The Pocketful of Dreams ladies are back with another incredibly helpful post to help you with your wedding planning.

If you missed the first post in their series on wedding design – How To Define Your Wedding Vision – then I highly recommend you go take a look. This talented duo based in the UK know a thing or two about creative, personal and beautiful wedding and event design and, lucky for us, they're sharing their expert wedding planning tips and tricks as regular contributors here on Bridal Musings.

(Evidence of their expertise can be found on their brand spanking new website – I'm loving the new look!)

Pocketful Of Dreams

So now that we have your wedding vision nailed, what’s next?.

Well now it’s time to start focusing on the concept, this is the overall look and feel that will give you a totally out-of-the-ordinary and truly memorable wedding day. At  Pocketful of Dreams we like to call it the Big Idea. The big idea provides a narrative to the day and should run through every single detail, giving a direction, focus and flow to the event.

It’s your story, told creatively.

But almost as soon as you get engaged, well meaning (and probably already-married) friends and family will start asking ‘Have you decided on a theme yet?’, or ‘What’s your wedding colours?’. We place much more emphasis on creating solid design concepts over themes. For us a good concept is simple, yet hard to forget, it’s the underlying thinking and glue that binds everything together and a true design concept will have plenty of relevance and meaning to the couples we are designing for.

And as you start to dive a little deeper into your wedding planning, you’ll find reams of information and inspiration out there about theming your wedding day – what you could do, what you should do and how to do it. We’re not big believers in following trends or working to the latest must-have theme but we do appreciate their relevance and how such inspiration can help you hone in on what you do and don’t like style-wise. And heck we’re partial to a great chevron print or two, who isn’t?

We also know that all these terms can be a little overwhelming so today we thought we would walk you through the difference between a design concept and a theme, why we believe that difference matters, and how you can develop your own big idea.

An Example of A Couple's Meaningful ‘Big Idea'

So, What’s A Wedding Theme?

A theme is simply a style choice that you apply to all aspects of your wedding day from the invitations through to your table settings. The theme itself could be anything from a specific colour, perhaps you love green, a distinguishing motif such as a peacock feather, through to a definitive look you just love such as English Country Garden or Monochrome.

On its own, a theme provides you with a cohesive look for your day and will typically give you a day that is easy to label.  Your themed wedding can look very beautiful but it may also appear a little overworked or contrived, and may also prove difficult to infuse with your own personality and love story.

And What’s This Design Concept Lark?

We passionately believe that good design stems from a well thought out concept.  But what do we actually mean by a concept?  Well, it is the very essence of an idea.

It means taking the time before you get absorbed by the pretty details to really think about who you are, what’s important to you and what you want your wedding day to say about you.  How you want it to make you and your guests feel.  The emotions you want the day to evoke.

The concept itself is the inspiration and ideas that stem from all of these considerations, which you use to then determine the overall look, décor and details.  You may still end up with a look that personifies an English Country Garden or your concept could be quite abstract but the end result will be a day that is grounded in personality, feelings and emotion.  Putting the work in upfront to create a concept from which the day can unfold will give you an intelligent and relevant design, creating a real depth and meaning to all elements of the day.

Food lovers wedding | Pocketful of Dreams

Why Does Any Of This Matter?

Well we think this stuff matters because you want your wedding day to be personal, to be memorable and for your guests to leave saying “Oh that was so Bob and Jane, being by the sea has such significance to their relationship it was lovely to see so many relevant touches” rather than “that was a lovely ‘seaside themed’ wedding”.

Now if you’ve seen a trend or detail you love and absolutely have to incorporate into your day then go for it, because yes a wedding is about the serious stuff, but we also think it should be beautiful to look at and a joy for you to plan too.  All we’re saying is avoid jumping straight into a theme, start with the basics of nailing your vision, then move onto defining a design concept that works for you. Only then do you need to start thinking about how you incorporate a certain element, look or style; how you can tailor and personalise it to make it right for you and your day.

