I know I promised that today’s post would be a tad shorter than yesterday’s, however I’m not sure how well I’ve done in keeping it! Again, thank you in advance for allowing me this self indulgent 2 day wedding extravaganza, I promise to be featuring loads more gorgeous weddings next week!
Deciding on a theme / colour scheme / concept for our wedding was a lot more difficult for me than I had anticipated. I was not one of those girls who had her entire wedding planned out from the age of 6 and I admit hands down that my spatial awareness and interior design skills are less than perfect. Working as a designer in the creative industry, I did not anticipate having as much of a hard time making decisions! It could potentially have been the fact that I had inspiration coming at me from all angles of the wedding industry, but doesn’t every bride?
Luckily I had the most amazing mother in the universe who patiently sat through my aspirations of having a wedding with pretty much every theme under the sun. I also had the most amazing bridesmaids who endured email after email from me waffling over this and that.
Instead of going into another long winded shpiel of how we came about desigining our wedding, I thought I would offer some tips / things I learned along the way and then share a few very candid mockups, iphone photos and moodboards. They are in no particular order as I’m sure any bride will agree, wedding planning is not a linear process!
All photos not represented in a moodboard have been taken by our fabulous photographer Marianne Taylor. Flower arrangements by Steph Turpin of Fairynuff Flowers and masterfully overseen by wedding planner Mary Lee Herrington of Forever & Ever Events on the day. All stationary was designed by my mother and I in conjunction with her handmade card company Paper Dragon, hand assembled with the loving help of my very best friends in the world, bridesmaids, their husbands, and everyone else we could get to help out! Special thanks to Sheila Smith, Judy Sells, Nellie Morales, Bibi Simkin, Giorgia Franchi and Chuck Dedeu for the countless hours before the wedding weekend you all spent helping to make this all come together. And a MASSIVE OMG thank you to my amazing mother for her incredible creative genius and amazing amount of patience with me 🙂
1. Make mock ups
It is amazing how two people can talk about the same idea for hours but have completely different visions in their heads. This is a bit extreme, but making mockups in photoshop to show both my mother, patient bridesmaids, florist and planner helped me communicate exactly what I wanted on the day. I used illustrator and photoshop, but they can be hand drawn if you want. Whatever you can do to communicate your idea, it will make you feel better as well.
2. Collect ideas all the time
I admitted yesterday I did not have a moodboard for our wedding which could have contributed to the length of time it took me to finally decide on a direction, but I found collecting folders and galleries of images made me feel a lot less pressure. This sounds a bit dramatic, but if I put all my images together in a single moodboard it would have been the size of Texas. Instead I had moodboards for concepts within the wedding – bridesmaid moodboards, flower moodboards. Attacking the idea in smaller chunks seemed to work alot better for me and allowed me to really think about each detail in depth.
3. You don’t have to have a “theme”
As I mentioned above, I think my wedding went through every theme known to man. I wanted a Marie Antoinette wedding, an Alice in Wonderland wedding, a Chinese inspired wedding. Being a designer, I felt like the whole day had to have a concept behind it and I felt stuck, especially when I saw all the amazing weddings on the blogs with stories behind their naval, travel, or circus weddings.
When I realised that our day didn’t have to be about anything other than ourselves, and that the theme could be “just because I like these colours” I felt relieved. It was ok that the reason we had greens in one room and teals in another was “just because I like it that way” and not because of any deeper meaning. The theme of our wedding was just “us.”
3. Decisions are the first hurdle, execution is the second!
Making decisions was massively difficult for me, and having 18 months to plan everything actually made it harder! I happily agonized over every single thing with my mom over instant messenger every day and full on skype conferences with her holding up different pieces of paper, fabric and ribbon. When I finally made a decision on even the smallest detail I felt I had ticked it off my list. The problem was, I then had to DO all the things I had finally decided I wanted. This is not always as easy as it seems. For example, after millions of discussions, books, blogs and magazines, I decided on the general look and feel of the flowers – graphic, simple pomanders with denser carnations on top of candlesticks with lots of different kinks and shapes to them. Awesome. But expanding on that thought, we bought loads of ikea candlesticks, spray painted them gold, and so on. In short, decisions are hard, but keep up the momentum and start doing the things you decide to do! Another example of this is when I finally decided I wanted a black cab to take us to the wedding venue. I thought deciding on this was the most difficult until I found out that there were no black cabs in Bath!
4. Think of the day in stages / scenes
A wise planner once told me (thanks Mark Niemierko!) that he thought of his weddings in stages. I’m not sure I interpreted it 100% but I remember sitting having breakfast with him last year and thinking “OMG he is totally right” (obviously) – As our entire day was held in different rooms, but in the same venue, I was worried about continuity between the different parts of the day. Each room had a distinct colour – the ceremony room was neutral, the drinks reception room was bright yellow and the ballroom was teal. This totally stressed me out because I initially felt like I had to have all these colours in all of these rooms and they were so not me. The idea of treating your wedding venue like a home / a set of rooms and looking at it from an interior design perspective might seem a bit obvious to some, but for me this was a liberating concept. I could have my topiary, cream, gold and greens in the ceremony room and my black, white, teal and golds in the ballroom and it would not look like a hurricane. No one is ever going to be in more than one room at a time and rooms in homes, hotels, museums and restaurants do not all match each other!! Hooray. This leads my on to my next point…
5. Not everything in the universe has to be matchy matchy.
Thank goodness. As I mentioned above, because I had so many ideas, I was worried that things were totally not going to match, look crazy and I would have an ugly wedding. Obviously there is really no such thing as an ugly wedding, but I was worried it would not turn out the way I wanted. Again, when I realised that not everything in the universe had to match, I felt better. For example, our save the dates and invitations were black and gold with very graphic designs. These differed in the types of paper we used for the ceremony order of service booklets as those were all different greens, golds and floral patterns but the typography used and the design aesthetic for all the printed material remained consistent. This was ok for me because the invitations were never going to be in the same room as the order of service booklets so they just felt like they needed to be part of the same “family” and not the EXACT same design. This then carried over into the menu design, and tablescapes etc.
