How to brief a designer

As a designer I’ve experienced many different types of briefings; frantic text messages, phone calls “I think I need your help”, in person and some very weighty 20 page documents. No matter the method of briefing, as a business owner there are a few tricks which will help create a good brief for the designer, ensuring you’ll get a good return on your investment. 

A good designer will want to understand more than the outcome you’re asking to be created, email, leaflet, window display etc, they’ll want to discover the bigger purpose of the work. They will want to support you in finding the right solution for what you’re trying to achieve – it could be something you’ve not even thought about and could save you money.

Where to start

When you’ve found a designer you feel comfortable with and they understand your business there are many ways you can brief them, but there is a lot to be said for in person, it’s certainly the method I find most valuable and enjoyable. By meeting in person the designer will experience your passion, body language and get to understand your business pressure points – which will create the most effective designs. It creates great working relationships – fees are important but so is chemistry. 

Keep track 

It is very important to write things down (for both of you) if you meet in person, you can refer back and make sure all the details are covered, no chance of misunderstanding. Whether you supply a written brief to the designer or they write one for you based on conversations – it’s hugely important that it’s done. It may seem like you’re going to have to write war and peace and think of everything, this isn’t the case, it just needs to be relevant to what you want and succinct, you’ll be surprised where a designer can get an idea from, so it’s always good to add any ideas you may have had. Depending on the job you’re briefing it could be as simple as a few bullet points.

Brief templates

Most designers have brief templates which they’ll share with you, or you could ask them for what kind of information they’ll need so you are ready for their questions. Sometimes it can be useful to give the designer some background, it will help them come to the initial meeting with ideas or think about questions – nothing worse than being on the back foot in a meeting.

There are 3 key pieces of information you’ll need to think about when you start to talk to a designer; context, problem and deliverables. The best way to tackle this is to write them in the simplest form, like you’re telling a friend or family member.   

Context

This is background to the company, product, competitors (if you know them, a good designer will still seek to find more). If you have a long working relationship with the designer you wont need to go into the background of the company, but use this to update on the story so far, what developments there has been, new learnings you may have.

Problem

This is where you need to be honest and discuss what the business problem is, it can help the designer deliver more effective solutions. Has there been a drop in sales, a new product which you need to get out there, but when you’re thinking of this ask what it is you really want to achieve? This turns a design from looking nice to creating a real return on your business, be it raise in profile or increasing sales. 

Don’t be modest, reach for the stars, share your ambitions for what it is you’re trying to get across, it’s the only way it can come true. Be clear on what you’re trying to do, raise your profile, hit a new customer base, sell a new product or maybe re-invent an old one? Also don’t be afraid to share any thoughts you’ve had or work you’ve seen which you feel has been successful. 

Deliverables

If you are open to what the outcome could be and work in partnership with a designer, it will lead to the best work – it will become an insightful and strategic decision based on you and your customer needs, not just a passing trend in technology, print or even social media. 

It’s also a chance to share what support you’ll need and what you can deliver yourself, do you need help with copywriting or already have imagery you’d like to use for example. When you’ve chosen how you’re going to communicate your message, this is when timings will be decided. I always find it helpful to know when a business is wanting to share their new information as that can often help define what we create, an email for example can be a lot quicker to share with your customer than a piece of printed material.

Save money

Good briefing saves you money, it gives clear direction which means the designer will deliver great work quicker. As you gain a strong working relationship with a designer the briefing process will become more natural and shorter and in time they’ll come to you with ideas to market your products. 

I believe in partnerships and getting to know the business and the owner which is why I meet with my clients in person, I then draft the briefs and we agree to what we’re going to create together. 

Download the template I use for guidance, it will help spark the information you’ll need when briefing your designer, or take it with you as a prompt to make sure all the information is covered in your face to face meetings.

