What’s important in a dress is the woman who’s wearing it

By Shepparton News


My children used to roll their eyes when I said I was making a “quick trip to the supermarket”.

They were well aware I would probably bump into someone I knew and would have a chat, so there was never anything “quick” about it.

I bumped into one of my regular ‘supermarket buddies’ this week. She also happens to be the woman I was a flower girl for when I was eight years old.

That’s a long time ago now, in the middle of the 1970s, when the height of bridal fashion meant frilly shirts and coloured suits for the men, and big veils and bigger hair for the women.

I remember having my long hair tortured into a cascade of curls, matched with a long white dress covered in dark purple, velvet polka dots.

I thought I looked fantastic.

Because that’s the thing about wedding clothes. At the time, you are so on-the-money with the right look. So fashionable and up-to-date. So this-will-never-go-out-of-style confident

It’s only later, when you look at the wedding photos through your older eyes – or worse, through your children’s younger eyes – that you realise how badly it has all dated.

“But, you’ve got to remember when it was,” I splutter as the kids point and laugh. “It was so cool then.”

It’s a fashion fact that, while many styles make comebacks (even those that probably shouldn’t), wedding fashions always anchor the nuptials securely in their never-to-be-repeated time and place.

And it’s not just the clothes that do this. Weddings also mark their era by the traditions (or lack of) and the services/receptions/cakes/drinks/invitations/vows and general stuff and nonsense we choose.

Weddings are also the event when we wear clothes we would normally never be seen dead in.

In my case, I have only worn purple twice in my life – the purple spots as a flower girl, and then a lilac off-the-shoulder lace concoction as a bridesmaid in the early 1980s. Purple, in any shade, is not my colour.

But the bride is queen, and she will get what she wants. Even if it’s purple.

My third bridal party outing was as matron-of-honour – remember when we were called that? – for my best friend, with a very nice green dress. Like the purple, it’s the only time I’ve ever worn green. But it was a very nice dress.

I tried to be kind to my own bridesmaids, both with colour and style, saying “I’m sure you’ll be able to wear this again”. I don’t think they did.

I’m pretty sure every bride says that to her bridesmaids, and it’s probably almost entirely untrue.

At least it used to be.

One of my duties at the News is the sub-editing of our suite of magazines – including bride and groom magazine.

It’s quite an eye-opener, comparing the clothes and trappings of today’s weddings to my time-warped experiences of the 1980s/early 1990s.

Looking at the pictures, most of the bridesmaids’ dresses definitely could be worn again – and often the bride’s gown as well.

That’s a good thing.

It’s also a good thing that many modern nuptials are much more relaxed and inclusive than in the past.

And tradition – well, that’s mostly been thrown out the window.

I was considered a bit radical in 1987 when I ditched the traditional white dress with a train and veil, choosing a simpler cream creation and flowers in my hair.

But that little bit of rebellion is nothing compared to today’s weddings, where it seems anything goes.

From unusual venues for ceremonies, to receptions catered by food trucks and DIY decorations, today’s weddings seem destined for Instagram and Pinterest (which I suspect is where many of the ideas come from in the first place).

A colleague told me about a wedding he went to recently where all the guests’ names were put into two containers – one for each ‘side’ of the nuptials – and the respective grandmothers were the ‘barrel girls’ who pulled out a name each. The lucky ‘winners’ then witnessed the marriage certificate signing.

Tough luck, bridesmaid and best man – you’ve lost that job.

But just remember, girls and boys, it may be fabulous and Instagrammable now – but in 30 years’ time it’s all going to look just as quaint and old-fashioned to your children as my wedding day looks to my kids.

But stay strong in the face of their mockery – as long as you still love how you looked and what you did (even after divorce, it’s still a special memory), that’s all that matters.


Tickets to the midnight screening of the final episode in the Star Wars saga – The Rise of Skywalker.

I am a total Star Wars tragic – I’ve lost count of how often I’ve seen the original three movies since opening night of A New Hope in 1977.

The three prequels were regrettable, but the first two sequels – and hopefully the third – have redeemed my faith in this greatest ever film franchise.

I have been going to the 12.01am screening of each new movie since The Phantom Menace, and will do the same for the final film on December 19.

I’m pretty useless at work the next day, but boy – it’s worth it.


The bottlebrush that is blooming all over town. After wattle, bottlebrush is my next favourite flowering native plant.

Every year I am taken by surprise as seemingly overnight those weird, knobbly pods sprout vibrant red flowers. The redder and thicker the better.

We are certainly at the peak of spring lushness, when anything that is going to flower this season is flowering, and deciduous trees have regained their full canopy of leaves.

If only it wasn’t so dry. I’m already resenting watering the garden, and I know it’s going to be a long, hot, dry summer.


By the tiny blue wrens darting around the plants outside the canteen window at the News and dancing through my parents’ garden.

Seeing one of these tiny, enchanting birds always makes me smile.

Did you know blue wrens – formally called superb fairy-wrens – live as a family group?

Only the mother sits on the eggs, the others in the group feed and protect the babies allowing the mother to lay up to three broods per season.

And as so often happens in the bird world, it’s the blokes who get all the good looks.

The females, or ‘jenny’ wrens, are a drab brown.

But I still love them.


The Amazing Race Australia. For me, the kings of reality TV are Survivor and The Amazing Race.

We haven’t had an Aussie version of the Race for some time, so I was curious to see what they’d done with it this time around.

I was relieved to see they’ve done a good job, and I’m looking forward to watching the teams conquer challenges as they travel around the world.

The only off-key note is the host (who I’ve never heard of) who hugged every contestant as they arrived at the pit stop – even the team of nuns (yep, a team of nuns).

Legendary US Race host Phil Keoghan would never do that.