Martha Tobyn is the founder of Anemone—a London-based wedding planning, design and styling studio for stylish, modern couples. Martha also acts as Head of Styling at The Wedding Academy.
Martha took an unconventional path into the wedding and events industry and has continued to approach her work with a unique flair. Martha reflects on her process with the help of an old wedding day tradition: something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue...
The value of tradition
There is still a place for wedding traditions but I encourage my couples to adopt (if any) the ones that are meaningful to them and ditch those that aren’t.
I am a firm believer in doing your wedding your way. Rather than conforming to expectations and what has come before. Most often the only essential bit is the legal ceremony. Apart from that, I say do what feels most like you and that may involve creating new traditions.
I find that my clients value the traditions they can emotionally connect with, and those that provide a great memorable moment that can be captured in the photos. Popular traditions include those such as the aisle walk, confetti moment, and wedding party speeches (with more women speaking too, yay!) More rarely seen are traditions such as a bouquet toss or a receiving line. Elements such as a cake cut or first dance are being modernised with fun or creative twists.
Set the date
The first thing I need to know when taking on a new client is the date! I can get booked years in advance and certain weekends such as bank holidays can be popular. So, I need to check that I’m free for their preferred or already confirmed date before we chat further.
I also feel that a connection is key to a successful wedding planning partnership so I offer a complimentary call to get to know them better. It’s important for me to be able to "get in their heads" and start to develop a sense of their vibe, priorities, budget, and style. Then we can get a feel for if we’d be a good fit or not.
After university, I planned to launch what I thought was going to be my dream career in the fashion industry. I ended up working as a production/studio assistant for a couture bridal designer. It was wonderful to see the dresses sketched out and skilfully crafted. Whilst assisting with a bridal fitting one day, I really felt how special the moment was for the bride and what an honour it was to be part of a very important milestone in someone’s life. I remember thinking how rewarding that might be.
Years later, when I felt I needed a career shift, that memory popped into my head. From that point on, I put all my time and energy into retraining and building a business that is very fulfilling and sparks my creativity.
So much of what I learned during my previous career in fashion applies to my work today. When I considered a career change, I looked at roles that would benefit from what I’d already learned. Budget management, working to a strict timeline, liaising with suppliers and negotiating are all skills that apply to both jobs.
But I think the biggest lesson I learnt in fashion is the importance of maintaining equilibrium and keeping all the stakeholders involved happy! A wedding is a big life project, with lots of people and emotions (as well as money) invested.
Crucially, both roles involve taking something from concept to physical delivery, through refinement and paying attention to all the details.
As a wedding planner, I learned very early on whilst assisting some of the best UK planners, to surround yourself with a trusted team, talented suppliers and passionate assistants who you can rely on to deliver—as a planner the team you build with is everything!
A great supplier collaboration can produce magic, whereas a bad one can cause so much unnecessary stress. If you recommended a supplier, they are representing you.
An industry friend and colleague also once told me that no matter how long you’ve been working in the industry, you learn something at every wedding. It helps you learn and grow and makes you an even better planner for the next one!
Colour outside the lines
This particular colour palette is modern, muted, and autumnal.
I absolutely love creating colour palettes. There are so many things that influence colour choices but ultimately my couples inspire their own wedding palettes.
I start with the couple's preferred colours or colours taken from treasured possessions and places they love. I consider these in relation to the venue and location as a backdrop, and then I refine them by considering complimentary and contrasting colours. These could be from something I’ve seen in nature, on the catwalk, at an art exhibition or just fulfilling my interiors itch on Pinterest.
When I’m creating concepts for inspiration editorials I am drawn towards more unexpected colours or combinations rarely seen in real weddings. It’s always fun to inspire couples to be exciting with their colour choices. I think some of the most exciting trends for 2023 involve how colours will be used. I predict more confident use of unexpected accent colours. Such as pops of light blue in more soft or muted palettes, or flashes of bold red or orange in a pastel scheme. I’m also expecting to see more monochrome styling and florals as an update on the modern neutrals that have been very popular.