One of the most rewarding aspects of life is to be passionate about your profession, to love what you do everyday. Joanie of One Wedding Wish is one of those people whose enthusiasm for helping bridal couples achieve their perfect day shines through everything she does. Joanie is genuinely interested in you – that’s how she establishes what your wedding will look like, what is important to you, what is non negotiable. I love that she advocates to tune out all the noise to come back to your core dreams – “There is more than enough inspiration found in their authentic selves than you could ever source anywhere else.”
What is it about wedding planning and styling that attracted you as a profession?
When I started One Wedding Wish in 2009, I didn’t have a role model in the industry or the mentor I have come to be for some of the creative individuals who work with me. I was always a creative person, emotionally driven, and wore my heart on my sleeve. I also had an event management background, commerce and post-graduate education to fill in left-brain gaps. Looking back, I was validating a theory – to send my work out into the universe and see if anyone felt similarly about it enough to return a connection. Along the way, this job has rewarded me with a view into some of the happiest days of people’s lives. Wedding styling and planning is something that I grew to love because I’ve seen first hand how it helps couples simplify their wedding journey and focus on what’s most important.
How did you learn your craft?
In the early days, I drew inspiration from the more developed wedding industry in the United States. Blogs like Style Me Pretty and Ruffled were mesmerizing and I followed the works of Karen Tran and Preston Bailey. I was thrilled to attend one of Karen’s Floral Masterclasses last year and love experimenting with all materials including flowers, fabric, wood, paper and so on. I’m intensely curious and believe in learning through experience. There are courses and workshops you can take in Wedding Planning, however, I taught myself all that I know and the learning never stops.
Image by One Wedding Wish
Please describe your role in the wedding journey. How is your role defined?
As a wedding stylist, I assure my couples that we are not here to take over or assume control of their wedding. Aside from a budget, I am grateful that couples give us their trust to help them plan, design, style and manage the complex logistics of their special day. This trust is the foundation of creativity, it allows great ideas to emerge, grow and evolve.
There are checkpoints in this wedding journey that I cannot cross until the couple gives me the green light. No one likes a runaway train! The Style Plan is the blueprint of the wedding, and needs to be on point and signed off, otherwise it’s back to the drawing board. It is my job to understand and interpret the couple’s wants and preferences, done through observation, questions and acute listening skills – something I have become quite good at over the years! Getting this wrong means wasting everybody’s time, not to mention delays and loss of trust.
Once the Style Plan is approved, we hit the ground running with preparations, supplier workshop sessions, and then on the day the couple can expect to arrive at their wedding with everything looking completely gorgeous. Some of our brides have shed a tear or two on seeing how we made their vision come true.
Image by One Wedding Wish
How long does it take you to plan and style a wedding?
We have worked with couples between 4 weeks and 18 months from their wedding. I don’t believe a long lead time for wedding planning is necessary, except to lock in a date for your ceremony and reception venues. Dates in the warmer months can be competitive. Wedding styling should ideally commence 7-8 months prior to the wedding.
What is the starting point for a wedding day scheme?
We have a fairly thorough discussion as early as the first appointment. Couples who know what they want can dive straight into their ideas. Those who are not so sure, we may do a quick brainstorming session using visuals and physical samples. Later on, we send them a couple’s questionnaire ~ a series of questions that the couple answers individually and collectively. We like to ask couples to tell us (what) they don’t like as well. Doing all of this usually gives us a great starting point for developing the couple’s Style Plan.
Image by One Wedding Wish
How do you work out the style the couple is wanting to create?
Couples often start their wedding journey by attending expos or buying a stack of the latest magazines. Time and again, I see them come away feeling more overwhelmed than ever. Their venue may ask them to decide on chair sashes and who knows if that is even what they want! At our first meeting, I ask them to tune out all the noise. Noise that comes from your Pinterest feed, wedding expos, reality TV shows and well-meaning friends who tell you what you must or mustn’t do for your wedding. Come back to fundamentals and ask each other – What will make us happy? How do we want your guests to feel at our wedding? What would they say to us at the end of the wedding? There are hundreds of themes out there – which one speaks to our lifestyle, our personality, and say most about who we are?
