Hello and welcome.
My name is Althea Smith and I am the proud owner and operator of WeddingBelles in Stokes Valley.
I am a third generation taylor and seamstress. I first started making dolly dresses when I was four (and I still have the machine that I made them on)!
I learned to sew at a very young age and was taught by my mother, who was also an accomplished dressmaker, and a fantastic taylor in Auckland called Bella Myhill.
While at high school, one of my favorite elected subjects was clothing (it certainly wasn’t cooking) and I had an amazing South African teacher who was also a great mentor to me.
After leaving high school I became a cost accountant, but could not give up on my dream of becoming a seamstress and spent many happy hours creating dresses and ball gowns for my friends.
I eventually married and moved to Waitotara, becoming the dressmaker for the local community.
During this time I started a family, relocated to Devonport, then uprooted and moved again to Twizel where I worked as a dressmaker and taught sewing at the local high school.
Eventually I moved to Stokes Valley where I worked as a seamstress for Shaw’s Fabrics, all the while teaching my craft to students at Naenae College, Taita College and Hutt Valley High School.
It was there I decided to start my own business and created Althea Sportswear.
I manufactured garments for local softball, rugby, rugby league and marching teams, and I also made wedding and ball gowns. I competed in the wear for the Rose Of Tralee contestants, as well as doing repairs and alterations.
I bought Wedding Belles in 2004, which, at that stage, had been operating in Stokes Valley since 1994.
Our goal is to make the bride and her party feel comfortable and beautiful in their dresses for their special day, and to make the bridesmaids and flower girls gorgeous to complement their beautiful bride.
It is our mission to make our dresses and gowns both beautiful and affordable for everyone, and to make every bride feel beautiful on their wedding day.