The first thing my mom and I did when we started thinking about colours was go to Paperchase. I cannot tell you how many times I have been to that store in the past year and a half, people used to think I worked there and ask me questions we spent so much time looking at things. We based a lot of our aesthetic decisions on the papers we chose for things like the invitations, order of service booklets and menus because this was something we were both very passionate about and felt the most inspired by. We took different pieces of paper and put them next to each other, moved things around, put teals with greens with gold with yellows. At one point we had an entire table covered with different options. But it worked. It was definitely not a 1 stop decision, but we brought samples home and put them next to samples we had bought the previous week and figured out how each colour was going to work.
We also went to places like Designers Guild, one of my favourite interior stores, to look at how they used fabrics and then tried to interpret this into a wedding concept.
6. You will always need more time than you plan for
This probably applies to all of life as opposed to just weddings, but in the days leading up to the wedding I remember thinking “OMG how are we going to get everything done.” And the answer was “We just have to.” If ou ever come across something you can do right then and there, even if it is something as random as buying a mosquito net for your honeymoon, resist the urge to “do it later.”
7. Enlist the help of friends, family and anyone else you can grab
I remember saying to Jack’s family that we would love for them to come over to our apartment in the days leading up to the wedding and help out if they didn’t mind? They all said “of course” but I don’t think they realised what they were getting themselves into. From Wednesday evening until Sunday afternoon, we had what I can fondly recall as a “wedding sweatshop of love” in our living room with stations for goodie bag prep, favour box assembly, flag gluing, tissue paper flower unfolding, seating chart executing and goodie bag deliver schedule making. In short, there was LOADS to do. It was slightly stressful, but mostly amazing. Especially when our dads were working together making favour boxes and Jack’s best man was sitting on the couch making paper flowers. It felt incredible to have such amazing, caring and PATIENT family and friends there to help and we could not have done it without a single person. People who were not even in the wedding party came over to help and we owe a massive thanks to my mom’s fabulous friends who helped make each and every single tissue paper flower and flag.
8. The things you do yourself will be the ones you remember the most
One of my close friends who got married last year said this to me when we first got engaged and she was so right. Every time I asked myself “do we REALLY need to spray paint these frames, candlesticks etc” I would remind myself of this phrase because looking back I could not agree more. Some people DIY stuff because they think it might save them budget (which is not always the case!!) but my mom and I did it because we loved every minute of it. My mom is pretty much a creative genius and I could not have even begun to plan this wedding with out her.
9. Always be thinking of ways to make your wedding feel like “you”
Some of the details I think represented Jack and I the best were some of the last things we did. Sometimes its hard to think of the details without the big picture so always be thinking of how you can make your wedding personal. For example, I had always imagined we would need to do something for the fireplaces in the ceremony room. The space was so big, I wanted to make sure I kept it as intimate as possible and the fireplaces were begging to be used. My initial idea was to make posters with the word “love” in different languages based on the countries Jack and I had grown up in. This then turned into a massive infographic project displaying things about us like the varying distances between us over the 10 years we have been together, the number of years we had spent together and even the RSVP responses from all our guests. These posters then got reused in other decorative elements like our welcome letter in the goodie bags we left in hotels and the inside covers of the order of service. It was something we worked on in the last few weeks leading up the event and one of the things I love the most.
Another thing to remember is the “you” bit can be subtle. Having grown up and met in Hong Kong, we always wanted to have a bit of Asian influence in our big day, but it didn’t seem to fit in very well. We managed to get a few things in there like having a Chinese poem for one of our readings, using black and white bamboo tablecloths for some of the tables, and including Korean candy we used to eat as kids in our goodie bags and that was enough for me. Not everything needs to be massive and over the top and obvious.
The last thing I’d like to mention we did was our RSVP cards had a little fill in the blank section where guests had to choose their main course and then choose a verb to describe what they were going to do at the wedding. I than tallied all the responses and created an infographic poster which was printed on the back of the welcome letter. It had people’s names on it connected to the verb they submitted and hopefully made everyone feel like they had contributed to the wedding a teeny bit.
And that, I’m afraid is the end of it! I’m sure I’ve missed bits and pieces along the way, but I hope you can tell it’s been an incredible journey, a lot of hard work, and the best time of my life. It felt amazing to see it all come together with the help of all my amazing friends (thank you again a million times) and it was so so fun to do this all with my mom. So I’m going to end with a beautiful photo of my amazingly helpful bridesmaids and of course the leading lady of the event, my mother, the most incredible person, designer, creative genius and friend in the world. LOVE YOU!