Discovering Your Wedding Style | Willow & Oak Events

Discovering Your Wedding Style

When it comes to discovering your wedding style, there’s no better place to look than within. So often, we’re exposed to advice about how we should and shouldn’t look, who we should and shouldn’t be inspired by, what falls under wedding etiquette and what’s deemed uncouth… the should’s and shouldn’t can be exhausting! Especially when it comes to a day that should be a celebration of you and your partner, as you are individually and as you are in union.

One of the most freeing feelings in life comes from that moment you commit to unapologetically living your truth. In relationships, in careers and yes, in your wedding too! This guide is the antithesis of wedding style quizzes and decor mood Pinterest boards. Instead of pre‑conceived ideas of what your story “should be” based on popular trends, we’re sharing a few prompts to help you discover your ultimate wedding vision… the way you want to celebrate it, the people you want alongside you and the memories you want to look back on.

Photo by Julie Livingston with planning + design by Willow & Oak Events

Look for commonalities in your design influences

Your design influences include everything from your wardrobe to your dinnerware to your bookmarked interiors. As you start paying attention to those things that, as Marie Kondo would say, “spark joy” in your heart, you’ll begin to notice commonalities. What was once a je ne sais quoi about the restaurants you frequent, the patterns you’re drawn to and even the furniture you fill your home with will suddenly be clear to you.

Get as specific as you’d like here! It’s never a bad idea to look closely at such particulars like your favorite furniture pieces having an overall round shape, every print featuring smaller motifs in droves as opposed to larger illustrations with less repetition, or even every room layout being more open/spacious than layered.

A few places to start:

Your wardrobe
Your furniture
Your collectibles
Your artwork
Your dinnerware
Your coffee table books
Your entertaining go‑to’s
Your favorite restaurants
Your favorite boutique hotels/luxury resorts
Your favorite getaway destinations
Your entertaining pieces
Graphic design (in packaging, blogs, magazines, branding)

As silly as this sounds in the context of your wedding, the best designs are those that blend all these intricacies that make you who you are and create the most jubilant, comfortable and authentic celebration that kicks off this chapter of your lives.

Photo by Amy Mulder Photography with florals by Isibeal Studio and planning + design by Willow & Oak Events

Think about your favorite way to entertain

Gone is the pressure of inviting 400+ guests to your wedding. If that is your jam, then absolutely go for it! But know that as long as the scale + flow you’re envisioning is true to yourself, no matter how it may differ from what your friends or family did for their own wedding, it will be the most beautiful experience possible.

So close your eyes and take a minute to think about your favorite ways to entertain. Describe the ambiance, the guest list, menu. Think about how you would define a successful night. Think about the decor, the sounds, the flow, the surprise + delights. Think about the way you invite your guests… the presentation of the paper or digital invite, the information you reveal and the details you keep to yourself. Do you break out the fancy china or opt for hand‑painted dinnerware from your favorite local artist? Do you adore indoor spaces overflowing with blooms or enjoy al fresco settings where the natural scenery is the star? Ask yourself what makes you want to live in that moment forever, and then ask yourself what makes you want a change of pace or scenery. What shuts it down for you?

Getting to the core of your likes + dislikes and understanding the why behind them makes all the difference in how you experience your wedding and the memories you carry with you long after. The more you’re able to voice to your vendor team, the more they can advocate for you and collaborate with you as decisions like flow, timeline, guest list, entertainment and even destination are made!

Photo by Kylee Yee Photography with planning + design by Willow & Oak Events

Consider how you want your guests to feel

Taking stock of the feelings you want to generate for both yourselves and your guests is a great practice for your pre‑pre wedding planning daydreaming. Setting the right pace is paramount to the experience as a whole, whether it’s a single or multi‑day fete. Your wedding planner will guide you in the best direction for venues and vendors (and the intricacies of every package/contract) based on this feedback, so it’s wonderful to think about this and discuss together as early on in the planning process as possible.

Though general pace/flow is integral here, it’s also great to think about the overall mood. Do you want your guests to feel relaxed during dinner or have a more upbeat mood that blurs the lines between dinner and dancing? Do you want to enjoy everyone’s company for a couple days before the party and give them more time to break the ice/form friendships? Or do you prefer everyone to explore the destination on their own, coming together for that one epic night? Do you want there to be a sense of mystery until they arrive for the wedding or do you want to engage them through books, recipes and playlists inspired by the destination along the way?

Overall, this step helps you narrow in on the level of formality you’re most excited about and encourages you to put yourselves in the shoes of your guests from the get‑go, thereby allowing you to align your planning + design decisions with this vision every step of the way.

Photo by The Happy Bloom with planning + design by Willow and Oak Events

Contemplate your biggest pet peeves

This is by no means a call to focus on the negative, but often it’s just as helpful to determine what you don’t like as what you do. Don’t be afraid to recount bad restaurant experiences and what frustrated you about them… Was it too dark to see your plate? Too bright? Could you carry on a conversation over the loud music? Was the font on the menu too hard to read? Did you feel too squished at your setting?

These memories will probably spark some pet peeves you’ve experienced at other weddings too. Maybe you didn’t like the formality of the food presentation and hoped for something more interactive. Maybe you all you remember is how awkward the music selections were based on the guests. Maybe you hated that the venue’s aesthetic was limited. Maybe you don’t vibe with certain age‑old traditions. Let yourself be honest in this moment, as it will help you inform a wedding style and mood that avoids these no‑no’s before making big decisions that impact the bottom line.

Photo by Kristin Sautter

Meditate on your most beloved memories

If your wedding is a reflection of you as individuals and you as partners, it’s worth thinking about how the most meaningful moments in your love story can play into your celebration. Perhaps you can pay homage to the place where you got engaged, the music that was playing when you realized you were falling in love, the food they cooked for you on your first date… It’s these small details that have the greatest impact on creating an experience personalized entirely to you.

As you think about your unique story, don’t be afraid to reminisce on favorite moments with parents, siblings, etc. as surprise + delights for them can make for some of the most incredible memories too. Perhaps your father wrote you a lullaby when you were a baby… perhaps you can surprise him by walking down the aisle to it!

Remember, your wedding style isn’t just about the decor direction or level of formality. Those factors play into it, but ultimately, your wedding style is an intricate and authentic expression of your personal style loves, love story, family heritage, shared passions and beyond. Chart your own course!

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