The Ultimate Secret Wedding Planning Weapon: The Brief

briefWhen our friends asked us about our planning process, they were all shocked to learn that in total, it took us less than four months to pull everything together.   “How?!” was the question that immediately followed.  Well, as proven time and time again, necessity breeds creativity!  Our schedules in this stage of our lives were insane, and having gone through the wedding planning process once before, we knew that focusing needed to be a priority, especially given how overwhelming things could quickly get.

Enter a bride’s best friend: the nuptial creative brief.  (I promise I’m not a one-trick pony in giving you all yet another template – this truly helped us streamline our thinking during the planning process!)  What is a creative brief?  It’s a tool used by those of us in the marketing world to articulate the idea, inspiration, and objective of an advertising campaign to our agencies.  It succinctly captures the background and history of our brand, our goals, the tonality of the campaign, and the one message we want our consumers to walk away with…all on one page.  The shorter it is, the better the outcome – it’s all about focus.  We invest a significant amount of time crafting a tight brief, which our creatives then take and bring to life.  So I thought – what better way to focus our planning than to follow a similar process in thinking through what to communicate with our vendors!

Now it may feel somewhat unproductive – you’ll feel like you’re spending so much time thinking when you could be out doing.  But the up-front investment will pay off later on in the form of saved time: you’ll know exactly what you want, it’ll make it much easier to make quick decisions, it helps you stay focused on what’s important to share with your vendors, and it helps them understand what exactly you’re trying to achieve.  Whether it is just an exercise for you or whether you actually share it with your vendors, either way it can be a great tool (for us, we didn’t ultimately share it in this form with anyone and used it more as a guide in our conversations with them, though we did send bits and pieces of it as appropriate). Here are the elements we thought through and articulated…ideally, all on a single page!

Background.  Who are you, and how would you capture your relationship?  This is the section that not only introduces you to your vendors, but can also help you think through a few key characteristics, attributes, or moments that really describe you as a couple.  We broke this up into three general sections:  1) Who we are, 2) History of our relationship, and 3) Why we want to say “I Do.” Some sample questions we thought through were: Who are we as individuals?  What are some adjectives that describe us?  How did we meet?  How long had we known each other and been together?  What do we love about each other?  Other questions to bring our personality as a couple to life were: What did we like to do for fun, individually and as a couple?  How would we describe how we spend a typical weekend to someone?  And finally, why were we renewing our vows, especially given that it had only been five years?  Thinking through and articulating all these in just a few short paragraphs (short is key!!) helped our vendors get to know us deeply very quickly.

Goals or Priorities for the Big Day.  In a true creative brief, you would spell out your objectives of your campaign.  It sounds weird to have an “objective” for a vow renewal or wedding, so we thought it made sense to think through our priorities for what we wanted the day to be about.  As an example, our goal was twofold: a) to remember, celebrate and commemorate the progress we have made as a couple, and b) to thank and honor our closest family and friends for being there for us by renewing our commitment to each other in their company.  This is also a great section to spell out what’s most important to you about the day, so folks such as your photographer and videographer get a sense of what to prioritize.

The “Creative Assignment” (Optional). This can be tailored to your specific vendor, or can be eliminated altogether if you just want to use the brief to give an overall feel for the event.  For specific vendors though, such as florists, this is where you can lay out exactly what your needs are, i.e. 5 centerpieces, 1 bridal bouquet, 2 boutonnieres, etc.

Who Your Guests Are.  Just a brief description of who is coming to your wedding.  How many people?  Is it mostly friends from college, co-workers, or family?  Are they mostly in your peer group, or is there a much broader range of ages?  You could even consider including some adjectives you would use to describe their personalities and give a feel to who they are.  You could tailor this for your various vendors as well, i.e. if it’s for your caterer, you might mention you have a bunch of self-proclaimed foodies or coffee aficionados among the crowd.  For our site coordinator, this was also where we made note of special requests to our site coordinator, i.e. that there would be three young moms who were nursing and needed easy access to a lactation room.

What You Want Your Guests To Walk Away With.  What is the one thing you’d want your guests to say or feel about your day?  This isn’t necessarily something you have to share with your vendors, but it helps to think through it when it comes to planning the details of your day.  For us, it was really about making them feel loved and appreciated, and to experience the same awe and gratitude we had in how good and faithful God is.  By articulating that, we were able to bring it to life in the little things, like our personalized favors, the food selections we made, the elements and order of our ceremony, and more.

Theme.  I’m planning on doing a whole other post about themes and some ideas on how to come up with one, but this could be a style, a combination of colors, a place, perhaps  even a signature object that inspires an idea.  Essentially, whether overtly or subtly, the theme is what will help to tie together the day and create cohesiveness throughout.  If you can keep it short, you can also describe the meaning behind your theme or why it’s significant to you.

Executional Considerations (or Executional Mandatories if you prefer).  This is where you can suggest some ideas or spell out a few additional details that you want your vendor to keep in mind.  For example, we put our color choices here, or also mentioned specific flowers we wanted incorporated. 

Tonality.  Using just a few adjectives, describe what the tonality of the day should feel like.  For example, it could be “sweet and romantic” or “offbeat and edgy.” One way to think about it is if your event was a person, how would you describe her?  This gives your vendors a feel for the personality of the event and can guide them in helping create the overall experience and air for the day.

And finally, some sample elements!  I created a Pinterest board with several images that served as inspiration for our theme and included the link.  For my more “traditional” vendors that were less web-savvy, I went ahead and printed out a collage of images that served as inspiration to us.  (That’s right, bringing back the good ol’ inspiration board, which was what we used to do in the days before Pinterest!)  Having examples of elements that evoke the overall look and feel you are going for goes an incredibly long way for your vendors, especially the more creative ones like florists and designers.

Well, that’s the secret!  I know it seems like a lot to fit on a page, but that’s the beauty of the creative brief – it’s brief, tight, and forces you to focus, so that you stay on track and don’t get distracted by all the beautiful inspiration and décor elements out there.  Hope this helps!

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