A successful wedding planner is now taking on the corporate world, writes STEPHANIE AZZOPARDI
THERE is no doubt social media is a dominating force, especially when businesses are trying to promote themselves.
Geelong stylist Laura Harvey says it is this reliance on quality social media that has driven her newest venture.
Laura, an established wedding planner and stylist, the woman behind Weddings of Desire, has expanded to corporate and marketing work.
The mother of two launched the new branch of her business, By Desire Styling, late last year.
Laura, 31, says she decided to try wedding planning and styling after her own experiences.
She started a blog in 2010, Weddings of Desire, and also contributed to former fashion publication Madison Magazine and David Jones’ online wedding blog.
“I got approached by a photographer for a styled shoot and that lead to real weddings,” she says.
“It was just word of mouth and the business grew.”
Laura, who takes on about 15 to 20 weddings each year, is already booked out for next season.
“When I started there weren’t many planners around,” she says.
“Now the suppliers are so good, we have everything down here that we need – the wedding community is so great now, it is continuously growing.
“I try to support local when I can.
“You can really go all out now, and do what you want.”
Laura works to different brides’ budgets to create their perfect wedding style or even co-ordinate their entire perfect wedding day.
“Each of my clients have different styles, designs and colour palates,” she says.
“I pair people with vendors that suit their style.
“I love going into a space and working outwards.”
Laura has worked on a number of high profile weddings, including that of Emma and Tom Hawkins and Kim and Tom Longergan.
She also has an exclusive venue to offer for clients, Mount Mitchell Homestead.
She says over the years she has seen wedding styles change, with one notable shift from rustic looks to modern.
“Every year it changes,” she says.
“One style that has stayed is the classic, elegant, relaxed vibe.”
She says metallics, acrylics and vinyl have popped up as modern features this season.
“All of my clients are so unique, I get attached to their designs and pick out which elements I love,” she says.
“I look back now to when I first started and my style has changed as the years have gone on.
“But I’m still about the soft, romantic look, different textures, linen, cutlery and signage, just classically beautiful.
“My style has developed into a classic design that is timeless as well.”
Weddings of Desire also has recently added its own dedicated floral service, run by florist, Georgia Kotschet, a trusted florist Laura has worked with in the industry for many years.
Laura says as well as co-ordinating style, it is important to make a deeper connection to her brides-to-be for the partnership to work.
“It’s all about the connection, we have to have a good relationship,” she says.
“With the weddings you get so involved and emotionally attached to clients.
“They need to trust me to spend all this money on one day.
“I love my weddings and I’ll always have them.”
The strength of social media has brought on new opportunities for Laura, manifesting in By Desire Styling.
Laura says although she never anticipated she’d work in the corporate sphere, it happened quite organically.
“I kept getting asked to do additional things, 21sts, 30ths, window installations, marketing campaigns,” she says.
“The By Desire side has grown due to the social media expansion and demand for professional images, styled shoots for professional business, activations for products and corporate events and companies taking styling to the next level.”
So Laura dipped her toes into the world of social media, marketing and web imagery, a focus on image content rather than events.
Laura has worked with a number of Geelong region companies, including Annie’s Kitchen and Austins & Co.
“Your social media page is where people first look – and people are now investing time and money in that,” she says.
“In marketing content creating, people are realising they have to invest in professionals to style and photograph their content.
“It’s really opened up in the past year or so, everyone is really visual.”
She says after years of working on weddings, she liked the idea of a different challenge.
“The corporate and marketing side of things are shorter campaigns, the direction is really clear and there are a lot of new challenges that I enjoy,” she says.
“Thinking outside the box and having to learn.
“It’s challenging and growing the business into a different avenue.”
Laura admits her flourishing businesses are hard work to say the least.
“It consumes me a lot, but I’m just very passionate about what I do,” she says.
“I want to make sure the client gets 100 per cent out of me.
“If I was ever to feel like I wasn’t interested anymore I would have to stop doing it.
“You can’t do it without loving the industry.
“It’s weekends, it’s late nights, after hours, there are huge hours involved.
“It’s not ultra glamourous.
“You’re working all weekend and then on Monday your inbox is full of emails.
“You have got to check out and make time for yourself.”
Laura, mother of Ethan, 7, and Milla, 4, says making time for being a mother, doing school pick-up and drop-off and just spending time with her children is very important to her.
She says she also endeavours to make time for travel, which she loves, and exercise.
“It’s okay to have a day off,” she says.
Laura’s partner Dave, who owns Mr B Coffee, is one of her big supports.
“I couldn’t do this without him,” she says.
“His support during the long weeks, he builds things for weddings, it’s nice to have someone who is in the industry.
“We can really relate to each other.”
Laura says the way her business has progressed is about being open to anything.
“If someone offers me something I take it on and see if I enjoy it,” she says.
“I always want to improve.
“I view it as always learning.”
Follow @weddingsofdesire and @bydesire on Instagram.