How To Transform Your Wedding Venue

Are you one of the hundreds (probably more like thousands) of brides getting married on a farm? Maybe you’ve picked out your wedding venue, but you want to make it look completely different? Between the weddings being planned in open spaces like barns, estates and museums, and those being planned in spaces that are blank slates, how to transform your wedding venue is trickier than you might think.

As a wedding planner, I specialize in creative weddings and open spaces. In this blog, I’m sharing some wedding planning advice that we give our couples and busting some myths about these types of weddings too. So, if you want to know not just how to transform your wedding venue, but everything you haven’t thoughts about yet, read on!

How to transform your wedding venue and design an open space. Read this wedding blog if you're looking for ways to change the look of your wedding venue, or having a backyard, farm, barn or at home wedding! #weddingblog #barnwedding

Let’s get one thing out of the way, and that’s the biggest myth about planning a wedding where you get to bring everything in:

You will not save money this way.

I can’t tell you how many brides call me up and tell me they want to get married on a farm “because it’s cheaper”. First of all, no it’s not. Second of all, farms and open spaces in general aren’t right for everyone and shouldn’t be selected because they are the alleged cheaper option.
While we’re on the subject, “wildflowers” aren’t really a thing and using them isn’t one of the ways you can keep wedding costs down.

outdoor wedding

The Wide Open Spaces
When I say “open space”, I am including any type of wedding venue where you’re basically building the entire thing from the ground up. Literally. This includes the following: private homes, farms, barns, wineries, and museums. Basically, all non-traditional spaces that will allow you to have a truly unique wedding design because you’re picking everything


 

I’m not really sure who started the rumor that farm and barn weddings are less expensive than having a wedding in say a banquet hall or other established wedding venue. It doesn’t make any sense if you think about it. Consider a banquet hall the all-inclusive spring break vacation and a farm wedding as that ala carte trip to Europe. The banquet hall is including a whole lot more in that “per person” cost than an open space wedding venue is. Let’s break it down…
You’ve Got Nothing and Everything Costs Something
When you go to a banquet hall style wedding venue, these things are generally included:
  • tables
  • chairs
  • linens
  • food
  • beverage
  • flooring
  • lighting
  • bathrooms
  • staff
  • water
  • glassware
  • utensils
  • a roof
Versus the non-traditional spaces that generally include:
  • the space
See the difference?
I’m not asking that question to be a jerk either. It’s just mind-blowing to me how anyone could possibly think that a non-traditional space like a farm would be a great way to cut wedding costs. I promise you that a farm wedding or any other open space will be more expensive than most banquet hall style wedding venues.
If you believe me and you’re still all about the non-banquet hall wedding, then keep on reading. If I just ruined your day, well…thanks for stopping by.
Banquet Halls for the Basic Bride
My company does not specialize in banquet hall weddings. Crystal and marble just isn’t my style and so we generally work with couples looking for “something different”. That’s not to say we don’t plan our fair share of weddings in spaces with everything included, but when we do, we’re generally transforming the entire venue. There will be more on that later in this blog.

bridesmaid tote bag bride handbag
 

One of the best things about selecting a creative space for your wedding venue is the option to pick your own caterer. Established wedding venues will already have an in-house caterer/kitchen and sometimes that can limit your food selection. Foodies would do best to get married in an open space that allows them to bring in the caterer of their choice. This also means not having to commit to a caterer until after a tasting, which is never going to happen in a banquet hall style wedding venue. 
The catch? Well, there are a few…

wedding tablescape

Depending on your location, you will have to follow local liquor laws, and each caterer has their own policies as well. Bringing in your own alcohol is a great way to keep wedding costs down, so take that option if you can. Other scenarios include having the caterer bring in the liquor or having a completely separate liquor vendor and then dealing with hiring barstaff that is legally allowed to pour alcohol. 
Meanwhile, if at this point you’re not convinced that hiring a wedding planner for this type of wedding is a necessity, you might be crazy. Anyway…
Besides the liquor law nonsense that changes from state to state, your menu could be partially dictated by the venue you select. I planned a wedding industry event at an industrial warehouse once and we needed to bring in an outside caterer. They had a kitchen onsite but it was Glatt Kosher. If you don’t know what that means, it’s basically super strict Kosher and if you’re not following their rules (which you’re probably not if you don’t even know what Glatt means) you can’t use their kitchen. So, my caterer could not use their working kitchen, which meant they had to set up their own kitchen, outside, right down to the ovens and running water. 

