The Wedding Style Guide
With so many options and inspirations it can be overwhelming to think about your wedding style. Your style will influence almost all of your decisions about your big day from the venue and dress to the colors and decor. For me it's easy to hone in on a client's overall vision for their special day and conceptualize their style. When it came to doing it for my own wedding it was a little more difficult. So to help you, I revisited my own wedding planning experience and walked you through my process below.
For us, it was easy to get started because we knew where we wanted to get married. It had always been a dream of ours to have our wedding in Northern Virginia. At first we always pictured our wedding at one of the wineries we belong to. But when my aunt and uncle purchased a beautiful piece of property with incredible views, we knew there was nowhere better.
The easiest way to get started is to daydream.
Really! Close your eyes and think about your wedding day. Consider anything that comes to mind like sites, sounds, smells, etc. Are you imagining a quaint and quiet event or something larger and more full of life? Let your imagination wander and consider the skies the limit. Forget about factors like money, family input, and geography temporarily. Build your absolute dream wedding in your mind.
Bryan and I used to consider what our wedding would be like often, even before we were engaged. We always knew we wanted it to be in the countryside of Northern Virginia with great views. In our own daydreaming we differed a bit on the size of the celebration but agreed we wanted everyone to have a good time. We did definitely want a party and not a formal affair with a multi-course plated dinner.
I always saw myself walking down an aisle that was outdoors with a train flowing behind me. Because neither of us are very religious a church was never a part of the vision, but that may be different for you. I also always imagined live music because it is such a big part of the things we love to do. Thinking of things helped us to realize we wanted something less formal that felt intimate and personal.
What do you see for your special day?
Once you have considered your dream wedding the rest will come easy to you.
Begin with an overall feeling or style that speaks to both of you.
Are you timeless and classic? modern? romantic? rustic? bohemian? edgy?
If you have trouble answering this look around your home. Look at your wardrobe. What does the stuff you surround yourself with look and feel like?
Overall I would say our style is modern traditional, but I definitely have a love for romantic and vintage details, and soft color palettes. I also love to incorporate farmhouse details and flea market finds into our home. Bryan tends to like modern, bold details with touches of wood.
If you and your fiancee have different styles come up with a way to marry them. Like rustic romantic, modern country, timeless bohemian, etc. You can marry the two ideas through endless wedding day details. This will help create an event that personalized to you as a couple.
Once you narrow down an overall concept think about the environment.
Begin with the where and when...
Outside or Inside?
Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter?
What is the location?
Beach? Woods? Wildflower Field? Beautiful Ballroom? Golf Course? Boat? Estate? Historic landmark? City? Country? Barn?
Are you at a destination far away?
What about the time of the ceremony and reception?
Is it daytime or nighttime?
Do you want your ceremony to happen at sunset or completely candlelit?
Also consider sounds. That may help you to narrow it down.
Can you hear birds chirping? waves crashing? a buzz from city streets?
These details will help you pinpoint what type of venue/environment you imagine and in turn help you to select other details that define your wedding style.
Now, based on your personal style and type of environment you dreamed up you should be able to narrow down a few more details.
Environment will have a lot to do with how you and your guests dress. A rustic outdoor venue does not require the same formal dress that a ritzy ballroom might.
I knew that I wanted our wedding day looks to be timeless but appropriate for the mood we wanted to create. We knew we were going to be married outside but wanted to make sure it felt like a wedding. When you wear khakis and a polo you look and feel different than when you put on your finest tux. So we took that into consideration when selecting our own wedding day attire and when instructing guests on what to wear.
A lot of times once you find a dress or style of dress it will sway other decisions also. Because I am not very traditional and neither of us are very formal I knew I didn't want a white ballgown. And because we were having our wedding at a family home I wanted my dress to feel like it could have been an heirloom or vintage find. At the same time I wanted it to have modern details and suit my personality. Because of those things I was drawn to lace and blush, both details I used throughout the wedding. My consultants were amazing and worked with the designer to customize pieces of the dress until it was just right. Once I was settled on the dress everything else came easy. The girls dresses were next. Then Bryan's wedding day style came together soon after and we were able to pull elements from our wedding day looks into styling our wedding.
