by Brigitte Mashile, founder of Roka Roko
It is May, and I have had a few requests about weddings - mostly for events in December, and most of them believe it is still early to start the planning. No, it is not! A wedding party is a big job to dress, especially in South Africa where we have three or more bridesmaids and groomsmen; and we mostly have two weddings at a time. This is good business for a fashion designer but with more work comes more challenges. This is why it is essential that you start as early as possible; especially if you as the bride need more than one dress too.
The process starts with a consultation; very, very essential. You have to do this, so that the person making your clothes understands your vision and plan. The first consultation should be with yourself and the designer only; do not bring anyone else to this one. Some brides find it so hard to communicate their vision in the presence of their mothers, sisters, bridesmaids or friends. Hence the need for a private date with your designer first.
The next step is to communicate your budget for everything and everyone. We would love to quote you, but every bride has a budget; no matter how small it is. Communicating your budget makes a lot of things easier and faster. The person creating will spend less time running around trying to realize your vision; if we have numbers then we know where to look and what to look at. Knowing our limitations is important. This will also assist you in keeping to your budget plan; ensuring you don’t overspend.
Fabric is expensive in South Africa - especially wedding fabric. I have taken some brides on lace hunting expeditions; they stood there in shock, commenting, “Like are these prices per meter or for the roll?” Per meter shem, per meter. Lace, good lace can be anything from R500 a meter to whatever; the most expensive I have come across so far is R20 000 per meter; and that’s not the most expensive in this country. Then wedding gown satin, silk, organza, chiffon, tulle, etc are all priced higher and look the part. On the ‘traditional’ attire side, shweshwe is expensive compared to its other cotton relatives. What we call African print (Ankara) is even cheaper than shweshwe. And after all these prices, remember your dress and how much of this fabric is needed, and then multiply. Oh and one more thing, no matter how bossy you are, do not buy your own fabric. Let the designer do it. You may pick the fabrics and bring the store name and fabric code; but do not purchase them yourself. Most designers have relationships with these shops (they get better discounts); designers can tell you how much is needed after all the patterns are done (saving more money); and we know what fabric works best with which.
Then bring the bridesmaids. Rule no.1 is, by the time they come, you should all have agreed on a dress you want for them. Most people make the mistake of having their discussions at the designers place! Sometimes, the designer even feels left out, we just watch the conversation go. This is very unnecessary and problematic, you are spending valuable business time, and with most designers you pay per hour for consultations. The studio is not a meeting place or reunion place either. It is there to have measurements taken, style confirmed, colours chosen and prices finalized. This again will lessen time wastage and money wastage.
Brides are challenging people for many reasons. But bridesmaids! They can really be difficult. I always tell my brides at that first date, in private, to choose bridesmaids wisely. Pick people you love, who love; people who will do this for you and you vice versa; people who can afford this, if not you should be able to afford for them; people who you have positive energy with. The most important thing to remember is to pick people who get along with each other as well. I speak from maid of honour and designer experience when I say females who don’t get along in your wedding party is a terrible idea.
If you are having the ‘white’ wedding and the ‘traditional’ wedding too, please communicate this. And budget for this too. Most people like to dedicate 80% of their budget to the ‘white’ wedding attires and little to nothing for the traditional outfits. Let me tell you, no one designer wants to make cheap outfits for anyone’s wedding. None. And in 2018, with South African ‘traditional’ wedding attire taking front stage, we are having way too much fun with them. The other great benefit of ensuring these outfits are great is that these are most probably more wearable after the wedding at other events in your life.
If you are lucky enough to have your ladies’s outfits done by the same person doing the menswear, well done! This will eliminate a lot of confusion and clashes. If not, then you will have to play messenger between the ladies’ designer and the men’s designer - more especially on the ‘traditional’ attires. Listen, they have to match or at least look good together; its for the ‘gram’ darling! And, I would like to believe that all brides want stunning pictures to keep as souvenirs from the wedding day. With regards to men’s clothes, I should tell you now that tailored suits will cost double or more than the ladies dresses; and their traditional outfits too.
Lastly, let’s talk about your family. Typically, they are only remembered three weeks before the wedding. Remarks like, ’Oh my goodness Brigette, my mom needs an outfit too, and my mother in law’, are all too familiar. Please bring them with the bridesmaid, so that if we are also matching them, it is easier. And if they don’t want to match, it will also be easier to consult with them while consulting with the bridesmaids. Please also do not forget the flower girls and ring boys; we all forget them until around 5 to 12 o’clock. Kiddies clothes are not easier or faster; it’s a lie, they need more attention to detail and functionality construction.
We are aware that as a bride you are under a lot of pressure; please try by all means to find a way to deal with it. Take care of yourself; go to the spa, eat well, go to the gym. It is so important that you keep a great relationship with your designer. If this falls apart, you will have a terrible experience. The designer is dealing with your entire group; they are mostly also under a lot of pressure. And, pay on time; this will also ensure that deadlines are met. Your cooperation is necessary to make sure this day is a success. Happy wedding planning!
Brigette Mashile is the founder and creative force behind Roka Roko, a custom fashion design business based in Johannesburg, South Africa. The company passionately delivers quality tailored and trendy fashion to make their customers happy, and specializes in styling women by creating unusual combinations with fabric, culture and style. Brigette has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Witwatersrand and a Fashion Diploma from Studio5 School of Fashion. She’s a former fashion buyer for a major retailer in South Africa, and an international direct selling company. She’s been passionate about fashion since the age of 10 and gained invaluable experience in the fashion world running informal fashion creation businesses until the day her own Roka Roko brand was born. Find out more by visiting the Roka Roko website www.rokaroko.co.za
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