I prompt them to tell me about their weekend rituals, pets or sporting interests they share and the proposal story. I ask them what colours they wear most often, their favourite travel stories, and what environments they are most comfortable in (perhaps it’s in the heart of the city, or out in nature). There is more than enough inspiration found in their authentic selves than you could ever source anywhere else.
How do you edit all the many ideas the bridal couple has, to produce a cohesive look for the wedding?
It is not uncommon for couples to feel excited by the unlimited possibilities of what their wedding could be. I acknowledge all their ideas and typically don’t rush into locking in a particularly style or theme as even this can evolve over time. The process that I mentioned above is helpful in coaxing a theme to emerge. We achieve a cohesive look by managing five core areas as a base – ceremony styling, reception styling, bridal flowers, gift/welcome table and coordinated stationery. Our couples respect the amount of work that goes into curating all the details that go into these areas, such that they usually ask us for a nay or yay to things they want to add to the wedding. We would offer our honest opinion and clear reasons why something doesn’t work or tie in well. Ultimately, we also respect that it is the couple’s wedding day so if something is meaningful to them but doesn’t necessarily fit in perfectly with the theme, we’re happy if they’re happy.
There is a fine line between just decorating an event and that extra finessing of the décor that turns the ordinary into the extra-ordinary. What is that quality (or eye for detail) that sets you apart?
I believe in balance over symmetry, and there is a difference. Balance is when things don’t necessarily match but brought together there’s magic. I have no qualms pairing rustic elements in an elegant venue, or using a different colour scheme outdoors versus indoors as long as it is complementary. Given the choice I will always choose at least two if not three different designs for centrepieces or opt for His and Hers bomboniere. Where budgets are constrained (and they usually are), I style by layers and priority. I look for where guests spend the most time. There would be no designer chairs if we haven’t finished the look of the floral centerpieces. I would budget for bomboniere and stationery before specifying napkins and overlay. I style from a place of practicality, and decor must always serve a clear functional or useable purpose beyond looking pretty.
Image by One Wedding Wish
A wedding is not only a celebration, it is an experience. What do you love most about seeing the elements of the ‘experience’ come to life?
I love seeing the blueprint come to life. The best weddings are the ones where I walk away feeling like the team has put in everything we have and there is nothing else we could do to make it better. I also resist sharing our work on social media until the couple has come back to us with their feedback which is what I look forward to the most. It’s not enough for us to think the wedding looks great, but the couple has to immerse in the complete experience our styling creates and absolutely love it from the bottom of their hearts.
Other than planning and styling the ceremony and reception what other services do you provide to the bridal couple?
One of the most exciting services that we offer, that has evolved as an extension of wedding styling, is the design and production of beautiful coordinated stationery. When couples come to us, they know that we can also look after their wedding brand in the form of all printed goods, from Save the Dates, the entire Invitation suite, coordinated welcome signage and seating plans, placecards, personalized menus, labels and more. Coordinated stationery is magic, it’s the secret sauce of extraordinary weddings. We are hoping to develop this even further and eventually offer this as a stand-alone service.
Image by One Wedding Wish
How does offering all these services under one roof assist the planning process and the bridal couple?
Having a team on your side with knowledge and experience in weddings helps couples navigate through what can be a time-consuming, mentally-exhausting and overwhelming process. Couples lose weekend after weekend visiting suppliers, getting quotes and comparing them, and conveying a vision that they may not have been able to refine themselves. We help them stay true to their wedding theme, avoid costly mistakes and manage finite budgets.
What are your dreams for One Wedding Wish?
I would love for One Wedding Wish to be accessible to all bridal couples regardless of budgets. I would also love to collaborate with overseas partners and offer a destination wedding service.
How do you and the team celebrate the end of the working week?
With a young family, I don’t get time for after-work drinks, but at the end of the year, we do something like a champagne high tea to celebrate.
Thank you Joanie for sharing your story with us today. Beautiful styling, and planning that is always sensitive to your needs, to create a wedding that is uniquely yours regardless of your budget. To find out more about One Wedding Wish visit the website.
Headshot courtesy of One Wedding Wish