Modern brides and grooms are obsessed with searching Pinterest, Facebook, blogs and other social media for inspiration for their weddings. Often, when they meet with their event designer or wedding planner for the first time, they are overwhelmed and idea-saturated. They have fallen in love with a million and one concepts — and they just don't know how to choose or edit their ideas to a manageable selection for their own wedding. Most importantly, they'd like to choose the best collection of ideas that effectively tells their own unique story.
How to Determine the Client Story
It would be nearly impossible to edit a collection of ideas without knowing more about the couple and the story that they want to tell. One easy approach to gathering this information is to send a lengthy questionnaire to obtain information about each individual client (such as hobbies, work, music), the couple itself (how they met, first date, proposal), and their current lives together (hobbies, decorating style, pets and so on). Another approach would be to meet with a couple and interview them in a more conversational setting — this approach allows the interviewer to draw out additional information on the fly.
This is a great opportunity for the event designer or wedding planner to find new ways to connect with their clients. Shared interests or common knowledge on a unique topic can create an elevated level of trust between client and designer. This elevated level of trust can allow for easier communication and flexibility in the design process.
Choose Elements Of the Client Story to Highlight
When interviewing the client, the event designer or wedding planner should pay close attention to the details that are heavily emphasized. For instance, if the groom spends an extended amount of time reminiscing on his college years playing football, that might make it an important highlight. However, if the bride rolls her eyes while the groom waxes poetic over his love of old school hip hop, that might be an element to omit. The goal is to find a way to honor the couple itself without showcasing their weaknesses.
Great elements are the kind that make you want to know more about the couple: a secret love of 80's metal bands, the fact that the bride and groom met in a NYC cab, the pet Beagle the couple adopted when they moved in together, the couple's love of deep dish Chicago-style pizza or craft beer, the bride's Californian upbringing versus the groom's Texan upbringing — these are just a few examples. One might hear these facts and want to know: Which metal bands do they love? How did they meet in a cab — and how did it turn into that first date? What is their favorite craft beer?
Meld Elements Into Wedding Details or Experiences
Once the elements have been selected, melding them into wedding experiences can be a fun exercise for an event designer or wedding planner. For instance, a couple who loves Chicago-style pizza might love to incorporate a mini version of the pie as a stationed appetizer. Taking this concept a step further, a menu on display at the station could not only display the flavors, but identify each variation as "Bride's Favorite" or "Groom's Choice" to further customize the experience.
While melding these elements, it's important to consider how whimsical or grandiose the client is willing to go with their event design. A more reserved client who declared their love of baseball during their interview might be appalled at baseball jersey groomsmen attire, but love the idea of serving vintage Cracker Jacks boxes and bags of peanuts at their candy station.
It's also important to consider the client's budget when scaling the execution of the design. While a client may not be able to afford an Elvis impersonator to showcase their love of the classic crooner, they could offer their guests a custom cake filled with peanut butter and bananas, as a subtle nod towards their fandom. Any idea can be scaled to fit small or large budgets when thinking outside of the box. The number of ideas can be limited to fit the budget as well. For instance, a smaller budget might incorporate two or three ideas, where a larger budget might incorporate five to seven ideas. Don't be afraid to suggest DIY projects if the client has the aptitude — this is great way to make a smaller budget stretch further.
There are so many areas of the event design that could be customized to tell the client story, from guest arrival to exit. The bride's love of vintage milk glass might result in a beautiful escort card display showcasing her grandmother's antique trays and plates. The groom's love of rock 'n roll could result in a grandiose velvet-draped stage setting for their ceremony, complete with marquee lighting, fit for a rock star. The couple's love for their Beagle may result in a signature cocktail named after their beloved pet. The couple's alma maters could inspire a fantastic frosted cookie duo favor in their out-of-town gift baskets. The couple's families' love of art and travel could be showcased by mini paintings on easels at each placesetting. The options are endless — and event designers are pushed daily to create unique new elements for each individual couple.
Bonus: Want to become a professional wedding and event planner? Enroll in the New York Institute of Art and Design's Wedding Planning Course today!