For me, there are two biggies of putting together an amazing wedding: perfect planning and stunning design. Let’s face it, a wedding celebration is an event and any event planner knows the importance of the plan (“fail to plan, plan to fail”…) but it’s also a unique celebration of you both as a couple, it needs to look and feel like you. In fact the term “wedding planner” kind of feels like a misnomer – it misses out that crucial word “design” or “styling.” With every single couple I work with, putting together the design is a HUGE, and sometimes overlooked, part of the service – so I thought I’d write a post on exactly what it means and what the Weddings by Jenna Hewitt approach involves when it comes to wedding style.
WHAT IS WEDDING STYLE?
Before we go anywhere, I wanted to cover an obvious question – what is a wedding style? In my definition, it’s the look, the feel that runs through your entire wedding celebrations. I’m not talking one or two isolated 'statement' parts, I’m talking everything combined: the stationery, the colour palette, the texture, material choices, the cake, the florals, even photographer choice – in a nutshell for me It’s about capturing something that looks amazing and captures you!
WHERE TO START
After agreeing the budget, booking the venue and encouraging my clients to get together their guest lists, the styling session and setting the style direction is one of the top of the to do lists. Why? Because there is so much that flows from this (supplier choice for a start). Our starting point is making sure we get to know as much about the couple as possible - their likes, their dislikes but, more than this - where they like to eat, what's their favourite restaurant, where do they shop, what's their perfect interior style...? It sounds like an interrogation... it's not (promise). We get to understand it through various meetings, chats, and Pinterest/Instagram also come in handy!
It all builds a picture of what’s most important to you when it comes to your wedding and you as a couple. When I work with couples this is exactly where I begin, swiftly followed by the venue choice. Venue choice is really important when it comes to influencing the style of your wedding. It sounds obvious but, again, it is one that is easy to overlook meaning you set off in the wrong direction. I’ll give an example; we had a gorgeous couple this year who decided on a country hotel venue. From the outside, this hotel (with its Cotswold stone) has a stately home feel and the neutral tone and colour of the stone combined with English countryside surroundings could set you off in one direction. Inside however, the décor surprises – we are talking contemporary and BRIGHT. It’s very cool. The bride, by her own admission, is elegant when it comes to her own style and was drawn to soft tones and muted colour palettes. This would look completely out of place in this venue. The starting point was a reality check that, if we wanted to pull off something really special, it had to work with the venue (image below of what became...)
Pinterest is an amazing tool for the next stage. At this point, it’s over to our couples to start collating their mood board. The brief is to pin images (any image) that draws them. If they prefer, it's iPhone images, Instagram, magazine cut outs... whatever it takes and whatever is easiest. It shouldn’t be too curated or thought through, just a collection of interiors/wedding imagery/colour palettes/floral designs that grab them. Sometimes the direction is really clear, sometimes it is far from and there are multiple directions. It’s at this point we typically hold our first “styling session” – it’s a chat really, a discussion of images and thoughts behind why they were picked, a chance for me to start to put together (in my head) the initial direction and step check that I’m viewing it all correctly.
Then from this point I really start to get involved in curating and drawing out the wedding style. I’ll start by curating the images. I’ll typically zone in on the key 1 or 2 images that I think capture something about the essence of the style that I can see starting to come together. I’ll delete the ones that don’t seem to fit, I’ll tweak and add a few, I may even pop together a colour palette, I’ll think about the whole scope of the wedding and possible details and capture anything that I think will add something and fits and I’ll put this together on a one page visual document. It then gets shared with the client – this is the acid test – have we captured something that “nails it”? I’ll probably jinx myself now but, to date, I have a 100% pass rate at this stage, and when we get that "pass" this one page visual document starts taking the shape of a c.10 page visual “look book”.
Strangely the look book isn’t a visual overload - I limit the number of images to only those that coin the look and I’ll also add words that capture the style. But it will capture every design detail of the wedding – down to the specific candle colours and linen fabric. The purpose is to create a visual style bible that captures every detail but that’s not ambiguous in terms of what we are trying to create. I also, finally, give it a name, something that coins the essence of the design.
COMMUNICATING THE STYLE AND PUTTING TOGETHER THE DREAM TEAM
Next up comes the important part. Once you’ve captured the design, I then need to look through my little black book of suppliers and work out the right supplier team to pull it off. Actually, I don’t have a little black book, it’s mostly in my head, but you get the point. To do my job and put together beautiful luxury wedding design I need the help of a variety of different supplier types – top of my hit list is the florist, but there are plenty of others and it is really important they all fit perfectly- we become a team to deliver that wedding vision - (photographers, stationery designers, caterers and cake makers). It is really rare (in fact I don’t think it has ever happened) that I choose to work with the same pick of suppliers for more than one wedding. The reason is simple, all suppliers have their own style and I will always match the right ones with the right couple. The look book comes into its own at this point – it should communicate completely the vision – and you know you have the right supplier match when your chosen supplier looks at it and nails their design brief perfectly.
If you are putting together your own wedding styling, finding the right suppliers, without the experience of having worked with them, can be tricky. I’d do as much research as you can – first up I’d follow their Instagram posts, get a feel for them, and reassure yourself that their work resonates with you (also check that the work featured is their own). Ultimately it will be your supplier team who will bring your wedding aesthetic to life. Picking the wrong person from a style point of view will make things so much harder.
DETAILS DETAILS DETAILS
The most amazing thing of putting together a supplier team of dreams is that at this point they are best placed to go off and create their magic – to put together their proposal to add/tweak/enhance the vision and come back with their ideas, leaving me and my team to start the task of working through our other black book of hire companies, linen companies, candle manufacturers etc. etc. – all to source all the exact and little details we know will be perfect.
I couldn’t end the piece without talking about the execution. Think of “wedding planner” and it is easy to leap straight to the wedding day and, I know, you’ll imagine a clip board, a schedule, a list… But the wedding day and the execution of it starts well before that first guest arrives. For a marquee wedding or a wedding weekend we could be on site for up to a week before and me and the supplier team will definitely be there many many hours, and typically days before, setting up, styling, lugging, lifting (tying 180 seat pads to 180 cross back chairs at the end of a 12 hour day - true stories) whatever it takes to bring that amazing wedding of you dreams to life.
Wedding Planning – it’s not limited to the logistics. The styling is such a big a big part but we love every part of it!
Huge thank you, as always, to the amazing and lovely photographers who, not only take amazing images of our work, but allow us to share them M&J Photography and Modern Vintage Weddings