#weddingwednesday Lilac Vintage wedding

The Old Church in Napier was simply a stunning location to showcase the Maggie Sottero Gianna.  Such a stunning one off gown and Astra Bride Cloe loved it from the moment she tired in on.  Cloe's Dad was proud to walk her down the aisle wearing his coordinating Lilac shirt.

Cloe couldn't name a favourite part of the gown "The whole dress is my favourite part it has the most intricate detailing, that I love the entire gown!" Completely covered in strands of beads on sparkle inlays it is amazing.

Lilacs and golds made up the wedding party.  The flowergirls were also supercute in their dresses.  Cloe's advice to brides : "Go with what you want , it's your one and only day to really shine like you never have"
Of Astra bridal Cloe said:

We walked through the doors and were greeted with such a pleasant and warm manner that we instantly felt like we were definitely in the right place, Astra bridal really looked after us with the highest level of customer service, this place cannot be faulted! They went above and beyond what most retail services do and for that we truly thank you =)

Bride: Cloe Anderson

Gown: Maggie Sottero Gianna

Accesories: Veil: 90" 1 tier crochet edge | Shoe: Princess by touchups |

Flowergirls: From the instore range at Astra Bridal

Location: The Old Church Napier

Photographer: Richard Wood

THEME: Vintage

SETTING: Historic Garden

DESIGNER: Maggie Sottero


What to think about before you start shopping for gowns:

Your wedding personality. 

What is it that visualize when you think about your wedding.  Is it flowers and pink hues, elegant evening affair, a beach day with bare feet or a classic church wedding.  Read our article on determining your wedding personality.

Think about your budget. 

Do some research on what you get for your money and make sure that your limit will allow you to have the freedom to choose what you want.  There is nothing more frustrating than trying to have champagne taste on a shoestring budget.  So be realistic about what your budget can get and find the best stores that cater to that budget.


Think about the weather at the time of day or location for your wedding.  While sleeves are not seen a modern weddings you can accessorise for a winter wedding with fur or feather wraps and stockings.  If you are getting married in the middle of summer in Rarotonga then a full satin gown with a cathedral train will probably see you fainting!  

Body type.

Probably the most important thing to be aware of.  Being open to listen and test out different shapes on your figure.  Our expertise lies in helping you determine that right shape for you.  Once you have that shape you can think about the styling and embellishment for your gown.  See our handing body type guide, but remember it is no substitute for trying gowns on. Read our Body shape article...

Time frame. 

Often a surprise to brides is how long it can take to have a gown made.  Depending on the designer the time can be anywhere from three to six months.  Maggie Sottero take the longest because of the intricate nature of the beading and designs.

Eliminate what you don’t like.  Often the first times of trying on gowns are more about what you don’t like rather than what you do.  But taking some styles out of the running helps when you are looking at magazines, as you can now flick past something you know won’t suit.

Saturdays – Saturday’s are extremely busy in bridal stores, so if you do have the opportunity and means then it is a much more personal experience to come during the week.  If not then be prepared to share the space with others and their entourage.

Who to bring.

Think carefully about who you bring with you.  Never more than three at a time, any more opinions and no decision will be made.  Have a meeting with them before and share with them your wedding vision.  Make sure they are people who are positive about you, and are going to help you find what you are looking for.  We often hear comments like, “well I wouldn’t wear it – what they would wear is irrelevant – it is about you and your wedding”.  If you have a particularly tricky person that you know can be critical but you feel you have to involve them, let your consultant know.  They should be able to help handle this situation. Read our article on who to bring.

Do your homework

Find out information about the stores you are visiting. 
Look for reviews and customer testimonials.  Research their size ranges and price points.  There is no point trying on gowns that you can’t afford.  If you are a plus size bride (over size 18) ask if they have samples available for you to try on.

