One of the guiding philosophies for designing a wedding here at Alicia Keats Weddings & Events is that each event should be a true reflection of the couple. We believe in creating unique and tailored experiences that cater to our clients’ individuality while simultaneously delighting guests. In fact, we do our very best to make sure that no two weddings are alike. The way we see it, our job is to help couples create a wedding that’s a signature of who they are—an event that they’re proud and excited to share with their guests.
When I first started out as a wedding planner, designing wasn’t really part of the job description. There was a very clear line between planners and designers / decorators, where planners focused on logistics and decorators brought in the creative flair. Over time, the industry has evolved. While we still work with decorators to execute the vision our couples have, planners now have a much bigger role to play when it comes to translating that vision into reality. Don’t get me wrong, designers / decorators still play a huge and very important role, I personally believe it is a collaborative experience.
When we first start working with a couple, our team has a set of steps we follow to make sure we’re designing a wedding that truly reflects the pair.
STEP 1: GET TO KNOW THE COUPLE
Often, when I’m first having a chat with a new couple, they’ll ask me what my style is or what types of weddings I like to plan. What I say to them is that I’m not there to plan the wedding that I want—I’ve already had the wedding of my dreams. My role is to get to know them and their interests and then help them create a wedding that’s truly theirs. It should be an event that guests arrive at and instantly recognize as being an extension of the couple.
This is why we take such a methodical approach to learning about our couples. We start with getting a sense of their aesthetic by asking about where they like to eat, what their home looks like, what their fashion preferences are, and what they like to read. The answers to these questions go straight into our design workbook and go a long way to help us determine the right venue, stylings, entertainment, and more.
With Keira and Raymond, for instance, our early conversations made it clear that this was a couple that wanted their wedding to be a statement. Their moody urban jungle hosted at the Fairmont Pacific Rim did that and more.
STEP 2: START VISUALIZING THE EXPERIENCE
Next, we take the time to understand what the couple’s priorities are when it comes to the experience they want to give their guests. Do they want their event to be food-focused? Are they wanting to “wow” their guests with a lot of luxury elements? Do they want to infuse the wedding with thoughtful and personal details? Is the ceremony a big focal area?
Having a clear understanding of what’s important to the couple and what they want to feature on the big day helps us create focal points that act as a foundation for the overall design. For example, at Nina and Martin’s wedding, Nina loves riding horses. With that in mind, the wedding was hosted at the Riverlands stables and guests were treated to a horse show during cocktail hour.
STEP 3: BUILD A DESIGN STORYBOARD
Once we gather all this information from our couples, we build a detailed storyboard that includes colour palettes, venue descriptions, floor plans, and visuals to help communicate our ideas. This is an iterative part of the process—we share the storyboard with our clients and make changes as needed until they’re happy with where we land.
This is also an opportunity for us to work collaboratively with florists and decorators. We share our ideas with them as early as we can and ask them to build off of what we have if they have any other concepts to share. Sometimes, these ideas even come late in the game, and they make a lasting impact on the big day. At Elisia and Justus’s wedding, for example, I was working with Neda Emami from Éclat Decor Inc. As we were setting up the space, Neda had the idea to cover the entire tent floor with white panels—instead of just the aisle. This completely transformed the space and made it completely ethereal.
This partnership we have with other wedding creatives is one we’re so thankful for. It’s really indicative of how much people in this industry are willing to work together and continue creating unique and stunning experiences for our couples.
If you’re starting to think about what your wedding could look like and how it can best reflect who you are as a couple, we’d love to help! Get in touch or sign up for our newsletter for inspiration.