Is innovation limitless?
image by chelo keys
My friend Rhi of Hey Gorgeous Events recently wrote a piece on how she’s been seeing a lot of sameness happening lately in the wedding industry – similar brand colors/fonts/graphics, similar website copy, similar websites, similar designs, similar instagram images, similar ways of describing what they do and why they do it. Same, same, same. Boring, boring, boring.
We’ve all seen it: the calligraphy logos, the photos of everything on marble, the composition of shooting from above, the white kitchens, the white studios, the white everything, fancy tiles with feet on them, latte art, fiddle leaf fig trees. The benefit of social media is that we get to see what everyone in every market around the country is doing with their branding and their creativity 24 hours a day. We see everyone’s innovation. Everyone’s ideas. Everyone’s designs. From all around the country. Trends spread like wildfire – being fueled by more and more creatives using the current aesthetic trends for their businesses. Her advice was to concentrate on being original in a world where we are drowning in a sea of sameness. Is it too much to ask? Is the limitless aspect of social media creating a bubble where we all start looking like each other, talking like each other, designing like each other? How possible is it to look original in a sea of thousands of other businesses? And why is there anything wrong with similarities between creatives if we are all making money? ARE we all making money? Because as much as we can all say “we just looooooove weddings”, I mean, we aren’t working for free.
Is innovation limitless?
So what if the majority of creative businesses follow aesthetic trends?
The chatter in the industry emphasizing each of us to be unique, different, and original is deafening. It’s not possible for every, single, one of us with a creative business in the wedding industry in the world to ALL be unique and different. It’s unrealistic. A lot of wedding pros are going to come across as looking the same, as maybe even copying each other, but how many innovative, original logos, color palettes, websites can there be in this world? I’d like to argue that there will most definitely be a bunch of people who like watercolor calligraphy as their logo and super bright instagram images. Hey, nothing wrong with that.
Just like we’ve all worn skinny jeans with ballet flats and t-shirts, the majority of creatives, especially in the wedding space, are going to follow trends. The industry will always have a few people who are truly gifted at doing original work that really inspires me. And if they are really talented at business, those few companies even have couples hand over hard earned cash for outlandish creativity at designing a truly original wedding day including one-of-a-kind installations, weird shit, and all around crazy, never-seen-before event design concepts. For the other 90% of companies, their couples want blush, flowing ribbons on bouquets, natural chuppahs, and calligraphed tented escort cards. Those 90% of wedding pros producing this type of work (ahem, the majority) are still considered to be creative. They are still artists. They are still earning an honest living while serving their couples who might not want to take a chance on design for a celebration they only get to have (and pay for) once.
Jess Levin Conroy of Carats & Cake said in her newsletter last week that “being the ‘coolest business’ does not always translate into being a profitable one. There is often a gap between what the industry deems to be the next best thing and what consumers actually want (and pay for).”
I say that replace “coolest” with “most innovative”, “most creative”, or “most unique”, and the sentiment still rings true.
Consumers, couples (and their parents, let’s be real) in this example, often want what they see. What they see is what has already been done and is being pinned on Pinterest. It’s the work that we busted our butts to create, to get published, for prospective clients to hire us off of. They want it replicated. Dare I say, copied. There is nothing wrong with taking a couple’s pinterest board full of inspiration from weddings that happened all over the country and replicating it. It’s annoying to be the one being copied, of course, but if another florist wants to replicate my most popular pins then more power to them. I don’t own copyright on hanging carnations or giant teal balloons.
Is innovation limitless? Is it too much to ask, to demand, each and every wedding pro to constantly put out 110% original, never-before-seen, work? The quantity of weddings happening in this country every year and the number of original ideas to be had is not equal. When it comes to making money, a good living where you have a cushion in your bank account, being innovative, unique, different, original at every single creative opportunity is unrealistic, especially in the wedding world where the event is once and done. There simply are not that many couples on the earth (or in certain geographical markets) who will take design risks on their wedding day.
What’s my point here? Simply, you do you. Everyone worry about themselves. If another wedding pro seems to be replicating your website copy, instagram posts, the way you style your hair – take it up a notch yourself. Then, look at your profit & loss spreadsheet and give yourself a pat on the back for building a business that is giving you a flexible schedule, letting you do what you love, and affording you special treats (for me, that’s nail art and buying too many sports bras).