Be Prepared to Listen and Talk

It can be quite difficult to think of your consultant as more than just someone that wants to sell you a dress.  They do want to do that, but motivated by wanting you to get you to look your best and achieve the style of gown you desire.  So make sure you talk to them openly about what you like and don’t like about gowns – don’t spare their feelings!  Also listen to the advice they have to offer.  If you chose a long established salon to partner with then you know they are going to have a great level of expertise in what they are doing.

Be Prepared toEnjoy the experience

Often the first visit to a salon can be nerve wracking for some brides.  But remember this is a real fun part of the wedding where you can unashamedly make it all about you.  Flounce around in some gowns and relax in to the whole experience.

Think about your backdrop

Most brides have booked their venue before they start looking for the gown.  So take some time to get a visual image (or bring a picture with you) of what your location is like and put yourself in the picture. Check out our location article.

Peruse the mags

Grab some magazines and have a look at all the gowns.  Create a scrapbook of pictures that you like.  Think about why you like the picture – is it the shape, the fabric, the overall personality projected by the picture.  Don’t get too fixated on one gown until you have tried some on though.  It may not suit your body shape at all.

Think about service

A gown is not just a garment, it is an experience and crucial part of your wedding.  Make sure you completely trust you salon – ask them for references from other brides.  They may have your dream gown, but if they get the order wrong or don’t use trusted designers, it can quickly turn to your nightmare gown.

Don’t buy off the internet

Unless you are truly on a tight budget.  Not a single reputable designer supports the sale of their gowns on the internet.  They are either fakes (which typically are poorly constructed using inferior materials) or they are parallel imported.  Whilst parallel imports are legal in New Zealand the supply breaches the designer’s agreement with its stores.  If found to be trans-shipping (where one store orders and supplies someone overseas who then sells to you) behind the designers back the originating store is cut off from supply – do you want to risk being the order that falls on the wrong side of the cutoff.  People that produce fake gowns are stealing, they steal the ideas, the construction techniques and then the photographs to advertise the gowns.  Would you buy a stolen car – so don’t support the theft of intellectual property.  Maggie Sottero have told us that to design and body test a gown takes at least six months and multiple remakes to get it right before it goes anywhere near photography and production.  Buy your gown from an authorized stockist listed on the designers web site.  There is lots of literature about internet purchase horror stories, here are a couple of links.  But we don’t need to read them as we have enough of our own when we are asked to fix gowns which have arrived in very poor condition.  Trademe works very closely with Astra Briadl to monitor gowns listed on trademe.  They trust us to advise them on the legitimacy of claims made and keep the trademe community safe.  They would like to eliminate the sale of all fake items from trademe as by supporting the sale of authentic items they know they can protect their bidders no matter what the item is.





Baby blue hues

Pale blue wedding inspiration | Found for you by Astra Bridal and www.borrowedandblue.kiwi

Beautiful soft blues! My favourite look that we are seeing trending more and more is a blue for bridesmaids and an increase in floaty soft fabrics. Pale blue is often combined with a light pink, coral or blush and this contrast creates the ultimate in pretty romance. Blue is often popular for bridesmaids as many bridesmaids suit the colour blue so makes it a great go to colour option!

For more blue inspiration and photo credits check out our pinterest board.

Astra's Beach Brides!

I am still in summer mode so thought I would share some of our featured brides who love summer and beach so much that this was the choice of location for their special day!

I know I constantly say this but have a look at the variety of gown styles and themes that our brides have chosen! I am sure you will agree that they all look fantastic. The reason for this…. They chose the right gown for both their shape and their personality!

Talk to your consultant about what you are thinking for your wedding. Our consultants pride themselves on finding the perfect dress for YOU and will make sure that you achieve your dream look so that you can look and feel perfect on your wedding day.

#Fridayfavourite get the look

The stand out feature of Jana Kramers wedding gown is the detailing in the lace.  The Singer/Actress wore a gown by Galaia Lahav.  The texture of the lace is created with a nude underlay and then accents of beading throughout the gown.  If you love a dense lace then the beauty of the Makenna gown from Maggie Sottero might be just what you are looking for.

