In the North East we are so spoilt for the amount of venues available to couples for their wedding and celebrations and while many of the venues are hired out as a wedding space many couples opt for a blank canvas whether this be a barn, village hall, marquee or garden/ wooded area.
It may be daunting to choose a blank canvas for your big day but it will allow you to design a space that hasn’t been created before and won’t be again giving your wedding a unique design.
So, where do you start?
Firstly, what is your love story? Where did you meet? Where was your first date? The proposal? What makes you both light up? What makes you different as a couple? The answer to these questions will help you work out your vision or theme and help you create your own wedding full of personal touches and not just a Pinterest wedding, although I do love Pinterest and it’s a great place to start in your planning.
Visit your venue space, take lots of photos of all the different areas inside and out, high and low it’s so much easier to plan when you have these at hand. Take along your stylist or wedding planner. When you are working with a blank canvas someone with experience in pulling together lots of your fragmented ideas will help in the long run to keep your costs down and they will have a wealth of knowledge of other professionals who will help bring your vision together. It’s not to say you can’t be very hands on with lots of diy making projects most stylists and planners will work out costs depending on how much you want them involved throughout the progress.
Check what is included in your actual hire package. This will help you set your budget and enable you to work out your priorities.
Pinterest is a great starting point for this but often it’s so much more helpful to have a 3D moodboard where you can add on photos, fabric swatches and other materials you are planning to use. If you have a large space to play with, divide it up into sections and make different boards for each area it’s often easier to see how you can dress several small spaces rather than one large space. Remember to try and work with your venue’s style and its features, working against them can increase costs and can cause things to look out of place and confused.
Once you have chosen your venue and your theme, set your budget, many people think a blank space venue is a cheaper option this isn’t always the case so check what is included in your venue costs and your access time as this will help guide your budget, for example if you don’t have access until the morning of the wedding you may need to look into hiring venue dresser as the last thing you want to be doing is setting tables in between having your hair and makeup done.
Now you need to start filling your space with your ideas and this is the process I would normally go through:
Dividing up the space
If you do have a large open space think about how you can use drapes, temporary backdrops and screens to divide the area up making the space more personal and fitting to your theme. Draw up a floor plan with sizes this will help you and any suppliers you are working with to make sure all plans will work, and you will have plenty of space in each area. There are lots of free online programmes which will help you with this, and it’s a great place to start conversations with when discussing your ideas.
Most venues will have some sort of lighting in but think about the different areas you want to create, you may want to add some softer lighting into your seating areas, could you add extra fairy lights to the ceiling space to make it more atmospheric during the evening rather than full lights. It may be worth visiting your venue in the evening as well as during daylight to see how the existing lighting works.
Candles are a great way to add a magical touch to your aisle, tables or quirky corners of your venue, do check with your venue that you can use real candles, although nowadays you can buy some fantastic battery ones.
Experiment with colour and textures there is no set rule that says that each area of your wedding space has to match, it’s your day and it’s important that you can bring your personalities into the venue. Think about how you can reuse elements of your decorations throughout the day, can your ceremony arch become your photobooth backdrop? Reusing props can free up your budget allowing you more scope within your design.
Think about the little things, try grouping decorations together to make a focal point, your guest book could be placed on a piece of vintage furniture with photos of you as a couple, some trinkets from your travels and place an empty vase there so that you can place your bouquet in it after the ceremony to help preserve it but also tie your theme together. DIY decorations are a great way of creating a unique wedding and getting your family and friends involved in the process. Look into what you can hire first and then add some bought or diy items to your list, this will help you spend a lot less money in the long run in this area.
If you are having to hire in your furniture it gives you a greater level of control over your layout, there is no rule that says all tables must be the same size and shape. Not only may having different size and style of tables help with the seating plan but it may also help you make the best use of the space. If you can manage to have a set-up which requires no tables having to be moved or collapsed during the day it will make your day flow a lot easier.
You can again go a few different ways to decorate your tables. You could use repeated table centres or you can vary your centrepieces around your theme. It’s also becoming popular to use your wedding favours as part of the tablescape, small potted succulents look fab as a table decoration and you could add a luggage label with your guests names on to help with the seating plan, 3 birds with 1 stone an a great way to add a little eco element to your wedding too.
Your choice of crockery, cutlery and glassware can also help you to style a wedding which is very unique to yourselves. So many hire companies now have a great choice of coloured glassware and crockery to meet any vision. You will need these items for your table so instead of going for a basic set up add a little more into this budget area and you will find you can cut back on the actual centrepieces and they will help bring your theme together.
Soft furnishings are a great way to soften a large space and help make a venue have a cosier feel, several small sofa areas always look great as a photobooth or somewhere for older relatives to sit and chat. If you have a very large space or an outdoor area a box of blankets are always a good edition, they can be used for sitting on the grass during the day and wrapping round shoulders in the evening.
If you are hiring in sofa and softer seating, adding your own cushions in the colours of your wedding is a great way of dressing the area and tying things together.
Remember less is often more in venue styling if you have chosen a gorgeous quirky space let it shine through and compliment your vision/ theme. Every wedding is different, and there is no wrong or right answer.
The right decision will be the one you make for your day, knowing that whatever you have chosen, you will have planned it with consideration of your venue and you as a couple, to create a day unique to you both.