Updated: Jun 7, 2020
Yesterday I was sent a photograph of a wedding venue that was the complete opposite of a 'blank canvas' and I was asked how it could be decorated. I wanted to give an immediate and helpful response, but honestly, I found it tricky to know where to start without more information or without seeing the space in person. I realised this is probably how couples feel when they first start planning their wedding design. So, here's 5 x things I always consider when designing and styling a venue, to help you on your styling journey!
1) Consider The Size of The Venue
How big is the venue, how many guests will there be and how tall are the ceilings? How will you decorate a large room and still make an impact and will your decor overcrowd a small space. Consider how guests will feel. They may feel uncomfortable in a small space that is filled with large furniture, especially if they have to squeeze around tables to walk to the bar or find the toilets. Likewise, they may feel uncomfortable in a large room, with high ceilings that feels empty and cold.
Usually, venues will have considered the feel of a space and have appropriate furniture, but sometimes a simple re-arrange of the existing furniture, or table sizes to suit the type of event, time of day and number of guests can make the difference between an event that works and one that doesn't. TIP: Be open to asking the venue to move things around, it could make a huge difference to the impact of your décor.
The images above show two different set ups at One Warwick Park Hotel. They give an idea of creating a different feel using different furniture and styling. The first photo (Photo credit: One Warwick Park, via Hitched) shows round tables with a traditional top table set up. Next shows a wedding I styled in the same space. Long more formal banqueting tables were used to elongate the room, tall dramatic arrangements and impactful garlands to create a unique and modern celebration (Photo credit: Jodi Hanagan Photography) The layout of the space depends on your wedding style and personalities and a few simple changes or additions can really bring your personalities into your event.
2) Consider The Focal point
Where is the natural focal point in the room? A window, a fireplace or something else? Do you want to use the existing focal point or create another?
Fireplaces, feature windows are both usually focal points, but you may want a ceremony arch, aisle, top table or cake table to be the area that catches your guest's eyes as they enter the room. Consider how you can draw the eye to your chose focal point by using decorations, backdrops and lighting.
My modern hexagon backdrop with tropical arrangements by The Botanical Shed is the focal point of the ceremony and of the room in this photo by Jodi Hanagan. Complimentary floral arrangements and decor items tie all the elements together and make it eye-catching
Your chosen venue may already have a focal point, or it may be something you want to add to your wedding design. Consider asking your florist to add floral backdrops like a flower walls, a moon gates or style your own using stacked crates or ribbon curtains.
3) Consider The Shape and Size of Table Centres
Consider the overall impact of your chosen decor in your event space. Low centrepieces and floral runners will get lost in vast rooms with tall ceilings. If you have a function room with a very high ceiling, it may be a good idea to add some height to your table decor by using floral arrangements in tall vases or on plinths.
If your venue is very formal, mixing the height of flowers and candle sticks and holders will make it less formal and less structured. It adds more interest and depth to décor. Its worth baring in mind that tall thin vases on large round tables will not fill the space and could look unfinished.
Adding coloured runners or a collection of candlesticks and candle holders around the vase interspersed with greenery can bring the decor together beautifully. See our runners and candlesticks used to decorate this tablescape. Photo credit Amanda Karen Photography at That Amazing Place.
4) Consider The Lighting
What is the lighting like? Consider the amount of daylight coming into the room, at both the time of day and time of year your event will be held. Will you need additional lighting?
Harsh lighting might be better softened to add a romantic feel. Or for evening events using uplighters or candle light might be a nice touch. Most event spaces have lights that dim or lights on different switches that can be left on or off to create a different mood.
Our lantern collection at That Amazing Place, photograph by Amanda Karen Photography. Candle light is also more preferable for atmospheric lighting, however, candles are not without risk. Any candles used should be discussed with the venue before the event to check they are happy for flame candles to be used. Most of the venues I have worked in have been happy for real candles to be used provided they are in candle holders or the flame is contained within the holder, for example in a lantern or a hurricane. Photo credit Amanda Karen Photography at That Amazing Place Wedding Venue, Harlow, Essex. The luxury artisan lanterns and hurricane vases shown above, were the first items to be added to my hire collection for this very reason.
Festoon lights are a contemporary way to light venues. They can either be hung from side to side, end to end or as canopies going completely across the whole ceiling. Twinkling fairy lights are brighten dark corners or add a dreamy starlight feel and an uplighter can add colour into a blank space.
5) Consider The Colours
Are they any strong colours in the room that will need working with, not against? What are the walls and flooring coverings, colours and textures, and how can those colours be used in a wedding design?
Some colours can be easily added to compliment and soften existing colour schemes and sometimes it is harder to disguise. Try to pick either a blank canvas venue or one that has colours you like.
Once I have considered these 5 things, I begin with finding out client's likes and dislikes, preferences and vision. I work on providing ideas and inspiration for decor and styling that suit the couple, venue, existing décor and budget. I'll produce an inspiration board and once that has been approved by the client I'll go on to produce a look book for the whole wedding including each element of the design which can be shared with suppliers and keeps everyone focused on the coupes vision for their day.
So, to couples reading this I'd like to stress that whatever your tastes and budgets you can make an impact with your decor by considering the above.