Princess gowns for any wedding!

When I first started at Astra Bridal I assumed a bride wanting a full skirt was having a princess style wedding and this was a huge mistake! Brides have chosen a full skirt gown for every style from formal, to elegant and also a simple beach wedding. These wedding dresses are the ultimate in girlie and our brides simply fall in love!

For more gorgeous dress inspiration check out our pinterest page.

On Location with bride and groom in Issue 92

Maggie Sottero gowns Evan and Danielle. Perfect for a modern boho wedding.

Maggie Sottero gowns Evan and Danielle. Perfect for a modern boho wedding.

Bonny 4610 - Divine gown with an on trend geometric pattern.

Bonny 4610 - Divine gown with an on trend geometric pattern.

Rebecca Ingram (by Maggie Sottero) perfect for the curvy bride.

Rebecca Ingram (by Maggie Sottero) perfect for the curvy bride.

Bonny 1515 - From the unforgettable range by Bonny, starting at size 18, gowns specifically designed for the bride with more.

Bonny 1515 - From the unforgettable range by Bonny, starting at size 18, gowns specifically designed for the bride with more.

Bonny 6614 - Light chiffon gown designed for the beach or destination bride in mind.  Simple elegant and very bridal.

Bonny 6614 - Light chiffon gown designed for the beach or destination bride in mind.  Simple elegant and very bridal.

Thanks again to the team from Bride and Groom magazine for showcasing some of our gorgeous gowns in some stunning locations.  I especially love seeing Morgan the Irish setter included - always makes my visits to their office special!

#Fridayfavourite Celebrity Glee

Heather Morris, one of the stars from the show Glee, wed her partner in 2015, in a cermony in california.  Her gown was a simple fit and flare silhouette created with floral lace.  The back had a keyhole feature and a bling belt gave it just a lift of sparkle.

For this gown we love the Bonny 607.  It has the most gorgeous floral lace, those stunning straps and a double keyhole back.  We would love to see it paired with a sparkly belt.




On Location with Maggie Sottero! Desert Magic

The Nicole by Sottero and Midgley was chosen for this stunning styled shoot by Maggie Sottero. Set in the Desert this shoot caught my eye - edgy beauty with effortless glamour! The Nicole is a great choice for warmer climates due to be lightweight and open backed.

I hope you fall in love with this shoot as much as I did! Thanks so much for sharing this Maggie Sottero. Another shoot to inspire.

#weddingwednesday wine estate wedding

Sofia and Zaan chose the Sileni Wine Estate for their wedding in February 2016.  Their wedding was dressed in muted colours with the yellow accents really popping.

Sofia travelled in style in their gorgeous Bronze Chevrolet 1957 Bel Air. 


The intimate ceremony was one of tears and laughter.  The Selini Estate was the perfect outdoor location for this summer day. Of the venue they said:

“Words can’t describe how amazing our wedding day was. The food was beyond exception and Sileni Estate Winery was the most incredible backdrop.”

Bride: Sofia Karantze

Gown: Maggie Sottero Emma

Location: Sileni Wine Estate

Photography: Lynda Gordon Photography


THEME: Classic

SETTING: Vineyard

DESIGNER: Maggie Sottero


Lovely Lakeside wedding inspiration

Yes, it is all about fairy lights and relaxed dining next to the lake for today's inspiration board! Add a touch of EPIC views and landscapes and you have the most incredible wedding location. I love the rustic wheelbarrows full of supplies for the guests - a cute, yet highly practical touch. There can often be quite a delay between the ceremony ending and the bridal party returning from photos so keep your guests happy and hydrated and you will be in for a great evening. don't forget the water as well!

For more lakeside inspiration check out our pinterest page.

Esther's country themed wedding.