How a good brand can make you money

You have an exciting business idea that you want to share with the world, you’ve poured your heart and soul into it and possibly your savings. So where does a brand fit into this and how will it help grow your business? Or maybe you’ve been up and running for a while and you need to tell more people about who you are and what you do. So how can good branding make you money?

A brand is there to help you spread your businesses voice, resonate with customers and sell your product or service. But, a brand is more than just a logo. Done right a good brand embodies everything your business stands for, it consistently tells the story of who you are. It’s what sets you apart from your competition in the mind of your customers. Brand awareness and recognition is important when securing sales; a customer can't purchase your product, or make contact with you if they can't remember who you are, what you do or how to find you. 

The best businesses are those whose brands are easy to remember and instantly recognisable. It should resonate with your audience, the product or service you offer – whether your brand is established, hand-crafted, premium for aspecific market or has aspirations to be any of those. Your name should use simple monikers in order to make it memorable and have impact. By this I don’t mean what is on trend right now, or what you as the business owner like, it’s about what is right for your customers and the product or service you’re selling.

Petalon floral arrangement

A brand who I believe has established themselves within their small business arena is - Petalon, a London based florist. Owner, Florence Kennedy wanted to break away from the structured nature which was the norm for floral arrangements. Her style is practical, accessible and achievable by all, that brand message comes through from their identity; how they package their arrangements down to their instagram posts. The business has significantly grown, now becoming an extremely sort after wedding florist, offering a variety of workshops to now a published book ‘ Flowers, Every Day’ (which I'm dying to buy). They have followed all the rules in order to make their brand successful. Their brand elements use the fibonacci circle, which is genius as it is relevant to the core of every plant life, their font choice is simple, yet bold, the hessian fabric that they wrap each arrangement in shows their unstructured, natural ethos to flower arranging. They even deliver their arrangements by bicycle, showing that they are an ethically responsible business. I would recommend following their instagram feed @petalon_flowers, it will inspire you, give you social content ideas as well as show the importance of brand. 

Petalon delivery style

Like Petalon successful branding creates trust, improves awareness, supports your marketing, motivates you and your employees and generates new business - which in turn makes you money. These individual elements helps customers resonate with your brand, become loyal advocates which in turn means repeat business. Brand advocates become your best marketing tool, word of mouth. 

If you’re considering branding or rebranding your business, these questions below should help you get started.

What would you name the business, is it relevant and meaningful? Don't let yourself get too caught up trying to think of something cool or catchy.

How is your brand going to sound, what is your voice? Businesses have personalities, and your customers will choose whether they interact based upon your brand personality.

Visually how do you want to be seen? An image is worth a thousand words, and the visual impact of your brand goes a long way toward building brand recognition. Are you bold & brave or simplistic & minimal?

Where will your brand be seen? Consistency in your brand is key for your customers to see you as a trustworthy and dependable business.

If you want to find out how we can work together to create a brand that will help you grow your business and make you money please give me a call on 07834 830 384 - I’d love to meet up, have a tea and chat over your ambitions. 

Creating a splash on a budget

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Styling a swimwear shoot might sound glamourous and conjure up images of exotic locations, beautiful sunshine, stunning models and so on… But the stark reality is that sometimes you need to be savvy with your budget and your surroundings! There are lots of UK locations that can give the right impression, but if (as often happens) our unpredictable British weather fails you, then an indoor pool can be just as effective. 

On this occasion – a cold autumn day and working on a shoe string budget – we certainly needed to look closer to home if we were to deliver the images on time. And by this, I mean we begged, borrowed and er…stole!

For our location, we chose a fabulous home which has featured in several beautiful architectural magazines. The property was just what we were looking for, not just for its unique exterior, but also because of the impeccable attention to detail on the interior décor. 

Located in the heart of my local region, Nottinghamshire, the house has a vast and gorgeous indoor swimming pool, perfectly complemented by an abundance of tropical flowers inside and out. We quickly realised that, with the right composition and Art Direction, we could easily emulate the look and feel of an authentic Miami or St Tropez home.

