Posted on July 10, 2017 in Podcasts
Wedding Consultant Amy Osaba Discusses Floral Asymmetry, Quiet Space, and the Bus that Got Away
Featured on this month’s SHOFUR podcast is Atlanta local Amy Osaba, founder, owner, and lead designer at Amy Osaba Designs. Her company provides creative direction and day-of coordination for weddings of all shapes, sizes, and budgets, with the goal of creating stress-free and memorable events for their clients.
After a 10-year career as a ballet dancer, Amy Osaba returned to Georgia and gradually began organizing parties and dabbling in floral design as a side business. Years later, Amy Osaba has grown her business into a design powerhouse.
Having always been “the creative one,” Amy aspired to find a career rich in creative energy that allowed her to visually express herself— and also support her family. Amy has worked tirelessly since the founding of her design studio to promote her work and grow her business. “Hard work will get you somewhere eventually,” she told us. “I’m not saying it was always easy, but if you’re determined and have a good work ethic, it’ll always work out.”
Listen to an expert’s take on new wedding design tips, all while learning how Amy, ballet dancer-turned-self-taught wedding designer, grew her business into what it is today.
Here are just a few of Amy’s unique wedding tips. An expert designer herself, Amy taught us the importance of trusting your gut, trusting your design coordinator, embracing the “quiet moments” (and therefore saving money!), and booking reliable transportation on your wedding day.
Mike: Well, your website uses the word “asymmetrical,” and I thought that was really cool. I know what “asymmetrical” means, but I wasn’t sure what it meant in terms of wedding floral design.
Amy: Well, “symmetrical” means everything is exactly the same. On both sides, it’s even. But “asymmetrical” lends itself to your instincts. It makes sense, but you don’t know why. So you know, I think I’m trying to get people to understand that things can be a little bit outside of the box, but still be extremely elegant and make sense, and they can feel a sense of balance. Does that make sense?
Mike: It does. And I’m sure that once they buy into that, then I would imagine two things have happened…well, three things have happened. One is that they are giving their guests a wedding that is unlike anything that their guests have seen before. Which I think every bride wants to do deep down inside; they want their wedding to be special.
Amy: I’d say that’s all of my clients. I try to fill them on, “You don’t want your guests to walk in and be like, ‘Yeah, I saw that last weekend.’” You want your guests to be like, “oh my gosh, this is the coolest thing!”
Mike: Right. And then I suppose the second thing is that you’ve gained their trust. You know, once they buy into that and they go, “Oh, Amy’s right,” then they trust you. And then I guess the next part is that they say, “Well, Amy, what else do you have an opinion on here? What band should we get?”
Amy: Yeah. You sound like you’ve been one of my clients! So it is a really neat thing because I feel like now, where the brand is and where the business is, that most clients come to us because they want our design eye and our expertise and our resources within the industry. I did have to work towards that, but I think one of the most important things in any business– small business, large business– is people, and by making them feel like they’re your only clients. Making them feel like, “You can trust me. I have your best interests at heart and I want this to be awesome for you,” while keeping budgetary things in mind, you know?
So yeah. You hit the nail on the head. It’s a big trust thing. And most of the time, I feel fortunate now that most clients seek us out because they want that and they see what kind of work we consistently produce.
Mike: Okay, so what detail do you see clients get the most stressed out about, or just cause the most unnecessary stress in their minds that they make a big deal out of? That ultimately…and you just know this because you do it for a living, on the day of the wedding, it’s just not gonna be as big of a deal as they think?
And the example that Madeline used was ice sculptures. I hope her parents aren’t listening. Maybe I’m making one of them mad right now, but Madeline doesn’t really give a crap about the ice sculptures.
Amy: Right, right. Yeah. That’s hard to say…I think it’s…it’s funny because every client has one of those, but that’s not always the same thing. There is always something that’s like, you know, a little turn point, I guess. But I think what I try to get clients to understand about that…I don’t know, I can’t give you one single detail that is the thing. You know, I have one client who… the linens aren’t that big of a deal to them, and the mom wants to use these crappy linens that I’m like… I’m always like the diplomat and trying to get everyone to kind of get on the same page about things.
And then some people, like, the most important thing is in the food because they’re foodies. And when you’re focused in on one detail too much– it’s like in the grand scheme of that, they’re focused on it, but the guests— they’re not gonna walk away being like, “Ohhh, the ice sculpture,” you know?