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Creative venue spaces frequently have restrictive or smaller kitchens, or you won’t even be able to use them. Other times, the venue might have rules that directly affect the catering team. For instance, one farm that I work at a lot doesn’t allow smokers or water to be dumped anywhere. This farm is the perfect setting for a pig roast, but you’re not allowed to do it, and not being able to use water in particular ways is inconvenient for caterers. The more you inconvenience a wedding vendor, the higher your cost will be.
Does the freedom to choose your own caterer, build your own menu and have unique options for your guests outweigh everything else you’ll be dealing with? I’m treating this blog as a weeding out process, so if you haven’t run away screaming yet, let’s keep going…

wedding venue

Musical Chairs
A big plus to having an open space as your wedding venue is being able to get creative with more than just flowers. If you’re not down with all that food and beverage drama I laid out above, don’t worry, you can get this creative in an established venue too. 
When planning a wedding in your backyard or on a farm, you’re going to need basics including tables, chairs, linens, and serveware. Many times, the catering company will be able to handle these rentals and keep them under your “per person” cost.  If you’re in an established wedding venue that already provides these things, you’ll probably be able to rent different items instead. Before committing to a venue, however, make sure that you are allowed to do that.


 

Caterers that provide these basics are typically going to have the basics of these basics. That means round tables, chiavari or other standard style chairs, and white and/or ivory linens. Things like farmhouse and rectangle tables, different color linens, charger plates and funky wine glasses…pretty much everything you see on Pinterest, fall outside of the “basics”. Work with your caterer to find out exactly what they provide so you know what you would be responsible for. 
Another thing to consider when securing rentals: set up. Specifically, you’ll need to know whom is going to handle the rentals when they are delivered to the venue and then whom is setting them up and breaking them down. You’re probably wondering who usually handles this and the answer is that it varies. Some rental companies we work with will bring in tables and chairs and place them for us, whereas other companies drop them off at the front door and bounce. If you don’t want to show up to your wedding to see 250 chairs stacked in piles, put together a plan and discuss how everything is being set up and broken down.

barn wedding

Designer’s Choice
Design elements are a great way to transform a venue whether it’s a museum or a banquet hall space. It’s not just about what’s on the table, but in the corners and on the ceiling and basically everywhere. The vibe of a wedding should extend past the reception room. You can transform any venue by creating a unique entrance space or changing up the chandeliers. 
Ceiling treatments are perfect for tented weddings, and tents are perfect for a lot of these non-traditional spaces. Fun fact: a lot of the barns available for weddings are small and max out at 150 guests. It’s because they were built to be a barn, not a wedding venue. Because of this, many of the barn weddings we plan at include bringing in a tent for the reception. We’ve also tented backyard weddings and weddings at arboretums, as well as other places where a roof isn’t included in the package.


 

Whether you’re using a tent or an actual ceiling, you can transform the space using flowers, lighting and draping. Flowers can be used with existing lighting fixtures, or even as a perimeter design. You can get creative with lighting by renting chandeliers to totally change up the feeling of the space, or use a wall wash color to pull together the entire design.
Draping is another way to transform any space and you’re not limited to just the ceiling. One bride we worked with absolutely hated her venue because everyone else had gotten married there or been in the space a hundred times before. We got permission to drape the entire space, including the walls, making the venue look completely different than it ever had before. 

barn wedding

As you’ve probably figured out by now, flowers and ceiling installations aren’t what anyone would consider “affordable”. If you truly want to transform your venue though, those are the best ways to do it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not any more affordable to work with a blank space than it is to transform a venue…but I warned you guys about that in the beginning. 

To Transform or Not to Transform?

