This weekend, Rob and I flew to Aiken, South Carolina, to attend the wedding of our friends, Maxine and John. After missing our morning flight, enjoying a beverage at City Café while we waited for the next flight, landing in Charlotte and driving the nearly three hours to Aiken, we were not exactly in peak condition when we ran in (late) to the rehearsal dinner. We made apologies, and because we were in the South, were met with two plates of food kept warm for us, two cocktails kept cold, and nothing but warm forgiveness for our Yankee lateness.
Once we’d settled in, I opened the tiny silver box at my table setting. Inside were chocolates (I think I’ve made clear my position on sweets) but the outside is what intrigued me. Maxine (also known as Lauren) walked over and I pointed out the small panoramic image from her engagement pictures printed on cardstock, no bigger than my pinky. It was tied to the box like a gift tag, and was adorable. “Oh, you like it?” she asked, “I branded us.”
I’ve been planning my wedding, reading wedding magazines and pouring over wedding blogs doing important scholarly research for a few months now, and not one bride or writer has mentioned branding. At first it seemed a bit sterile to me, but now it seems genius. Maxine asked me to help set up on the day of her wedding, and I spent a few hours marveling at her organization (a skill I am woefully devoid of) and at her attention to detail. She did indeed brand herself at her wedding, and it looked amazing.
She commissioned a silhouette of herself and her fiancé, and it appeared throughout the wedding process, from the save-the-dates, to the gift bags thoughtfully left in each guests’ hotel room, to the ceremony itself. The engagement photos weren’t just part of their photography package, doomed to end up on a lonely Facebook album; she incorporated them onto the rehearsal dinner gifts, printed and framed them to decorate the wedding venue, and tied them to the pencils and honey pots she gave away as wedding favors.
She had a stamp created of the silhouette and cleverly tagged various surfaces. She and her fiancé have moved around quite a bit as a couple, and their journey was chronicled on a hand drawn map, and this theme was carried over with road map bunting hung around the venue.
I know lots of brides have themes, but so rarely is the theme the couple themselves.
I wonder if we will start to see a branding trend. Planning a wedding is a bit like running a business (or in this case, a pop-up shop) and having a clear mission and consistent message is Marketing 101. It gives the bride an outline for her wedding, and makes it easier to fill in the pieces, while keeping it personal.
I was inspired by Maxine's wedding, and resolved to come home ready to throw myself into getting organized and creating my own brand. Turns out the kind of people who miss flights are not the kind of people who can whip together a flawlessly executed wedding. I may have to commission her to return to Baltimore to do it for me.