Your Wedding Style:
Once the excitement of your engagement settles in and you get used to that ring on your finger, the realization that you have to plan a wedding will set in (that's why you're here, right?). The trick to pulling it all together is getting organized and defining your overall vision, including a style and color scheme. If you nail that, all the other details will fall into place.
You're going to face a zillion choices about everything from the event location to super specifics like the color of your champagne (seriously!). Settling on an overarching concept and sticking to it is crucial for a wedding that feels unified and totally you guys—and trust us, it will make your life a lot easier as you weed through all the options in the weeks and months to come. So, before you try on a single gown, book your band or sample a bite of cake, look at the big picture and determine the style and vibe you want to set on your wedding day.1. Dream Big
The beginning of the process is the dreaming phase—don't worry about how something will work or how much it will cost. Don't even consider what your mother will think. Picture your dream wedding. What do you see? Here are a couple of questions to consider while everything is coming together in your head.
Big (everyone you know) or small (close friends and relatives)?
Outdoors or indoors?
Home (one of your hometowns or your current city) or away (hello, destination wedding!)?
Modern, classic, romantic, vintage, rustic or all-out glam?
Fancy, casual or somewhere in between?
Spring, summer, winter or fall?
2. Get Inspired
To get a better idea of what you want (and definitely don't want), spend some time checking out bridal magazines, books, blogs and real wedding photos. But don't limit yourself to browsing just the obvious sources—something as unlikely as a wallpaper pattern or a pretty perfume package design can spark an idea. Fabrics, color chips, stationery and trinkets are all great starting points. Creating an inspiration board is one of the best ways to collect your ideas. It will also help you identify common threads and visualize how various elements will look together. Bonus: These boards will help you show your wedding pros what you're looking for later on. As you put things you love together, you'll start to see a theme or a color palette emerge.
3. Settle on a Style
There are many ways to define your wedding style, from the reception site to the season. Think of interesting hobbies you and your fiance have in common. Maybe you both love golf or share an appreciation of art. Or perhaps there's a place you two hold dear, like the mountaintop where you were engaged or the vacation locale where you fell in love. The setting of your wedding can also dictate the vision—a beach wedding calls for a more laid-back vibe, while a ranch wedding will have a more rustic feel. If you love the idea of hosting your reception in an elegant ballroom, that may dictate a more classic and elegant wedding. And don't forget about your own personal styles and the kind of atmosphere that best speaks to you two as a couple. Do you like hosting intimate dinner parties, getting decked out and partying until dawn, or throwing a low-key poolside picnic?
Some styles to consider:
A word of caution: Don't load up on too many ideas. It's great if you love Broadway musicals and your spouse-to-be is into drag racing, but trying to combine both ideas on your wedding day will likely lead to a weird, disjointed affair. Do your best to compromise on one concept and stick to it.
4. Figure out the Formality
Consider how fancy or casual you want to go, as that decision will affect the number of guests, the food, the decor and the entertainment. Personal preference is a key factor, but the formality of your wedding will be reflected first and foremost in the location (ballroom versus beach, for example), as well as time of day and season. Consider dress code here too! If you've decided on a beach wedding, going informal makes more sense than asking your guests to don gowns and tuxes in the heat and sand. Whatever you decide, you'll want to carry your chosen formality through every aspect of your wedding from the stationery to the parting favor.
5. Incorporate a Theme
The more specific you get with your vision, the easier it will be for you to choose your details and convey your ideas to your pros—the tighter your theme, the better. Instead of stopping at "glam," decide whether you want art-deco-glam or old-Hollywood-glam. Your theme can be anything from a favorite era, hobby or place to your heritage or culture.
5. Pick Your Colors
Just as a theme can immerge from your inspiration, so can a palette. Since colors can sometimes be more concrete than themes, you may even want to start here first. Color is a unifying factor between all your wedding elements, from the invitations to your bridesmaid dresses. Take a look at a color wheel to determine which shades you're drawn to. The easiest way to make all of your wedding elements come together is to stick with one main color and an accent color, or two equally prominent complementary colors (colors that are directly opposite each other on the color wheel, like green and pink or yellow and purple) for a bright contrast. But don't feel limited to just two colors—adding neutral or metallic accents will make your palette robust. You could also choose an analogous scheme—putting together three colors that fall side by side on the color wheel, like blue, periwinkle and violet, to bring out the subtle nuances of one color family.
6. Master the Motif
A motif is the last flourish that can tie together the overall look of your wedding—it can show up anywhere from the invitation to the cake. It's typically a pattern, shape or insignia that conveys your style (think: monogram, family crest, toile pattern, leaf icon). Whatever you choose should reinforce the mood you're trying to create. Use your motif sparingly—three or four places max. Any more than that will feel forced or look too matchy-matchy.
7. Don't Forget the Vibe
The theme obviously affects the look of your wedding, but it can also set the tone. An evening wedding in a gilded ballroom meant to conjure the Roaring '20s will ramp the chic quotient up a notch, while a clambake on the beach will have guests kicking off their shoes and enjoying a beer right out of the bottle. Either is great, as long as it feels right to you. You want your personalities and passions to shine through, which is what ultimately makes your wedding stand out and feel special.