One new trend that we are seeing is a more residential treatment of the wedding in both the ceremony and reception. I often take a residential approach to designing spaces so that the couple feels as though they are entertaining from what I call their “uber home.” The focus is less on simple floral accents but on a floor to ceiling room design, lending itself to a mix of different seating such as rounds, squares, long tables, high and low communal tables and banquette or couch seating used within the dining experience. Décor planning often incorporates a collection of various textiles for draping and linens, residentially styled lounges and a collection of inspired décor such as vases, books, lamps, etc just as you would decorate your home as opposed to a room filled with merely a dancefloor and a sea of identical tables.
Additionally we are seeing the trend of foregoing the traditional plated dinner in favor of alternate formats for the presentation of the food and beverage. One approach would be to host a cocktail reception with elaborate tray passed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. In this case, the quantity of selections is increased and is inclusive of several hearty selections as this is in lieu of a full meal and should be considered more like flights of tapas. In addition, artisan cocktails become a very significant part of the event – serving signature cocktails has been a big trend for awhile however cocktail receptions take the signature cocktail up a notch. Serving a selection of hand crafted custom cocktails using a diverse selection of fresh ingredients and unique liquors is now the must have. Family style service has also become a very popular service approach for a less formal and more communal feeling.
Finally, we are also seeing the trend of using non-traditional elements as more of an art installation approach to design. I recently designed a wedding using 100 sets of antlers painted in black automotive paint along with 5000 hanging cranes and 100 branches dipped in indigo blue latex. Many couples are now realizing that their wedding is a chance to present a custom experience for their guests and to take them on a journey and that there are no rules or formulas that need to be followed. I am a huge advocate of this concept and love couples that are willing to take risks and to show personality and humor.
This is a tricky question as we all have different personalities attracting different couples..not to mention all planners bring different skills to the table, and different clients have different needs in a planner. Some planners bring a distinctive design knowledge to the table whereas others may solely excel in the overall management and coordination of the project. There are a number of titles and all are a little different, thus it’s important for any couple to know the difference and to determine what best suits their needs –
Wedding Coordinator: More of a project manager and an expert specifically within the wedding category. Wedding coordinators are for the couple doing the planning themselves, not looking for significant event design, or has hired an alternate vendor to fill the design role for the wedding.
Event Producer: Similar to what a movie producer would do. Event producers are experts in both design and project management. Those with the title would be orchestrating the complete design and vision, bringing together a team of subcontractors (ie florals, décor, flooring, etc) to facilitate the vision. Typically, this is for the couple who envisions a more elaborate or custom wedding and desires a key expert to liase between the design and all other facets of the production.
Wedding Designer: This can be synonymous with the role of the Event Producer, however this can often also be representative of a vendor ONLY handling the design and décor and the production aspect of the wedding. The wedding designer hires and manages all vendors involved in the overall vision such as florals, carpet, staging, draping, props, etc. Anything not within the design category (i.e. hiring and liaising with the venue, caterer, entertainment, printer, etc.) would fall on the couple or the wedding coordinator to manage.
Wedding Planner: This is often a generic title and thereby it is important to determine the specialty of the planner – whether they are more of a designer/producer or whether they fall more into the category of coordinator and will be solely contributing raw project management, however they are not necessarily executing the vision on your behalf.
In general, the client should look for someone who is able to multi-task, be a problem solver, to be organized, be able to manage and supervise an extensive team, be detail oriented, be able to communicate information very clearly and have the vocabulary and understanding of every aspect of the event to be able to verbally articulate the vision. It is equally necessary that the wedding planner is able to pacify and interact with clients who are often incredibly stressed and sometimes highly emotional.
It is not necessary for the wedding planner to be a jack-of-all-trades, but it is imperative that she/he is able to at least “speak the language” – to have a general understanding of lighting and power, draping techniques, food preparations and techniques, types of wine and brands of alcohol, different fabrics, standard rental sizes and qualities of the inventory, etc. This is important as you are paying them to be your guide in all of these areas and to bring a cohesiveness to all elements.
It’s important that the wedding planner love people and be able to connect and illicit trust and comfort from others in order to be a successful leader for the client and the vendors. It is equally necessary for him/her to be a good listener and interpreter in order to deliver the client’s vision.