When chatting to people who are newly engaged or planning a wedding, there is a very common theme. Overwhelm! There is such a massive proliferation of wedding inspiration at your fingertips these day, which can make it really difficult to work out what it is you actually want, and how to make that happen without driving yourself crazy!
In this series, I plan to don my event coordinator cap and provide some practical advice on how to get what you want sorted in your noggin so you can go forth and plan with confidence, panache and ease!
I think one of the first things to get straight is that this is NOT a competition. With all of the arty, creative and craftily stylish weddings out there it can be so easy to get sucked in to believing that your guests won’t think your wedding is beautiful unless you have the whole place packed out with cute knick knacks and decorations. Although pouring over magazines, blogs and Pinterest can be a fun way to get ideas that you love, (and of course, crafting can save you money and be heaps of fun), it is worth bearing in mind that the most important thing is that you marry the one you love in an environment you feel totally happy and comfortable in.
SO, you are engaged and have started the planning process. The venue is normally one of the first things that people like to lock in, but it can be easier said than done, as a lot of different factors come into play – the size of your guest list, your location, the budget and of course, your personal preference as to the type of space/place you would like to celebrate in. Even if you aren’t interested in crafting or DIY, it is probably still important for you to have a wedding venue which reflects your vision of what constitutes a fun event, as well as having the ability to add flourish and personality the way only you can.
I have an exercise for you…
Close your eyes, and picture your dream wedding. You may not quite understand at this stage what that actually consists of, so I would like you to focus on trying to pull together an idea of how things FEEL. Try and push aside all of the images you have got floating around in your mind from the thousands of pictures you have seen (Pinterest I’m looking at you!) and really connect with what you want, keeping in mind your natural style and personal aesthetic. After each question, note down what came to your mind, as this will help you to make things more concrete.
* What are your guests doing while they eat? Standing around eating canapes and mingling, or sitting down and chatting over a meal?
Different venues suit different function styles, so if you see your guests standing around and being able to mingle freely, you know that you can have a smaller and more intimate space suitable to a cocktail style event, or alternatively an outdoor venue, as it will be easier to feed your guests. A cocktail style wedding can be held at a quirky bar, on a rooftop venue, in an intimate art gallery or in a garden or backyard. A seated meal is a little trickier as you need more space, but there are still plenty of options – a winery, a restaurant, special designated wedding venue, and of course you can always have it in a hall/warehouse space and hire the required elements which make a successful seated meal. Of course, I am only listing a small amount of venues as I don’t want this post to go on forever! Let your imagination guide you, and do a specific internet search using some of the key words you relate to – elegant, modern, rustic, contemporary, unique, relaxed, simple, traditional, dramatic and the list goes on.
* What is the mood of your mental picture? Sophisticated and classy? Classic and refined? Colourful, boozy and full of dancing? Grand and ostentatious? This is really important – if you see people in black or white tie attire sipping Bollinger the chances are you are wasting your time looking for a field or a cosy cottage (unless of course you want the juxtaposition – I am not ruling that out!). When you know the ‘format’ of your dream wedding you can more easily match the venue to your desire for the day. If you are creative and artistic, an art gallery or warehouse space may be up your alley, and if you are into music festivals and live a more alternative lifestyle you may want to emulate a music festival and get married in a field…you get the drift.
* What season do you envisage? If you aren’t sure from your mental picture, you may be able to work it out through plain ol’ common sense. What season is your favourite and you find yourself the most comfortable and happy in? I don’t really need to explain this one – in Winter, safest to go cosy and in summer you can take the risk of an outdoor wedding, with a secure wet weather plan, especially somewhere like here in Melbourne!
* What style of decoration is coming to mind? Is it sleek and modern, rustic and relaxed, crafty and creative, or a combination of different styles? Again, if you find that your imagination is not playing ball at this moment, have a think about your day to day aesthetic and personality. What you wear, the way you accessorise, your belongings, your house decor. Don’t forget to think as a couple! If you are both completely different it makes it a little harder, and you may need to use your skills of compromise as best as you can. More on that in an upcoming post.
* Are photos super important to you? As in, do you want a stylised wedding ‘shoot’ or are you happy with more journalistic photos, having a photographer take more relaxed and natural pictures of you, your husband/wife and the guests simply enjoying the day? If you prefer more of a stylised photography session, you may wish to choose a venue that makes it easy to get great pictures in the minimum amount of time. I believe it is super important to spend as much time having fun and socialising with each other and your guests, as that is what your day is really all about yeah? You may want to get married in or close to a beautiful old building which would be a gorgeous back drop, a statue, park or particular spot which is important and has special memories for you both, a laneway with fun graffiti and so on! When my sister got married (at a lovely rustic winery in New Zealand) there just happened to be some very friendly and curious horses in a field behind the winery, which made for some hilarious pics!
* What is your budget? This one doesn’t really need explanation. You can only afford what you can afford. Be real, think practically and creatively and realise that being restricted to a particular venue due to budgetary or seasonal constraints, or one of the myriad of other reasons you may be restricted to a particular venue, is not a reason to be down on your wedding. There are so many other affordable ways you can make your venue look amazing on the day. Don’t get too distressed – once the room is full of your beautiful family and friends, the faded paint or the unfortunate colour of the carpet will not be noticeable – or seem important at all!
After all that, hopefully you have more of an idea of what you might like on your day, and things may have come to the fore that you may not have realised were even there. You may decide you want a breakfast wedding, set your heart on the sunny balcony of a yacht club or envision yourself dancing all night to a dj in a cute hall. You might crave the simplicity of a registry office wedding and a potluck house party afterwards catered by your nearest and dearest. Whatever you decide, make sure you feel good about it in your gut. You will have to make other wedding related decisions using the same principle, so you may as well start now!