The personalised and relevant designs are those that will stand the test of time: that will still look amazing when you look back at your wedding album in ten years and remember the relevance behind every little detail.  They may not give you a wedding day ‘look’ that is always easy to define but it will deliver you a timeless day that you can be proud of.

We don’t really believe in getting too hung up on the terminology used either, it could be that your definition of a theme is our understanding of a design concept after all.  So that’s the design-speak covered, now how do you go about creating your own big idea?

Well first things first:

Forget wedding style and think personal style

Make it about you. If you want your day to reflect who you are then you need to define what your own personal style is. And that goes for both of you. We’ve designed weddings for couples who, on paper, appeared like chalk and cheese and they had no idea how to create a harmonious style that reflected their own, very strong, personal styles. With one couple in particular, when we dug deeper, we found they shared so many similarities: a love of the sixties, an appreciation of great music and dancing ‘til dawn. Their big idea combined their love of progressive design and the modernist era with an all-night dance party.

So think about all those elements that make you who you are, from the clothes you wear, to the music you listen to, how you enjoy spending your time to how you choose to decorate your home.  If you’re really struggling, ask your family and friends to help you.

Think about what makes your relationship special 

It stands to reason that you should think about your relationship when trying to define your wedding day style.  It’s easy to panic and think “but we don’t have any shared interests” or “I hate his favourite colour” but don’t worry, the trick is not to over-analyse it.

Instead, think more generally – how would other people describe your relationship?  Are there key moments in your life that you want to celebrate; What shared experiences or adventures have really helped to define the two of you? Or what memories stick in your mind when you think about your relationship?

all photos by Sarah Falugo Photography

Making sense of it all

Now you should have a really clear vision of what your wedding day should be about, and a list of words that describe your personal style as well as your relationship – so how do you turn those into something useful that you can work with?

Take a look at the words you’ve written down – are there phrases or words that keep cropping up?  Look especially for adjectives; words like fun, eclectic, whimsical, stylish, energetic, emotive, romantic.  Make a note of those words that crop up time and time again as these will define what’s important for you to and help you to develop your own big idea.

Now it’s time for a brainstorm, grab a thesaurus and start examining those words so that you can really drill down on the meaning you associate with each of them.  People tend to interpret adjectives very differently (what you think of as “chic” for example, may be very different from the vision your florist has of “chic”) so this is a good way to really define and articulate your style.   It will help you get a clear sense of what you want and ensure that you can brief your suppliers clearly and accurately.

For example, you might both have identified that you both love being outdoors and at one with nature feeling most comfortable when you’re in a relaxed setting. “Relaxed” can mean laidback, calm and carefree, but it can also mean mild, moderate and even nonchalant.  Which of these words best describes your definition of relaxed?

By working through this exercise together, you can get to a few key words that will capture and define your wedding day style and help you come up with that big idea.  Armed with this renewed focus you can jump back into all that wedding pretty to start searching for images and inspiration that fit with your defined style!

Here’s your ‘pinnable’ / ‘cut out and keep’ image with all the key tips from this post for your wedding planning board or folder. 

Pocketful of Dreams Post 2 | Personal Wedding Concept

Many thanks to Michelle and Vicki of Pocketful Of Dreams for sharing these fabulous tips!

I love the focus on creating meaningful design that's personal to you as a couple as opposed to overly themed weddings.

I'm guilty of putting the weddings I feature into certain labels and categories e.g. Rustic, Boho, Modern (to make it easy for you guys to find what you're looking for) but there's no denying that each and every wedding is beautifully unique. And often the best way to describe your wedding is that it's just ‘so you'.

Translating your personalities and personal aesthetics to your vendors can be tricky (that's where talented wedding planners and designers, such as Pocketful Of Dreams, can help) but armed with these expert tips you'll be well on your way to creating a truly personal wedding day.

How are you making your wedding day personal? What's your ‘big idea'?

Please do let us know in the comments, on Facebook or Twitter if you have any wedding planning and designing questions. We’d love to hear from you!

– More Expert Wedding Planning Tips –