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Curating Your Wedding Design | Interview with Elizabeth Lutz of Elizabeth Lutz Design | Wedding Secrets Unveiled! Podcast

Today on Wedding Secrets Unveiled!, we host Elizabeth Lutz of Elizabeth Lutz Design. Elizabeth shares her expertise in curating a unique wedding design for your big day to help you accomplish the jaw-dropping effect of your dreams! Today we explore the difference between wedding planners and designers, how to utilize a Design Blueprint, and Elizabeth’s tips for finding a designer you can trust. If you are looking to take your wedding from logistics to legendary, tune in to today’s episode!

Curating Your Wedding Design with Elizabeth Lutz of Elizabeth Lutz Design on Wedding Secrets Unveiled! podcast

Meet Elizabeth.

I’m Elizabeth Lutz, a wedding and event planner and designer based in Massachusetts serving New England and coast to coast. I work solely with design focused couples. So they come to me and they know that they need an event planner. They know they need direction, but they also know that they’re not happy with the chairs that their venue has, or they know that they’re building a tent on their private property. And they know that I can help them make their event truly unique. 

I think that’s unique about you is that you’re an event planner but also a boutique designer. Can you talk more about the differences? 

Absolutely. So my background is in catering, which led me to learning the logistics and foundation of an event. It’s my personal opinion that you can only do design well when you have the foundation of how to run an event because they’re intertwined. You can pick the most expensive linen, but if you don’t have the right size table, it doesn’t matter. So the difference between designers and event planners is that planners have a logistics focus. When you’re an event planner, and you’ve dedicated yourself to planning and you don’t want to claim the design label, you are truly focusing on logistics timeline, guest count, hair and makeup schedules, all the nuts and bolts of planning and then you’re on site for execution.

If you add a layer of event design and you’re a planner, you’ve got aesthetic sense. You’re making sure someone has the right size table through the caterer but also helping design the layout. We really want to understand our clients’ styles. And that’s the difference between a planner and a designer. A planner is going to question design elements where a planner wants to, they want to make sure it’s pretty, but they’re not as focused on pushing the creative boundaries. 

Curating Your Wedding Design with Elizabeth Lutz of Elizabeth Lutz Design on Wedding Secrets Unveiled! podcast

Couples really need to understand the differences between an event planner and a designer and know who they’re looking for. 

I do think and I think couples will find that there are certainly targeted questions that you could ask when you’re interviewing a planner. You may start to visit websites and find yourself resonating with certain portfolios. You’ll start to see that design elements are popping out at you. What sticks out to you is important for me – those are things that matter. Now, if you know for a fact that you don’t care about the place setting or the chairs and just want to use what’s presented to you, you’re going to be better served with a logistics focused planner – which is totally fine! 

When I walk into a venue or a couple calls and they say something like, “I have to do something with these chairs!”, then I know that we’re in the right place. But, if you want me to just plan, my services aren’t for you. 

Exactly. I think that that is very, it’s a tough concept to understand if you haven’t gone through it. So, tell me about how you uncover a couple’s vision. 

I think event design is now, more than ever, an integral part of weddings because our access to rental products has expanded exponentially. Before now, unless you really wanted to think outside the box and had a killer budget, you were just upgrading to a chiavari chair or a garden chair. But, those were the options you had. Now, we have more products and vendors available. So now, trying to weave your way through all of those things, you need a professional. 

To uncover their vision, we really just start with the basics. I want to know what their likes and dislikes are – and from there I can start to gather keywords about what they’re really telling me. Oftentimes, we look at photos from other events and weddings. By determining what they’re drawn to in the images, we can discover what they like and their vision might be. 

Curating Your Wedding Design with Elizabeth Lutz of Elizabeth Lutz Design on Wedding Secrets Unveiled! podcast

I love that. It can be really helpful to look through images and find what you like. 

Sometimes all these options are really overwhelming. It’s important to understand what’s out there and when you’re overwhelmed with Pinterest, Instagram, photos, magazines, and blogs – it’s so fun to see, but people can also be quickly overwhelmed by what’s available. And that’s the root of everything that I do is I just want to help these couples.

I’m emotionally invested. But I’m not emotionally connected the way that you are really listening to what you have to say, to help you guide to the right choices, and also define your priorities. Because in the beginning, everything’s important, and you want it all.That’s a big part of the process, too – defining priorities and using your budget wisely. So you’re getting the most out of your investment, too.

You told me that you don’t use Pinterest boards often with your couples. Why is that? 

It might be because I am 41 years old and Pinterest didn’t exist when I started in events. When it first came out, I was in catering – and wasn’t really using it. Plus, it was clunky and hard to use. But, now, it’s just not a great process for my couples. It might be initially to get started with a couple, but I’ll never make them for my couples. They will give me their Pinterest board. And it’s super helpful because I can scroll. In 30 seconds, I can identify colors they like and a style that they like and flowers that they like. That is immensely helpful. But then we take it out of Pinterest and we put it into my own personalized planning portal. That’s where our discovery process begins. 

Curating Your Wedding Design with Elizabeth Lutz of Elizabeth Lutz Design on Wedding Secrets Unveiled! podcast

I just had to ask that to Elizabeth because it’s so funny. I had such a love hate relationship with Pinterest because even to myself as a photographer because I don’t want to mimic photos that I’m sent. But, it can definitely be a good starting point for our work. 

It’s the starting point, exactly, it’s a tool – and it’s a tool that we’re all grateful to have. But it really is that it’s like it’s part of the process, but it’s not the process for you. 

Tell me a little bit about what’s on your website: the Design Blueprint. 

