Wedding Event Design: Grit and Glamour

This guest post comes to us from Brigitta Burks. 

After 100-plus weddings, you’d think it’d get old — but it doesn’t. Seeing two madly in love people decide to spend their lives together is always beautiful. And getting to play a small part in that is the best career decision I’ve made so far. (And sometimes, I get to eat wedding cake, too!)

Staff photo by BizzyBee Photography

Staff photo by BizzyBee Photography

I’m the owner and creative director at La Boutique Nostalgie, a vintage and classic wedding design, floral and coordination firm based in Toledo, Ohio. We work with our clients to develop customized decor/design plans using our inventory and we also create floral arrangements to complement the look and provide coordination/planning services as needed.

What is Event Design?

Most people know what florists and coordinators do, but event designer is a relatively new job title. Event designers curate the look and feel of your wedding or party. We consider everything from centerpieces to the tables and chairs to the ceiling to color schemes. We help our clients find the perfect decor item or some of us carry our own inventory used to execute the looks we and our clients come up with.

Some event designers are also florists and coordinators, while some are not. (Since most wedding vendors are small businesses like us, each model is different.) At La Boutique, we try to do everything under one roof so the flowers and decor look cohesive. We also stay within a specific look: vintage and classic. However, that look can still fit into several categories: rustic, upscale, bohemian, black-tie, casual, backyard, nautical, garden-party and more. Basically, we want to make sure that when you look at your wedding album in 10 years, you won’t say, “My wedding was so 2015.” At the same time, we also try to keep our wedding looks fresh and unique. That’s why we aim for timeless styles and authentic decor that infuses the couple’s personality in the day.

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We Care.

An engagement is simultaneously one of the happiest and most stressful experiences of your life. It’s like living in a pressure cooker for a year — a very happy, romantic pressure cooker, but a pressure cooker none the less. Suddenly, things that didn’t seem like a big deal to you in the pre-engagement era become super important. Things like “Should my bridesmaids wear seafoam or mint dresses?” or “Should I do a bouquet toss?” take up huge amounts of space in your head.

Vendors know you’re stressed — and what’s more, we want to help alleviate some of that stress. Because the planning process typically begins about a year or so out, we get to know our clients and making them happy is extremely important to us. We’ve spent a year developing decor plans, selecting flowers, creating timelines and answering questions. We become super invested in our clients’ happiness and seeing their smiling faces on the big day is the goal.

The Pinterest Problem.

First off, I love Pinterest. I could spend hours picking out paint colors, hair cuts and bouquets. It’s an amazing place to get inspiration for many aspects of your life. However, occasionally, it can cause some problems in the wedding planning process.

Swatch Studios2

Sometimes brides will want near-exact replications of arrangements or decor they’ve seen on Pinterest. Creatively speaking, this can be tough; most florists and designers want to put their own spin on ideas. Moreover, many pins are of $100,000-or-so weddings in sunny locations and while gorgeous, not totally doable for many brides. Occasionally, photos are a little altered, too, leading brides to request flower colors that don’t come in nature or are out of season.

Still, Pinterest is a valuable tool for brides and vendors when used for inspiration, not replication. An event designer can look at your pins, get ideas and tweak them to fit your style, season and venue location. Instead of having a wedding that matches someone else’s, you’ll have your very own customized look that draws on styles you love.

What Our Year Looks Like.

If you are friends with a wedding planner, chances are you won’t see much of her or him from April to October. That’s when (at least in Ohio) the majority of weddings take place. From Friday-Sunday, we are prepping, attending the actual wedding and then breaking down and cleaning to gear up for next weekend. Come Monday, we are beat. Some vendors take Monday and Tuesday off as their own weekend.  Then we fit in office hours, social media updates and meetings in the remaining days. (I don’t know how accurate it is, but my husband compares being a vendor to being a deep-sea fisherman where you work intensely for weeks at a time and then get some down time.)

When wedding season ends, my schedule does open up quite a bit but the work doesn’t totally stop. In the winter months, it’s time to think about the next year and booking new clients (and still do an some winter weddings). It’s also time to organize, submit photos to wedding blogs/magazines, plan promotional photo shoots and check in with future brides.

Not Always Glamorous.

I tell our interns “It’s not always a glamorous job.” Events seem like a fun world full of non-stop parties, beautiful decor and champagne — and to be honest, this is the most fun job I’ve ever had. There’s also 16-hour or more days and being on your feet for hours on end, but I love the grit of this job as well as the glamour.

A huge chunk of my job is lifting boxes of decor and flower arrangements into a truck and transporting them to venues at the crack of dawn. My wonderful staff —while dressed in business wear—  helps me unload the boxes and at the end of the night, we pack up and haul everything back (we all have biceps of steel after wedding season). We’ve also bagged up linens, taken out the garbage, soothed angry flower girls, mediated fights between divorced parents, fed brides who forgot to eat all day, cleaned up stains and more. I also spend a lot of time leading up to weddings covered in floral foam and glue, but that’s not what we want our clients and their guests to see.

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What clients see are twinkling cafe lights, grinning guests, lush centerpieces, beautiful bouquets and sparking candelabras— glamour, basically. And I love seeing their faces when they walk into the wedding reception. So while it may not be so glamorous for the behind-the-scenes team, it’s worth it to create a magical, stress-free environment for our clients and their friends and families.

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