Wedding theme:

We wanted a theme that was unique to us- that showed our personality. We live in the country and are small time calf rearers on top of our jobs as an accountant and Brad as a joiner. With Brad being bought up on a small farm and my learning the ropes for the last few years we felt a country theme was the most appropriate for us, and our wedding setting at the Gardens. We felt it matched exactly who we are.

On the day:

It is traditional to have the wedding in the Bride’s hometown, however, Brad and I always wanted to have our wedding in Invercargill and I was prepared to sacrifice that so that his grandpa who was 96, would be able to attend our wedding without having to travel. Unfortunately he passed in December, a few months before we were married, but we decided that Hawthorne Gardens in Invercargill would be the perfect place for our wedding. Exactly 4 months after Brad’s proposal Brad and I shared our wedding day on the 27th April 2013 in Invercargill in the beautiful Rustic Hawthorne Gardens.

The whole week before the wedding was torrential rain and the 27th forecast for rain. I could not get any sleep the night before our wedding as the rain was so heavy & noisy on our roof, thinking that we would definitely be having an inside wedding at the marquee in Hawthorne Gardens, which did not worry me. A month or two earlier we had had my hens party and all the girls gave me a small gift. My sister in law had given me some ear plugs as a joke. As I was lying in bed listening to the rain and not being able to sleep- I remembered the earplugs, found them and put them in my ears- thanks Sharyn!

We had not had a practice outside as we definitely thought the wedding would be inside. So what a surprise it was when I woke up the next morning and it was a beautiful sunny day - the perfect day for our garden wedding! As we made our vows to each other, we were surrounded by 160 of our family and friends.

Brad has his sister Amanda on his side with his 2 brother in laws and I had my two sisters and 2 best friends. Brads other brother in law, Mark got his marriage licence especially for our wedding and was our celebrant. Marks son and daughter were our page boy and flower girl.

Favourite wedding day moment:

At the gardens we got married in you wait behind a bit of bush before you walk down the aisle. When I came around the start of the bush I saw that Brad had a few tears in his eyes- it was a pretty special moment and lucky for Brad- one that the photographer captured.

We also got ready at our house & brad at his parents place. Brad and the boys came over later on in the morning as he wanted photos at our house. We closed the curtains so they couldn’t see in. We had chervolet impalas as wedding cars and I heard them pulling up our drive so I peeked out the curtains to have a look and I saw Brad standing there in his suit. He didn’t know he could see me but it was a pretty special moment seeing him there all dressed up and it gave me reassurance and comfort that soon we would be staring our lives together as husband and wife.

We had our rings engraved and it was a surprise to each other- when we got married we looked at each others rings to see what we had both got engraved. The messages are very personal & it was special looking to see what each other had got inscribed.

Why did you choose your dress?

I chose the Christina Rossi 914.

I wanted a dress that had something special to it with a little sparkle, without being too overpowering. I tried on some beautiful dresses with lots of material, big trains and sparkles but the beautiful simplicity of the CR914 really stood out to me.  The beautiful beading is what drew me to my dress, it was the little sparkle I was looking for and the style of the dress in general (strapless, sweat heart neckline) really suited my shape. I also wanted something that I was really comfortable in for the day and this dress did all these things for me.

Advice for future brides:

Choose your wedding photographer wisely and get someone you really want and who suits your style. Your photos are your memories that will last forever so make sure you have someone good to capture those memories. I had an amazing photographer who captured so many special moments without us even realizing at times that she was there and I`ll treasure these memories.

Hire a photobooth! It’s so much fun and guests love it! It also gives them a momento of your wedding and makes a great guestbook!

I didn’t really have any dramas on my wedding day or leading up to the wedding, everything went surprisingly smoothly. However, I did have an incident after the wedding where I took my dress to get dry cleaned (not at Astra) and the beading came off- so my advice to brides who are getting their dresses cleaned that have anything delicate on your dress is to ask the drycleaner first if is ok to be drycleaned and make them well aware of the delicate part. Fortunately for me I had done that and the drycleaner had to fix my dress.