Absolutely. So Design Blueprint is event design that began four years ago. It’s a product I created out of listening to my clients. The Design Blueprint is meant for a couple who wants to plan on their own and is happy to do so, but they want a cohesive event design. The Design Blueprint is designed after my full-service offering and we go through the whole process. It gives them the exact blueprint to make their vision come to life. We put all of their design elements into a cohesive deck – a 60 page document, start to finish, that outlines their mood, vision, keywords, color palette, textures, and the design elements – tables, chairs, invitations, and so on.

That deck is built from their inspiration, like PInterest or their own images. Then they can start using that to add in vendor quotes, availability, and custom options needed. By the time they’re done, they have a blueprint. So, when they’re done – they can go talk to their vendors and know what they’re looking for. It takes the overwhelm out and they know they’ll get what they want. 

Curating Your Wedding Design with Elizabeth Lutz of Elizabeth Lutz Design on Wedding Secrets Unveiled! podcast

It sounds like it takes a lot of second guessing out when it comes to design and planning. Can you talk to us about the trend of using the Design Blueprint for our listeners and how it will benefit them?

Yeah, absolutely. So the design blueprint, it’s interesting, because it’s not a new service to my portfolio, but it’s a service offering that is becoming more in the forefront. One of my couples called it the “little black dress of wedding planning”  – a staple you didn’t know you needed. The Blueprint is fabulous because there’s so many working pieces when planning your wedding. 

What are your priorities? What is your budget? How do you make that design come off of the paper? What does this vendor do? And you get all of that as part of the Design Blueprint. You’re still spearheading your planning and doing it with the support of that little black dress in the closet. 

Curating Your Wedding Design with Elizabeth Lutz of Elizabeth Lutz Design on Wedding Secrets Unveiled! podcast

Can you tell me, as far as making meetings more productive and making people understand a little bit about their vision… are you showing them what they need to complete that look? How do they know what to ask for at their appointments? 

I think that’s such a wonderful question. And thank you for asking. When possible, the goal is that they have the exact linen picked out and they have a swatch in their hand and they have a quote. So I’m just getting ready to wrap a design blueprint now.  She’ll receive swatches from the two different rental companies. We have narrowed down her cocktail linen, her dinner linen, her dessert linen and her napkin – which would have felt so overwhelming to do on her own. 

That is worth its weight in gold! So, what is someone looking at in terms of a budget then?

It really ranges. So part of the blueprint process – early on, we uncover what your priorities are and you may not always know that right away. Sometimes there needs to be a scope shift midway through. But that’s part of the creative process. I always say to my clients: I try really hard to make it a scientific process, but it’s not. It’s very creative. There’s a lot of bobbing and weaving and shifting. Generally speaking, it’s anywhere from $5000 to $7000 for your “little black dress”.

From that blueprint, you have a step-by-step to make my vision come to life with vendor quotes and connections. And the beauty of it is that it can happen at any point in the process. It works really well,in the sweet spot of 9-12 months in advance, because you haven’t really had to make a lot of decisions that you’d have to back out of in the end. The Blueprint can really slide into your planning when you think you need it most.

Curating Your Wedding Design with Elizabeth Lutz of Elizabeth Lutz Design on Wedding Secrets Unveiled! podcast

So moving on to a little different topic… What are you seeing for inspiration right now, maybe some trends going into the start of 2024?

I love paper goods! There’s so many paper goods – invitations, menu cards, place cards, table numbers, escort cards – and I think it’s a really important part of the overall design. What’s really interesting is that all of those are becoming more personalized. This generation wants personal details – intentionally understated, beautiful, refined, and yet timeless. I think they’re shying away from anything they think that they’d look back on in like, 5 years, and feel was just trendy. They’re very very conscious about not being trendy. 

Personalized and timeliness. I love it. Tell us one design element that you always recommend. 

If you can do it, change your chairs. I would challenge anybody who’s planning a wedding to start looking at photos in a detailed way in a trained eye way. You are going to notice chairs and you’re going to notice linens. I love David Price, who was on the podcast, and he’s right – linens can change a look. But the chairs will transform your design. You can cover an ugly table with a good table cloth. 

Again, everything is personalized, and everything is based on priorities. If it’s the white garden chairs, there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I’ve actually saved specific photos to share how these white garden chairs can be really beautiful. So I’m not downplaying them or any other “basic” chairs, I think that they serve a purpose. They’re great. And that’s all we used to have. But, now we have more. So it’s exciting to explore options and not just have to default to a boring chair. 

Like you said, there’s a time and a place for you for those two types of chairs. So you can explore every option. 

Wrap-Up Question

What are some key points that couples should be asking their event planner, if they feel they are a designed focused client when inquiring to make sure that they are working with a professional company to ensure that their wedding day is absolutely perfect?

Go back to identifying your priorities as a couple. 

If you have already identified that design is important to you, then you need to find a planner who can do design. Ask them how they approach design and what their background is. It’s okay to go back and forth with a professional – they want you to – to make sure you’re a good fit. 

Remember, you can have really pretty pictures with a beautiful design. But if it’s not logistically sound, your day is going to not be what you want. 

Curating Your Wedding Design with Elizabeth Lutz of Elizabeth Lutz Design on Wedding Secrets Unveiled! podcast

What We Discussed

Meet Elizabeth (2:15)

Event planning and design differences (2:16)

The Design Blueprint (26:18)

Wedding trends for 2024 (37:08)

One thing to change (45:12)

Wrap-Up Question (55:17)

Links Mentioned in the Episode

Find Elizabeth Lutz at Website | Facebook | Instagram

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