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  • Danielle Horvatin

Milwaukee wedding design

A peek into my process + busting design myths

Author, poet + civil rights activist Maya Angelou said "You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” It’s taken me 10 years to fully understand this.


Since my early planning days, I’ve been insecure about the ‘design’ aspect of weddings. Never would I consider myself a designer. Sure, I’m creative. I nailed art class growing up, and create sidewalk chalk murals with my kids that could win awards. But a designer? Fancy mood boards and luxe styling weren’t services that I ever offered, because (to me) they were outside of my skillset.


As a green wedding planner, I worked many events as a day-of coordinator. At these events, I was usually given a few boxes of personal decor from the couple; things like the guest book, wedding favors, picture frames, candles + even leftover flowers from the florist. Unbeknownst to me, those item placements were the beginning of my styling. That styling was the blossoming of my design.


Years passed and I received an inquiry for wedding design - specifically. Cue the sweaty palms. After nervously laughing at the message initially, I reread it:


Been following you on Instagram since before I got engaged, and just love your style so much! We’d love to hire you as a designer for our day. Please say you'll bring our wedding vision to life.


This was it! The confidence boost that I needed to recognize my design skill, and add it to my list of services. Naturally, it took me like 2 more years to actually do it. Baby steps, right?


When you think of wedding design, what comes to mind? Your leading thoughts probably aligned with mine back then, too. These misconceptions kept me from letting my freaky design flag fly.


What is a wedding designer?


A wedding designer's role is purely aesthetic. These individuals specialize in design, consulting on everything from floor plans to floral + all that's artfully in-between. Wedding designers aren't just assisting in the selection of linens + chairs - but instead the creative eye to conceptualize the entire event. Sometimes, this even means transforming the venue completely.


In retrospect, I'm glad that wedding design wasn't something I just added on in the beginning because it sounded dope (which it does). At that time, it was a skill that I didn't even think I possessed. Authenticity in my services, skillset and confidence to produce weddings is something that I take a lot of pride in. Incorporating the design piece into my services came at the exact time that it was supposed to, for me.


Wedding design myths


Myth: Wedding design is for big-budget couples.

Bust: Wedding design is for couples who allocate a percentage of their budget to design. Design is for everyone! You don't have to be planning a $70k wedding to incorporate styling into your day.


If decor + atmosphere is the most important element of the wedding for you, investing in a wedding designer (or planner who includes design *wink) is a wise choice. Maybe you're confident in your organizational + logistical skills, but your creative skills are lacking. Wedding design support will help immensely! It's especially valuable when you have a specific theme in mind, or too many ideas to narrow down (thanks a lot Pinterest, you B).


Myth: "I have a design eye, and know exactly what I want. I don't need to pay for the wedding styling service."

Bust: You probably should. I have a great example of this! My past client, Nicole, had a really special wedding vision in mind; paired with a cool + unique style. She was clear about her design path from the get-go. But, if you're trying to be present on your wedding day + not overwhelm yourself, you are not going to be styling your own day. You're just not! You'll be at hair + makeup for 3 hours, photos for 3 hours, then your actual ceremony + reception! No time for design - even if you're passionate about it.


For Nicole, I just consumed her wedding design vision - inside + out. Ate it up. I learned about her color palette. When she mentioned using pink pigs as table number holders, I asked why. I understood every element of her design + style so that I could be her hands + eyes come wedding day. A lot of the time, this is what wedding designers do.


Additionally, I made sure that every vendor on Nicole's team was aware of those design intricacies. What flowers she liked, why the lounge placement was important, where the escort card display should go, etc. Vendor communication, on behalf of the client, as it relates to design is huge, too. It's key. Managing expectations, and getting everyone all-aboard the design train keeps things authentic + true to the clients' vision.


My wedding design approach


{Don't roll your eyes at this} My wedding design approach is different for every client. It is! It has to be. Every client brings different design needs. First + foremost, design is automatically included in Rosewood proposals. My styling + design is like your 60 year-old neighbor with that red tube-top who sits on her stoop all day. It's just there - whether you like her or not.


Our design conversations typically start with the completion of your client profile questionnaire. From there, I'll ask more probing questions about your own style re interior design, clothing + even hair and makeup. As your venue and initial vendor selections come to light, I begin putting together a preliminary design board for your review.


Design board feedback is very constructive, as the conversations that follow involve your wedding budget. Specifically, what you have allocated to floral, linens, tabletop decor, specialty rentals and styling props. Sometimes, my clients are like we have nothing allocated to those areas. And that's amazing! Honest budget convos are the best budget convos. If that's the case, I have a great understanding of the design from a production standpoint. That's when my resourcefulness kicks in.


Other times, my clients are like we have a budget for floral and linen because we think those make the most design impact! Perfect - a starting point. Intuitiveness, and working from my clients' style + budget positions is how I roll. Plain + simple.


Wedding design can be as simple as a greenery sprig that I tuck in each napkin...or as grand as an interactive champagne wall that I'm literally manning, while double-fist pouring two bottles of Prosecco. Styling and design is a spectrum, and that's the most important thing to remember. It's a spectrum, and everyone deserves a taste.


Recently, I put together a tablescape design shoot with dear friends Jaclyn from Feisty Flowers and Shannon from Uttke Photography. Here's a high level design board-to-real life process for you to experience:




Want more? Here's a real design board-turned-micro wedding for you to lay your eyes on. If you want to know; my favorite part about this entire process is the difference between design board + actual event! Nothing is identical, because we supplement with authentic details and personality. It's magic.


If you need more, transport yourself to this magical September evening.

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