I’m really so happy—aren’t we all?!—that brides everywhere are freeing themselves from the tyranny of the matchy-matchy wedding. It’s a wedding design aesthetic that reigned uncontested for far too long. Variations-on-a-theme isn’t just the different-bridesmaid-dresses-in-the-same-color thing, but I do think it was a small first step in the direction of freedom. And in the last year or two, I have seen “variations on a theme” spread to all sorts of design elements, including florals and decór.
Honestly, even though I think they were just a starting place, I love seeing bridesmaid dresses that don’t match at all, or follow some broad color scheme—chocolate, saffron, and turquoise, with some patterns thrown in. Just really flattering dresses for each bridesmaid (which, naturally, makes the photographs that include the bridesmaids much better). It also photographs very well when the families dress on a loose color scheme, with all different outfits in, say, khaki and blue, or all jewel tones.
Personal flowers are a lovely—and logical—opportunity for variation. Below is a bride with her bridesmaids, who all wore different cream-colored dresses. Floracopia created unique bouquets to match each bridesmaid’s dress.
(Clearly!) I have a soft spot for flowers. So, what’s more exciting than having more to photograph / more to look at? Here is another example of variation of personal flowers. All the bridesmaids bouquets were white (and green), but each bouquet featured a different bloom. The corresponding groomsman wore a boutonnière made with a small arrangement of the same flowers. The photographs below are not matched bridesmaid-to-groomsman, but I think they give a sense of the overall feel. Florals by GD Designers.
Centerpieces are another high-profile, attention-grabbing opportunity to show off your creativity. Using a few tall arrangements of unique blooms at some tables can add visual interest … and save you money over using tall arrangements at every table. Or, you could have a florist create different arrangements on every table. The possibilities here are endless, too—different containers (e.g., vases), different flowers in the same color group, different colors of the same blooms, different everythings. Below, a simple illustration of different containers. This bride also alternated the patterned linens with solid black ones for more variety. Florals by Michael Holmes Designs.
If you are on a shoe-string budget, get your green-thumbed friends to grow and arrange flowers that are native to your area—or just raid your local farmer’s market. Some of my clients did this with a wedding at the Mill Valley Outdoor Art Club in Mill Valley, CA. The centerpieces for the reception were all loose—and different—flower arrangements of local flowers in Mason jars. The result was pleasing; it struck a happy balance between the unique and the united.
Cohesion, or the theme itself, is what “pulls it all together” visually, and the variety what adds interest. Couples are freeing their florists (and other vendors!) to do something they’ve never been encouraged to do before … create something unique. This generous spirit is coming from celebrity clients and Joe & Jane couples alike. I realize that I’m probably preaching to the choir, so I’d love to hear how other brides are making their own variations. We’ll revisit this design aesthetic point from time to time.
My new hope? For variations in stationery. Now that the environmentally-conscious weddings are becoming more of a social standard, I’m looking for some crafty innovations with paper goods. I’d like to see couples get a letterpress plate, but print their invites and other paper goods on vintage/re-purposed or scrap paper. (You have got to believe those letter-pressers have some wicked scraps stashed away, right?). Escort cards made from … vintage playing cards, maybe. Does anybody know someone out there doing this?