Having come into floral design by way of an arts and philosophy background, I often question how our human tastes are shaped. How do we come to like what we like? Are we as free as we think in choosing our own style? What part of our upbringing and cultural moment influences our various taste decisions? A bride is in a similar position to ask herself these questions.
The thing I hear most often from brides is, “I want our wedding to be timeless.” I resonate with these words as I said the same thing to my florist when I got married. What do we really mean when we say timeless? Perhaps we are actually saying, I want to look back on my wedding photos in 40 years and think that I made good choices.
The amount of choices brides are presented with is daunting and even more-so with the added pressure of having to anticipate what the standards of beauty will be 40 years from now. Looking back at my parents wedding in the early 80’s, I don’t find their taste or style tacky. Is it because they mulled over style, perceiving what their future selves might find impressive? LOL, yeah right! Weddings back then involved little more than church ceremonies with receptions in Sunday school classrooms where cheese cubes and cake were served. While weddings have progressed in their grandeur over time, there was a lot less stress involved back then. My parent’s wedding was beautiful and even timeless because of who they were in the moment and time that they got married.
The most important thing that you as a bride can do as you plan your wedding is to nurture and let shine the voice that says, ”I can make good decisions.” This may sound like strange advice but for me, I had such anxiety making decisions during my wedding and it was all rooted in a false narrative that I told myself which was fueled by self doubt. The belief that my natural inclinations and tendencies were wrong was something I struggled with in my childhood and that often prohibited me from making decisions. I always trusted others more than myself to make choices for me. The moment of saying, “ I do “ meant so much to me because it meant that I had made a decision and believed it was a good one.
In this blog post, I want to help take the pressure off the decision making by guiding you through a few questions that will help you determine a style that represents you and that you will look back on when you are old and say, I’m glad I made that decision.
Start with your dress and go from there:
Let your dress determine the style you are going for in your wedding. Think about how you want to feel in addition to how you want to look on that day. I wanted a dress that I could dance in and that was more whimsical than elegant. So I went with a flowy rather than a form fitting gown. Let your dress inform the words you might choose to describe your style and even the kinds of pictures you begin looking at. Once you find your dress, it will spark your imagination toward styles that correspond with that look. Write down three words you would use to describe your dress. Thinking about these words will help you hone in the look and feel of your style and serve as a starting point for your style choices.
Consider themes and aesthetic tastes that both you and your fiance share: Are there places in nature, colors, music, art, literature or even movies that speak to who the both of you are? Do you love the taste and smell of whiskey? Do you hike together? Do you both love the Brothers Karamazov? Find words to describe your shared aesthetic. If there are particular flowers, plants, art pieces or objects that resonate with your partnership, write those down as well.
Begin a mood board (Different than your Pinterest board): Making a mood board might sound like too much effort but in an age where everything is digital, having a physical reference can help cast vision. This board is a physical board that includes magazine clippings, images of you and your partner in your favorite place, paint cards from the hardware store. Take into consideration the time of year you are getting married, the colors of the foliage and the various attributes of your venue. Is it in a barn or in the middle of an urban environment? Don’t just look at wedding pictures for inspiration (though those are helpful), think about art, leaves, interesting menus from your favorite restaurant, match box packaging, wine labels or book covers. Once you have created your mood board find the repeating tones, textures, themes, and colors that resonate with the words you have used to both describe your style and your dress. This board is also something special that you and your partner can save.
Together with your fiance, identify colors you like. Pop into Home Depot and grab a few paint cards. Colors whether muted, bright, moody or spunky can all be classic and beautiful. There are so many good ideas out there but often colors trend much like gaucho pants. Many brides fear that incorporating bold colors will make their wedding fail the 40 year test. On the contrary, bold colors are not the enemy. The deal breaker for color is picking ones that don’t look good together. If you have had a basic art class, you remember the color wheel and those that are complimentary and monochromatic.If your florist has a basic understanding of the color wheel and principles of design, than you can select your color palette with confidence. Also, your florists are here to help with color questions so don’t be afraid to ask!
Reach out to vendors who have a similar aesthetic to your choices: Whether you are picking the florist or the DJ, all of your vendors need to resonate with the aesthetic you are trying to achieve. While many photographers are versatile, a photographer who is used to shooting beach scenes off the west coast might not make the transition to an East Coast dark and moody vibe as easily. If you are looking for an english garden style flowy bouquet, do not go to a florist who tends to make tight arrangements. However, there are plenty of photographers and florists who are versatile and have experience with a wide array of styles and tastes. They are great picks too!
Together with your florist, determine scale: As you begin to comprehend your style, color and theme, talk over with your florist the weight you want the florals to have. Do you want the flowers to do the talking or the season’s foliage? Both are good choices but you don’t want them to compete. Having a really full arbor in front of an already dynamic autumn backdrop might distract. If your florist is doing it right, he/she will take the time to either go visit the venue or do the research to help you to make some of these scale decisions. Another factor for determining scale is budget. If you are trying to cut down on budget do so when it comes to table centerpieces. While important, table centerpieces are the least memorable part of your wedding and they should be. Everyone is focused on eating and dancing. Put more emphasis on the blooms that people will remember such as an arbor and bouquets.
Focus your aesthetic choices on your ceremony over your reception: Don’t spend too much time on reception details. Of course, a long garland overlaying a wooden farm table is gorgeous but this is not the deal breaker when it comes to determining the mood or vibe of your wedding. The choices you make at your ceremony are a lot more memorable. I recently did flowers for a winter wedding at an old church in the middle of Brooklyn. The bride had chosen a dark and moody theme which was a nice compliment to the mustier tones of the church. Having aisle arrangements and placing large pieces at the entrance and side alters made a big impact.
Start a Pinterest board to give your vendors a point of reference: After I got married, I never wanted to look at Pinterest again. Something about browsing endlessly through photos made me feel dead inside. Looking back, I think I had used it at the wrong point in my process. I was using Pinterest for inspiration and letting its suggestions guide my style selections. No wonder it felt disingenuous. Pinterest is a helpful tool for helping your florist, photographer, wedding planner and even your venue get on the same page about your aesthetic.
Make a decision and make it the right decision: Set yourself free to make decisions and don’t take yourself too seriously because if you do, you will constantly be questioning your choices. My pale pink and dusty green color palette did not fit perfectly with the autumn scenery but it didn’t matter. The most important thing to me that day was making a commitment to the person I loved and enjoying the people who were celebrating alongside us. Have fun and let go.
Photography by: Jen Trahan
Flowers by: Fetching Flora