What do you see yourself wearing?
A ballgown? A flowy bohemian dress? A little white dress?
What is your fiancee wearing?
A tux? Suit? Vest? Button down and no jacket?
What about your guests? Are they in sundresses? Cocktail dresses? Long Gowns?
Go back to environment if you aren't sure. If you are on the beach, you may all be barefoot in casual summer outfits. If you are in a ballroom on a Saturday evening in New York City, you may be in black tie attire.
What about your bridal party?
Are the men in tuxes or linen pants? Are the girls in gowns or sundresses?
Getting a handle on how you and your guests are dressed will help you identify how fancy your wedding is.
SO AT THIS POINT YOU HAVE A CONCEPT & ENVIRONMENT, AND HAVE DETERMINED HOW FORMAL YOUR WEDDING DAY WILL BE.
Now add some color.
Pinterest is a great for sourcing color palettes and combinations but you can make it even simpler than that. First, look to the season you are getting married in. The flowers that bloom in that season can provide various color stories. It doesn't just have to be flowers either. Anything that blooms or grows can add to the palette. Consider fruits and vegetables too, like pink peonies in spring and pink grapefruit in summer. Fall offers warmer richer colors while winter is typically soft and muted.
You can also take into account the location of your wedding. For instance, you can use tropical flowers if getting married on an island or cactus if you are getting married in the dessert. The colors of the plants or overall atmosphere can inspire you as well.
Because the backdrop of my aunt and uncle's property was mostly green and the corn was dried and golden, we used colors that would pop but compliment the outdoors. Blush and rose gold are a big part of my life every day, so naturally we incorporated them into our color story. We used soft subtle mixed greens and magnolia leaves to pull in some of the surroundings and burgundy as an ode to the fall season. Then we finished it off with neutral shades of gray, mostly silver and charcoal, because we felt black would have been too harsh and too formal for our taste and venue.
It is important to choose colors you love. Your wedding photos will be featured in your home and should reflect your personal style. If you aren't a fan of bright pops of color then using those colors in wedding photos that hang on the wall isn't the best idea Select colors that speak to your everyday taste to personalize your wedding to each of you.
Tie it all together.
Once you come up with a concept and color story and determine how formal your wedding style should be, work on tying it all together. Pull each element you picked through this process and tie it into each detail from invitations to place settings. Follow through is key.
Flowers were an easy way to incorporate a lot of the colors we chose for our wedding. So that is where we started. But we also used different textures and graphic details to bring everything to life. I handmade our invitations, out of canvas fabric and embossed velvet for a vintage feel, and adorned them with laurel and arrow details. Our bridal party wore rose gold and charcoal with blush details. My dress was customized to have a vintage look but with modern touches like the blush veil. To tone everything down so it made sense in a backyard we used wood details, like the sweetheart table we made from a tree slice. And asual mismatched lounge areas gave guests a place to relax and mingle throughout the event.
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Ceremony & Reception: Private Residence, Purcellville, VA
Wedding Gown: Lea-Ann Belter from Exquisite Bride
Wedding Shoes: Jessica Simpson from Lord & Taylor
Wedding Jewelry: Marchesa from Lord & Taylor
Engagement Ring: Helzberg Diamonds
Wedding Bands: Romancing the Stones
Bridesmaid Dresses: Adrianna Papell Bari Jay Amsale from Bella Bridesmaids in Freehold, NJ
Event Design: Magnolia West
Bouquets and Bouts: Urban Design Studio
Hair & Makeup: Modern Bridal Studio
Tuxedos: Vera Wang from Men's Warehouse
Band: Lloyd Dobbler Effect
Stationary: Magnolia West
Cinematography: Paperboys Films
Photography: Jaye Kogut Photography
Catering: Reata BBQ