Fresh Inspiration on Planning a Wedding with Personality

By William Ray

When I received my copy of Matthew Robbins’ Inspired Weddings: Designing Your Big Day with Favorite Objects & Family Treasures – a lavishly illustrated coffee table book on planning a wedding with personality, recently published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang – I instantly recognized that Robbins, an artist and master event designer, was a kindred spirit. Here’s why.

From Planning a Wedding That’s Green to One That’s All Yours

Distributed by Abrams – America’s most respected art-book publisher – Inspired Weddings represents another step away from canned tradition and cookie-cutter conformity toward weddings with individuality, subtlety, and authenticity. At New Wedding Planet, where planning a wedding is about process, not products, we think this is progress.

Like green wedding expert Maria Navarro’s Green Wedding: Planning Your Eco-Friendly Celebration, also published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang, Robbins’ book (his first) provides practical guidance and inspiring ideas for two audiences: professional weddings planners looking for help and couples planning a wedding on their own.

Like Navarro – a highly regarded journalist who writes on environmental issues for the New York Times – Robbins, co-founder of a successful New York event design and planning firm, began his career in the Bay Area, first as an art student, then as a budding event designer mentored by Maria Vella, owner of a Vallejo Street floral business where he worked on weekends. (His generous expression of gratitude to his close friend and former boss in the book’s introduction suggests that he’s just as nice as he is talented – co-traits not often found in the major league where Robbins now plays. Martha Stewart provided the book’s foreword.)

Planning a Wedding for the First Time? ‘Hunt and Gather’ the Pieces

Robbins’ unique vision for planning a wedding with personality could only have come from an artist and collector. Expressing that vision in a book as excellent as this also required experience (he’s planned events for 15 years), connections (he’s a contributing editor for Martha Stewart Weddings), and expert collaboration. The book’s editing and photography (by Thuss + Farrell) are perfect, another sign that Robbins – who started his business with his partner, the artist Jack Myers – is as easy to work with as he is to understand. Nothing complicated here, nothing pretentious, and nothing wasted.

In nine compact chapters, Robbins explores nine distinct wedding themes, from the colorfully abstract, such as ‘Citrus’ (for a couple planning a destination wedding), to the minutely concrete. My personal favorites? (1) ‘Paint-by-Numbers’ (use a bold color palette and an eclectic array of objects for a farm or home wedding) and (2) ‘Vintage Tin,’ a completely different style inspired by a vintage cigarette tin brought back from Turkey as a gift to Robbins by Vella. If you enjoyed (or simply remember) the pleasure of painting by numbers from a kit, you’ll fall in love with the food and flower ideas inspired by this amateur artistic pursuit of an earlier era. If you also like travel and treasure-hunting, you’ll be equally drawn to the old world feeling of new world objects artfully arranged against the white-museum-wall wedding setting of an urban loft for a cosmopolitan effect.

The author’s other object-inspired themes for planning a wedding with style?

–‘French Candy’
–‘Portugese Bead’
–‘Schoolhouse Map’
–‘English Pitcher’

Each requires ‘hunting and gathering’ (the author tells you where to look and how to hunt), and each is worth its own book. Meantime, Robbins provides sensible suggestions about matching the theme to a wedding’s color palette, setting, and season, describing the likely client for planning a wedding professionally using a particular chapter’s theme as inspiration.

Since the publication of Mireya Navarro’s Green Wedding in 2009, Matthew Robbins’ Inspired Weddings is the only book I’ve chosen to recommend for readers planning a wedding for the first time, either for themselves or for a client. You’ll understand why I’ve picked this one when you see it for yourself. Robbins is a kindred spirit, and his first book is a delight.