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By making the most of the morning sun and the amount of glass at the location, we created striking sun beams, bleached lighting and even the steamy windows which added warmth and a summer haze to every image – a great little cheat! Striking whilst the iron was hot, we varied the ambience within the indoor pool to get a wide range of different shots of the swimsuit, from relaxing on a summer’s day to sporty and athletic.

To conclude, there’s always a way to achieve what you want from a photo shoot, no matter what your budget is (well, within reason anyway!)

Jazz in the Jungle

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Working in the branding industry, I’m always reading about the next marketing and consumer trends. It’s the best way to create work that’s relevant to consumers and reflects the latest market changes, as well delivering strong returns on investment for brands. This is something I’ll write about at a later date.

Outside work, I love catching up on the latest trends in fashion, interior design and weddings. I’m simply addicted to style magazines…it’s quite a problem!

Right now, there’s one theme I’m loving which covers all these areas: ‘Jazz in the Jungle’. I particularly feel this would be an amazing choice for a wedding this summer. Think bright jungle prints, green palm leaves, vibrant colours with dark hints…it’s intimate, sensual and very exotic. As evening draws in, your guests can be transported to the night jungle, a celestial event which draws on your shared love for erratic, yet seductive, jazz. You could transform your venue into a jazz lounge with muted red and purple lighting hues, and lots and lots of fabric – plush velvets, satins, and fringing on everything from light fittings to room dividers.

Your food and drink can also be linked into the theme, not just through exotic ingredients but also through presentation: banana leaves as plates, sliced melon as appetisers, printed tablecloths, pineapple-handled cutlery…the list is endless. It’s the little details that create a truly opulent effect, like spraying the pineapple handles gold rather than leaving them traditional yellow.

You could even go that extra mile and introduce the hot trend of taxidermy; for me, this is the greatest prop a wedding can possibly have. Providing a cool and eccentric vibe, your taxidermy could be intertwined with your venue or placed in an area dedicated to your guests getting the best (and unique) photos from the day. The trend was kick-started by Anyhoe Park in Oxfordshire, an amazing location where, looking back, I really wish I’d held my own wedding! It’s a venue you can hire for events, weddings and photoshoots, or just for an overnight stay in awesome surroundings.

I’ll finish by saying I’d love to style an event or shoot this summer involving a zebra with its own flower garland. Let’s all get planning!

Images all thanks to Pinterest.

Pigs and Peacocks

As the wedding season approaches, I thought I’d share this blast from the past. After designing what feels like more wedding invitations than I’ve had holidays – or hot dinners as the phrase goes – there are always a few key ones which stand out (though they’re all lovely). ‘Pigs and Peacocks’ stands out for me for two reasons: the story of the venue and the trust the couple put in me to reflect their dreams and aspirations through my designs.

Beth and Ed chose South Farm as their wedding venue because of its many unique features. Located on the border between Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire, South Farm won numerous awards last year for their incredible venue and superb service. They offer a stunning range of ceremony and reception options, including the spectacular Tudor Barn, beautiful garden Summerhouse, intimate Drawing Room and lovely Old Dairy – all of which exude a refined elegance. As well as a stunning setting, the farm also has an expansive small-holding featuring gorgeous rare-breed animals, a charming collection of Romany caravans and their very own authentic Thai Tuk-Tuk…I know, amazing!

When designing their invitations, I really wanted to capture the type of wedding that Beth and Ed were planning at South Farm. So I linked the design identity to some of the fantastic and unusual features the venue has to offer: the Romany caravans and the way the farm’s pigs and peacocks can freely wander round and interact with the guests. I created a unique logomark which appeared across all their wedding stationery, making it even more beautiful by embossing it on to G.F Smith Fine Uncoated paper in Imperial Blue.