Did you make it to the end of the blog? If so, thanks for sticking around. Still planning on transforming your wedding venue? Or are you getting married at an open space venue where you’ll be bringing everything in? 

What advice do you have for other brides and grooms? Was there anything in this blog that you hadn’t considered before? I’d love to hear your thoughts so leave them in the comments section below.

And if you are looking for help to transform your wedding venue or design a non-traditional space, contact us right now and let’s chat!

Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year and Ways to Use it in Your Wedding

I don’t know about you, but when I heard about Pantone’s 2017 color of the year, I was pumped. Seriously, I was like way excited. Maybe it was because the past few years I have been less than thrilled with the selection. Maybe it was because I loved using that color and already had ideas.

Or maybe it was because I placed a bet in October on what the color would be and won.

Whatever the reason, I was (and am) super happy that Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year is “greenery”. Yes, that is a color and you can read all about it on Pantone’s official website right here.

Greenery: New Year, New Beginnings

Greenery symbolizes new beginnings in the same way the green leaves in spring time do. I love using green in wedding and event designs because there is so much you can do. [tweetshare tweet=”There is a greenery for every bride and all styles of weddings.” username=”RothweilerEvent”] In fact, it’s more than just a color. It’s a feeling.

In this blog I am sharing a few ways I have used Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year in the hopes to inspire you for your wedding day. Don’t forget to pin the photos you love the most and comment the ways you’ll incorporate Pantone 2017 Color of the Year!

Boho chic greenery framing the wedding ceremony as the perfect backdropBoho Chic Ceremony Backdrop

Everyone’s seen Fern Gully right? Am I like super old and weird right now? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Fern Gully was a movie that took place in the rainforest. It was about deforestation and other depressing stuff, but the colors were bold and magical and (spoiler alert) the main characters lived happily ever after.

The whole wedding design from the beautiful colors to the heavy amount of natural greens we used reminded me of those beautiful colors from Fern Gully. The bride had a vision of hanging greens for the ceremony backdrop, and our florist created the best frame for their first married kiss.

These greens were a mix of bright and deep shades not unlike the leaves in spring that inspired Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year. Putting aside the pinks, reds and oranges that made up the rest of the wedding colors and just using green for the ceremony made the space feel more intimate. There were no distractions and when the bride and groom became man and wife, it was a serene and beautiful moment.

Soft green garland wrapped around the banister for this farm wedding was made even more romantic with the addition of soft greens and pinksSoft Green Garland and Banisters

If it hasn’t become obvious yet, I am a big fan of greenery used as garland. Don’t get my wrong, I love green as a color, but my favorite way to make it work for almost any wedding is to keep it as a backdrop. That doesn’t mean it has to literally hang in the back, but more so that it supports the rest of the design.

This farm location had a barn on site and whenever I see a banister, I feel compelled to dress it up. I totally blame “Father of the Bride” for this unhealthy obsession I have.

Soft and romantic, the green garland we used here was draped around the spiral banister from top to bottom. Like the ceremony site above, it was important to create a look as if the greenery just appeared there, naturally. As if it sprouted from the iron banister magically because that’s what Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year does. The final touch here was to incorporate the other wedding flowers, so we pinned everything together with some pink roses and dusty miller.

Romantic and elegant mantle design with greenery and pops of red, blue, purple and white

Mantle Greenery Goodness

Much like a banister, if there is a mantle at a wedding location, you will find me adding “we woke up like this” style florals to it. Mantles are more than shelves for photos and many are ceremony backdrops. As a designer, I like to incorporate the design into every corner of the space, and this is a big corner.

There are countless ways to dress up a mantle at your wedding, but it’s hard to do without greenery. This picture is from a wedding venue with multiple mantles. In fact, you can see all the gorgeous details here. Each mantle was different, but they all used the greenery found in the centerpieces to tie the look together. My favorites here were the hanging amaranthus and the eucalyptus because they added dimension to the piece and still looked formal.

Long Tables With Greenery

Chic long table we designed for The Knot Market Mixer complete with greenery runner details and gold candle holders We all know that long tables are a hot trend and they have been for a few years now. These gorgeous farmhouse tables can cost a pretty penny if your venue doesn’t already have them included. If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on these without robbing a bank (seriously, they ain’t cheap), then greenery garland is a must.

