How to Create a Wedding Inspiration Board

So I’m guessing that for those of you who just got engaged, unless you’re in a design or creative field, you may never have heard the term ‘inspiration board’ or even ‘mood board’ before. And suddenly, you’re a bride, and it’s everywhere, right? To be fair, inspiration boards are a little less all over the wedding blog landscape than they were a couple of years ago, but they’re still very much part of the planning experience. Here on SBB, I’ve been creating inspiration boards for over three years now (and several for styled shoots that put those ideas into practice as well) and I love doing them, but if you’re a newly minted bride-to-be, it can seem a little intimidating. Well, worry not. Today we’ll cover everything you need to know, step by step. And I’m sharing some of our most-loved SBB inspiration boards from the 2013 archive as well. Read on!

Top row (l-r): Pink bridesmaids {Jose Villa}; ceremony arch {Eric Kelley}; bouquet {Anne Robert}; lemonade {Corbin Gurkin Photography}; watercolour painting {Bernadette Pascua}; Row 2: Ruffle purse; ombre cards {Beaux Arts Photographie}; headpieace; baby’s breath bouquets; stepladder {Stephanie Williams}; Row 3: Bride {Stephanie Williams}; cake {Jose Villa}; shoes {Ryan Ray}; groom {Meredith Perdue}; table setting {Megan Thiele}

So, what is an inspiration board anyway?
First things first. An inspiration or mood board is a kind of collage that has been used for many years by creative professionals such as graphic and fashion designers to communicate a complex creative vision for a project. It started as a 3D concept – literally a pin board with fabrics, drawings, patterns, colour swatches and textures added and taken away until the balance felt right (you can still work this way, of course – use a cork pin board that you can add to and take away from easily). Nowadays, digital boards are the norm, and that’s what you’ll usually find on wedding blogs and the like. The advantage of the digital board is in its portability, of course – you can easily have it on your iPad or phone for reference, or email it to your suppliers.

Top row (l-r): Orchid {Anouschka Rokebrand}; bride {Beth Helmstetter/Samuel Lippke Studios}; pale lilac shoes {SH Weddings/Hanle Productions}; calligraphy table number {Jose Villa}; chandelier {Tea Olive Photography}; Row 2: Invitations with celadon edging {Lucky Luxe Couture Correspondence}; elegant updo {Easton Events/Patricia Lyons Photography}; orchid and rose bouquet; lilac velvet ribbon; cake with white orchids {Jenna Walker Photographers/Creative Weddings}; Row 3: Bride and groom with fairy light curtain {Cory Ryan Photography/CLINK }; lilac cocktail with ribbon tags {Samm Blake}; diamond ring {KT Merry}; table setting {Kate Preftakes Photography}; lilac bridesmaid dresses {Samm Blake}.

What an inspiration board isn’t
Here’s the MOST IMPORTANT thing you need to know. An inspiration board is NOT a shopping list. It’s about an idea. It’s not there to limit you. It’s not there to make you feel like your wedding should look perfect, or even exactly the same as your board (read this post if you lose sight of that!). It doesn’t have to reflect the exact choices you make – the dress you pick, the bridesmaid dresses you select, the cake you design. It’s an effective tool, but it is just a starting point.

Top row (l-r): Bride; invitations {Ruby and Willow}; bouquet {Elizabeth Messina/Lisa Gorjestani}; place setting; chapel {Mario Testino for Vogue}; Row 2: Buds; bridesmaids {Sylvie Gil Photography/Kristi Amoroso}; leaf escort cards {What Shanni Saw}; Row 3: Cork heart; bride in cardigan {Kim & Niki, Photographers}; blackberry swizzle sticks {The Nichols Photography/The Nouveau Romantics}; fairy lights {Feather + Stone/The Little White Wedding Company}.

Why you should have one

  • FOCUS: A Pinterest board full of images is awesome, but it can be overwhelming. An inspiration board narrows your focus and helps you turn it into a cohesive vision, testing out what does and doesn’t work together and acting as an anchor for your vision going forward.
  • COMMUNICATION: A while back I had an emergency email from a bride who wanted to go with a particular (unusual) colour scheme, but was under a lot of pressure from her family, who felt that it wouldn’t work. We put together a board for her, and she was able to not only see for herself that her ideas did work, but to get them across to her nearest and dearest and reassure them that she hadn’t lost her colour marbles. In the same way, a board is a simple but very effective way to communicate your concept to your suppliers, saving lots of time and frustration, and hopefully inspiring them to add their own ideas in line with your own. Creative collaboration is awesome.
  • INSPIRATION: You know that feeling you have at the start when you start planning? You won’t feel like that every day. When your enthusiasm dips and you get bridal fatigue, having your board up somewhere is a great way to get excited again.

Convinced yet? I hope so! Here’s a step by step guide to creating your own inspiration board.

Top row (l-r): Barefoot bridesmaid {Clary Photo}; mint lemonade {Bryllupsglimt}; mint shoes {Lane Dittoe}; peach bridesmaids’ dresses {Leo Patrone Photography}; peach bouquet {Jill La Fleur/Flower Wild}; Row 2: Table setting {Jessica Lorren Organic Photography}; peach watercolour invitation {Minted}; sugar cookies {Paige + Blake Green}; rose biscuits & rose yoghurt {Food & Cook}; Row 3: Mint ribbon backdrop {J.R. Clubb/Ryan Farr}; peach cocktail {onelove photography/Stephanie Grace Designs}; bridesmaids {Joy Thigpen/Jose Villa}; cake {KT Merry/Nine Cakes}; flower girl {KT Merry Photography}.