I’m a firm believer that your wedding stationery should live and breathe who you are as a couple – and little details can go a long way. Even with my pre-designed collections you have the opportunity to add your personal touch, I work with each couple to help create something that reflects their day no matter what the budget. 

Band identity

A very close friend approached me to help out with his new musical venture. The name was set all that was required was to create an identity which matched the musical style and the bands flair. The deco style font came from the bands musical influence and the flourishes represents their unforgetable live performaces.   

To the other side of the world and back…part 1

When it comes to your honeymoon, you imagine relaxation, beautiful beaches and clear waters. We had the same idea, but wanted to see more than one place…so we went as far as we possibly could and headed off to New Zealand. This is a country that lives by its own rules, relies on its own economy to survive and encourages people to live well and have fun.

We took three weeks out to travel to both islands (ambitious I know), but with such amazing natural beauty and man-made adventures, we couldn’t say no. We spent months planning and pre-booking our trip, arming ourselves with a campervan so we had full freedom to sleep where we pleased and live at our own pace. After all that planning, the day finally arrived and we set off for our early morning flight from Heathrow

Then mother nature hit, blasting the north part of New Zealand’s South Island with a high-grade earthquake (7.8 magnitude). The quake devastated the coastal region, leaving a trail of damaged ferries in its wake – all while we were still mid-air en route. After landing at Auckland, we found the islands in a state of panic, with emergency services working to salvage roads and rescue people trapped in the land slides.

Our first night was spent altering our well thought out trip, as we were now stuck on the North Island for the duration. But we took this as an opportunity to see the island in all its wonder – and grasped it with both hands.

The first night in Auckland was certainly an eye opener. We had a sumptuous dinner and the best bottle of local red wine (as it should have been for the price…) of our whole trip at Euro Bar. As we worked our way round the harbour, we ended up in an Irish pub till the wee hours. It set the tone and our expectations for the rest of our trip.

From Auckland, we headed north to the Bay of Islands. We stayed in an amazing campsite right by the waterside; it really was what dreams are made of. As we strolled round the bay, ferry trips to the town of Russell were well underway. Known historically as an island of debauchery, with public houses and brothels lining the street in colonial times, we were keen to see how Russell looks today – and it’s beautiful.

The island’s architecture echoes its colonial history, with the original British church still standing. Russell is a small but picturesque town with exquisite flowers. There are a few antique gift shops, a couple of bars and a gorgeous house where you can enjoy fine dining

It’s a stunning place that’s definitely worth a visit.

Creating curves

An empty room is a blank space, so where do you start? When designing a room, its character is built by all the little details you add along the way. But with a large space like this one, you need one very large detail to set the tone from the beginning. Tactility and ambience were the key attributes on this occasion, with the aim of creating a room that people would always want to visit. That’s why no trends or themes were introduced, as the space has to stand the test of time and appeal to a variety of demographics.

We set out to create warmth, softness and just a hint of drama

First, we looked for natural materials to create the mood the room needed, deciding on a curved light wood. Layering the timbers on top of each other generates depth, with the subtle change of tones within the wood’s natural grain providing the kind of gorgeous detail you can only dream of. Our chosen fabrics – a mixture of leather, cottons and felt – add texture and soften the masculine effect that a large expanse of wood can often produce.

We also tempered the acoustics with an ergonomically-shaped feature wall. This helps dull the background noise and create an environment which welcomes intimate conversations, as well as a unique seating solution. Following the theme of softening the edges, we chose curved booths to give intimate dining areas which can seat from 2 to 8 people; this is also a great way to close or section off a very wide room.

As a finishing touch, we installed dimmed, ambient lighting to help people relax, forget about the stresses of their day and enjoy their time in a warm and welcoming space

Like a fine wine

As a designer, I’m always the person that’s asked to help plan and design the entire event whenever a landmark occasion arrives. And I find that, because I know the people so well, designing the invitations is the easiest part. On this occasion, I was armed with the knowledge that my friend loves wine and everything it has to offer at the end of a very long day – so it was only fitting that her party invitation should be a bespoke wine label.

