Tell us about The Wedding Avenue?
If you’re looking for someone who’ll make sure your chair covers perfectly match the bridesmaid dresses and invitations, you’re in the wrong place. I bring a fresh approach to wedding design with full concept creation, styling and in-house production for couples who don’t ‘do’ the wedding thing. Tacky clichés are out, effortless style is most definitely IN.
I design style-led weddings for modern couples who loathe the clichéd and predictable. Drawing on my passion for design and fashion, I like to bring a fresh approach to the way weddings are designed, creating aesthetics that are modern, chic, stylish and totally personal.
What was your background before you launched the business?
Before The Wedding Avenue, I had a career in finance and marketing; working for a top end property developer. Although I didn’t despise what I was doing, there wasn’t much fun or scope to be creative in number crunching, so I always felt there was something missing.
I began studying at the London College of Fashion but two years ago, when I had my son, Rafferty, it felt like the right time to pursue my dreams and The Wedding Avenue was born.
How do you help couples create their dream wedding?
I work closely with my couples to ensure we’ve considered every detail. At the beginning of the process we collaborate on Pinterest boards to share ideas, so I get a good understanding of their style, likes and dislikes and what inspires them. This really helps me to find a consistent style we can build on with the wedding design.
From there, we pull out specific ideas for each element of the day, gathering images on mood boards and in look books. Working in this visual way ensures we keep the design 'on-brand’ and everything works beautifully together. It’s also a useful way of communicating our ideas and inspirations to the supplier team on the day.
Do you work will all budgets? Is there a starting price?
My full design packages start at £2,400, which includes everything from the design concept to the supplier sourcing and me being there on the day to coordinate the whole vision. For those who just need one-off help pulling a concept together I offer a design concept package, which starts at £395. If you don’t know where to start, or just need a helping hand to pull your vision together, this is a great place to start.
What are the most common issues clients have when planning the big day?
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of choice you have, thanks mainly to social media. Pinterest, Instagram, celebrity weddings and even family expectations can put the pressure on, especially when planning a non-traditional wedding. With so much visual inspiration surrounding us on a daily basis, it’s so easy to feel swamped, even a little panicked, when planning a wedding. My job is to help couples discover the fun in their wedding design. The possibilities are endless and nowadays, anything goes.
Where should a couple start in the planning process?
Numbers and venue. Decide on the amount of guests you’d like to invite and then find your venue and secure the date. Venues can get booked up two years in advance, but it’s worth taking your time to find the perfect space as this will set the atmosphere and provide a canvas for your entire day.
What areas of the big day should you save on? And where should you spend?
This totally depends on what’s important to you. For a couple who loves music and dancing, spending on a favourite live band or DJ is a better investment than, say, the stationery.
Can you share some of your favourite unique wedding venues?
Hayne House: A blank canvas in Kent. Having just opened their new Orangery in April 2018, this venue is the perfect backdrop for the modern couple looking for a fresh approach to a country wedding.
Ace Hotel: A hip boutique hotel, five minutes from Shoreditch. Both quirky and creative, it’s ideal for an intimate ceremony with views across the city and a terrace to drink those celebratory cocktails.
Chelsea Physic Gardens: A botanical garden which is so versatile. Choose to have a ceremony for up to 70 in the indoor ceremony room, or a blessing in the garden with the option of having a marquee – also ideal as a party venue.
Any tips for making the most of intimate venues?
Keep the guest list small: Too many people in a small venue will not be the right side of intimate.
Go big on the details: Customise each place setting, go crazy on the seating plan, provide each guest with a personal note from the couple or a goody bag that reminds them of special memories.
Style the table: With deluxe linens, an abundance of flowers and candles.
Seat everyone on one long table: Or a U-shaped set up, so everyone can be involved in the conversations. It’ll bring guests closer together and build relationships for when the party starts later.
And what about large spaces? How can you make an impact?
Use suspended decorations: These create interest and distract the eye. Tall centrepieces will also help create the illusion of a lower ceiling and make it more intimate.
Get creative with lighting: Up-lighters are a good way to do this, especially if the wall has exposed brickwork or some sort of feature.
Use colour to your advantage: White spaces and mirrored surfaces make everything seem bigger so avoid these. Go for deep colours such as rich blue and gold, or burgundy teamed with contrasting pastels. This will draw everything to eye level.
