Planning a Wedding with Rebecca Rose Events | Part 2 - The Creative Process
In yesterday's post, Betsy shared some insight into her role in our unique wedding planning process. If you missed it, go check out her post about logistics! While we are proud to have a large, dedicated team of staff and contractors who work each wedding, she really spearheads the planning process and oversees all onsite coordination. Years ago, when Betsy joined me as a business partner, I was so relieved to be able to relinquish those responsibilities to her so that I could focus my full-time efforts on creative direction. Our process and internal systems work so well precisely because we each tackle the tasks that are best served by our individual strengths. I'm excited to share more of my role in our process in today's post, so let's talk a little about our creative process here at RRE as it relates to planning a wedding!
As soon as any wedding is booked on our calendar, one of our first steps is to schedule a full-day creative session. If we're working on a destination wedding, we're also scheduling a 2-3 day site visit (which may or may not be held in conjunction with the creative session - depending on where our clients are located and whether or not they wish to travel to the destination with us). We've found such success with our full-day creative sessions, that we've even adapted this approach to offer it as an a la carte service through our little sister company, Rebecca Rose Creative! (If you missed it last week, take a moment to read about the difference between RRE & RRC!)
While our creative session begins with some important housekeeping items that Betsy tackles (including a budget review, guest list status update, vendor selection update, timeline, etc.) we really strive to reserve the bulk of our time together for focusing on aesthetics. These sessions are long - often 6-ish hours - but it's so much more valuable to spend time really getting to the heart of what matters most to each couple vs. splitting that time into two or three meetings over the course of weeks/months. The feedback provided and decisions made in this session help shape my entire approach to designing the wedding over the course of the days, weeks and months to follow!
Far more important than just learning about the couple's favorite color palette, I want to hear about how they want to feel on their wedding day. I want to hear how they want their family members and guests to feel too! We approach aesthetics as a full sensory experience - not just merely a set of visual elements. In our creative session, we review tons of images, ideas, and concepts (some of which have almost nothing to do with weddings!) to learn what truly makes the bride and groom happiest. A client once joked with me that she felt like we were conducting a Myers-Briggs design personality test of sorts. We giggled together, but she's somewhat right! It's so imperative that we get to know our clients deeply in order to design a wedding that is about them, and not just for them.
At the end of our full-day creative session together, we will have developed a color palette, identified key words and ideas to describe the overall experience we need to create, reviewed/selected linen samples and swatches, mapped out some preliminary diagrams for event flow and space usage, talked about paper goods (more on that in tomorrow's blog post from Nicole!) and chosen some key creative partners for the wedding such as a photographer, videographer, etc.
Following our session, I always develop a simple inspiration document to send our clients. This pdf document helps them remember some of what was chosen in their session and it gives them something to hang on to and refer back to as they continue dreaming about how the vision will come together. The example below shows an inspiration board I created for Robin & Jon. To see the finished product, be sure to hop back over quickly to see Robin & Jon's wedding, which took place last September at the beautiful Merrimon Wynne house in Raleigh!
Over the following weeks and months, I spend quite a bit of time thinking through ways to bring each couple's unique vision to life. I guide our clients in fashion selection for themselves and the wedding party. I source materials, vessels, and products and if I can't find them, I brainstorm with Betsy to figure out how we can produce them in-house. It may seem cliché to say this, but I wholeheartedly believe that we should't put limits on imagination. There's always a way to make something work - often it just takes a lot of creativity and a healthy dose of elbow grease.
One of the biggest challenges as a designer and creative director is to keep our clients from doubting their own vision. I appreciate Pinterest as much as the next person, but it is truly a blessing and a curse. After our design process begins, I encourage our clients to quit looking at Pinterest for ideas because almost nothing good comes from that. In a few months, their wedding will be seen on Pinterest, but it shouldn't begin there. Think about it... one of two things happens when you look at other people's weddings: (1) you see something you love and want to recreate it for yourself (read: steal/reproduce other people's ideas or create a wedding that looks like it was meant for somebody else!), or (2) you start to second guess all your own decisions and worry that your wedding won't live up to the expectations of other pinners. If you're reading and feel trapped in this spiral, then close your Pinterest browser window and take a break. Let go of your focus and worry about material items that will ultimately be meaningless. This is hard - I know it is... but it is possible to design a wedding that is meaningful and intentional.
As the wedding weekend approaches, my work really steps into high gear. Flowers, linens, candles, props, ribbons and supplies have to be ordered. Diagrams have to be finalized and double/triple-checked against final headcounts and seating charts. There are always unexpected last-minute changes or additions. I work closely with Betsy to ensure that our production team has ample time for load-in, installation, and teardown built into the master event weekend timeline and we schedule staffing to be sure that there are plenty of hands on deck to help with the workload.
Floral design prep/work begins in earnest 2-3 days before the wedding. These few days are often 14-17 hours long and during this time I have to step away from all other responsibilities to oversee and manage this design process. I think that often times people envision floral design as something that's just fun and easy. How could it be anything else when you get to work with such pretty blooms?!? Well it certainly is fun for us, but there's nothing easy about it. When flowers arrive from our growers and wholesalers, they immediately need to be unpacked, trimmed, stripped of extra foliage and thorns, placed in clean water, etc. We have to carefully manage temperature and the surrounding conditions. Sometimes certain flowers don't make it, either because there are shipping delays or there was a problem with the product. These are perishable, delicate items and trouble-shooting is an all-to-common part of floral design strategy. For example: last year we received an order of 300 coral peonies. The next morning, every single one of them stunk like rotten fish and had shed nearly all of their petals. It turns out they had some kind of disease! We couldn't use a single one of them and I had to source a large emergency order of coral garden roses that looked like peonies (because there were no more peonies to be had anywhere near the continental United States that weekend). I lost a full day and a half of design time and our team worked into the wee hours to make up for it. But our client never knew the difference.
Most people have no idea what happens behind the scenes during these last 72 hours before a wedding starts and quite frankly - it's tough to describe! It is not uncommon for us to spend anywhere from 125-250 collective hours as a team, working on pulling all the final details together. As an artist, I know that I thrive in these days because I'm able to be solely focused on the project at hand. Sometimes my very best and most original ideas are born in these moments. By this time I know our clients so well that I feel overjoyed to be using my two hands to create for them!
Once the wedding begins, if we've done our jobs well, we can look around and soak it all in and know that we've come full circle. Each detail, each paper texture, each candle flicker, each spotlight, each fresh green leaf, each rose, each stroke of the calligraphy pen, each table linen, each piece of flatware, each sip of wine, and ever single other element of sensory experience, has been carefully chosen as part of a curated vision and has a purpose. More importantly, that purpose is grounded in celebrating the start of a marriage for two very special people and everyone in attendance can't help but feel a part of it all.
Tomorrow Nicole will share more about another part of our creative process: graphic design and print production. Come back to read her post and then join me again on Friday because I'll be sharing the "why" behind all of our systems and procedures.
In the meantime... happy Wednesday!
Thanks to Nancy Ray Photography for all of the beautiful images in this post!