How to Create a True-to-You Wedding Mood Board(without relying on fucking Pinterest)
I fucking hate Pinterest.
Every time I start to work with a client, I have to wade through a massive wedding mood board that is really more like a million photos of someone else’s wedding, and is either full of too many wedding DIY projects, or floral arches and hanging installations that cost almost as much as my car.
And I really wish they had just talked to me before they did this, because it’s useless, and we have to start all over from scratch, and I also have to start managing failed expectations before we’ve even gotten started… which can make wedding planning, well, depressing.
But that’s a topic for another day. I don’t want that for you! I want you to have a happy wedding planning experience, with your fiancé, setting you up for a marriage that feels like a partnership. So! In this essay (lol) first I will tell you why I fucking hate Pinterest, why it sucks the joy and honestly, the logic, out of your wedding plan, and then, I will show you what to do instead.
Why Pinterest is the WOOOOOORST Place to Start Researching Wedding Mood Board Ideas (even DIY!)
Pinterest seems so convenient. We love pictures! A picture tells a story, right?
A picture is missing so much essential information. Like, the price. The price of the picture you’re looking at isn’t just nice-to-have… it’s essential.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say you’re looking at a welcome sign, and you’re in the DIY area of Pinterest so you’re thinking, “Okay, I can get a piece of wood, and some acrylic paint pens, and write that in white on the wood.” Sure, you can.
But the picture you’re looking at on Pinterest isn’t of a naked sign. It’s something more like this:
Photo by Elena Rae Photography
It’s usually got some additional greenery or floral details, and that detail is not as simple as you think. Nor are those florals something you can just leave out without it making much difference…
This picture is actually from my own Journey clients’ cocktail. And while it might look like a simple spray of flowers at the top, it took me the better part of an hour to create, because
I am not a florist and
A florist's job is way more complex than you think, requires a ton of tools and know-how, and is extremely time consuming. (This feels like a good place for that Kardashian meme, but it would be redundant, wouldn’t it?)
I want to clarify, too, that this wasn’t something I planned to do for my clients, but rather, when I saw how the welcome sign looked on the easel the venue had supplied, and saw that we had an extra centerpiece (because we are still dealing with last-minute cancellations), I decided to spruce it up. The easel is, as you can probably see, a bit too tall for the sign. It’s also metal. So I just wasn’t happy with how much was showing at the top.
Now keep in mind - I’ve been working on events for 16+ years. I had floral wire, zip ties, and every kind of sticky thing imaginable in my kit. And it still took me that long to get this together. In the end, I begged everyone not to touch it because it was, in my opinion, mostly held together by my wishes and dreams.
DIY comes at a huge cost:
The price of all the pieces of the finished product, all of the tools to get you there, and all of the other things you buy at the craft store “just in case” (and thankfully you did, because uh oh that glue was not the right glue!)
The amount of time the project will take, multiplied by two if you’re used to doing this sort of thing, and by three if you aren’t
The mental energy spent conceiving, planning, and worrying about this project, its transport to the venue and installation, etc.
I’m not anti-DIY. I actually really enjoy it and Pinterest can be a resource for how-to’s once you’ve landed on an idea that matches up with the look of your event and your own skills. But here’s what you need to know:
Every time you add a DIY element to your wedding, you're not only spending your time, money, and energy working on it in the months ahead of your wedding. You’re adding stress during the week of your wedding, because it's going to take time to organize or finish up projects; it’s going to cost money when something falls apart or needs a last minute detail you forgot; and it’s going to take energy from whoever is working with the DIY product.
That energy spend is a huge invisible cost. I just happened to have the time on the day of my clients’ wedding to work on the easel, but if I hadn’t, it would have taken me away from something else I wanted to do for them, or it would have been rushed and not turned out nicely. Be careful not to overload your wedding crew (the friends in your wedding party, family helping out, and your vendors!) because the more you ask of people, the less gas in the tank they'll have to be on the dance floor, and to be present for you on the wedding day.
Styled Shoots: Where Your Wedding Budget Goes to Cry
Have you ever heard of a styled shoot? I have! People ask me to participate in them all the time, but to this day, I never have, for two reasons.