Amy: Even the flowers on the tables, the guests walk in and they see the whole room. And they’re not going to every single arrangement criticizing it, judging it, or looking at it. It’s more about you walk in and it’s the whole feeling around the event. And you know, some people get overly worked up about if there should be paper menus on the table, or if all the placecards should be there.
And while I think all of the details together are important, I feel like getting way too focused on those things, sometimes, you miss what the whole experience is really about.
Mike: I think what I’m hearing is that there’s always a little bit of compromise there. And probably with a creative person of your level, you can probably create that compromise in a way that none of them can imagine. A mom who’s obsessed with the linens and dad’s who’s obsessed with the cocktails or something like that, probably… I’m just gonna guess; in most of these meetings, the only person who can synthesize all that into one thing is you. And that’s why you’re Amy Osaba, President and Founder of Amy Osaba Designs.
Amy: I know, it’s a very big title! I think, though, the parents have usually never planned a wedding. The bride and groom have never planned a wedding. So it is my job to kind of be the voice of reason and to help them understand within the context of their budget, “What’s the most impactful way to spend their budget?” You know?
Like, for example, I will talk to clients about…they look at Pinterest and they don’t how much things cost, and they’re sending all these pictures. And I’m like, “Look, I love everything that you’re talking about. But within the context of your budget, I think…” what I always talk about a lot in meetings and with our design girls is there’s impactful moments. But for the impactful moments to be impactful, you have to have quiet moments.
So we’re all about editing and making those things very impactful, rather than throwing more and more and more flowers, or more and more and more stuff on the tables.
So I really try to educate the families on, “Okay, I get that flowers are very important to you, but your mom and dad don’t want to spend this much money. So let’s do half of the tables with less pretty arrangements and the other ones with, like, a ton of candles on it. So that each table doesn’t have this little, teeny, tiny thing on it,” where there’s those impactful moments.
Mike: I totally get what you’re saying. Amy, that’s so asymmetrical!
Amy: It’s so asymmetrical.
Mike: Yeah. I see that.
Amy: Yeah. It’s getting them to understand what’s more important for their budget. And they don’t have to spend all this ridiculous money on things that don’t matter to them.
Amy: Yeah. In design, it’s nice to have the negative space so that you can appreciate the details of the impactful moments. Does that make sense?
Mike: I wish some of our web designers were here because they would be nodding their heads furiously. They’d be like, “Yeah, we’ve been telling you that.”
Mike: I love it. “Asymmetrical floral design,” that’s the word of the day. And of course, we need buses for weddings.
Amy: You need what?
Mike: We need buses. We have to have charter vehicles. We have to get the people…
Amy: Oh, heck yeah.
Amy: Transportation is key. Oh, yes.
Mike: Yeah. Folks gotta get to the reception. And so, they need a charter bus or a mini-bus… I’m doing a plug here because we’re a bus company.
Amy: Oh, no. I think that’s great.
Mike: Come on.
Amy: I was very excited to meet you guys. I’m gonna be employing your services a lot because A) having a reliable transportation service… I had one wedding one time where… and this is a company that I used to use all the time. And one of the buses did not go back to the church for their second round to bring the guests over… they left. He just left.
Mike: Oh, no.
Amy: Yeah. And so, all of the guests, I had to get Ubers to bring them all. It was ridiculous.
Mike: Oh my gosh.
Amy: I never used that company ever again after that. So reliable transportation is important even with us and wedding planning. I use and re-use vendors that I know go above and beyond. Because if you go above and beyond even if one event didn’t go exactly as planned, it’s gonna show that you’re willing to work in circumstances. Because with weddings, they never happen always exactly right. There’s always something.
Mike: Right. That is part of the excitement is that you don’t know exactly how it’s gonna go. Yeah.
Amy: Yeah, and you just have to go with the flow.
Amy: Well, I’m excited about using your buses because they’re A) beautiful, and they look nice and professional, and not some sort of janky trolley something, but…you know? I’m not gonna name names, but any of those party buses, my clients, I won’t let them use it. I’m like, “That’s tacky. Sorry.”
Mike: That’s it, right. “Only pretty buses at our clients’ weddings.”
Amy: Exactly, exactly. Transportation’s important.
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