The invitation featured written verses that expressed my friend’s personality as if she was a fine wine, describing her as ‘a vibrant little number with enough attitude to give your taste buds a tingle.’ Little touches like this made it clear to every person invited that this party would be truly unique.

By using G.F. Smith Colorplan Fuchsia Pink paper with silver foil across the whole invitation, I achieved a high-end, luxurious result at a low cost. As the invitation solely used silver foil, no printing was required – a trick that can often help create something with a champagne look on a lemonade budget.

Glamorous girls

High Fashion Styling and Art Direction

The brief was to create some high fashion looks which both complemented and juxtaposed with the whole interior of our location, a superb 1960s architectural wonder. Our two models both had very different looks, one with striking red hair which was a perfect foil for the wood interiors throughout the house, and the other a petite dark-haired stunner whose clothes just draped off her.

Here you can see how the use of floor-length windows creates a sense of the outdoors becoming part of the whole image composition. The jacket and trousers are from Maison Scotch, whilst the bralet was a great find from Ann Summers. Below is a Boohoo leotard teamed with Kurt Geiger shoes (you don't always need expensive brands to get a high-end look).

Using the unique features in our amazing location, we created stunning scenes in different parts of the house. Above, a simple Mango herringbone jacket over the Boohoo leotard gives a seductive post-work look against the worn black leather inset sofa – an instant hit.

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The hair and make-up styling embodies the kind of 1960s glamour that must have abounded in the house during its early years. Here, the simple use of colour with the lamp gives additional depth to the room, without which the image wouldn't be nearly as strong. 

The key to great Art Direction on a shoot like this is to spot the areas which you'd usually ignore, like these trees. Walking in and out of the house to get another shot, we took no notice of them. An off-the-cuff comment led to one of the best shots from the day. With the bright-coloured dress, this could easily be used for a summer magazine cover – a world away from the internal glamour shots we'd been working towards. 

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Hair and Make up – Leanne Shaw. 

Photography – Rob Smalley

Short break in Hong Kong

Big city with tradition at its heart

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En route to Taiwan, we had a stopover in Hong Kong for a few days. The epitome of a big city with its bright lights and fast-paced lifestyle, Hong Kong is a complete contrast to Taiwan. The city screams ‘money’ from the very minute you land, with brands such as Burberry and Dior stocked in airport shops as large as UK department stores. A shopper’s paradise – if you have that kind of money.

Armed with our Lonely Planet travel guide, we took in every sight, sound and taste there was on offer. The book offers some great restaurant recommendations, although they don’t tell you that some of these are fast food places, such as Fat Angelo's. (I still get ribbed about it to this day.) We had an outstanding steak at a restaurant on the Waterfront – a great way to watch the Hong Kong light show, which only gets better the more times you watch it. 

Another highlight of our trip was taking a bus ride around the city and then the train up to The Peak. The views from the top were breathtaking, even on a foggy day.

Hong Kong offers everything you’d expect from modern day China, such as fast trains and late night bars. At the same time, tradition is evident at every turn, with boats still used to travel around the city and bamboo still used for scaffolding (see image above). 

The old and new are perfectly aligned together, and you can't go down a street without experiencing one or the other. You’ll find traditional Hong Kong restaurants right next to brand new bars – all open late and extremely welcoming to travellers.

An amazing short city break.

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Same, same but different. Is Instagram becoming all too familiar?

Is diversity still welcome on this social platform?

This might sound controversial, but after going to a few social media workshops to try and strengthen my online social presence, I left uninspired and a little disappointed. Throughout these workshops, and whilst reviewing Instagram’s Top 10 accounts, I found that all the 'best' images tend to look the same in terms of composition, tone and often content. They also seem to use the same style of props (although different physically, they still look very similar), the same layout and the same colourways.

