Here, our local leaders Roxy Hotten, Dee Wild and Victoria Armstrong share their different and creative styles on their approach this very question:
ROXY HOTTEN – The Op Shop Junky
I’m an op-shop shopper extraordinaire when it comes to my celebrant wardrobe. There’s a number of reasons for this. I like vintage clothes, and so often find a gem or two that’s from the 50s through to the 80s which sets my heart on fire. Another reason is that I only like to wear an outfit to a wedding three or four times max, and once I’ve had enough of that outfit, I can take it back to the op-shop to find a new home. The third reason is that couples are super-diverse, so when I ask them whether there is a dress code, colour scheme, or something in particular they’d like me to wear, I often have something in my wardrobe already waiting for that particular request.
Here are my best tips for getting the best out of op shopping.
- I have a selection of smaller op shops I go to which are in affluent areas of Brisbane, and where I often find brands like Gorman, Sheike, Cue, Sass & Bide, Review, Veronika Maine and so much more. These are usually anywhere from 10 – 25% of the retail price, and I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve bought clothes which have never been worn.
- My local op-shop, which is huge, has a ‘Designer Rack’ as well as a ‘Vintage Rack’, and this is where I always headfirst.
- Don’t go into an op-shop like you would a normal fashion shop. It’s best to go with an open mind, rather than any kind of idea of what you might want to buy and take your time to really look through the racks. Start off with a smaller shop, as it can be a bit overwhelming in the large ones.
- I know which days are best to go to the op-shops I frequent. My favourites usually stock up big on Friday’s, ready for the weekend, and this is when I find my best buys.
- The shops usually stock in a colour theme, or by size. Be aware that the interpretation of sizing can be a bit off sometimes. For example, American sizing is different to Australian, so you may find something marked as a size 10 (American) which is actually a size 14 (Australian).
- I often find unique pieces from independent designers, and I will Google the designer whilst in the op shop to check out how much a piece of clothing will cost full price to make sure I’m getting a bargain.
The main thing for me is that I find op shopping fun. It’s not for everyone, but it can be a bit of a kick when you come home, having spent $50, and have a number of pieces that you love.
DEE WILD – The Handmade Queen
When I first became a Celebrant I, like many of us, spent many an hour researching other celebrants to find out what they wore, how they presented themselves and to figure out if I really had to learn to wear heels to be a celebrant.
The answer to that last one is of course, no! However, I do remember being intimidated by the effortless* and glamourous style of so many of the celebrants I was inspired by.
I’ve always loved handmade. Making handmade baby clothes, crocheting, wearing handmade earrings and frequenting handmade markets and stores are very much part of who I am.
Living in Melbourne, I was never short of weekend outings to local Makers Markets.
However, when it came to what to wear to a ceremony as a celebrant, I was completely stumped!
Feeling panicked before one of my very first weddings, to calm my nerves, I made myself a simple deep red linen dress. When it came time to get ready for the wedding, I popped the dress on with some fabulous sparkly handmade earrings and my new Love Heart Rollie shoes. With my trusty red book in hand, I instantly felt ready to BE a Celebrant!
Now, almost every outfit that I wear to a wedding is handmade by me or brought from a local maker.
Much like Roxy, I only like to wear dresses 4-5 times for a wedding. By investing in some very funky and high-quality pants and skirts, I can mix and match these with my handmade tops and extend the wear of these key (slightly expensive!) pieces.
When I ask my couples about their dress code and colour palette, I often pull out my phone and show them my current dresses so that they can choose. Or, their colour palette or venue or style of wedding may inspire a new dress.
I prefer a block colour and pair it with bright accessories and shoes (you should see my earring collection!)
And of course, on request, I will happily don my fabulous Tinsel Jacket!
Now, I absolutely realise that hand making a dress, sometimes the day before or morning of (!) a wedding is not for everyone.
What is accessible though is finding one or two styles that suit YOU. Go for a fit that makes you feel fabulous. If you feel great, you’ll look great and you’ll deliver an awesome ceremony!
When you find a dress or outfit you love, if you can, buy it in multiple colours.
You’ll notice that I only have 2-3 patterns that I use. I might get more adventurous one day, maybe.
*NOTHING is ever effortless! Especially when it comes to weddings and that goes for the celebrant as well. You should hear some of the stories we have to tell about changing into wedding attire on the side of the road on route to a venue!
VICTORIA ARMSTRONG – The Celebrant Barbie
When I was designing my website back in the beginning, my web designer asked me to think of ways in which I could really sell myself and show my personality through the screen.
One day I was chatting to my girlfriend as we walked along the beach – I know, I live near the beach this is a daily occurrence – poor me! We were talking about my impending celebrant career, and she asked me ‘do you know the types of outfits you will wear?’ I responded, ‘oh yeah, this is the best part all those dresses I’ve been collecting that I never get to wear will be able to get a real workout now’.
She then told me a story of her wedding, one of the things she remembers most is the guy who her mother-in-law employed to serve the drinks, was wearing a bright orange shirt! To this day over 15 years later she still talks of this guy and how absurd it was for him to wear this to her neutral toned wedding. I said ‘imagine if you were able to dictate what everyone wore to your wedding? This was a major lightbulb moment for me.
Why not let my couples choose what I wear? As soon as I got home, I raided my wardrobe and found all the dresses that I could wear to weddings, then I added some others that had some really great stories attached to them. Basically, dresses I’d worn to weddings in the past. When I chatted to my web guy about this, he said ‘great idea but the photos need to look professional!’. Hmmm hadn’t thought of that.
I already had a photographer booked that was going to take some profile shots for me so I chatted to him about how we could extend the shoot and take in the dresses too. He suggested a white studio and luckily for me I knew a guy who had a white studio in here Byron Bay and he gave me a really good price.
So, my Style Me page was born. I don’t mind if my couples choose the same dress time after time, most of my couples don’t know one another so to them their photo albums look unique, and I love my dresses so I love to wear them as much as I can. I have updated this once already with Style Me 2021/2022 added last year. I’m careful about how I promote my weddings on my social media though to ensure I don’t always wear the same dress
I get so many comments on this from my couples and they love to pick my dress. I often get ‘oh you’re the one with all the pretty dresses?’. It also saves me so much time staring into my wardrobe abyss trying to choose what to wear.
Not all my couples choose this though, as many of them say ‘you wear whatever you want’ which is so sweet but also not that helpful. Just like Roxy and Dee, in these moments I ask them what colours their wedding party are wearing, and what their guest dress code is (I wouldn’t want to turn up to an all-white wedding in a floral dress!) and I always have a backup outfit, or two, in the car. Imagine spiling coffee on yourself in the car! Agh!
So, there you have it, 3 different approaches to what a celebrant wears to a wedding. At the end of the day as long as you look smart (iron your dress or suit), presentable (wash your face, brush your teeth and your hair) and friendly (smile) you’ll be fine.