BEIRUT: At Beirut’s annual wedding expo in February, the clustering of brides-to-be and their families made clear which parts of the feting enticed them the most: expensive, glittering jewelry displays, travel agencies selling romantic getaways and the dresses, of course.
With so much competition, displays for one of the most essential party elements slipped into the background without flashy presentations or luxury price tags: the invitation.
With a mind to change that, Lea Heshme, a graphic designer turned event planner, has taken the invitation and placed it at the center of party planning. Whether a piece of delicately printed tracing paper or block letters on substantial cardstock, the invitation sets the mood and the guests’ first impressions, she said.
“A wedding starts the moment they receive the invitations,” said Heshme, who recently launched her event-designing and paper services company “A Whole Lotta Love.” (Yes, like the 1969 Led Zeppelin song, she assured.)
As a graphic designer, Heshme is inherently detail-focused, and her concept seeks to unify a wedding experience through subtle paper products and signage that carry visual continuity in graphics, typography and colors. Her recommendations include basics like invitations and decorations down to minute details like buffet labeling and tags for party favors.
The idea for AWLL started with Heshme’s own wedding. “I used to design for fun for friends and for me. I used to do paper gift decorations. Last year I got married, and I decided to do the whole thing myself,” she told The Daily Star.
Her do-it-yourself aesthetic comprised pastel signs stuck in cupcakes, chains of paper decorations over the dance floor and handmade party favors with colorful confetti. This is the kind of design-oriented simplicity Hashme wants to infuse into other weddings.
“A lot of decorations are handmade,” she said. “I can adapt to any bride, but she has to be into details.”
AWLL’s concept comes at an opportune moment in the cycle of wedding trends. The lighthearted weddings that Heshme envisions and which focus on graphics and handmade or upcycled decorations are part of an all-encompassing wedding trend planners loosely categorize as vintage.
As part of an international trend, brides are leaning toward vintage themes that incorporate campy elements such as thrift store furniture, natural elements like bales of hay and raw-looking metals like copper or bronze, wedding planner Nataly Chreif told The Daily Star in an interview about her company, Desire.
Mira Mabsout, business manager at the wedding dress boutique L’Atelier Blanc, agreed that the AWLL concept falls in line with popular wedding themes. Heshme launched AWLL in March at L’Atelier Blanc, which also aims at a youthful but sophisticated clientele.
At L’Atelier Blanc, brides have likewise been interested in understated gowns harkening back to themes from the 1950s and 1920s – periods that complement the kind of aesthetic simplicity Heshme is offering, Mabsout said.
“Vintage is very popular,” Mabsout said. “I don’t know how it’s revived, but maybe because of [period] movies like the Great Gastby.”
Heshme’s isn’t targeting nuptials only, she said. Her corporate clientele includes Kitchen Central, a boutique cooking academy in Gemmayzeh. When she designed a party invitation for the company, she took direction from its logo, using the same sans-serif typeface and white-on-black color combo to create a coherent graphic aesthetic.
“The details are what I work on,” Heshme said.