You don’t have to spend heaps of money on things like table decorations to make them look effective. Make something that’s personal to you as a couple. We brought cheap photo frames and joined them together to make a box & then put a glass bottle in the middle of the box with reed flowers in them. Each frame had photos in it of us growing up and also together as a couple. The table number corresponded to our age in the photo e.g table one was us at age one. We were able to take the box photo frames home and I’ve now joined the boxes together to make a small photo tower.

Also, just have fun on your day, everything goes so fast and you’ll get to the end of the night and think where did that day go - just sit back and relax and watch it all unfold before your eyes.

Your wedding in one word:


The dream team!

Gown: Astra Bridal Wellington Christina Rossi 914.

Bridesmaid Dresses: Val Jones of Hedgehope Invercargill- she is an amazing lady who can make your dress with virtually no pattern! She also made Brad’s mother’s outfit.

Mens Suits: McKnight & Brown- Invercargill 

Hair: Rosie Thomas (my sister) from ZO-AR in Kilbernie, Wellington

Makeup: Kerry Peninsula Spain (Venom Hair Invercargill) 

Flowers: Janice McBride of Woodlands Invercargill

Location (Ceremony and Reception venue):  Hawthorne Gardens Invercargill, Ascot Park Hotel, Invercargill. 

Photography/videographer: Sonia Simpson and Geoff Horrell (Sonias Father) from Sonia Simson Photography (Dunedin). Geoff shot photos of the boys getting ready and Sonia took pictures of us girls- so awesome having a 2 person team!

Darran Horrell and Phillip Green videoed our wedding.

Cake: Michelle Findlater of Invercargill


Theme | Rustic
Setting | Farm Wedding
Designer | Christina Rossi
Gown Style | Modified Mermaid

#Fridayfavourite celebrity wedding

Heidi Range from the Sugar Babes got married in Florence wearing a Suzanne Neville gown back in September 2016.  The gown had a sweetheart neckline and aline skirt.  The bodice was then finished with a lace overlay.  Her gown was simple but stunning, not too over the top.  The Rebecca Ingram Darlene has the same componants but the bodice has a slightly longer line making it more universally flattering.

#weddingwednesday romantic Arrowtown wedding

Andrea and Darren had been dating for 3 years when Darren popped the question.  They chose Arrowtown for the ceremony which had great memories for Andrea as a place where her extended family spent many happy summers.

Soft muted tones were chosen for the flowers and bridesmaids.  The red autumn tones were also reflected in elements for the day.

Andrea said that Stoneridge Estate ticked all the boxes for the location due to its stunning scenery, fine food and wine.  With the chapel on the same grounds as the reception room it made it super easy for the guests also. The weather forecast was for rain on the day but like magic, the skies cleared at 10am and we had a stunning day.

Important to us was having our two boys Trey and Finn participate in the ceremony and for our blended family to really come together. Trey stood by his Dad as we exchanged vows and Finn decided he wanted to be in charge of the rings.

The scenery around Arrowtown provided the perfect backdrop for some amazing photographs to make memories of the day


Of her gorgeous gown Andrea said "I felt every bit the bride in my beautiful gown and the girls at Astra bridal was so helpful when it came to choose one. The Francesca was one that I had previously overlooked but tried it on after Dee’s suggestion. The moment I tried it on that was it! Mum was up from Invercargill so it was lovely to have her there to share that experience with me."

Andrea's advice to brides:

Hire a professional MC, the day ran so smoothly (theirs was Richard Mills). Don’t sweat the small stuff. The rings accidentally got left behind before the ceremony. The delay, while the chauffeur drove back to the house to collect them, gave me extra time to calm my nerves, and we got some additional unplanned and fabulous photos. It turned out to be a great thing to have happen.

