HOW TO DESIGN YOUR WEDDING
I was recently invited to be part of a panel and host her own talk at The National Wedding Show as part of the planners lounge hosted by hitched in London. My presentation was on "How to Design Your Own Wedding" - since that's often an area that I get new enquiries on.
I thought it would be helpful to share some of that content here for any couples planning their own wedding who perhaps haven't got a stylist/designer to assist them.
Introduction to Wedding Styling
Design, decor, and details are what makes a wedding unique and personal, they should be used as a tool to tell the story of “you” within them. It's not just about picking out pretty details though, to create a truly amazing experience for your guests: delight their senses and evoke emotion with the use of sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. True luxury for me, is focusing on quality and not quantity within those areas.
In your wedding styling, all elements should have a particular style and theme to make a cohesive wedding design that flows beautifully from one space to another. Nothing should feel disjointed or forced - I personally try to steer away from having a theme, and instead on a colour palette and mood.
Below are the steps you should take when planning the visual and design elements of your wedding:
1. Gather Inspiration
There is often a lot of negativity from other planners/stylists about relying too much on Pinterest or wedding blogs. I think they are both wonderful tools to gather inspiration though and the ability to quickly save the things that you like in one place is such a great time saver. When gathering inspiration though, ensure you also look outside of the wedding industry and look at what you a drawn to in fashion, interiors, colours, and art. It's also a good idea to save what you don't like too, in order to rally discover what resonates with you visually.
Before you start this, I would always advise you to stop and really think of the overall vision that you have for your wedding day or weekend. There are also some key areas a wedding planner, designer or stylist will want use as inspiration, or to try and work into your wedding day:
- What things tell the story of your relationship?
- Where did you meet and/or where did you get engaged?
- Where did you grow up and where are your families from?
- What are your hobbies?
- What is your favourite restaurant and meal?
- What is your personal style?
- What is your personality like? E.g. traditional and elegant vs wild party animals.
- What’s your home interior like?
- What magazines/books do you read?
- What brands do you like?
2. Creating Focus
This is where most people get stuck. They've gathered lots of inspiration but they don't know where to start in pulling this into a practical plan and can't see how it will translate into the day itself. It's now that you need to start focusing on what resonates with you the most and culling/saving into a separate place - spot patterns and trends in what you have saved. It may be a particular colour palette, it might even be something less defined - e.g. lots of images of bohemian free spirited women and wild flowers or really minimalist spaces.
In order to do this you have to think not only about the general style, colours, or patterns you are most drawn towards, but also consider the practical restrictions. If you've already picked the venue that will have to inform the design to some extent, so keep referring back to images of the space you have chosen.
3. Defining your Wedding
Design is in the detail but also in the big picture. I would recommend writing down 5-10 descriptive words that relate to your wedding and keep these in mind when looking through those culled images again. Once you have those words then expand on it. I always create a title for each wedding in my design plans, and then one page describing it in full - a written description is just as powerful as a moodboard or visual guide when briefing vendors. It's helps hugely in creating a cohesive design plan.
So some examples of a title for your wedding might be:
Ethereal bohemian wedding with lots of foliage and wildflowers
Romantic traditional white and gold marquee wedding
Minimalist luxe yet feminine beach house wedding
Having a title like this, as well as a paragraph or page of more detailed description, will help you translate that vision into reality, which you’ll need to do step by step. A well designed wedding will feel cohesive and coordinated; from the invites, to the linens and lighting, to the flowers selected, and even the food and beverage choices.
4. Make Decisions
Having a master plan is key. You will need to make decisions in order to designate specific design elements for each area of your wedding - only now should you be making a plan, having gathered inspiration, created focus, and defined it previously.
What do you want your ceremony, reception, tablescapes and evening dance floor to look like? Break your plan into separate areas and briefings for each space:
– Stationery (sight and touch)
– Florals (sight and smell)
– Lighting (sight)
– Installations/furniture/props (sight and touch)
– Linen (sight and touch)
– Cake (sight an taste)
– Tablescapes (sight, touch, smell)
– Dance floor (sight)
– Food sight, smell, touch, taste)
– Entertainment (sound and sight)
– Candles/room fragrance (smell)
Use imagery and descriptions for each area, as well as practical descriptions and information (e.g. ensuring quantities are included for the florist, and table dimensions for the linen supplier etc) – and always keep the overall guest experience in mind. Remember that each individual idea might be cute, but does it flow and sit well with everything else you've saved. What does it add? Can the budget accommodate it?
Sourcing the right vendor/artist to help translate your vision and plan into reality is one of the hardest aspects of wedding planning - they are the people who will ultimately be bringing the design plan to life on the day and it is essential that you choose to work with a great team of professionals. Remember to focus on quality not quantity. Don't choose the cheapest, choose the best your budget can afford. There is sometimes a misconception that the wedding industry overcharge for the sake of it - but having worked within it and mentored businesses for over 7 years now, I can promise you that it's not the case. Most vastly under value themselves, and you almost always get what you pay for. There are exceptions, but they are rare rather than the norm.
Once you've briefed vendors with your design plan, you will receive quotes and proposals back to look at. I tend to stay away from anyone who sends me a list of prices whom show little understanding of my vision. I prefer to work with artists whom take an idea and run with it, adding depth and more originality to my existing ideas - for me that is true luxury.
Make decisions on whom you are going to book and stick to the plan. Don't be tempted by ideas or items not covered already, as they will only be a distraction and add to your budget unnecessarily.
6. On the Day
It's often the case that you can't get access to a venue to dress it in advance and besides, there are a still a number of vendors whom can't set up until the day itself - so it is crucial you have someone to delegate the actual styling and supplier management to. You will be too busy getting ready to do this calmly and efficiently yourself.
The best way to do this is to be extremely organised. Create a practical timeline of when various suppliers will be arriving to set up, alongside the design plan to hand over to someone with step by step instructions if necessary. Label everything separately and carefully for each space. Communication is key!
I hope that helps you a little, but don't be afraid to reach out for help if necessary. I cover all of this within my full design and planning service, but also offer bespoke services for those who get stuck with the design planning and implementation too. It's a common area that couples struggle with, and more often than not it does need a creative eye.