This table was part of our design for The Knot Market Mixer last Fall. My favorite part about designing this event is being able to create whatever I’m dreaming of. In other words, I got to do what I wanted and what designer doesn’t love that?

I wanted to create a warm and inviting tablescape and have greenery be the base of the design. Working with my florist, the garland worked as an anchor for the rest of the flowers and draped down to the floor. I’d recommend using greenery like this to any bride worried that her guests won’t see over tall centerpieces.

Speaking of Tall Centerpieces…

The garden where this wedding took place was the inspiration for the greenery found in the centerpieces. Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year is all about spring and clean starts, and this centerpiece is just that.

Besides the obvious greenery pieces (you know, the green leaves), there are more subtle ones as well. While the only two colors used were white and green, that didn’t mean green leaves and white flowers only. A popular flower for centerpieces (but not for bouquets so don’t please) is hydrangea. Hydrangea comes in a bunch of colors including white and…wait for it…green!

The clean look of the clear glass vase and candleholders with the greenery and white made this garden wedding the picture of spring….even if it took place in the summer.

Lasercut signage hung from the ceiling and framed by greenery to celebrate Pantone's 2017 Color of the Year!Don’t Forget the Ceiling!

So, like, let’s all take a minute to recognize that not every piece of wedding décor is going to be at eye level. It doesn’t need to be at eye level and in fact, eye levels are different. Not that you’re inviting a bunch of NBA players to your wedding (or maybe you are and I should be planning it…) but creating designs from the floor to the ceiling makes an impact.

Signage is a huge trend and it’s not just limited to chalkboard and aisles. This lasercut sign is from our event with The Knot and is hung from fishing line. Really strong could rope in Jaws, fishing line. If you’re not onto how I work just yet, I like to make my designs appear organic. This is probably another reason why I am in love with Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year. For this sign (and three others), I worked with my florist and asked them to drape greenery in a deconstructed way. I mean, it totally looks like the sign grew out of the ceiling. Score!

Floral Wall using Pantone's 2017 Color of the Year: GreeneryWedding Walls and Backdrops

The floral wall is something that is popping up all over Pinterest, and we worked with Once Wed Walls to create this one for The Knot Market Mixer. Since I have been obsessed with greenery long before it was the Pantone 2017 Color of the Year, I wanted one using green as the base. The top was covered in more greenery and pops of pinks, oranges and cream flowers to match the rest of the room.

These walls are, bottom line, really awesome. It was a natural backdrop for photos all night and everyone was talking about it. A great alternative to a blank photobooth backdrop (or a photobooth in general) is using one of these walls. Since this can be a custom piece, the wall can be made to fit like a backdrop for people and as small as a backdrop for your wedding cake. If you’re on the greenery bandwagon with me (though I’ve been driving it since like 2007), you can keep a natural look using boxwood like this.

A romantic farm wedding where we used greenery to drape around one of their beautiful horses with the brideGot Horse?

Oh those farm and barn weddings aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Why should they? They totally rock. If you’ve followed my work at all, you know that I’m a big fan of non-traditional weddings. [tweetshare tweet=”Give me a mountain top and a fluffy white ballgown and I’m in.” username=”RothweilerEvent”]

If you’re the bride that runs from basic bling and marble floors as fast as I do, then you’re probably considering a farm for your wedding location. Mega points to you for not being lame! More points if you find a farm with animals.

This final way to use Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year (though there are plenty more) involves a horse. We used an Icelandic horse on this farm to drape a eucalyptus wreath around and create total greenery magic. You could easily do this design on other animals including dogs, goats and alpacas too. This wreath was created on site, so it’s important to make sure your florist will have the time they need on the wedding day.

Using Greenery on Your Wedding Day

You don’t have to be on a farm to get the most out of Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year. The bright green color will bring your centerpieces to life whether you choose tall or low runners. No matter how you use greenery in your wedding design, remember that the color represents new beginnings. If that’s not a good enough reason to use it on your first day as a married couple, then I’m not sure what is!