Bride: Andrea Legatt (nee Deuchrass)

Gown: Maggie Sottero Francesca

Accessories: Shoe - 4046M | Earrings - Clara design | Bracelet - Annie Watson design |

Location: Stoneridge Estate

Photographer: Ishotz Photography by Jamie Smith

Others: Hair and Makeup - Hush Spa | Celebrant - Kathryn Ormond | Cake - Sadie from Scrumptious | Florals - the Flower Room | Daimlers - Classic Car Journeys |

Style Guide

Theme | Classic Wedding
Setting | Historic Garden
Designer | Maggie Sottero
Gown Style | Sheath

Orange finishing touches!

Not a colour we see regularly but I LOVE orange. Happy, bold, bright and full of fun. Autumn inspired bouquets often showcase more orange touches and this can create such a rustic depth to your flowers. Orange can also be added with small touches such as dying your shoes. This is great for the bride wanting a splash of bold to a classically themed wedding.

For more orange inspiration check out our Orange Pinterest board.

#Fridayfavourite Celebrity get the look

In July 2016 tennis star Ana Ivanovic wed the caption of the German football team Bastian Schweinsteiger.  Her gown was a gorgeous corset bodice and a pleated satin full skirt created by Suzie Turner couture.  The gown was simple but elegant.  We love the we have something similar (Christina Rossi 4245) which can come in all white or all ivory, but ours is an upgrade - it has pockets!

#weddingwednesday urban Auckland wedding

Melissa was on a tight deadline with her gown only arriving a matter of days before the wedding, but with Liz's calming influence and the team lined up and ready to go overnight Melissa's Bonny gown was picture perfect on the day of the wedding.

St Michael's Parish in Remuera provided not long the location for the ceremony but an amazing photo backdrop as well.

After the wedding the traditional tea ceremony was held.

Then it was off for some gorgeous shots under the harbour bridge and then taking advantage of a gorgeous autumnal background.

Astra Bride: Melissa Boon

Gown: Bonny 422

Other: Jacket from Astra Bridal

Location: St Michaels Parish Auckland

Photographer: Kenrick Rhys


Theme | Modern
Setting | Garden
Designer | Bonny Bridal
Gown Style | Fit and Flare

How do I care for my gown after my wedding?

Dave from Mansfield Drycleaners provided us with this fantastic article. Great advice and tips!

My advice first off is to have the gown cleaned as soon as possible.  That enables stains to be removed before they set and prevent perspiration damage.

Once your gown has been cleaned then there are two storage options.  Hanging or lying flat.

Flat storage can be in an acid free cardboard box and wrapped in acid free tissue paper.  Alternatively, you can get natural cotton fabric and roll your gown up.  Then put the rolled-up gown in a drawer, making sure no one will put anything on top of it.

Hanging your gown needs to be done in a cotton cover and on a cloth covered hanger.  Make sure you hang it from the hanger loops not from the straps themselves, as they will stretch over time.

Storing correctly means keeping it free from light damage, moisture, excessive dryness or excessive heat.

Check your gown after 12 months and get any new stains removed as soon as you can.  Sometimes food stains can take time to develop, especially on a silk fabric.

What should I do if I spill food or drink on my gown on the day?

One key point here is not to stress or let an accident ruin your day.

Whatever you do don’t rub the fabric.  Keep Nana away with her wet handkerchief.

Start by blotting the area with a dry cloth first (clean napkins are perfect for this) and remove as much moisture as possible.  Then wet the spot and blot it again.  This should hopefully lift the liquid or food out.  Rinse the area with more water and then blot it dry.

Coral Cuteness

Not quite pink, not red - just simply stunning coral! Coral is a great summer colour and perfect for an beach or lake wedding where the colour pops against the whites of your gown and the summer sand!

Coral wedding decor lends itself to pretty floral design with simple yet gorgeous posies. Coral, being a softer colour, allows you to mix some bolder oranges and blues into your scheme if you want to merge a bright bold look with soft and romantic.

For more coral inspiration check out our coral pinterest board.