Use different textures: Mix and match velvets with linens, silks and cottons, for example. Incorporate these into the tables to focus the eye in rather than out.
Any tips for making the church look really special on a budget?
Candles, candles, candles. And soft simple foliage – if you have candles of different sizes to adorn the altar and fill the aisle with foliage to draw everything in, it makes more intimate. The added bonus is this can be done within all budgets.
Tips for making the ceremony modern but still tasteful?
This depends on the type of venue you have and how you interpret modern, but for most interpretations just keep everything simple with clean lines and restrict your colour palette to a maximum of three to four shades.
Which wedding trends are set to be big this year and next?
Intimate, city weddings are becoming more popular. And, following on from last year, acrylic features in a big way: table plans, welcome signs, menus and place settings are being teamed with modern calligraphy to fit in with a number of styles.
But, on the whole, I think ‘trends’ are on the way out – increasingly, couples are opting to be less traditional and do what’s personal to them.
Which wedding trends are over?
I’m seeing less and less vintage-style weddings, people are stepping away from the chintz and jam jars but moving towards heirloom pieces, as a way of bringing classic elements into the day. I love how you can team vintage cutlery with simple, modern tableware and linen for an updated look on this trend.
Any tips for making food and drink modern without blowing the budget?
Choose one or two cocktails you love and have them served as your ‘his’ and ‘hers’ reception drinks. Provide a wider selection going into the evening celebrations or keep it to beer, wine and soft drinks to keep costs down, with the option for guests to purchase their own spirits.
Grazing tables are becoming a popular option for foodie couples wanting to forgo the formality of a sit-down meal, but still bring their guests together over food at beautifully styled tables. Think tables laden with delicious sharing platters, gorgeous florals and candlelight.
What makes a wedding look cliched?
Not making it personal to you. Hire the suppliers who will listen to your requirements and convey your vision, personalities and style.
Tips for unique/modern/cool…
Table settings: Vellum place settings, acrylic menus, tassels, touches of metallic.
Décor: Minimal, wire mesh chairs, mirrored table tops, no more than four colours in the palette.
Entertainment: Live band playing the latest chart songs, polaroid photobooths, personal touches of having a small wedding.
Invitations: Research all the different options as this is the first insight into how guests will be enjoying the day with you.
Cakes: Colour drip cakes, naked wedding cake or white cakes.
Props: Games are good for the tables as they get guests talking to each other and help break the ice.
Lighting: Up-lighting if the venue is big and spacious. Candles of different sizes, placed at different levels if it’s a smaller and more intimate venue.
Flowers: Go for lots of foliage, mixed with seasonal flowers.
Music: Got any friends who are musicians? Involve them in your entertainment – this allows your friends to feel like they've played an important role in your day and makes your wedding much more personal.
How can you incorporate some fun into the special day?
If your venue allows, have a silent disco at the end of the night, allowing the party to continue after the noise curfew.
Any ideas for catering for children at weddings while remaining stylish?
Hire a company to take the children on an explorer trail – such as a bear hunt – whilst the adults sit and eat and enjoy the speeches.
Any fresh ideas for photographs on the big day?
Couples are ditching the traditional wedding party poses and opting for more artistic style shots. It’s a more interactive, casual, edgy type of photography that captures the story behind the image. There are lots of ‘open style’ photo booths available – where people sit or stand in front of a styled setting – which have various effects, such as black and white, animated or boomerang gifs. These have a fresh and quirky feel to them.
Should you have a hashtag or some kind of social media element?
There are two sides to this – the moment smart phones are pulled out is the moment that intimacy disappears. However, if you introduce a hashtag early on in the planning stages, you’ll be able to look back on the hen and stag parties, guests wedding prep etc. You could have a no social media rule for the ceremony but a ‘tag away’ for the reception.
Finally, what are your five golden rules for making your wedding stand out?
1. Do whatever you and your fiancé want to do. Don’t do things to please anyone else. This is your day, your memories.
2. Spend on the elements that are important to you. Cut back on the elements that are not.
3. Keep the style consistent.
4. Book your venue in advance to make sure you get your perfect location.
5. Hire someone to help bring everything together and coordinate on the day, so you can focus on getting ready and enjoy your wedding. The day will go quickly so you don’t want to spend it worrying.
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