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Is seeing really believing?

"Well, I just can't see it", I overheard a discouraged and slightly frustrated bride say to her Mom. Ok, I promise, I wasn't ease-droping. In fact, I was busy working on the other side of the room. I was elbow-deep in dozens and dozens of colored chair cushions and standing under the vibrant swirling colors of the massive Dale Chihuly glass sculpture hanging from the ceiling at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Virginia Beach when I heard it.

You see, my design production team and I were starting to up chairs and install a room design for an event later that night. Suddenly one of the museum's staff members walked into the room with a bride, her Mom and a friend. They had been searching for a wedding venue and were now on a walkthrough of the museum. The Mom and friend were trying to describe what they thought they could do with the room while the bride looked around with an unsure (and even worried) look on her face. The two ladies continued chatting with one another - throwing out ideas, stretching out their arms, and pointing here-and-there as the museum staffer gracefully stepped out of the way. Finally, the bride took a heavy breath, sighed and firmly told them both, "Well, I just can't see it".

Now, it was at this moment that my heart went out to her. I mean, I remembered that feeling years ago. It's the feeling I try to save other brides from feeling. I could see that look of anxiety but, the truth is, I didn't feel it would've been appropriate for me to go up to them and say anything. All I could do is hope she'd get someone to help coax her abstract ideas out and make them come true. I sometimes wonder if I should have said something. After all, what bride was going through was actually very common.

40% of people respond better to visual information than plain text and 80% of people remember what they see when information is visually presented to them in images. Compare that to only 10% of people who remember an impression audibly. Now fast forward to 2020-2021 and the challenges of wedding planning during the coronavirus pandemic. Add in the need to do so much of the wedding planning process from a distance and it's no wonder that visual planning techniques are more important than ever and one of the top trends of the year.

So, what is "Visual Planning"?

Well, Visual Planning is a system of ideating, visualizing and planning using graphics, artistic, and visual representation of the exact work to be done. Now that so much being done virtually - visual planning & presentations is the best way to get wedding planning done smoothly. Yes, this trend can include Zoom and video tours but it really does go why beyond just meetings and walkthroughs. For example, a main part of "Visual Planning" is using striking visual presentations to develop compelling design concepts, details, materials, budgets, logistics, set-up, and more.

The other big advantage of using visual presentations, tools and technology is helping clients, vendors, and venues communicate. Having a clear, fool-proof way to communicate ideas will effortlessly stop miscommunications, unnecessary stress, and costly mistakes. But that's none of this is new for us. I've been creating custom art sketches and visual technology to collaborate with our clients for years. Today Visual Planning will be one of the biggest trends of the year.

What about Pinterest?

So, what about Pinterest? Pinterest has been the go-to first stop for Brides and Planners in search of inspiration for years. Of course, Brides, Grooms, and Planners will continue to use Pinterest as an idea source in 2021 but be careful. There's a universe of inspiration out there and it's easy to get sucked in. And although Pinterest is a great starting tool for gathering ideas, I find that too often Pinterest boards can quickly get filled up with random ideas and become cluttered. Once someone starts pinning it can sometimes turn into "the kitchen junk drawer" of ideas.

The truth is, Pinterest boards are a great way to collect ideas but the images are like collage. I would say like puzzle pieces but Pinterest Boards will never fit all the pieces into one complete picture. It's just not necessarily for making a smooth and actionable plan. In 2021 you can expect to see more and more Design & Planning Professionals using sophisticated processes, skills, tools, and techniques to keep up with demand. They'll need to seamlessly develop ideas and level up an experience for couples that goes way beyond Pinterest Boards & Style Boards. Professionals will start to share presentations that literally blueprint the entire design plan in detail. In fact, look for more communications done with illustrations, high-quality presentations, and 2-D and 3-D renderings to confidently ensure unique table designs & room layouts, and comfortable yet safe physical distances.

Of course, I've been presenting brides and grooms with watercolor illustrations of their bouquets, ceremony site designs, tablescapes and ballroom designs to review and approve for nearly 15 years. Sadly, I never heard of anyone else doing this. That's one of the reasons why I created my creative entrepreneur masterclass to help systemize blueprinting design details and plans. After all, I was a formally trained fine artist decades before I entered the events industry or even before I took my first floral design certification class. In fact, the Captivating Idea Blueprint Masterclass enrollment is currently open for a limited number of beta class students.

Here in 2021, with 55% (or more) of couples scheduling virtual wedding vendor appointments and more couples simply unable to visit venues and vendors in person, it looks like visual planning is a trend whose time has come. So, what do you think?

How are you adapting to virtual planning? If you're a couple, are you looking for your venue or vendors to "WOW" you with clear, strategic and visually compelling presentations? Or, if you're a venue or a vendor, have you used visual planning techniques in the past or is it something you're going to incorporate into your services now?

And finally, for the event pros who want to join the masterclass I have to warn you I can't accepted too many students. Class enrollment is now open for the Beta Version of the Masterclass but because it's a very limited online class at a one time only special rate, space is offered on a first come, first served basis until spaces are full. You can see the course overview and details at

As always, let me know your thoughts on this or any of the other trends you're seeing (see our full 2021 Wedding Trend Report link below). Until then remember, I’m only an email away.

If you had any questions please remember, I'm only an email away.

Janel Bailey Keen Executive Creative Director, Principle Designer and Educator

* "Bailey Keen Designs" Consulting, Event Design, Floral Designs and Decor

* "Captivating Idea Blueprint" Professional Masterclass


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