Aisles Away

The lovely Melanie chats to Tamarin Morley about the motivation behind starting her own wedding blog Nouba and her advice for the modern day blogger.

Two years ago, a newly engaged woman opened a stack of bridal magazines and was struck with dread. “It’s horrific!” Tamarin Morley laughs, recalling her dismay over the frilly, female-focused guidance on offer. “It’s awful – you start panicking about how much you have to spend on everything, and thinking, ‘do I really have to do it like this?’” The now married woman behind Australian wedding blog and directory Nouba answered her own question, having just this day featured an intimate camping wedding with only 20 guests.

“It seems like fewer and fewer people are going down the mainstream, traditional route,” she says. “A lot more people are realising that it’s totally OK to just do it however you want.” And she’s doing all she can to inspire them. “It can feel like there’s this small pool of really expensive, really ordinary wedding options to choose from which is not the case at all – but how are you going to know that?” As Tamarin points out, you (hopefully) only get married once.

“You’re never going to enter this realm unless you’re getting married, and it’s difficult to suddenly be aware of all these people with beautiful and unique offerings.”

In her initial despair, she sought refuge in the more varied bridal resources she discovered while living abroad. “There’s amazing stuff overseas,” she says, telling me about wedding blogs Rock n Roll BrideGreen Wedding Shoes and Brooklyn Bride – the last of which sports the tagline ‘planning a modern wedding in a world of pink flowers and poofy dresses.’

On home turf, the graphic designer juggled full-time work and planning her wedding while “laying the blueprints” for what would be Nouba – the French word for ‘party’. “I designed it, laid it out and did the branding for it,” says the natural creative, who then outsourced a developer to take care of the technicalities.

She started slow, posting style boards, unconventional gowns and wedding ideas every couple of weeks. “I didn’t really have any big plans for it at that stage,” she recalls, but tried to “eke out a bit of a differentiation” from the other resources available at the time. She describes Nouba as more for your “down to earth, honest and real weddings” that are a true expression of the couple. “It’s very much just do it yourself, whatever you want, no rules,” she says, recalling how she draped strips of coloured fabric bought from a Bangkok market around the palms that encircled her own celebration.

Returning from her honeymoon, she focused on building a following. “If you’ve got content that people want to find then they’ll eventually find you – then it starts snowballing when you get vendors involved.” But it took some time and persistence to get vendors (photographers, stylists, florists and the like) to share their work on her then lesser-known blog.

“People liked the site,” she says of its simple, gender-neutral design. “Even though I might not have had a huge number of followers at the beginning, they liked the look of it. That was probably my one drawcard in the beginning – someone doing it a little bit differently.”

In those early days she featured weddings that may not have been exclusive to her site, but always took the time to portray them in a distinctive light. Generally though, she advocates fresh content.

“You’ve got this captive market that’s obsessed with one theme for a year or more, and they trawl the internet for inspiration, ideas and advice – if they see the same wedding across a number of blogs, it’s old news.”

Once confident in her following and site functionality, Tamarin incorporated minimal advertising from vendors “in the realm of the Nouba identity”. From here, her site blossomed into a directory. “It was always the intention – to be more of a resource, not just an inspirational spot.” She favours those that cater to lower budgets, share her approach and “have a creative point of difference – something unique to offer”. In the beginning she would contact them, but now receives a steady flow of interested parties, and currently features over 80 vendors across the country.

She recently reached out to a few members of the Nouba directory she thought might work well together, and wanted to “boost a little bit”. After a chat (and a glass of wine), a collaborative shoot was in the works.  “They’re vendors that I know are really worthwhile, and I wanted to give them an opportunity to showcase their talents,” she says, the union producing exquisite photos for their portfolios and her site.

Each month she now features over ten weddings, her ‘five dresses under $1000AU’, at least one style board and new vendor profiles. And it doesn’t end there. “There might be a new range from a designer or an interview with an industry professional, or a guest blog.” Nouba also boasts a guide for upcoming boutique wedding events (“alternative bridal fairs or designer trunk shows”) that Tamarin constantly updates.

It’s no small feat to stay current in the transient online world, but at least it’s cost effective. “In terms of starting a business, the outlay was nothing,” she stresses. “It’s your time, and a huge amount of energy.” Her efforts are rewarded with revenue from the directory and advertising – but it was never about the money for this blogger. “I think you’re better off coming at it from a more emotional perspective,” she says. “You want to be writing from the heart and creating things that you, as a customer, would want to find.”

Starting Nouba has changed her whole perspective – bringing down the “barrier” that the lover of parties and entertaining had held around weddings. “If you’re doing it right, it’s a real, true representation of you and the person you’re going to spend the rest of your life with,” she says. “The two of you work together to create this awesome event, whatever it’s going to be.”

The industry too has changed since she first came up with the concept for Nouba. “There are many more creative resources available to Australian couples,” she says, “Other great local wedding blogs and many alternative bridal fairs and events – even the prevalence of Etsy and Pinterest has made creative weddings far easier to pull off.” And with guidance from trailblazers like Tamarin – the woman who shortened her own gown to party another night away in it at her 30th – wedding traditions will continue to be shaken and stirred.

Where she wants to be in 5-10 years:
Steve and I want to find a property and have a bit of a hobby farm and a bit of a bed and breakfast. Attached to that is having a wedding venue that offers a self-sustainable, eco-friendly event that’s beautiful, and offers more experiences than just having your wedding.
You could come down four months before the wedding and harvest all the tomatoes to make relish for favours for your guests. We will raise the livestock and veggies, and there’d be no curfew. I can’t stand curfews!

Her favourite social media tool:
I love Instagram. You put it out there, and anyone who follows you will eventually see it. I also discover so many great photographers on Instagram.

Her advice to bloggers:
First and foremost you’ve got to figure out what your niche is going to be.
Make sure you do your research and look at what else is out there.
Produce a hell of a lot of content – stuff that’s relevant, that’s niche, so you can eke out your own little space in the world of blogging.

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