Leanne Benn is a freelance wedding stylist and dresser, who has been working in the wedding industry for over 2 years now. She currently lives in Rye with her husband Troy, who she married in August 2013....
I guess a lot of people still don’t ever really consider using a wedding dresser when planning their big day - I know I didn’t for mine, until I knew how much of a difference it could make - but I LOVE what I do. Yes, we work long (and sometimes anti-social) hours. Yes, it’s hard work and yes, I see ideas all the time that I wish I’d used for my big day, but seeing and hearing a couple’s reaction to how their ceremony or reception was styled and the impact it made on their big day is always worth the effort that goes in.
One of the biggest misconceptions about what I do is that it’s constant, head-to-toe glamour. It’s not. Yes, the rooms look incredible after we’ve left, but no one ever considers the 5am starts in the middle of winter, the long and tiring journeys we make or the amount of washing and cleaning that goes into preparing for each job. It’s all part and parcel of the the job though, and about going the extra mile for each and every client.
I started styling out of chance; I was newly engaged and struggling - my work as a freelance writer was drying up and I was desperately looking for some work to tide me over what otherwise would have been a VERY long summer, when I stumbled upon an advert for a local wedding dressing company who needed some casual summer staff. I signed a six month contract and two years later I’m still there and still loving what I do.
What I love the most about it all is that no weekend, and no wedding, is ever the same - we could be fitting 100 chair covers and making centrepieces one day and the next we’ll be draping out an entire village hall. The imagination of some of our clients is endless - I particularly love it when brides think outside of the box and can visualise the space they want to transform as something spectacular - then we come along and help them turn it into real life.
I always love seeing how the trends for each season change, too. When I started out back in 2012, it was all about vintage. 2013 saw more rustic influences creep in and people started getting a bit bolder in their ideas. For 2014? Vintage is definitely here to say, I’d say, but I think we’ll see a big transition in how the trend is interpreted. Gone are the muted and dusky colours that defined the trend 2 years ago and in their place brides are opting for bolder, more dramatic colour schemes with 3 or even 4 colours - which are being reflected in the choice of flowers and bridesmaids dresses. Rustic will still be huge (particularly in winter time), as will the trend for festival-style weddings. The use of village halls, barns and marquees will continue as couples opt for the DIY/laid back schemes of the last 18 months.
My personal preference when it comes to styling is anything in the vintage or rustic genres; personally, I don’t think these looks will date in photos and will still look beautiful in many years to come. That said, I’ve seen a LOT of contemporary style weddings over the last 2 years and I’m always blown away by the simplicity of them - sometimes a simple colour scheme or very subtle decorations using just one type of flower or mirrored accessories can make such a big impact.
If I were to give any brides-to-be advice about styling their big day, I would say:
1. Utilise the internet! Sign up to anything free, like Pinterest, and read as many wedding blogs as you can (many of which allow you to Pin their images). This will help you to decipher your wedding style naturally, as you’ll start to see a pattern forming through the things you’re pinning. I still pin ideas for themes and colour schemes to mine and can’t resist having a look at it every single day.
2. Visit your venue. This gives you a good idea of the space available and the colours that will work in there.
3. Budget. Can you afford to hire props and items from a stylist or are there lots of things you can make yourself?
4. Narrow it down. What ‘makes’ your style? Whether it be vintage, contemporary, boho, rustic, art deco, retro or all out glamour, what are the key elements of that look and how can you portray the theme through your day? (Think stationary, centrepieces, your dress and accessories and all the other little touches).
5. Look at the things around you. If you’re really struggling to pick a theme then can you draw on anything that you already have - perhaps you have an art deco engagement ring that could inspire a Great Gatsby theme, or your venue is full of quirky features or architecture that would look great with some modern uplighting? Start small and the big things will follow.
6. Think outside the box. A lot of the inspiration for my own wedding actually came from looking through homes and interiors magazines. The tablescapes and colours used helped me to visualise what I wanted much more clearly, and I got lots of quirky styling ideas that weren’t picked up in wedding magazines at that time.
The most important thing to remember, though, is that you need to enjoy the planning process. However long your engagement is, it’ll fly by - so make the most of it! Don’t get stressed out about the little things either; everything really will come together perfectly on the day. To me, every single wedding is unique and it’s so exciting and such a privilege to be a part of someone’s big day.
Wedding blog: http://polkadotpearl.wordpress.com
Wedding styling: http://www.bowshire.co.uk