Tabitha from Ashley’s Bride Guide wrote this feature on Brocade posted on ABG on 10.01.2010. Here’s the reprint!
I love that wedding florals have progressed beyond simple bouquets. These days, flowers take center stage to complement the food, the colors and the lighting. They can be larger than life to create a feeling of opulence for a big, spectacular wedding or more subdued and simple for more intimate settings. Behind those wonderful designs are floral designers like Hillary Robson who owns Brocade Designs . Hillary’s an artist who loves her work and loves what she does with weddings and brides, and that passion is totally your gain. If you don’t know her, you should!
How did you get started in weddings?
I’m one of those people that were always enamored with weddings. I think maybe I grew up in an age where the pageantry of weddings were super celebrated and that impressed upon my young mind—like Lady Charles & Di, or even Luke and Laura. I can vaguely recall the thrill of being a flower girl in my uncle’s wedding and how I knew that one day, I’d be the bride. I didn’t play with my Barbie’s in a “here we go to work, and come home, and get dressed…” but instead it’s “Barbie’s Wedding!” over and over again. I have played an integral role in most of my close friend’s weddings long before I was involved in the business, and I’ve never grown tired of the planning and execution of an event that celebrates two people in love. I went into the business of weddings in December of 2007, when I realized that this passion of mine could become a career.
What do you like most about weddings?
There are two moments that I love most about weddings. The first is when I meet with a bride for the first time, and I learn about her vision, the vendors she’s using, the space she’s using, and we dream up the décor for her day. The second is the very minute I’m finished with a wedding setup and I see that vision come to life. I love the dream to reality aspect of what I do, and I love knowing that I’ve helped a bride execute her dream and make it into something that is real and tangible, and something she and her husband will remember forever. The other thing I love is when I watch their ceremony and I see that look on the grooms face when he first sees his bride walking down the aisle—it makes me cry every.single.time.
True confession: my favorite thing to do is to make bouquets. It’s like therapy for me, some people take long walks, some people lie on a couch, some people paint—I make a bouquet. It’s guaranteed to lower my blood pressure and let me slow down and just be creative and artistic. Some of my favorite bouquets from this past year were the ones I made for Kristin Kaplan & her wedding party last September. Everything came together and was so perfectly coordinated—and full of color, texture, and depth. I like to think of my bouquets as little works of art—and it’s such a beautiful thing to see a perfect bouquet come together that is absolutely redolent of the bride’s style.
What is your service philosophy?
First and foremost, I’m a perfectionist. While I can admit (freely) to being a bit type-a, I think that this serves my brides in the best of ways. I take their wedding day as seriously as though it was my own, and I expect nothing short from all of my team members. I believe in providing my brides with the very best level of service, with complete and utter attention to detail, flawless execution, and a commitment to using only the highest quality materials.
Image by Joy Marie
What are your strengths compared to others in your category? / Why should a bride hire you?
I think that perhaps my biggest strength is that I put a lot of myself and the love for what I do into every event that I’m part of. I think it’s important to create a relationship with my bride and her groom—so that I can truly know them, their tastes, and more importantly—their vision for their day. I feel that if I don’t have that personal, real connection that I’d miss out on a detail that I know they would delight in. Details are something I take VERY seriously (just ask my design team members and planners that have worked with me in the industry—I make nothing short of three “final review” trips around a reception setup to make sure that everything is absolutely perfect, and I’ll stare at a table to find out what is “missing”). I believe that brides can always trust that I’ll be a million-percent committed to everything looking as fabulous as possible.
Who are your 5 favorite Nashville wedding vendors – helpfulness, professionalism, style?
Kristin Kaplan, Simply Stunning Events—amazing to work with, super-attentive to detail and a perfectionist like me, I love working with Kristin because I know she can always get the job done with class and style!
Chef’s Market: Delicious food and endless style. There’s a reason that they are so hot in Nashville—it’s because they are awesome!
Nashville Event Lighting: I have watched Blake and his company go from a few can lights to an entire lighting production, and I couldn’t be more proud to have watched the evolution. They are excellent from design to customer service, and always a pleasure to work with.
The Bride Room: The ladies at the bride room have a genuine love for all that they do, and they work with brides to help them to find THE dream dress. They are so kind, so conscientious, and so wonderful that I recommend them to every bride I speak with that has yet to find her gown or her bridesmaids’ gowns.
