Brides are calling in stylists to give their wedding some Hollywood glamour.
Brides are paying fashion stylists to turn their weddings into something you would expect to see in Italian Vogue.
Bored with traditional weddings and keen to feel like a Hollywood star for the day, Australians are inundating stylists with requests to give their nuptials a makeover.
Fashion stylist and menswear designer Donny Galella has received so many requests from brides-to-be that he has teamed up with couture designer and friend Daniel Avakian to take on the lucrative wedding market.
Galella says women have been influenced by reality television shows devoted to "celebrity" stylists, including The Rachel Zoe Project and How to Look Good Naked, the US version hosted by Carson Kressley.
"All these women think: 'On my wedding day, this is my red-carpet moment. I want to look my best,"' Galella says. "The nicest thing a bride said to me afterwards was, 'Thanks for making me feel like a star."'
Galella charges on average between $2000 to $2500 for a wedding, which involves a 30- to 40-hour package covering everything from styling the bridal party to sourcing flowers, invitations and even wedding cakes.
A bridal dress designed by Avakian will cost an additional $3000 or thereabouts but Galella says this can actually be a saving for women who lust after the designer look but can't afford the $10,000 price tag.
The fee also includes on-the-day styling and fashion emergencies, which have included everything from removing stains on the bride's dress to a groomsman's suit that arrived two sizes too big.
A 25-year-old personal trainer from Wollongong, Ishoa Scozzafava, says she wanted something different for her wedding to her Italian husband, Mauro, when they married in Moss Vale two weeks ago.
She knew of Galella from newspaper articles and the social pages and approached him to style her wedding, which was ultimately given a "citrus, earthy" theme to complement the couple's love of wine and the wedding's vineyard setting.
"The day was unreal - there was no hitch," Scozzafava says. "Donny was a tool to help me find the right kind of things, to make everything match and tie together."
Stylist Kelly Smythe has successfully married her bread-and-butter day job - which involves styling everyone from Jennifer Hawkins, Eva Longoria and Delta Goodrem to the Channel Seven stable of stars - with wedding requests, which she receives once a fortnight.
Her bridal clients include two famous Australian women in the entertainment industry - one who is based in New York and recently married in Australia and another who is marrying this year - although, having signed confidentiality contracts for both, she refuses to reveal their identities (no, it's not Delta).
"I don't kiss and tell but if I could, I would love to tell you some of the horror stories I've had," she says. She is quick to point out that weddings are a side project and she has no intention of taking on the wedding planners.
"They specialise in venues, props and equipment, while I specialise in aesthetic and visual. It's more of a refined thing," she says.
Smythe finds weddings more stressful than celebrity styling, despite the fact careers can hinge on whether actresses make the Best Dressed lists.
"I pump out red-carpet looks every week but weddings are different because it is a big deal for the bride and you get so involved in their lives," she says. "I actually get nervous doing it."
A former FashionAssassin designer, Alex Zabotto-Bentley, said weddings had recently become a huge part of his three-year-old agency, AZB Creative.
"Over time, people have realised that they don't really want a wedding like their cousin's or friend's," Zabotto-Bentley says. "Wedding planners ultimately end up recreating themselves. There is nothing explorative, nothing imaginative."
The cost of his styling expertise ranges from $20,000 to "the million-dollar mark, even more" for platinum-level service, which includes dressing the chauffeurs, sourcing one-off items such as antique vases and unique venues.
He recently styled a wedding reception in Melbourne's Middle Brighton Baths, which he decked out to resemble a 1950s Italian pool club.
"Essentially, we're stylists and we source beautiful things and turn it into a photographic moment so everybody walks in and says, 'Oh my god, that's amazing,"' he says.
Select the best
Alex Zabotto-Bentley says finding the right fashion stylist for your wedding is as important as the person you're going to marry: "You've got to make sure that that person is - while not as good in bed - really compatible with you as a person."
1. Do your homework
Ensure the stylist has experience in both red carpet and ready-to-wear so they have a broad database of contacts. "They need to be able to source from a designer," Kelly Smythe advises.
2. Request a face-to-face meeting
This way you can judge a stylist on their individual sense of style. "People can bluff you on the phone," Zabotto-Bentley says.
3. Ask to see their portfolio
The stylist should have some wedding experience but you want to check that their work is not all carbon copies of each other.
4. Beware of gimmicks
It's the smaller details that can take a wedding from classy to tacky. "You don't want someone who suggests fire-breathers or strippers," Zabotto-Bentley warns.