HOW TO DESIGN AN EVENT AROUND A VENUE OR LOCATION
When it comes to full wedding planning it is always better if we start with a blank slate and don't have to work with ingredients already chosen. The biggest and by far the most important element of the wedding plans, is choosing the venue. Think of it as a canvas with which we are going to create colour, texture and layers inside. We tend to start the design process before we even begin to look for a venue!
So what happens if you've picked the venue before hiring a planner or designer? What happens if you've picked somewhere with a strong interior design which is fighting your pinterest board? We thought we'd give you a few tips as this is often a scenario we have to work within.
I have shared visuals a real event we designed, styled and created florals for here too. So you can see how the space comes to life with a little vision and direction!
1. Get Writing
It may seem silly when talking about visual styling to then begin with words. However it's what we always do. Just grab a piece of paper and write down lots of descriptive words and notes about you and your partner:
- favourite/least favourite colours
- places you love to eat - what is the food like, what is the decor like?
- places you have been on holiday that you fell in love with?
- where did you meet?
- what magazines do you read?
- what does your home look like?
- what are your hobbies?
- what is your personal fashion like?
- favourite flowers
Then on another piece of paper, start writing down descriptive words about your venue - is it grand, modern, traditional, luxurious, minimalist? Start trying to draw parallels and common themes between your first set of notes, and see if it can start to build a picture for you. For example - you love riding, and reading novels, and your house is full of pattern and rich bold colours but you love wearing black head to toe. Perhaps then you've chosen a more minimalist modern venue? Marry the opposing styles. Cream leather stationery with black text, soft muted neutral tones in the flowers and linen, lots of texture to soften then space, and some contrasting deeper burgundy red to make the styling pop, but with an element of richness.
2. Write Your Magazine Headline
Once you have started to pad out a vision it is time to refine it. I always come up with a headline for my events. I then try to sum it up in just one paragraph. It takes me back to my PR days, and essentially what I want to do is give myself and other vendors involved a clear brief so that we are all working from the same page - it helps focus the mind!
3. Gather Imagery
Once you've come up with an overall idea and summary headline, it's time to get visual! This is when I start to pull in imagery and moodboards. I gather inspiration that fits the brief... it may be a sample from a sofa company, or a dress advertised in a magazine... it might be a single flower stem in the studio that sparked a new idea. If you don't have the time to dedicate to gathering physical items, then it is absolutely fine to utilise tools like Pinterest and Instagram. Just make sure you consider your headline and design paragraph at all times - and ask yourself - does the image fit?
4. Break It Down
So you have a vision and imagery to support it? What next? Now is time to plan it all. Create a document (digital or hardcopy) witch sections for each space and element:
And then within each of those sections write out a plan for what is required:
Don't worry about cute DIY projects and things like gifts/favours just yet. Prioritise the important elements, and decide how much of your budget you are going to dedicate to each part. This is often a difficult exercise in working out your priorities, no matter how large your overall spend is!
Decide what you'd like to go into each section. Pull imagery from your saved moodboard(s) and use this to build a picture. Use words and descriptions. I'll say it again... remember your wedding headline. Always.
Add logistical detail too - how many guests, how big is the space, how long and wide are the tables etc.
Once you have a detailed plan, with an overall moodboard and vision, with a clear headline and paragraph outlining the event, broken down clearly and with detail on each element - it's time to talk to vendors! Whilst you do want everyone you contract to work on your event to be on the same page, you absolutely do not want to hire anybody whom simply copies imagery from within your plan. The idea is that they see the full story in your design document, read the section relevant to them, and then use their artistic licence to create something unique, bespoke, and designed especially for your day. Give them the freedom to do so. Trust and invest in your vendors. Most of them are true artists in wedding vendor clothing!
You know what follows a great design plan? An even better logistical styling plan! If you haven't hired someone in to do this for you, you'll need to be extra organised. Liaise with every single vendor involved, including the venue co-ordinator, and schedule carefully what will be delivered, when, and by whom. Be clear on who has responsibility for set up and access. Communicate important details like directions, parking and opening times. Pad your schedule to allow time for delays. Ensure you speak to the photographer so that they have plenty of time to capture your carefully curated event space. When writing out your styling plan, use this as an opportunity to think about whether anything has been missed.
Designing and styling a wedding or event doesn't just take imagination and an eye for detail. It is a time consuming and key part of the planning process. Here at Studio Sorores we often come up with new concepts and ideas that need sketching/illustrating, we collaborate with some of the best and most talented artists in the country to help bring our ideas to life.
The experience of an event is what makes it memorable. It is worth investing in someone who can create a beautiful and bespoke design for your day, ensuring that all of the ingredients are perfectly aligned to the overall vision and budget.
We used the beautiful Cotswolds stone barn in Upcote as the starting point of our colour scheme - warm golden tones, with a nod to the surrounding countryside. We then layered this with details... the client was gorgeous, stylish and fun. Whilst the venue was rustic, she was most definitely chic! So we let her personality through with elegant modern tableware, luxury tapered candles and glowing stone effect pillars, feminine florals with a bit of a tough edge, soft expensive feeling linen and clean modern stationery to contrast the swirling rattan chargers.