How to Design a Wedding You Will Love

Discover expert strategies for creating an event that reflects your style.

Beth Helmstetter of Beth Helmstetter Events shares her advice on how to curate a wedding that you and your beloved will love on the day of and for years to come.

real wedding photo outdoor summer garden wedding ceremony recessional happy couple in white
Photo: Max & Friends

Day in and day out, couples come to me and ask, “Is it okay if I do this, or will it look all wrong?” to which I always respond, “It’s your wedding – you make the rules!” The very first (and probably most important) piece of advice I give my clients is to just do what they love. Of course, that is always easier said than done.

With so many expectations to meet from parents, friends, and even themselves, it’s really hard for most brides and grooms to feel free to create a day that completely represents who they are as a couple. But producing an atmosphere that allows guests to enjoy a glimpse into your life and personality doesn’t have to be complicated – and you will love your wedding day that much more. 

Look for Inspiration Everywhere

When beginning the planning and design process, I suggest first taking inventory of everything you love, from your favorite food to the cultures and music you like best. Once you determine the things in your everyday world that truly move you, start thinking about how you can incorporate the items either literally or figuratively into your wedding day.

Do you have a favorite cupcake shop that you always stop by when you’re running errands? Those cupcakes can make a yummy dessert or take-away for the wedding. Do you have a particular dress that you are absolutely in love with? The look and feel of the fabric can be translated into the perfect table linens or as the pattern that lines your invitation envelopes. Even the menu of your favorite restaurant can help determine the type of meal you will serve your guests on your wedding day. Inspiration can be found everywhere; so consider the things that make you both happy and write them down.

Don’t Let “The Rules” Limit Your Style

So, how do you incorporate these everyday simplicities – regardless of color – in a way that still allows your event to seem like a traditional wedding? Well, the easy answer is that your wedding day doesn’t have to be traditional at all unless that’s what you are. When designing your day, really think about why you are making each decision. Is it because you feel like it has to be that way, or is it because it reflects your style? If traditional doesn't describe you, then why carry a traditional bouquet? Remember it’s about you and what you love, not what your mom, best friend, or some other arbitrary source says your day should incorporate.

For example, one super-edgy couple I worked with had a tattoo booth at their wedding because they were very into the art. I’ve also seen a bluegrass band dressed completely in overalls play at the ultra-rustic wedding of a Midwestern couple that wanted to get back to their roots. Anything goes when it comes to your wedding style and the environment you want to create for your day.

At the same time, don’t feel like you have to go overboard with a theme either. If you love Moroccan food, for example, it’s nice to incorporate other cultural touches if you are planning to serve a Moroccan feast; however, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your day has to resemble a Moroccan Bazaar. What’s most important is that you don’t let the “rules” determine your style. Make your own wedding rules and ultimately you will create a day that is your own little piece of wedding heaven!

Don’t Worry About Matching Everything

The challenge with looking to your everyday world for design inspiration is that your choices may not seem cohesive enough for a wedding. But if you aren’t an overly matchy person, then why should every component of your wedding coordinate? There’s no reason you have to carry a white bouquet of roses to match a neutral background if your favorite flowers are fuchsia peonies. And by the same token, if orange poppies are your favorite, you don’t need everything from the bridesmaids' dresses to your groom’s socks to be orange. Florals that are similar to the ones grown in your own garden are so much more meaningful than random pink flowers chosen to match your signature drink or table runners.

I like to look at designing a wedding as if you’re creating an atmosphere similar to your home or favorite shop. When you walk into your kitchen, is the entire room devoted exclusively to the same two colors? And I don’t know about you, but I love the variety of colors and textures on display at my favorite store. Bring in elements you truly love and don't worry too much about coordinating everything perfectly. Now, if you are a girl that likes a color scheme, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that either. But if you love something, then there is probably a way to work it into your look – the common denominator will be that every element represents you in some way, whether the hues are perfectly matched or not. 

For more advice from Beth Helmstetter, discover tips for how to choose your reception music, find out what to do and what not to do for your wedding hair and makeup, and discover must-have tips for a destination wedding weekend.

Opening photo by Max & Friends; Bridal Salon: Planning & Design by Beth Helmstetter Events, Inc.; From Real Wedding: Outdoor Destination Wedding with a European, Garden Party Feel in California