Rhonda Hemmingway is an internationally recognised couture wedding dress designer whose name often appears alongside those like Vera Wang, Carolina Herrera and Elie Saab. After 21 years in the wedding industry, Hemmingway has had more than her share of hilarious situations, disasters and bridezillas. So it wasn't hard to find material for a book.
With the encouragement of her clients, Hemmingway wrote Secrets & Confessions of a Wedding Dress Designer, a mixture of behind-the- scenes stories and funny wedding anecdotes.
"It is such a lovely part of a person's life to be involved in," Hemmingway explains. "I love anything to do with weddings. It is such a special day and the dress is one of the most important things."
While Hemmingway has designed dresses for high-profile brides, including Rebecca Gibney, Sandra Sully and Cosmopolitan editor Bronwyn McCahon, her first brushes with celebrity came earlier in her life when she worked as a Hertz rental car girl in London, chauffeuring such celebrities as John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Chuck Berry and Cliff Richard.
When she returned home to Australia, Hemmingway decided to pursue her love for fashion and enrolled in a dress design course. She went on to work with fashion industry icons such as Carla Zampatti, Maggie Tabberer and Trent Nathan, before her passion for eveningwear led her to designing wedding gowns. "When I had my brides in for their fittings, I always told them funny stories about things that would happen and they all said I should write a book," Hemmingway says. "Every wedding has a story."
Hemmingway admits many of her own wedding disasters in the book, including a tale about a dress that nearly didn't make it to the ceremony.
"We used to have dresses hanging down from the roof, and on this particular day I had a dress with a really long train hanging down," she says. "The girl who was getting married was coming to pick it up in two hours.
"I told our cleaner not to go into that room that day, but next thing I hear is this terrible scream, a thud and the roar of the vacuum cleaner. The cleaner had taken the nozzle off and the vacuum had sucked the dress up! We had two hours to get the marks out, which we did, so it had a happy ending."
Hemmingway says that despite close calls such as these, her brides were always none the wiser.
"I never told anyone," she says.
It took Hemmingway five years to write the book and she has enough material left to write a second. "I don't think I would but I could. You never know. At the moment I am being swamped by producers who are keen to make a miniseries out of it."
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