Written by Caroline Cotten
Words are a powerful tool. They articulate our wants and our needs. They describe our hopes and dreams. And from the day you say, “Yes” to the day you say, “I do”, our words are the key to creating your picture-perfect wedding. Weddings are a romantically thrilling, unrepeatable experience for friends, family, and most importantly the couple. Whether you grew up fantasizing about this special day or are starting from the ground up, a careful articulation of ideas will be the seeds that make your wedding blossom into a memory to cherish forever.
Wedding planning is an exciting process, but it’s also potentially (and understandably) daunting. If you have found yourself in a position asking, where do I even begin? Then you’re in the right place. We chatted with Lorie Lau, a California based luxury wedding planner, to walk us through the process and all the avenues to consider when it comes to navigating the planning, styling, and designing of your perfect day.
Regardless if you want a wedding planner or not (however, if you find someone as talented and passionate as Lorie than you definitely should), it is almost certain you will need to build an army of helpers. A beautiful wedding starts from the inside out, so when building your team, be that with friends, families, or professionals, this day is about you. So, make sure that everyone involved has your best interest in mind. The best thing about enlisting a wedding planner is that they are there to guide you while being a voice of reason and expertise, but you and your significant other should always be the main source of all the inspiration.
We all know wedding planning is an investment of time, money, resources, and a lifetime of love. Before getting to the fun stuff, there are practical decisions to be made. This means numbers – 1) What is your budget? 2) How many people will be involved? 3) Where and when? These questions are the foundation to navigating what is reasonable and what is doable when planning all the fun stuff.
Once the numbers are ironed out, it’s time to start working through how you envision your wedding. This may be a no-brainer for some brides and grooms, but if it’s not, even when you think you have no idea, the words you use to describe what you want will allow you to hone in on certain styles. Lorie describes this as a pivotal phase of the beginning of a wedding process. Brides may come in with a blank canvas or, on the flip side, with a book full of ideas and inspiration and it is crucial to be attentive to what the bride is saying. To do so, she’ll ask a bride to “describe their ideal wedding”. By asking this, a wedding planner (or friend, family member, or even your soon to be husband or wife), can begin to identify themes. You may think you want a whimsical extravaganza, but as you begin to describe your values and must-haves, it turns out an elegantly intimate soiree is more accurate to your tastes. Maybe you loved a wedding you saw in a magazine, but what you actually loved was the subtle lace details used to tie in all the elements of design from cake decoration to table setting to the bride’s dress. After hearing a couple’s dialogue of thoughts, seeing images they have pulled together and listening to their answers, these big picture characteristics can begin to get narrowed down. Once the primary source has been exhausted, a planner can take these ideas and utilize their own tools to build on the inspiration. This means diving into the world of Pinterest, interior design magazines, past body’s of work, nature, travel and whatever else gets the creative juices flowing. The goal is to create mood boards and content for couples to react to in order to move forward with the planning.
Every decision made elicits a domino effect of decisions to follow. Take the venue for example. Simply booking a venue unlocks a cascade of influential factors. both logistically and stylistically. You may have imagined round tables, but long rectangular dining tables make more sense for the space, or the chosen color palette may not work with the venue’s unchangeable wallpaper and carpet. Every venue is different and may come with their own set of rules. Some venues work with pre-existing vendors and have linens, tableware, chair rentals, ready to go which will narrow down the path and potentially require pivots to your original desires for things like table settings, caterers, and more. By the time you’ve booked your venue, this also means you’ve nailed down a date and guest list numbers. So, you now know the season, location, and general idea of your guests. All three of these factors are things to take into account when menu planning, which is an art in itself. Do you want things plated? Buffet style? Family style? Is there a certain cuisine you had in mind? Does it work with what’s in season? Does your location impact what’s being served? Are there certain restrictions on what your guests will be able to eat? You get the picture. All of these decisions are yet another reason a wedding planner is worth it. The answers to all of these questions will have to take in all the factors of location, wedding size, season, cultural preferences, etc. A wedding planner’s guidance and expertise on all things wedding can be game changers when it comes to alleviating stress.
Despite the bliss of being in love and the promise that this day will be undeniably special, weddings are not exempt from being impacted by what’s going on in the macroenvironment. Speaking with Lorie led to conversations that made this very clear and revealed nuances that only someone who has planned a wedding can be able to know and explain. Did you know that Ecuador is one of the main exporters of roses? I certainly did not. But, of course, Lorie knew and described the complications that COVID and political circumstances have created to the supply and export of these flowers. As a result, the wholesale flower market in Los Angeles had zero white roses. Which, as you can imagine, can be a major disruption to a wedding that planned on having white roses as centerpieces in all the tables and a beautiful bouquet made up solely of white roses. On another note, butter and eggs are currently experiencing a shortage; this means that the price of cakes has also increased. All of this is to say that, having someone who is in the know during the planning process can save a lot of headaches and be useful for navigating unforeseen bumps in the road.
On the note of letting the couple be the guide and source of inspiration, this inherently means a wedding will be personalized. The goal of every wedding is to sit at a ceremony or walk into a reception and be able to say, “Wow, this is so them” or evoke a smile by a subtle nod to a story of how they met being entwined in the details. Personalization in a wedding can come in all different forms. Again, this is done by an act of careful listening. Asking questions about how a couple met, what they like to do together, and elements of their relationships that are special to them can all be a spring from which ideas arise. These elements can be both fun and sentimental and can often spark conversations that reveal vulnerability. Letting guests into your world on your wedding day can create some truly special moments that speak to the personal bond between you and your partner and can only be done so in a way that is unique to your dynamics.
One more tip rang loud and clear; be conscious of trends. Social media, wedding publications, and all that jazz are great, but with so much noise and ideas it can pull you away from what is true to you and what you want on your wedding day. Lorie’s advice? There are three categories that deserve careful selection and should be chosen with the intention of remaining timeliness. These are photography, the color palette, and the style and design. An important clarification here is that even the idea of choosing timeless is unique to you and your values. When making decisions in all three categories you’ll want to question yourself – it may be pretty, but does it really relate to you and your style? If you have always admired film photography but are suddenly considering a dark and moody photographer, you may want to consider staying true to your roots. When choosing your personal wardrobe (hair, dress, makeup, shoes), don’t go out of your comfort level just because you think you need to do something different. Make sure you can recognize yourself in the mirror.
To tie this all up in a bow, I’ll end with sharing Lorie’s three C’s to keep top of mind along the way. Consideration, Communication, and Compromise. Once again, stressing the importance of your words throughout this entire process. These words are grounding principles when making decisions, being flexible, and styling a wedding that will be true to the love you share with your partner. For more wedding planning inspiration, check out H + L Lovely Creations at hllovelycreations.com and instagram @hllovely.