One of the things I find a lot of couples struggling with is event design. Some have a hard time narrowing down their thoughts and creating a condensed design vision, some have design ideas but don’t know if those ideas are possible to achieve without wizardry, and some have clear concepts mapped out but have no idea where to go to source the inventory and the decor items they need. In the 11+ years I have been a wedding planner trouble with design is one of the most common complaints I hear from couples, and most of them don’t even realize that they are talking to the exact person who can help them with all of it.
So how exactly does a wedding planner “plan” event design? For me the formula is simple:
I take the time to understand my couples at a level where I fundamentally know what makes them tick. What they like to do in their spare time, what is the most important part of the wedding for them, how they want to showcase their heritage or their culture. Every couple is completely different but they all have elements to themselves that their friends and family would agree are “so them”. I take the time to find those elements and bring them out to help shape and define their wedding vision.
I dive into the creative side to pull their uniquenesses and build a wedding theme around them. An Atlantic coast couple who met while working at Vineyard Vines is perfect for a preppy nautical themed wedding with unexpected nods of love to their two dogs who are their absolute world. College sweethearts who are planning their wedding at their alma mater’s campus are getting all the nostalgic college town elements brought in, from the college shuttle providing their guest transportation to the late night food being provided by the students’ favorite pizza shop. A three day wedding at a nature camp over the summer solstice weekend is just the match for a starry night theme with celestial details carried through each of the day’s events. Once the theme is created (and the Pinterest board is populated!) then we are ready to move on to the next phase.
Vendor selection is of the utmost importance in bringing a design to life, and I am very careful in how I hand select only the best wedding professionals who I know are a perfect fit for my couple - their personalities, their design needs, and their budget. I don’t own a deep fleet of rental inventory and I don’t have the talent to whip up a ceremony arch dripping in florals, but I know the vendors who do. When I build the right team of vendors I know that I have created a foundation that the rest of the wedding design plans will stand on.
And finally, I am the crazy glue to keep the design plans in place, making sure that the design plans are authentic to my couple, holding the vendor team together through waves of communication and direction, and being sure that every individual element is set to come together in one magical finished product. Most people are surprised to learn that florists don’t usually plan or communicate with rental companies who don’t usually plan or communicate with the stationery designer. Who makes sure that the menu card is printed on white paper, that the table number holder is gold and not silver, and the service station linens are ivory and not white? That would be me. Without a good wedding planner at the helm it is entirely possible that the design ship could never reach its wedding destination, or weather so many storms on the way that it arrives dirty and unappealing. And no one wants an unappealing wedding design!
In the photos above I can retrace these four steps exactly from the initial brainstorming in December, Pinterest fun in January, vendor selections in February and March, detail tweaks and final confirmations in May and then the finished masterpiece in June. In that one photo there is work from four separate vendors - the farm table is from the venue, the vintage china is from the caterer, the linen napkin and charger plate are from the florist, and the stationery is from the graphic designer. Because I built a solid concept, selected the right vendors, and then bridged the communication channel between each vendor we were able to pull off a comprehensive design plan that looks as effortless as it does lusciously high end.
This is another design I worked on, where we were bringing a coastal summer vibe to Upstate New York. Each design element came from various vendors but needed to work in harmony with the others:
the sailcloth tent with barebulb lighting
the light beige linen
the glass chargers with gold beading
the reclaimed wood bars with the greenery garland accent
the soft pink and ivory centerpieces in gold compote bowls
the greenery sprigs on each plate
the preppy cross back wooden chairs
Half the items in these photos are from a rental company in Saratoga and the other half are from a florist in Syracuse. The two never spoke or met until wedding day. It was the work from me that made sure it all came together just as we planned.
Wedding designs should showcase a couple’s personality, and the design plan above was a perfect fit for this bride who was obsessed with sophistication and fun pops of color. We made this winter wedding feel nice and warm with soft pink uplighting, creamy milk glass containers, chevron prints, and a custom wallpaper that served as the runner on the head table. From the middle photo above you can see the bride was pretty darn excited with how it all came out. :)
Having a good wedding planner on your side can mean all the difference in making your event design come together in a way that feels authentic to you and memorable to your guests. You only get one shot - make sure your wedding design dreams come true!
(Photos by Divine Light Photography and Tracey Buyce Photography)