So my question is: When you need to show flexibility and variety of experience, should your images look the same or should you be able to embrace being different? I’ve recently started following some new Instagram accounts and I’ve learnt a great deal about the marketplace, and what works and what doesn't. I’ve also gained a new insight into myself and my work. And I think that, in order to maximise my online social presence, I'm going to try to make every picture different from the next.

Not everything about the social media workshops was disappointing. What was great to learn is that it’s best to avoid using filters, as these can dilute your image content and hide how good you are as a photographer. Also, the importance of using hashtags, an area which is ever-changing and something I'm constantly trying to improve on. For example, you should always use hashtags in a comment, not just with your image upload. Make sure your hashtags cover more than just the content of your image – and don't forget your location.

The more I learn on Instagram, the more I'll share. Follow me on Instagram to see how I’m progressing with what I've learnt and if all my images have blended into one.

Breathtaking Taiwan

A must see for every traveller

Taiwan isn't on everyone's bucket list, but for me it was the most beautiful place I've ever seen – unspoiled and completely true to its heritage. Your mind might have gone instinctively to 'Made in Taiwan' (am I right?) and yes, part of the west coast is all about manufacturing and the large, high rise buildings you expect to find in Taiwan.

But that's only one side of the island. Travel a few hours east and there isn't a factory in sight. In fact, this area is so remote that no one speaks English and you can get a gin and tonic for less than £1 (not that this should be an incentive for going, of course!).

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Taiwan’s rich history has seen the country ruled by both China and Japan, creating a great mix of cultural influences at every turn. It's amazing how both ruling influences can be seen so uniquely and with such strong integrity. We embraced every aspect of Taiwan’s culture, from Japanese temples to incredible nature reserves. One of my favourite sights was seeing an elderly monk leaving his offerings at a temple and saying a few prayers; I felt privileged to witness such an honourable act.

Another highlight was hiking through breath-taking scenery to Taroko Gorge, the famous bridge in Taroko National Park. Here, you'll find temples built at different levels within the mountains – some are so hard to find that you'll need a guide to take you up that high. The scenery is just as awesome as it looks in travel books. It was hard to believe it was so untouched and we didn't need any camera filters. We could have stayed there for days capturing pure, raw footage.

What was remarkable during our time in the remote west coast of Taiwan was the people’s belief that I would bring them good fortune! For them, blonde hair and blue eyes mean good luck, so families would come up to me and ask to touch my hair. Even more bizarrely, they also wanted pictures with me to take home. So my image could well be hanging alongside family portraits on living room walls, or I could even be famous in some of the villages. Of course, if I could bring luck to someone I would do my best to help them. 

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Driving through Taiwan, you come across rows of shops like these, all selling drinks and food. In every shop, you can find the local delicacy of raw prawns...but the very small ones. You’re meant to take them out of the tank and pop them straight in your mouth. I'm always open to trying new things but this time I really couldn't!

As you head out to the coast, the beaches are completely pristine. We drove along the coastline, popping to beaches which it felt like only the locals knew about. There was one beach where a local artist had made a creative space where people would go and paint, sculpt and meditate. You can also sample the gorgeous local, cuisine – we tried chicken curry which came with the claws still attached… The local artist collected the driftwood and anything else which washed up on the shoreline, using them to create sculptures to sell.

The people we met were friendly and always helpful, even though we only met one person who could speak any form of English. Taiwan really is a must-see country if you’re looking for somewhere that’s absolutely untouched and that unique feeling of being completely away from it all.

Behind the Scenes

Editorial Shoot

Working with Rob Smalley (Photographer) and Leanne Shaw (Hair & Make-up), we set out to update their portfolio. They asked for my support in Styling and Art Direction, to help them create something that would really make them stand out in the fashion arena.

