What is a boutique wedding?
For many people, the word boutique is often translated as "a small store that sells stylish clothing, jewelry, or other usually expensive things,” which unfortunately leaves the impression in many people’s minds (specifically grooms!) that boutique weddings are very expensive. However, that is not always the case. In actuality, a boutique wedding vendor is one that I would describe as small, elite, and highly specialized in an area as opposed to wedding vendors that serve any and every wedding that comes their way. It’s the difference between a cookie cutter wedding that you could have been to a hundred times and a wedding that is one-of-a-kind.
Personally, I believe there are at least five different components that make a wedding boutique. This is by no means an exhaustive or authoritarian list of what a boutique wedding MUST be. Rather, its simply a guideline to help you define the concept and decide if this style of wedding is the best fit for YOU.
So that being said, boutique weddings usually have these five things in common:
1. They are unique. The style, venue, and feel of the wedding is based around the personality of the couple and not on recreating a popular pin on Pinterest. It’s about taking elements of inspiration from current trends, pictures you love, and popular traditions to create an event that is as unique as you are. Gone are the days of tulle everywhere and matching dyed bridesmaids dresses.
2. They are well-styled. The venue and decor are well thought out and styled cohesively to create an overall mood and feel that is one of a kind. This goes beyond simply picking the same colours of table cloths and flowers, it goes into the realm of a consistency of texture, colour tones, and application.
Often boutique weddings will take inspiration from current trends in wedding style, such as the current popularity of metallic accents and lush greenery, but will still remain true to the personality of the couple. A couple that is very casual and down-to-earth won’t want an incredibly “blingy" wedding with over the top sparkles and metallics everywhere. Most likely they will opt for warmer touches such as lush greenery and warm wood tones, with the occasional dressy accent to dress it up.
The very best way to ensure you have a well-style wedding is to chat with a talented boutique stylist and planner, such as Kay from Social & Co Events, about what you’re looking for. They are experts at helping you define your style, sourcing the components to make it all come together, and making sure you stay on budget - all while doing all the time-consuming legwork so you can actually enjoy the engagement season!
3. The vendors deliver a good experience. As you are looking at which vendors to hire for your day, please don’t choose them based on price alone. Yes, budget considerations are very important, but the last thing you want is to be stressed with problems from vendors that don’t prioritize your experience and maintaining the highest level of customer satisfaction.
If you aren’t working with a good stylist/planner who can make recommendations on which vendors will give you an amazing experience, try to look for vendors that focus on providing a quality experience with a defined style and personal connection as opposed to a vendor that offers “one-size-fits-all” or budget solutions. Quite often you get what you pay for.
4. They choose quality over quantity. This is the part that can get pricier, however, if done strategically it can still work within your budget. Choosing a venue for your ceremony and reception that is beautiful on its own can save you a lot of decor money. So often people choose cheap locations for their wedding without realizing that they can spend a fortune trying to dress up that ugly community hall with florals, and chair covers, and tulle, and uplighting, and still never get exactly the look they’re wanting.
(Not to mention that if you can do everything at one gorgeous location, including photos, you can save money on the cost of limo rentals and often shorten your photography package because you don’t need to factor in travel time across the city.) Think of it as the difference between purchasing a thousand tiny “cheap” items and a hundred nice items - quite often you end up paying the same amount for lots of clutter as you would for a few key pieces that are beautifully made.
5. They are influenced by personality. It’s in the personal touches that the true uniqueness of the boutique wedding experience comes into play. Why don’t you pull your favourite home decor colours into your wedding scheme with items that you will want to display in your home for years to come? This can also be a great way to be strategic with your spending and eliminate unnecessary waste.
Do you love to travel together? Why not pull aesthetic elements from your favourite place into your wedding style - perhaps a subtle spanish influence to the decor and food or even consider having your wedding at your favourite restaurant. Are you lighthearted and fun loving? Pull that into your wedding program with fun details and references.
A good stylist and planner will be able to give you advice on how to create a style that incorporates your personalities while still maintaining a beautiful and cohesive aesthetic for your wedding. Trust me, they are worth their weight in gold ;)
No matter what you choose, it's your wedding day. Sitting down together and deciding what your priorities are is the most important thing you can do at the start of wedding planning. Before you start gathering inspiration and pinning pictures and picking out your dress, sit down with your fiancé and decide what matters most to you. Do you want to include everyone you know or do you want to keep it more intimate with a limited number of close friends and family? Do you have the time and interest in organizing and planning everything yourself? Or would you rather hire someone to help you with some or all of the heavy lifting (in planning and setting up)?
Once those things are decided you can prioritize what your budget is and where the money is going. Do you want to invest in key quality items and vendors that can help you stay on track and create a beautiful wedding that you and your guests will enjoy? Or would you rather just jump in and book a budget venue and lots of booze and make it a work party for all your friends and family to contribute? That is something that only you can decide. But as someone who has both been a guest and photographer at many weddings, I will choose strategic quality and less stress every time.
That being said, keep in mind that a boutique wedding is not the end all, be all. Our sweet spot is for weddings that are meaningful, authentic to who you are, AND well-styled. A stunning, magazine worthy boutique wedding can be completely devoid of meaning beyond being a beautiful party and, alternately, a simple wedding can be meaningful and special without being overly well-styled. It’s important to decide what is most important to you as a couple, and then go forward in the decision making process with those priorities acting as filters to help guide who you hire and what design and budget decisions you make. What do YOU want your wedding to be like? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!!
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