Top 15 Geometric Lanterns
One look at this website and it’s obvious: I love geometrics. Anything with straight lines, angles, and sharp points is the butter on my bread. Which means, I’ve been a happy camper since geometrics in weddings has become all the rage. It’s the coolest thing on the block. Geometric everything is all over the web. Triangle escort cards, hexagon backdrops, and my favorite: geometric lanterns. I recently decorated a huge (340 guests!) wedding in the Hamptons that was all about the geometric lantern. We used #5 for the votives, #14 to line the aisle, and something similar to #2 for the pillars on the tables.
You know how many hours it took me to source the perfect geometric lanterns for this wedding? Approximately 3.5 episodes of Orange is the New Black. I practically went on every single home decor website on in the world. Yes, THE WORLD, #10 will be shipped to you directly from the UK. And thanks to Brexit, they are probably cheaper then when I purchased a few last month. Lucky you!
So, here ya go. My top 15 Geometric Lanterns for your purchasing pleasure. Use them with candles. Make terrariums in them. Keep them simple by adding one airplant for an industrial garden feeling.
Wedding Visionary: Janice Carnevale
This year here on the blog I’m focusing on a few things, one of which being encouraging others in the wedding industry who are using their talents and knowledge to be innovative. I’m working my butt off to create a successful online shop full of modern, creative, unconventional event decor. Much like that, the companies that I’m going to feature are using their brains to fill holes in their market, make money during the off-season, or simply work less weddings while continuing to serve their couples. I hope you enjoy learning about their drive and get inspired to start a little visionary project of your own!
Say hello to my gal Janice Carnevale. How hip is she in her star sweater? Hey Janice, I need that sweater. She owns a wedding planning company based in DC called Bellwether Events. We haven’t worked together yet (Hi Janice, let’s change that, K?) but we often advise each other on cool vendors we like and she sent me the most delicious cupcakes once. I’m still dreaming about those cupcakes.
She produces beautiful, stress-free, weddings for families that are lucky enough to have the acreage to sustain a 200 person wedding. She knows where to put the tent, when to put up the tent, how many bathrooms you need, and where the heck everyone is going to park. Because a wedding at home sounds quaint and memorable, very Father of the Bride, until you realize everyone will have to pee and put their car somewhere. Let’s not make those two things in the same place. Bellwether Events can help you with that.
But what if you don’t live in the DC area? And might not have the budget for a full planner?
Janice is here to help you…
images by Katie Stoops
She wrote a free ebook called Your Elegant Wedding At Home.
FREE. EBOOK. Here’s Janice to tell you all about it:
What is your main wedding industry business? Why did you start it? How do you use it to better serve couples getting married? I am a wedding and event planner. I worked in restaurants and catering from 2002-2006, and I enjoyed working on the weddings the most, so I decided to focus solely on that and founded Bellwether Events in late 2006. I love helping people and I love weddings, so it was a natural fit. Since then we have expanded to other social and nonprofit events, but wedding planning is by far my main business.
I’ve called you a Wedding Visionary because you used your brains to start an amazing new revenue stream for your business that piggy backs off of your main money maker. What is your visionary business? I have self-published a free e-book called The Elegant At-Home Wedding and with it an accompanying blog. You can find them both at www.yourweddingathome.com. They are both full of helpful advice for those planning backyard weddings of all shapes and sizes.
Why did you start this visionary business? What hole in the industry or in your community are you seeking to fill? After working on a number of very interesting backyard weddings in a short period of time, I realized that the learning curve within this style of wedding was huge, and most couples and their families went into the process completely unprepared to open up their home to hundreds of guests. Being that their home didn’t come with a “venue manager” to guide them (as a regular wedding venue would) they were really in the dark about so many things. I can’t plan every at-home wedding – but I do want to help everyone. So I decided to put my knowledge and experience out there in the hopes that it would first and foremost, help others. And if I made a little extra revenue from either clients, consulting, or speaking engagements, that was cool too.
What have your challenges been in your new venture? For starters, converting e-book readers into paying clients has been difficult. While most readers don’t live near me, I would be happy to consult with them on an hourly basis by phone or Skype. Secondly, trying to create new content on the blog is a huge challenge – I could use some partners/contributors there. Third, finding the time needed to truly promote the book to various media outlets has been challenging.
In three years, where do you see your visionary business being? What are your goals? I’d love to publish a second volume with more tips and advice (maybe even make it a real book!) within the next 3 years. My goals include improving the look of blog and get more new content on there. I’d also love to speak to new wedding planners about how to execute successful at-home weddings.
How has your visionary venture served you personally? Some people seem to be impressed when they find out that I’ve written a book, and it has led to some press opportunities. But mostly it gives me self-confidence knowing that I undertook something that was at times a very overwhelming idea and brought it to life.