Like many of the people all over the world, I tuned in to watch Meghan Markle and Prince Harry exchange vows on Saturday, May 19. My alarm was set for 4 a.m. PST, and I sat there in my jammies with my hot cuppa wrapped in a blanket.
My reasons for watching varied: from heavy British influence and family all my life, extensive travel to England, being a die-hard romantic, my support of Princess Diana in honor of her youngest getting married, being a 20-year wedding planning veteran to being always intrigued by special events.
Creatives love design detail. And while I love creative design, I have a particular passion for paying attention to some things that are often overlooked for those obsessed exclusively with aesthetics.
Meghan and Harry’s wedding was known as “The People’s Wedding.” What can we learn from that as creatives in business?
As I watched their entire wedding, it became very clear that the actual items that were done for the wedding would not become the next “trend” as much as how they did their wedding. So, while others may be trying to duplicate the cake and floral design (and there is nothing wrong with that – if clients are asking for it), I suggest that there are some key points for the soul and the “how” they did their wedding--that if paid attention to--will help far more with a creative’s marketing plan and continue to be relevant to the bridal couples of today:
Social awareness/A wedding for a cause: Meghan and Harry acknowledged that there is a lot of want in the world and as such, kept everything at bare minimum out of a respectful nod to our world. From her dress, to the bridal bouquet that she, her maids and flower girls carried, everything was small and understated. Even her wedding cake was not an audacious display of grotesque gaudiness.
Also, instead of gifts, Meghan and Harry asked guests to donate to one of seven charities they support, all the flowers from the wedding were donated to a local hospice afterwards, and part of their honeymoon was used to provide service to those in need.
They used their “royal wedding celebrity” to shine a spotlight on those causes dearest to them and made giving back and supporting those in need the most key element of their wedding experience.
Environmental awareness: Meghan’s flowers were chosen because of their seasonality, her cake was chosen at a local baker’s, and even the pork belly served at the reception was locally-sourced. The words they used for their wedding planner was they desired everything be “seasonal and sustainable”.
Open to all: centuries of boundaries dividing classes now removed: For perhaps the first time in history, they made the grounds of Windsor Castle open to the public and invited them to come picnic on the grounds all day and into the evening. And let’s not forget the fact that Prince Harry married a “commoner”--an American divorcée in fact--another factor in removing the divider between social classes.
Honor tradition, but add a little spice: Bishop Michael Curry--an American Episcopal clergyman--shook the traditional English straitlaced pomp and circumstance ceremonial verbiage and spoke from the heart with incredible quotes about love from Martin Luther King and more. He was engaging and stirred up the status quo. As if that weren’t enough, when do you think the last time St. George’s Chapel had a gospel choir perform? And Harry and Meghan broke with tradition yet again by offering a speech of their own at the reception (more common in the United States, but certainly not in England – let alone at a royal wedding, where the bride and groom do not speak).
Personal touches in design: Even with the “outward” focus of this couple, there were still touches that were deeply personal: the gorgeous florals cascading the entrance and interior of the chapel included white roses, one of Princess Diana’s favorite flowers; as well as Meghan’s train, whose border included just over 50 flowers representing every country in the Commonwealth. Talk about bringing a kingdom together in unity with a gorgeous tribute befitting of a duchess!
What do all these observations add up to? Weddings with a conscience.
Couples who are looking not to be the stars of the day, but to cast the light on the world’s needs while celebrating their love and paying attention to extremely personal details. Because of this awareness by a celebrity couple, other couples will most likely follow suit- in varying degrees.
The “trend” will become more of the “how” rather than the “what” as the first step in the creative process.
As a creative business--no matter what niche service you are in--being prepared to help clients with the overall “soul goals” (as I call them) of the “how” in wedding design in addition to the design detail will help set your business apart and ensure longevity.
Success is going to be defined by being able to be the service provider who knows how to help them accomplish the “how” of infusing their most important values into their wedding, and not just “things.”
Kerry Lee Doehr is CEO/founder and CEO of event planning business Santa Barbara Wine Country Weddings and Events, as well as Engaging Inspiration, a business dedicated to marketing, events and training for the special event and hospitality professional. She is committed to progress in the industry that goes beyond trend and design, saying, "Who we are and how we handle ourselves ethically is more of a barometer to business longevity and branding than all the money in the world spent on advertising."