Rob sourced a unique location previously used by M&S and for a Vogue photo shoot, as well as a Goldfrapp music video. As soon as you approach the drive, it’s easy to see why the house has been so widely-used. It’s a beautiful, 1960s open plan property that’s in mint condition and set within two acres of secluded Nottinghamshire woodland.

The house is owned by a local high-end furniture distributer, something which was clear to see in every room. All the furnishings are original and perfectly complement the house and its features in every way. But what really adds the ‘Wow’ factor to this already amazing location is the fully-glazed indoor swimming pool.

My role in the photo shoot was to style and dress the models. After a few days of planning and frantically sourcing clothes for models who hadn’t quite been confirmed, the day finally arrived. Armed with a suitcase full of clothes, shoes and accessories, I set up and started steaming clothes ready for every possible scenario. As soon as the house tour was done, the shoot list refined, and the models’ hair and make-up perfected, the shoot began.

I supported Leanne throughout the day, making sure the hair looked right through the lens and sometimes adjusting make-up to suit the lighting, as well as working with Rob on Art Direction. This involved checking the composition, moving furniture around, advising the models on their pose and generally striving to achieve the perfect shot.

It was a great day and we captured some fantastic shots – but this was the sneak peek Behind the Scenes.

 It was a busy day I promise : )

It was a busy day I promise : )

Once in a while...

...In the middle of an ordinary life

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Designing an invitation for any sort of event can be the trickiest of projects. As well as being an extremely personal process, it’s also the key to enticing people to attend. No simple task when you’ll be hitting multiple audiences, all with different tastes, with just one piece of collateral!

This invitation was for a Prohibition Wedding, where it was important to maintain the American Art Deco theme whilst adding a contemporary twist. We focused on the alcohol advertising that was around at the time (think the mirrored adverts you used to see in pubs), using a Smoke Foil (ref 6705) on G.F Smith Nomad Grey Smooth Paper. This created a tactile yet impactful invitation. The design was intricate but the execution simple, creating the perfect balance of old and new.

Every detail of the invitation continued the Prohibition-era theme, from the illustrated map of the wedding location to the language used. It gave you the feeling of being transported back in time, but in a modern setting – giving guests a sense of what the day would be like before they even arrived at the venue.

We took care to provide the guests with plenty of information, such as where to find the church and evening reception venues, lists of local taxi firms and hotels, and the fact that whilst booze was provided, they could maybe bring a bottle or two as well. We even asked for music requests so we could add these to the playlist. This made the guests feel very much part of and involved in the wedding, and helped them prepare for the day.

As a finishing touch, we included a reply slip and envelope with each invitation. This really is the best way to make sure replies are sent – it's remarkable how it encourages people to respond quickly.

Prohibition Wedding

Every wedding has its own individual spin – and when it came to mine, the pressure was on. Being a creative by trade, the expectations from friends and family were high.

With no theme in mind and no desire to read countless wedding magazines, I went back to basics – what didn't I want? That might sound like an odd place to start, but it links back to the key to planning any successful party: what are your loves and best memories of past events, and what would you hate to have on your big day?

I asked myself a few simple questions and from the answers, came up with the overall mood and atmosphere that I wanted to create.

The theme I chose was ‘Prohibition,’ but not as everyone thinks or expects it. I wasn’t interested in Gatsby, or in glitz and glam (that certainly isn't me!), but in recreating the underground, back room, speakeasy jazz clubs that thrived during this time. The main feature was to keep it all-American – South America to be precise, where moonshine is still an underground drink found in jam jars and paper bags to this day. My fiancé and I had both travelled the States, and the local bars with their backyard games offered the best times to be had.

Once this thought was in my head, the ideas just kept on coming. Bath tubs for drinks, reclaimed rusty furniture and even baked bean tins for our centre pieces! We wanted a relaxed environment where the music was live and the drinks kept on flowing – a typical expression of who we are. For wedding favours, we had our homemade Raspberry Gin (our own version of moonshine), which is renowned amongst our friends, and even cigars for guests who were of age.