Laura Nell, Wedding Planner
We had a lovely interview with Laura Nell, the creative director behind the popular wedding planning firm based in San Antonio, Texas.
What is your approach to throwing an awesome party?
Our signature is chic, understated elegance. All of our weddings feel very residential in terms of style. Our style is not ultra-modern or over-the-top. If we get a call where the bride is really interested in either of those looks, we’re very honest that we’re not the right fit. We layer colors, textures, finishes and perfect details beautiful enough to be in our client’s living room. We never bring a formula to a client, we listen carefully to each client’s likes and dislikes and we take it from there.
Our advice: clearly define what you want your event to look like. We accomplish this by collaborating over several weeks with our clients through private Pinterest boards. Eventually, what they are dreaming of becomes very clear. Then, let that inform all of your decisions and carry it across all aspects of your wedding or event.
Other advice: set the tone with your invitation, and don’t skimp here because it’s the first impression you make with your guests. Pick the very best vendor partners you can afford and then really listen to their creative ideas. Naturally, hire the best wedding planner you can afford, it’s the most important investment you’ll make. Pick a few key moments—places where you know all eyes will be (like your welcome table and your stage backdrop for the band) and invest your dollars there. Incorporate thoughtful, highly personalized details that represent the bride and groom’s personalities and will make guests feel special and cared for. Most of all, have fun planning!
What trends are you seeing in bridal gown styles?
We collaborated with Melinda Young of San Antonio’s Julian Gold bridal department on this answer. Their bride (and our favorite look, always) is elegant, classic, timeless, and reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly.
With every event leading up to the wedding being documented now across social media, some brides buy three dresses, one for the rehearsal dinner, the bridal gown, and then a dress for the reception or after party. Another growing trend is to have a gown that has detachable pieces like a cigar skirt, a Japanese obi train, an over skirt or a detachable bolero or cape to give brides an off-the-shoulder look yet still cover their shoulders for their ceremony. Lately we’re also seeing more color in dress details like lace or appliqué. Embellishments are trending and we’re seeing hand painted and heavily ornamented veils and classic gowns accented with feathers and beaded bodices.
What types of dresses do bridesmaids like to wear?
The stereotypical matching bridesmaid dress is fading, thankfully! Some brides still choose a uniform look, but many brides are enabling their maids to choose for themselves creating the curated look that we love most. We love it when a bride gives her maids general direction, such as a color palate or a pattern, but gives them creative freedom to choose their dress. When everything comes together it’s très chic. The best part is that every bridesmaid feels like themselves and has invested in a dress they can wear again. Lately, we’re pretty obsessed with vivid florals. There’s just nothing dreamier than a beautiful bride in white captured on film surrounded by her bridesmaids effortlessly wearing a rainbow of vivid floral dresses blowing in the breeze. Sigh.
What attracts you to Mestiza New York?
I first discovered Mestiza at a Julian Gold fashion show when I looked up and saw the Georgiana Gown flowing down the runway. I absolutely had to have that dress, and before the fashion show was even over I was on the phone inquiring about it. I was delighted about the price point and I bought it the next day!
I love that it was founded by best friends who met when they were in their social prime, like my business partner and me, and fueled by their mutual love to party. I love the craftsmanship and the glorious attention to detail. I’m obsessed with the couture quality of the brand yet all the pieces are reasonably priced. Mestiza New York is beautiful, approachable, under-stated and elegant. Brava, Alessandra and Louisa!
What is your favorite wedding destination? What makes it meaningful?
Currently we’re designing and planning a wedding in the backyard of a bride’s childhood home. Her girlhood dream was a ‘Father of the Bride’ wedding. Planning and executing a wedding at a residence is highly personal and can be pretty complicated in terms of production and execution, yet we absolutely love this challenge. Nothing could be more special or meaningful. We always treat the planning journey as a sacrament, and this wedding will be truly that as we become the architects that bring her wedding day dreams to life in her mother and father’s backyard.
What are your sources of inspiration?
As the Creative Director of Cloche, I can be inspired by anything. I approach every wedding or an event as if it’s a blank canvas. I look to my clients and take their lead, then make their dreams come true in a cohesive way. I would run out of ideas otherwise and the wedding is about them, not my ideas. Whether it is an aesthetic (garden), color (blue), a geographic location (the Hamptons), an illustration (custom wedding crest) or a theme (the beach) I can be inspired by just about anything. I will say I personally love all colors, but I don’t like working with red or black (aside from tuxedos) when planning a wedding!
What fashion trends have popped up in wedding guest attire and what’s the most outlandish wedding dress code you’ve come across?
We’re from the South, so we’re pretty traditional as it relates to wedding guest attire, of course keeping with latest fashion trends. Recently, via a social media blog, we saw a bride at her destination wedding ask all of her guests to wear neutrals, the photography turned out so dreamy, brilliant!
What projects are you working on now? What’s next for you?
We’re hard at work on weddings and events deferred to the Fall and in 2021. The show must go on!
What is your advice to brides who had to postpone due to COVID-19?
Reschedule now, don’t wait. The longer this goes on, the scarcer Saturdays will be this winter and in 2021. When you reschedule, amend your original contracts in writing and really pay attention to Force Majeure and voluntary cancellation clauses.
We’re not advising brides to reschedule for Fall, we’re being very conservative for a variety of reasons but one interesting one is, brides need to consider how their guests are going to feel about traveling and being in close quarters with other guests. It’s going to take our nation time to heal and recover emotionally from social distancing. If all of this lifts soon, I still don’t think I’ll feel ready come September to be packed on a sweaty dance floor with dozens of people, personally. A wedding should be a thoughtful, hospitality experience from start to finish for the bride’s guests, too.
What’s your favorite Mestiza piece and why?
The Georgiana Gown, in all three colors, of course, because I own it in the Porcelain Blue and I am forever obsessed with vivid florals (and anything blue and white). I also love the new Stephanie Bow Dress, and the Azulejo Gown. The whole collection is dreamy, hmmmm I’m scrolling through and I desperately need to sign off because it’s definitely time for some online COVID-19 retail therapy! Thank you for interviewing me, it’s an honor.