How to Beautify a Blank Space for Your Wedding

Bluebell Events wedding planner Charley Izabella King shares her expert tips for transforming a wedding venue.

While it’s true that extra work is involved, adapting an empty loft, public beach, or a private estate for your wedding is a very exciting prospect. A blank canvas allows you to create exactly what you want from the ground up, so every single detail is personal.

Photo: Daniel Kincaid Photography

While it’s true that extra work is involved, adapting an empty loft, public beach, or a private estate for your wedding is a very exciting prospect. A blank canvas allows you to create exactly what you want from the ground up, so every single detail is personal. You’ll have to make a lot of choices, so it helps to be a good decision maker. But if you’re not, don’t panic – that’s what your wedding planner is for.

Covering the Legalities

Your individual vendors will likely handle many of the authorizations needed for holding an event in a public area or private home. However, you should contact the city to make sure you’re aware of any other necessary permits. Some of the most common situations requiring paperwork or permission include adding temporary restrooms to a site, utilizing candles (or any other open flame), and employing valet parking.

Most sites will require event insurance, but this is something I recommend that all of my couples procure whether it’s mandatory or not. Weather can be unpredictable no matter where you marry, and you can’t control the elements. Insurance is affordable and an excellent investment, and your vendors should also have coverage against any breakage or damage that may be incurred onsite.

Bringing in Rentals

A blank slate requires that everything from teaspoons to lightbulbs be brought in from the outside. The basic rentals you’ll need to secure include:

• Tables                    
• Linens

• Seating                
• Silverware

• Glassware            
• China

• Bar                        
• Lighting

• Power source/generator        
• Tent (if applicable)

• Dance floor          
• Elements for a satellite kitchen

Depending on your location and the size of your wedding, you may need to provide covered areas as workspaces for vendors. Your caterer may require a tent to contain a satellite kitchen, or umbrellas which protect the food as well as keep the chef shaded and happy! Keep these possibilities in mind and inquire in advance about any expectations your wedding professionals may have.

Also take into account the time line for setup, break down, and pick-up of your rentals. If you must vacate the premises at a particular time, there may be an extra fee for late-night or Sunday pickup. Your wedding planner will make sure that you have all that information.

Designating Sections

Whether you’re indoors or outdoors, allocating areas of the space for the different proceedings within your event is important and stirs excitement for guests. Draping with fabric is a magnificent way to completely transform a blank canvas – how you drape the room makes it spectacular and different, and has the practical bonus of dividing the space as well. You can create a dramatic or romantic entrance for attendees (depending on your style), another for the ceremony, a third for the cocktail hour, another for the reception and dancing, and finally a lounge area for an after-party celebration.

One of the most important aspects of a special event is lighting – and I find it is among the hardest topics about which to educate couples. Lighting can make or break a room and, when done well, can change the look and ambiance of every area. Candlelight (or soft LED light if open flames are prohibited) produces a gorgeous glow, while vibrant colors can infuse energy into a lounge section. Paired together, strategic draping and artistic lighting can divide a space and create a gorgeous foundation for the look of your wedding.

Designing the Décor

The lovely thing about having a blank space to work with is every single detail can be personalized. First, I like to have my bride and groom describe what they envision for the aesthetic and feel of their wedding. Next, I love to do a sketch. If I have an idea for a ballroom or a tent, it can be very hard to describe – a bride really needs to see it, and it’s exciting to see her vision begin to come to life on paper.

Once the initial theme has been explored and agreed upon, I also like to do a storyboard. I’ll walk the couple visually through the different areas of the wedding with photographs of furniture, place settings, and flowers. As the planning and decision-making progresses, I’ll bring in tangible things such as linen swatches and candleholders. Finally, I’ll create a mini production, complete with a sample tableau of tables, linens, chairs, and flowers, as well as music and a sense of the lighting.

Realizing Your Vision

The advantage of starting from scratch is that your personality can really shine through and you can choose exactly what you want. Don’t be daunted by the prospect of starting with a blank canvas. As planners, we love it! So embrace the opportunity to highlight your persona – it’s well worth the extra effort to create those special memories of a lifetime.

Opening photo by Daniel Kincaid Photography; Planning & Design by Bluebell Events; From Real Wedding: UFC Octagon Girl Brittney Palmer's Sparkling Oceanfront Wedding