I don’t think they truly showcase my work. I’m not an event designer, I am a wedding coach, which means I work with my couples to simplify the planning, make the event more you, and support you in every way possible in the planning. A styled shoot… has no couple to support.
I hate how they misrepresent the cost of weddings.
Styled shoots are not weddings. They are a half to full-day event in which a team of stylists, models, and event professionals get together to create something that pushes the envelope of what they could reasonably create for a wedding. It’s a major creative flex, a way to show what’s possible…
And it is not bound by the constraints of logic.
So, let’s take a gorgeous menu. If the stationer only has to make a few of them, and they really want to showcase their talent, they could make something really elaborate, that might take them an hour or more per item. But for your 50 person (or 150 person!) wedding, that time spend would be impossible, nevermind costly.
Same goes for hanging floral installations. These are extremely time consuming and often require a massive amount of flowers to look full and lush. Seeing them everywhere? Well, they’re very popular. But Pinterest doesn’t have a spot for you to enter in your floral budget and number of guests so that it only shows you things you can afford. And that brings me to…
That’s Not How You Make a Wedding Budget (Pinterest’s Infographics are Stupid)
I have a whole (free!) wedding budget workshop that walks you through the challenges of creating the budget, the things you probably forgot to include, and how I figure out where to allocate your spending. In it, I have a slide called “Infographics are Stupid”, because over the years I have gathered a few of the ones I’ve seen on Pinterest, some even posted by reputable magazines, and they are all trash.
The main point of my wedding budget workshop is to help you understand that there is no one pie chart that is going to nail it for you. And that looking at how someone else spent their $30,000 (on how many guests? That information isn’t included either!) is not going to be how you spend yours, because your wedding is going to be completely unique to you and your partner, to what matters to both of you, and how much those things matter is going to change their wedge in the pie chart. (This is exactly what I figure out for you in The Jumpstart, by the way.)
Tunnel Vision, Decision Fatigue, and What It Looks Like When Pinterest Throws Up On Your Wedding
There are three more reasons why I really hate Pinterest.
First, once you enter your keywords, and the algorithm starts to know what it is you like… it just shows you more of the same thing.
Instead of getting a wide variety of creative ideas, you end up pinning, like, 140 images that have white flowers and greenery. And again, you get caught up in details without being aware of the cost. You suddenly have a floral arrangement planned for the bar, the welcome sign, the sweet table, the favours… and you’re adding literally thousands of dollars to your floral quote, only to be disappointed when you finally do meet with a professional and realize you can’t afford any of it.
The possibility of having an out-of-the-box wedding, something unique, and true to you and your partner… that goes out the window when Pinterest is involved. And that said, if you have two to five images that really speak to you from Pinterest, those could be welcome on your mood board eventually. But that’s not where I would start to get inspired, so stay with me.
And then there's the opposite problem, where, instead of getting pulled into things that all look the same, you're getting too many options, and you end up overwhelmed, wasting a lot of your time and energy looking at other people's weddings and looking at options.
This is a creativity killer, and can make you really resent even having to plan your wedding, or just picking things based on price because you’re exhausted. (Decision fatigue also happens with vendor selection, which is why having a planner-in-your-pocket to help guide you is key.)
The third problem occurs when you’re kind of doing both of the first two things - you’re happily pinning, finding a lot of stuff you like… and you can’t make a decision… so you do… all of it.
This happened at a wedding I attended some years ago. Not only was the event filled with redundant and unnecessary activities (like releasing balloons after the ceremony… and then later releasing paper lanterns into the sky - why?) but the table was resplendent with stuff: a tiny succulent, a monogrammed tin of mints, and even a pashmina tied to the chair. Ask me what the centerpiece (which probably cost the most and was meant to be the statement decor) looked like - no clue.
It was a destination wedding, so it made it that much worse that not only had the couple schlepped all of these tchotchkes to the event (and if I could fit a third Yiddish word in this sentence, it would be meshugganah), but we, the guests, then had to schlep them home.