1. Gather your images
Don’t rush this part! You don’t have to do it in one session. Of course, if you’ve been curating one or more wedding Pinterest boards, you’re already well on your way. Save your favourite images into a single folder. As mentioned above, don’t feel you have to use the actual venue, dress, bouquet or other details you want, especially if you’re still not sure what those will be. An inspiration board is about a feeling and an atmosphere as much as it’s about colours and themes. You can find pics via Pinterest (which now has great search capabilities) or Google images, or by browsing your favourite wedding blogs (it’s worth trying a keyword search). I’d suggest some of each of these kinds of pictures:

  • Images that reflect the colours you have in mind (they don’t have to be wedding images, and if you can’t find the combination you have in mind, choose some of each of the colours you want and the board will combine them for you)
  • Images of the type of wedding you’d like – garden, beach, brunch, traditional, etc.
  • Pictures that reflect the kind of feeling you want to create – whimsical, romantic, fun, laid-back, etc.
  • Images of any details you are completely, totally, over the moon in love with. Dreaming of dancing under the stars on an outdoor dance floor? Include that.

For example, let’s take our Antique Teal & Rose board. This was created especially for a SBB reader, who loved “vintage girly” things and an “old antique-ish feel”. Here are some of the images I chose:

Top row (l-r): Bride {Paul Johnson}; bouquet; lace embroidery hoops {White Rabbit Studio}; lace table runner {Sean Money + Elizabeth Fay/Tiger Lily Weddings}; Row 2: Pink shoes {Marie Labbancz}; wrought iron chair {Anthropologie}; paper pom poms; antique shoe stretch {Maryke Harper Photography}; Row 3: Suitcase & books; pink champagne cocktails {Jose Villa Photography}; pink bridesmaids dresses {Alexis Diack}; vintage teal and rose table setup {Events by Heather Ham/Picotte Weddings}.

2. Select your favourites
Now it’s time to narrow down your collection. Choose the ones that ‘speak’ to you the most, that give you that little feeling of excitement or satisfaction. This is a creative process, so play – have some fun! There’s no rush. Trust your gut, and when it feels right and complete, and like YOUR style, you’ll know you’re done. I use between 12-15 images per board, but you can use fewer – 9 is a good number if you’re working in a grid. Remember, you don’t have to get everything in! Just the general feeling and idea.

Top row (l-r): Cocktail with blueberries {Chrisman Studios}; flower garland {KT Merry Photography/Beauty in the Making}; table with mint chairs {Martha Stewart}; thank you card; window with heart {Elizabeth Messina}; Row 2: ‘Today I marry my best friend’ invitation; bridesmaids with blush wraps {Emily Steffen Photography}; mint and clear vases {Laura Ashbrook Photography/Floral Occasions}; lemonade in mason jars {Ulmer Studios}; Row 3: Bride and groom on pier {Caroline + Ben Photography}; wrapped box; pink dress {Elizabeth Messina}; pink shoes; macaroons.

3. Put it together
Honestly, there are a zillion ways to do this. Those of us wedding bloggers who do boards regularly tend to develop our own style and format. I like to work across three rows without borders between the images, but that’s just my style. Last year, I discovered to my surprise and delight just how many of my fellow bloggers still use Powerpoint for their boards – I thought I was the only one! Even though I’m a prolific Photoshop user, I still like to go old school. You can use Word, Powerpoint, Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Paint… whatever you feel most comfortable in. Photo software like Picasa (which is free) is also great, especially if you’d like your pictures to all be the same size or shape, to be lined up in a grid, or to have white borders between them. As I mentioned, choose the medium you feel most comfy with.

Of course, you could also use one of the online inspiration board tools that was created with you in mind! Style Me Pretty’s inspiration board tool is my favourite, and you can use images from both within the site (there are thousands!) or upload your own favourites. Dessy also has a fab styleboard maker, which has the advantage of allowing you to choose your colours by Pantone shade. Polyvore is also an option, although it’s really better suited to fashion mood boards, like planning your bridesmaids’ looks, or your honeymoon suitcase ;)

Top row (l-r): Claire Pettibone dress {This Modern Romance/Claire Pettibone/Gatherings by Stacie}; cake {Sonya Khegay/Latte Decor/Azale}; toile envelope liner invitations {Pyramid Atlantic/Betsy Dunlap/Katie Stoops}; copper shoes {Troy Grover Photographers/LVL Weddings & Events}; blueberry cocktail; Row 2: Berry bouquet {Martha Stewart Weddings}; South African toile pattern {Carol Mills Fabrics}; bridesmaids {Kellee Walsh}; figs {Lauren Kriedemann/Event & Design}; Row 3: Table setting {Souder Photography/Vintage My Wedding /Southall Eden}; brass key escort cards {Tamiz Photography/Belle Destination Weddings and Events}; blueberry tarts {Souder Photography/Vintage My Wedding /Southall Eden}; Claire Pettibone dress {This Modern Romance/Claire Pettibone/Gatherings by Stacie}.

But what if you just don’t have the time? Well, lucky for you, a custom inspiration board isn’t your only option. There are hundreds of beautiful boards on sites like this one (if I say so myself) in a huge range of colours and themes and styles, and you may just find one that perfectly suits what you have in mind. You can browse the SBB inspiration archive by colour in the panel on the right of the blog, or you can see the full archive here. And here are my picks of the best inspiration board creators around the web (and all lovely ladies to boot):


Comments are closed.