Emma is the founder and face of Emma Jane Weddings, a London-based wedding planning and design studio curating events in the United Kingdom and Cape Town.
Emma explains her wedding planning philosophy, that you should always opt for what you want rather than what is expected, with the help of an old wedding day tradition: something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue...
I know I've done a good job when my clients won’t stop thanking and hugging me on their wedding day!
But knowing a “good job” has been done starts before the wedding day itself. It also comes in the form of the couple’s reaction to seeing their design concept for the first time, their excitement about the suppliers I’ve sourced, or just the general relaxation and happiness they felt in the planning process because they had my guidance and support.
The onboarding process varies depending on whether the couple has booked my full planning and design or event design-only package, but all new clients are met in person (unless they live abroad) to kickstart the planning process—nothing beats spending time together in person, as much as we all love the convenience of a video call!
An in-person meeting allows me to observe how they interact with each other and as a unit, I find I get a sense of who they are much quicker than if we chat over a video call.
I wouldn’t commit to there being one "all-delivering" question, I need to learn a lot about my clients to be able to plan their wedding. It’s the combination of questions and time spent together during the planning process that allows me to fully understand them as a couple. When I’m asking questions at the initial stages of the planning process, listening to understand, not to respond, has always helped me to dive deeper into their desires for the wedding.
Alongside a design questionnaire, for the couple to fill out in their own time, I request a maximum of 10 cohesive images to refer to when putting their design proposal together. I don’t mind whether this is on a Pinterest board or uploaded to our design studio on Aisle Planner, though the former is most popular. Normally, this information combined with what I already know about them as a couple is enough for me to do the creative thinking on their behalf, after all this is why most of my clients come to me! If additional encouragement is needed, I remind clients that there are no rules whatsoever when it comes to creating a day that feels personal to them, and I typically don’t plan weddings that require strict traditions to be adhered to for this very reason.
Pinning down a single moment that inspired me to become an event planner would be challenging. The decision to start an event planning and design studio came from the desire to be self-employed and the confidence-boosting feedback I received from clients I was currently working with through a wedding venue (this is where I started my journey!)
My favourite bits of advice:
- Only shortlist suppliers you absolutely believe in and feel will perfectly fit the brief, it’s better to present the couple with a shorter, quality list than many different options just for the sake of it.
- If the couple wants to change something but you think it won’t look as good as the original design, remember it’s their wedding and it’s really not the end of the world to have a different napkin colour or particular set up if it’ll make them happy on the day.
- Avoid going to the couple about a problem until you have the solution.
- When posting on social platforms or updating your website, only share images of work you’re happy to keep creating or recreating; this will distance you from your ‘non-ideal client’, help you move closer to your true brand identity, and attract the clients you love working with.
My design proposal begins with a colour palette based on tones the couple like combined with what I feel will work best with the overall design concept and within the venue space. The colour palette is worked right the way through the design concept to ensure a cohesive event atmosphere.
I call this colour palette, "Lovely in Lilac". We opted for a soft and feminine palette of lilac, pink and neutral shades. This is a prime example of going with what you want instead of what is expected, the couple were set to marry in autumn and felt pressure to have a typically autumnal event design, one discussion later and they opened up about what they actually envisioned for their day, giving me the tools to create this design for them instead.