Unlearning Your Bad Pinterest Habits and Making Your Wedding Mood Board Online
I remember a manager I had, years ago when I was working in a coffee shop, who never wanted to hire anyone who already had coffee shop experience. She said she preferred to work with someone who didn’t have a bunch of bad habits they’d have to break.
I love that, and when I became the manager, I did the same thing. Because I think training people is really fun… and I also think my way is the best way. So, if you’ve already started with Pinterest, that’s ok, but try to be a tabula rasa for today and let’s start fresh.
Here is how I do it with my clients:
1. Figure out your values and vision
I’ve mentioned The Jumpstart a few times, which is how I nail down the big picture of what your dream wedding looks like. My clients rave about this offer, because they walk away with huge wins. And my free budget workshop could also get you started thinking about these things. But I want a quick win for you, so to simplify it all, try this:
What matters most to each of you about the wedding day?
Write that down, and also write down the budget number you’re working with, so it’s always top of mind. Consider that your venue and catering will cut into that number significantly, and that whatever’s left will be your budget for everything else. You’ll then divide the pie according to what matters most.
If you also have a vision, or a few images from Pinterest, get those together too
2. Milanote is my favourite way to create a wedding mood board
This is an awesome, free tool you can access online and easily share with a link to either viewers or editors. You can also access it from your phone, so anytime you see something you like, you can pop it onto your mood board.
I prefer it to other apps because it allows you to add text, draw lines from one image to the next, and move things around freely, just by dragging and dropping. You can even add links, and I like to move things around and create specific sections, and have images overlap when they are related.
3. Get creative when sourcing images
Here are some of the places I look for inspiration when I’m starting a new project or design:
Unsplash is a free source of high quality photos, so if you know, for example, that you want blue flowers, you can search that and see lots of options and colour tones. I also love working from real photos for backgrounds, like a slab of marble instead of a “marble look”.
Wedding publications either online or on Instagram that show unconventional weddings so you can get really creative. I really like Offbeat Wed and Rock n' Roll Bride, and I love to look at queer weddings - they tend to be more original overall, and feel really representative of the couple and their values.
You can also search hashtags on instagram and click on locations, so that the process actually shows you real vendors, not just pretty pictures.
Search images of artwork or home furnishings that appeal to you
Something else entirely…
I actually started the mood board for my daughter’s nursery from a line in an e.e. cummings poem:
You are whatever the moon has always meant and whatever the sun will always sing is you.
It felt very real for me, when I was pregnant, and I decided I would do a moon and stars theme for her nursery, and consequently, I made that my baby shower theme so I could repurpose whatever decor we used! Win/win. I even did a little DIY element, which you can check out right here.Coolors.co
And because shopping small and local is really important to me, I spent time searching on Etsy, toggling the search to things within my budget that were made in Canada, so that my mood board wasn’t just wishful thinking.
4. Create a colour palette for your wedding
This probably seems like the hardest step, but it’s the easiest. Take an image you really love with a colour or two that you like, and upload it into Coolors.co. You can pick the colours from the image and get their official colour codes (hex codes) so you can work with them. You may have to play around with it a bit, but you can lock in the colours you love and then just keep hitting the space bar until something grabs you. Then, you can download your palette and save it to your own mood board, like I did, above.
5. Involve Your Fiancé!
There is almost always someone who cares more about the look and feel of the wedding, and that’s fine. While moodboarding may seem super fun to you, it could feel really boring to your partner. But I do encourage you to flip your screen around and show them where you’re at, and ask them something specific. So, “do you like it?” is probably not going to get you anywhere.
Do you like this (one) image?
I like X a lot - what do you think about that?
Does it feel like somewhere you’d be comfortable hanging out?
And, if you’re having trouble getting on the same page as your fiancé when it comes to wedding planning, like, ummm… pretty much everyone, you’ll want to check out this post, and this one too. The aim here is to come up with something that is reflective of both of you, of your desires for the wedding, your shared values, and that fits within your budget.
And that’s the trickier part, so again, I am here to help - you can DM me on Instagram anytime.
And if I didn't say it loudly or clearly enough throughout: Fuck. Pinterest.