There was a time (and it feels like long ago), when we didn’t have the joys of the internet, social media or Pinterest. When it comes to wedding style part of me thinks “how on earth did we manage” but the other half of me feels it was possibly a much simpler place.
Without a doubt the access to the resources we have has placed huge focus/pressure on wedding styling. There now exist wedding trend reports and predictions and, as a wedding stylist and planner, I eagerly await Pantone’s release of colour of the year – so often linked to the emerging colour trends and choices for the next season. Most recently we’ve seen rose quartz and grey elegance, metallic and acrylics and, currently, a trend for minimal, white and greenery. Next year I’m predicting a resurgence of tropical brights (we shall see…). Anyhow, my point is that today, more than ever, putting your style stamp on your big day is a big deal. But it isn’t always easy to zone in on a style, put it all together, or know where to begin.
Know your budget
I am guilty of banging on about budget but, for me, it is really important. You need to know how much you have to spend. You know that image you’ve been poring over on Pinterest… the one with the huge flower wall/display/arch/staircase? Well that quite possibly costs in excess of £3000 alone, no joke. This is where Pinterest can be dangerous, everything you see there is not always realistically attainable, but if you know your budget you can start to make realistic choices – and it is still possible to have a gorgeous looking wedding on a lower budget. The other reason to be wary of Pinterest is that a lot of those images will have been taken from styled shoots, not real weddings and again, could be difficult to replicate (yes as stylists we are very guilty of pinning things down, gluing/wiring them in place so that they look pretty… not always possible or practical in real life).
Think about your venue
Your venue choice will have a big impact on your wedding style direction and I’d advise holding back on making any big decisions until you’ve booked it. I’ll give you an example from Hannah and Ben’s wedding planning – one of my lovely summer 2018 couples. Hannah, by her own admission, is drawn to classic elegance. But… they have chosen Cowley Manor as their wedding venue. Cowley on the outside is very much country house hotel but, on the inside, it is very much contemporary, bright and cool. Classic elegance within the setting of bright blues, yellows and lime green… you understand the point! If you’ve decided on what us planners would call a ‘dry hire’ venue or, perhaps, a marquee, you’ll have more of a blank canvas to work with but even dry hire venues can have a ‘feel’ attached (an empty London warehouse for example would have a very different vibe versus a country barn).
Become a magpie
Once you’re ready with the above I start by being a magpie and collecting together all the images that grab my attention, the details, the colours and textures you are drawn to and put them all together – Pinterest is the obvious choice for this and lends itself so nicely (it’s also such a fun thing to do during a lunch break or, dare I say it, slightly dull meeting?!). Once you’ve got it all down, now is the time to start working on exactly what direction it is all taking. I look at what’s tying the main images together – the colours, the details, the materials, the shapes, and the feel. At this point I’ll often put together a colour palette (there are some great free online tools by the way that can help you do this) and, I’ll start my cull. I’ll get rid of all the images that don’t fit, for whatever reason, and keep the ones that really do and from here, voilà, I typically land on a solid idea of what it is I’m after. At this point I’ll give it a name – it sounds silly but it helps me focus on what it is I’m designing. The images here are all taken from one of my favourite styled shoots at one of my favourite venues, The Copse, in Oxfordshire. The shoot (featured on Rock My Wedding) was very much inspired by the venue and I called it ‘terracotta and bohemian botanicals’ and the name perfectly reflected what it was I wanted to show.
The above may sound like a whole host of effort but, if you’re the kind of bride who really wants a style led, cohesive looking wedding, it is so worth the effort of doing (or finding someone to do it for you!). Once you’ve nailed it I would pull it all together into your own design bible, lookbook, moodboard. Whatever you want to call it this is basically, all the images and ideas in one place. When I’m styling a wedding or a shoot this is exactly what I do. I’ll work with the bride on all the ideas through a styling session and, coming out of this, I’ll put together the lookbook that we will refine together until it is perfect. Not only is it really useful for the bride, and me, it’s really important to be able to share with all the suppliers who will help pull the look together. It’s so much easier for them if they can visually see what it is you are thinking of.
Choose your team (wisely)
The team of suppliers you choose to help you bring all of this hard work together are important – they are going to be responsible for bringing it to life and it is important that they ‘get it.’ From a supplier point of view, you’ll want to pick the right person to suit the style. Let me take florists for example. If I was styling a wedding in an English countryside setting with a laidback, unpolished but still chic feel I would be looking for a florist known for unstructured, wilder arrangements, perhaps one with a passion for using British sourced flowers. On the other end of the scale, if you were looking for something urban, bold and tropical you would likely make a different choice. As wedding professionals, most of us have our preferred style and this is worth bearing in mind. Look around and get a feel – Instagram accounts are a great place to do this.
All the little details
Speaking of suppliers to help you put together your wedding style, don’t underestimate how many of these there will be. There are the obvious ones like the florist and cake designer, the venue but there are also those suppliers who contribute to all the beautiful details who shouldn’t be overlooked. A great example is your stationery designer. For your guests, the first impression or glimpse into your wedding style is the invitation or save the date card. It’s a little chance to give your sneak peek and set the tone of your wedding day. This is also why I often start the styling with my wedding clients early doors. We won’t necessarily have every element tied down early but we’ll have an initial idea so that when the save the dates are sent out (say 12-9 months before) the stationery ‘fits’.
DIY – to do or not to do?
I couldn’t write about styling without touching on the DIY debate. Should you or shouldn’t you DIY certain elements of your wedding styling? The answer, of course, is it is your choice entirely but here are some things to think about before you decide: the first is around cost. I’ve known brides who assume that making it yourself will save money. From experience this is not always the case – always best to Google check first. The second is to think about left overs… do you really want 70 hurricane vases flecked with gold leaf, left over after your wedding – what are you going to do with all that stuff? There are some excellent hire companies out there who will loan you these things – not only can this make it much more cost effective but it means you aren’t left over with lots of things you’ll likely never use again. The final thing is time. Planning a wedding is time consuming. Adding DIY styling to this adds even more time (and you’ll always underestimate how much). I’m not trying to put you off but it really is worth thinking about. I’m not anti DIY at all – in fact I’ve seen it done brilliantly and in a way that really brings a family/friendship group together (in this example an exceptionally creative one) – but I do think many people don’t always think it through before embarking on it (and live to regret it).
Lovely English Wedding Blog sponsor Jenna Hewitt is writing a series of articles following one of her couples’ wedding planning journeys, which we’ll be publishing on these pages throughout the year. Previous features if you missed them are:
- Finding your perfect wedding venue
- Honest & inspiring advice on finding ‘the’ dress
- 9 genius tips on how to handle children at weddings
Venue: The Copse
Styled & directed by: Jenna Hewitt
Photography: Kitty Wheeler Shaw | Florist: Willowgold Flowers |
Hair: Patricia Soper | Makeup: Mel Kinsman | Dresses: Luella’s Boudoir & Otaduy | Shoes: Harriet Wilde | Accessories: Donna Crain and Kelly Spence | Barefoot sandals: Forever Soles | Silk ribbons: Kate Cullen | Cake: Yolk | Rings: Zoe & Morgan | Tableware: Classic Crockery | Stationery: Merrie and Bright)