What do you think of greenery? Will you use it for your wedding? Share in the comments below your favorite idea or if you have one that we didn’t mention!

Rustic and Romantic Styled Shoot

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Alicia King Photography

I am always searching for the newest “off the beaten path” venue. You know the ones: the barns, the farms, the estates, and the vineyards. Those beautiful locations that no one ever thought to have weddings at…until recently.

I was born and raised in New Jersey and to many people that means that I must wear lots of animal prints and sequins. Truth be told, I own one or two pairs of leopard print heels and only break them out every once in awhile.

Being a non-traditional bride myself, I wasn’t “typical Jersey” when I was planning my own wedding. New Jersey has countless ballrooms to choose from and they all have the bling everyone sees on the Jersey based reality shows. The menus are standard Italian and there is always way too much food. Not knocking what some brides and grooms want, but it was never what I was looking for.

My style has been described to me (because I don’t really know what to call it myself) as very “California”. I love boho chic, but I’d hang a chandelier in a tree in a heartbeat. I’ve done the barns and farms before they were what everyone suddenly wanted and thus, I am over the burlap, lace and mason jars filled with “wildflowers”. What can I say? I’m just not basic ballroom bling.

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Alicia King Photography

I love vintage furniture and have a pretty sweet collection that includes dressers, couches and plenty of china. I rent the pieces out when I can, but not many couples realize what the expense will be (hint: a lot). Therefore, anytime I can use the pieces, I jump at the chance.

Over the summer I designed a styled shoot in New York State. For those of you that don’t know what a styled shoot is, it’s basically a bunch of creatives in the wedding industry getting together and showing off their talents. This shoot incorporated plenty of vintage pieces from my collection as well as a horse or two.

It wasn’t my intention, but while designing the colors and theme for the shoot, I kept going back to Pantone’s “color of the year”. 2016 was all about the watercolors of rose quartz and some light blue color. Honestly, I was never crazy about the colors or the combination for wedding inspiration, but I loved (seriously L-O-V-E-D) using them for this shoot.

We were fortunate enough to have not just photography but a videography team in place too. In fact, you can check out their amazing video right here: Video Coverage

The location was the highest point in Duchess County, New York, which made dealing with the light a little difficult. It was basically full on sun for the entire day. There were a good amount of reflectors and flashes being used to battle the summer sun and zero clouds.

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Alicia King Photography

For any farm or barn wedding, if there are animals around, I always want to incorporate them. I mean…come. on. How gorgeous does this model look draped over this stunning horse? This wedding dress was an airy ballgown with a crystal bodice and we designed a eucalyptus wreath for the horse.

As a designer, I fully believe in complimenting your surroundings and not competing with them. It would’ve looked ridiculous to have used bold and dark colors and over the top tall centerpieces.

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Alicia King Photography

In order to keep the natural feel without being too nature, nature, nature, we worked with long gray-brown farmhouse tables and a simple deep blue runner. I wanted to keep the rest of the table exposed to showcase the vintage china. Place settings are a huge deal to me and if you can work it into your budget, I highly recommend a floral and/or custom menu on each plate. It really is that extra touch and it “finishes” the look of the table, much in the way a charger would.

The runner was scrunched to give that “I woke up like this” look and the flowers were placed in a vintage silver holder. In keeping with that natural but beautiful wedding vibe I was going for, figs and artichokes were included in the design. Remember, if you’re on a farm, a great way to work with what you have is to use what they have.

We luckily had the entire day to shoot and were able to use the barn on site as well as the entire grounds. Even though the sun never hid from us, the light changed enough to give some serious contrast to the photos. You can also see some behind the scenes fun over on our YouTube Channel here: Behind The Scenes

Styled shoots are a crazy amount of work, but the end result is always amazing. When you’re looking for wedding inspiration, you’re most likely going to be pinning pictures from more styled shoots than actual weddings. It’s a great chance to see what vendors can really do and just how creative they can be. For more wedding inspiration from this shoot, make sure to visit our Pinterest page: Romantic Wedding Inspiration