I must confess—we are so lucky to have so many wonderful photographic professionals in our community that I can’t just pick one, I have to pick several of my favorites, all for their genuine personalities, attention to detail, and excellence: Donald Yeager Photography (my fiancé and talented artist behind the lens); Kristyn Hogan, lifestyle photographer (Sweet beyond compare and amazingly talented); The impeccable McLellan Style (MeLellanStyle.com) (wow is all I can say!), and I could literally go on for days…
Who do you recommend when you’re not available/not a fit?
I recommend Melissa with Vintage Florals, A Village of Flowers, Fresh! by Carry Ann, and Rhonda Patton of Rhonda Patton designs. I try to give brides a few referrals so that they can synch creatively and on a personal level with their designer.
What do you read/watch regularly to stay on top of wedding/event trends?
I’m in love with Martha Stewart, have been forever, and so M.S Weddings is a staple of my reading materials, as well as other regional & national wedding mags. I follow Style Me Pretty, Southern Weddings, and a variety of other national & local wedding blogs, tivo all the wedding shows, and read a lot of different bridal blogger posts to hear from brides about what trends they are following.
Image by Joy Marie
What trend do you love?
I love that brides are willing to experiment and mix-and match with fun and funky containers, found objects, et cetera—this is a very Style Me Pretty inspired trend and it’s a lot of fun to come up with fabulous components that integrate together but are all unique. We participated in a shoot styled by Opulent Couturier’s Latrice at Front Porch Farms with Kristyn Hogan, lifestyle photographer. It was great to embrace the rustic, vintage feel with many different containers—from mason jars to antique-inspired tins.
Is there a trend that you hate?
I don’t really hate anything – I am always open to experimenting with something new and different, and even if I might not think it’s my innate style, I like the challenge of trying something I might not gravitate to naturally. I think that my main peeve is seeing certain things get overused and overdone, which is a natural occurrence because brides are presented with ideas that seem unique to them but may be something I’m doing every weekend. I take these occasions as an opportunity to provide a new twist on something that is tried & true and make it different and fresh
Is there a trend that you are glad is gone? The only trends I’m glad are gone are trends that tell the same color story. For a long time, Tiffany Blue & Chocolate Brown, Colbalt & chocolate, and green & white were really big color schemes, and it got challenging to keep coming up with fresh & new ideas—I love that we are starting to see more bold and creative mixes of colors, like Vibrant orange & blue & gray, or color palettes that embrace a range of colors—these are the most exciting to work with, so I like any opportunity to get out of the good ol’ tried and true.
Which trend are you sad to see leaving the wedding scene? I admit that I’m sad that very few brides want to do a “traditional” white wedding. An all white wedding is such a unique & thrilling challenge as a designer—selecting flowers that integrate together to provide visual depth in an all white scheme is so much fun, and I look forward to that coming back in once again. One day.
Images above by Joy Marie
What are your favorite wedding websites?
ABG is one of my faves, of course, as well as Style Me Pretty, Wedding Bee, Southern weddings, etc etc—I prefer blog-based sites with editorial content, because I feel you get so much more out of them. My newest neatest wedding find is shoesofprey.com, where you can custom design your own shoes (for your wedding or whatever else).
Advice for brides?
I’m getting married next June, so I can say completely that brides—I know what you are going through. That being said, as both a bride and a vendor, my biggest pieces of advice are as follows: 1. Hire only vendors you like: Don’t let price or style be your only deciding factors. Make sure that you have a connection & relationship with the people you are hiring. It’s important that you feel completely confident and assured that you have people working for your wedding that you honestly trust and respect and know they feel the same way about you. 2. Read your contracts: Yeah. It’s not fun, and you may have to get out a dictionary to understand some of the terms, but read through and know what you are agreeing to… it will prevent you heartache and confusion—and don’t work with a vendor that says they don’t “need” you to sign a contract. That’s a red flag. 3. Hire a wedding planner: I think this is maybe the most important thing you can do. The savings and benefits of a wedding planner will offset the investment in having one—and the less stress and relaxation you’ll experience is worth their weight in gold. 4. Do what you want. Who cares what anyone else says, what your mom thinks is pretty, what your bff tells you is the “thing” to do… it’s your day. Own it. I hear so many brides say “But, I don’t want to hurt so-and-so’s feelings,” or “Well, my dad is paying for this so he gets to decide.” Advice is great, and contributions to your day are wonderful, but at the end of your day—it’s yours. Don’t have regrets, make decisions that you love and can live with, and everyone else that loves you will understand. No one’s going to resent you for having the wedding day you want to have, don’t be afraid to speak your mind.