HE can make or break any bride’s big day.
Guests will remember its color, pattern, and every last stitch long after the celebrations are over.
By her admission, there is “something magical about a wedding” and despite carefully and carefully handcrafted wedding dresses for over two decades, Melinda O’Donoghue is still thrilled to be a part of the experience.
In the front room of Gurley’s homestead in Kirramingly, near Moree in the northwest of the state, the hum of a sewing machine will fill the house as she is busy making dresses for them. future brides from across the state and beyond.
Brides from all over New South Wales and as far away as Queensland, Perth and even America have asked for Melinda’s help to create the perfect dress for their big day.
“Every bride is different and every dress is different,” Ms. O’Donoghue said.
“For some women the first concept may be exactly what they are looking for, while for others it may take up to 10 attempts.
“Either way, I’ll keep going until I see that certain expression on their faces that lets me know they love it.
“It can be subtle, but every bride has the same look and when you see it, you know it.”
Hailing from a mixed production property in Ariah Park near West Wylong in Riverina State, Melinda moved to Bellata near Moree after a whirlwind romance with her husband Des.
“After I left school, I worked in retail before going to the Canberra Institute of Technology, but I still sewed,” Ms. O’Donoghue said.
“From there I came home and tended our neighbors’ emu farm while she was sick and met my husband during it all and he asked me to marry him afterwards. only two days.
“He is from Cann River in Victoria and three days after our wedding we moved to Bellata before moving to our 28 acre block here in Gurley and raising our children William and Kate.”
Brides from across the NSW and Queensland area walked down the aisle in a dress created by Melinda, who she said had found it the same way.
“I’ve never really done any advertising so anyone who comes to me is by word of mouth,” she said.
“I think it’s a real privilege to be entrusted with such an important job on a couple’s big day.
“I always like being there on the day to help dress the bride because there’s always a lot going on and having someone there specifically focused on helping you look your best in the dress is very helpful.
“Usually I’m one of the last people to see the bride before she’s taken down the aisle and for me it’s one of the most special moments that touches me every time.”
A sewing teacher at Moree Tafe during the week, Melinda’s works were in the spotlight last year in the form of an exhibition at the Bank Art Museum, Moree (BAMM).
“The show was so special because it featured around 80 dresses from the 20 years I was doing it as a retrospective,” she said.
“Myself and a local artist Jo White did it together which was so much fun and overall I think we had more visitors than the Archibald.
“It was an epic seven week show in which all the dresses were sent to me by the brides who wore them, so it was really special for them too to see their dresses again. We did tours a few times a week. and it was so nice to see so many visitors coming to BAMM and Moree in general.
“It was really nice to do something for our local tourism, albeit in a modest way.”
Like many corners of the industry, Melinda has faced many obstacles caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Planning a wedding can be so stressful anyway, so seeing how much more difficult this pandemic is making things for couples really makes me feel for them,” she said.
“As for me, it hasn’t been that bad, but with so many people postponing their weddings to early next year, I’m going to be pretty busy in January and February.
“However, I really don’t mind, just hope things can get a little more normal again for everyone’s big day.”
The dresses Melinda creates are as different as the brides who wear them.
No two colors or patterns are the same, but each leaves the crowd of family and friends watching the bride wear it down the aisle remembering it until the last stitch.
There really is something magical about a marriage.
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The Story Unbridled Passion: The magic of weddings created in Gurley first appeared on The Land.