[Unless otherwise noted, all photos in this post by Thuss + Farrell from Matthew Robbins' Inspired Weddings, Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2012.]
It could start with a bead.
Or any object you're drawn to. In this case, floral designer and event planner Matthew Robbins thought about something he's held tight for a long time -- an old green-and-white Portuguese bead given to him by his mentor.
Apart from the bead's clean palette, he considered the object's mood (fresh and organic) and its form (a floral-like shape echoed by delicately rendered tendrils that appear to be growing around the tiny piece). From all of this, options for an entire event emerged: a wedding with a decidedly natural, lush, secret-untended-garden feel. I think his use of bentwood Thonet-style chairs in two of the settings above is a brilliant way to softly play with the loose botanical motif. Also, if you look closely at his abundant gathering of Phalaenopsis orchids and green hellebores, you'll notice that Matthew has put them in a really delicious container -- an iridescent 1930s milk glass punch bowl. Details are everything.
In his new book, Inspired Weddings, Matthew talks about avoiding the cookie-cutter event. Not straining to be different just for the sake of being different, but creating something personal and timeless. I like how he uses loose motifs rather than literal themes. His suggestion is to hunt and gather together disparate things that simply captivate you. For Matthew, one less expected source of inspiration was a quirky old paint-by-numbers picture -- it was a still life, a genre he appreciates, and had a terrific muted palette. Above, you can see the assemblage that grew from the vintage painting.
And from that came this. Through the course of the book, Matthew discusses nine different inspiration objects and explains in detail how he used them as spring boards. As a former art student, he sees the world graphically and shows how to maximize the visual impact of the most commonplace items.
We've all heard about using alternatives to flowers as a centerpiece. Sometimes the suggestions are well-intended and imaginative but ultimately kind of silly. However, I find Matthew's approach unforced and actually beautiful.
He's also opened my eyes to foliage that previously I might have overlooked. While the pages are certainly filled with larger, jaw-droppingly gorgeous arrangements (never the stiff, overly-styled variety, though), this ethereal collection of bottles (a riff on seaglass and the old message-in-a-bottle) inspires me to get more plants for cutting and maintain similar little things around the house on a regular basis.
I'm a flower girl, so this post has been heavy on the blooms but I should mention that Matthew also delves into the nuts and bolts of table settings, linens, furniture, rentals, lighting and so on. Whether or not you're planning a big event, there's just a great deal of sumptuous visual fare to savor.
Since Matthew has me thinking about still life, terrific antique containers, and random objects, I wanted to share three related links (museums are definitely on his list of go-to places for ideas).
Still Life at The Met.
Wedgwood at the BMA
Zuzka Vaclavik's Glass
To pull this post together, I had access to a review copy of Inspired Weddings. All images posted with permission from the publisher.