular options for alternative brides are those that incorporate cameos, gemstones, and pewter, although chokers still reign supreme, with many brides choosing simple a lace or velvet option.
The less is more approach is also key with make-up, says Lara, who recommends opting for the “Queen of Death” look rather than the “Clown” look.
“A lot of our brides want to have a very fair complexion, which is fine. However you don’t want to cake it on too thick so that the foundation or powder starts to crack. Rather, you need just enough to bring down the shade of your skin. Some also choose a light dusting of coffin powder over the foundation base.”
The use of blush is rare, although it can make an excellent highlight on some brides, but lipstick is a must: blood red or midnight black are highly sought after lipstick colours. False eyelashes are generally a winner, and can be as elaborate or colourful as desired–some are even beaded, says Lara.
But because gothic make-up can be a challenge to get right, Lara recommends shopping around for a talented make-up artist to help ensure that the desired look is achieved.
“There are many make-up artists out there who now specialise in creating this look. It’s a style that has become much more popular over the years!”
And given that many of Lara’s customers re-wear their gowns, it’s a look that is likely to persist. “Many of our customers wear their gowns to events such as masquerade balls, while some have their gown made in a bodice and skirt so that the bodice can be worn with another skirt.”
For those who opt to put their gown into storage, Lara recommends having it packed in a box with acid-free paper, or having it placed into a vacuum-sealed bag.
“If you want to re-wear the gown at a later stage, a vacuum-sealed bag is a good idea, as it allows the dress to be easily be removed if necessary.” Lara asks that customers ensure that the gown is dry cleaned before storage, as acids from handling and sweat will discolour the gown over time. She also recommends that if the gown have any delicate embellishments that it also be packed with acid free tissue paper to prevent damage and puncturing.