Most of us (and I include myself in this, as I fell firmly into this camp as a bride-to-be) don’t want our wedding to look like anyone else’s. ‘It’s a competition thing, snobbery, some skewed notion of a taste hierarchy particular to women playing out’ say most market research think tanks. Not true, I say. It’s all about individuality – plain and simple. Every love story and couple are different, after all, so why wouldn’t you want your wedding day to embrace this and all the things that make your special day, well, yours?
The reality is though, that among the sea of prettiness you’ll see by hunting through blogs, the time spent being a Pinterest devotee and Instagram stalker, it is easy to lose sight of the essence of your wedding day’s unique aesthetic and ambience. Which is why we’ve put together this creative guide with some of the exquisite talent collaborating on the Quintessentially Weddings Atelier to transforming your nuptials from generic niceness to distinctive and most of all, personality-injected beauty.
1. STEP ONE: To Thine Own Self Be True
It might sound trite, but from the outset try to narrow your gaze and focus. ‘Theme’ might be a dirty word for many brides, but thinking in this way about what inspirations, influences and visual touchstones matter most to you is a surefire way to avoid either a scrambled look (as suppliers struggle to work out what you mean when you say ‘Boho, but not welly-wearing festival and floaty skirts nomad’ and deliver roughly what they think equates to this) or equally, cookie-cutter effect. Once you have your three key thematic devices or references construct a sentence that summarises these and draw up a colour palette/swatch to match. So, Paris, Chanel and that summertime walk you took in the Tuileries as dusk fell might translate into ‘Romantic Parisian chic inspired by Coco Chanel in muted colours’ and a palette of blush, grey, white and gold.
2. STEP TWO: Say it with flowers
Nothing spells out your personal tastes quite like floristry. It is so subjective – one of the reasons we have not one, but three florists appearing at the Atelier – and there is such a wild array of styles, breeds and arrangements. What’s more, any florist worth their salt will work closely with you and adapt styles to suit your venue, budget and your individual preferences. If you’re a lover of abundant blooms, gorgeously bright and glamorous, you cannot go far wrong with Rob Van Helden, a florist who can turn his hand from vast floral sets to that eponymous Chanel flower cart. Alternatively, you cannot get more meaningful and romantic than Shane Connolly’s floristry, often inspired by the Chivalric codes contained within The Language of Flowers. Think textile-like, richly coloured and sometimes whimsical flowers and even trees – Shane is the man responsible for those glorious avenues of leafy loveliness at Westminster Abbey at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. And if your a fan of fantastical flowers, unusual species that very often no-one will know the name of and an embroidery like effect informed by Juliet Glaves years as a fashion designer, look no further than Thoughtful Flowers.
3. STEP THREE: Team Spirit
If you have talented friends, use them. It is a great way to ensure your wedding has that truly unique feel when elements are either handcrafted or call in the skill of friends who do not necessarily pursue their craft for commercial gain (thus won’t be seen in the wedding world again – bonus!). A case in point – Kate Moss persuaded her friend Sam Gainsbury to plan her wedding despite Gainsbury’s prowess being in fashion exhibitions and shows for the likes of Alexander McQueen (Sam was quoted as saying this was “the first and last wedding I would ever do.”) This can mean anything from arty friends illustrating your invitations, menus and place cards to building a custom bar for your reception drinks.
4. STEP FOUR: Have fun with your furnishings
Renting wedding furniture needn’t mean mass-produced hire items nor limited selections in boring colourways. For a vast selection of genuine antiquities spanning not just furniture but lighting, decorative details and complete suites of seating (a real rarity – such suites rarely survive in volume) that you will have seen on everything from Downton Abbey to Coco Avant Chanel, Farley are the answer to putting a twist on things when setting the scene. Within their sprawling living-museum of a studio in West London, there is everything from Art Deco cocktail trolleys to Baroque chandeliers which can be installed almost anywhere with adequate rigging, dainty mirrors to write menus upon (just call in Paul Antonio) and exotic vases to house those unique flower arrangements too.
5. STEP FIVE: Accessorise, accessorise, accessorise
If you get the essentials nailed, styling your wedding up is where you can run a little wild. Think of it as in a similar vein to having a capsule wardrobe or a signature style: once you have your foundations in the shape of set, furnishings and flowers, you can embellish and enhance with some well chosen accents of colour, quirkiness and touches of pattern or even sparkle. The secret is in the mix, or the edit. I would gently counsel against following trends too closely, or only if they really speak to you and you’re sure that in ten year’s time, you’ll feel the same looking back on the photographs. But some ikat print napkins here, brass candelabra with hot pink candles there and framed black and white wedding portraits of your family and ancestors clustered together can make all the difference.