Skylar is a Texas-based wedding planner & designer sharing her sanity-saving processes & templates.


How Digital Mock-Ups Changed My Design Work

Digital mockups are an incredible tool for planners who want to encourage clients to take a design “risk” or to implement an idea that might not exist yet. As a designer, I’ve often found myself faced with the challenge of conveying a bold and innovative vision to clients who may initially be hesitant to embrace something new. But here’s the secret weapon that has consistently allowed me to bridge that gap: digital mock-ups.

While not everyone may have the inclination or time to master the art of creating intricate hand-drawn (or iPad/digital) sketches, the same design process benefits can be achieved through digital mock-ups. If you’re unsure what a “digital mock-up” is think of them as digital “collages” of elements meticulously overlaid to provide clients with a vivid visual representation of a concept for approval.

Seating Chart for a Jewel-Toned Al Fresco California Wedding in Collaboration with Isidore & Augustine
Credit: Kayla Esparza

In this blog post, we’ll explore the benefits of helping clients visualize unique pitches through digital mockups. I’ll show you how you can harness tools you likely already have at your disposal to craft these persuasive visuals, and I’ll reveal the flexibility of mockups when it comes to fine-tuning designs based on invaluable client feedback.

Join me on this journey as we unlock the potential of digital mockups and transform the way you present and execute your creative ideas.

The Visual Power of Digital Mock-Ups

In the world of event planning and design, we often find ourselves grappling with the challenge of making clients visualize unique design concepts. After all, not everyone possesses the ability to see a finished product in their mind based on words and inspiration images alone. In this section, I’d like to share a few anecdotes that highlight the transformative impact of digital mock-ups.

Imagine a bride with a vision of a chic black-and-white wedding, complete with a beautiful flower-adorned chapel aisle. In our first ceremony design meeting, I presented a mock-up that showcased mono-varietal arrangements, which could also double as centerpieces on guest tables. The moment she saw the visual representation of my idea, her response was an immediate “yes.” It not only saved us countless rounds of revisions but also instilled confidence in her to explore some of my more unconventional design concepts.

Ceremony Design for a Chic, Monochrome Houston Wedding at Arrowhead Hill

Another instance that vividly demonstrates the power of digital mock-ups involved two brides who sought a feminine, boho-inspired head table. To bring their visions to life, I created a comprehensive mock-up that included everything from the incorporation of colored baby’s breath to a green goblet upgrade and recommended flower arrangements. The mock-up not only helped them visualize the final result but also allowed them to embrace a few upgraded design element that took their table to the next level.

Head Table Design for a Feminine Boho Virginia Wedding Coordinated by Glorious Weddings & Events
Credit: Stephanie Dee

Sometimes, the challenge lies in presenting grand and extravagant ideas that clients might initially find hard to grasp. I encountered this when tasked with covering a parking lot opening with a lavish, fully-draped ceremony background of pink velvet. To sell this extravagant vision, I didn’t rely solely on words or images; I created a captivating sketch overlaying the pink velvet concept onto a picture of their venue. This visual aid not only helped them “see” the transformation but also justified the investment in this opulent backdrop. (Note: The neon sign seen in the sketch added a personalized touch to the backdrop after the ceremony site transformed into their photo booth.)

These anecdotes underscore the transformative potential of digital mock-ups in bridging the gap between concept and reality. However, you might be surprised to discover that you don’t need to be an artist or invest in expensive software to create these persuasive visuals.

Creating Digital Mock-Ups with the Tools You Already Have

Now that we’ve seen how powerful digital mock-ups can be in conveying creative concepts to clients, you might be wondering, “How can I create these persuasive visuals myself?” The good news is that you don’t need to be a graphic design wizard or invest in expensive software to get started. In fact, you likely already have the tools you need right at your fingertips.

The first step in creating digital mock-ups is selecting the platform that suits your needs. While I personally use Keynote, there are several options available, depending on your operating system and familiarity with the tools. You can choose from software like Keynote, PowerPoint, Canva, or even Adobe’s InDesign (although unless you already own and are familiar with this one, I don’t feel the value is there for digital mockups alone). The key is to find the one that feels most comfortable and intuitive for you.

If you’re new to digital mock-ups, I recommend beginning with relatively simple projects, such as place settings or invitation suite mock-ups. These projects are excellent starting points for honing your skills and gaining confidence in creating persuasive visuals.

Credit: Cedar & Pines

To create a compelling digital mock-up, you’ll want to remove the background from all the images you intend to use. This process ensures that you can overlay items seamlessly and focus solely on the design elements you wish to showcase. Most graphic design software, including the ones mentioned earlier, offer tools for background removal. (Note: I believe that as of original publication, this is a “Pro” feature on Canva.)

The core of any digital mock-up lies in the layering of elements. This means arranging each design component in the desired position, just as you would in a physical setup. You can experiment with layering various elements like flowers, cutlery, and glassware until they overlay in a way that visually captures your intended design concept.

Invitation Suite for Moody Romantic Garden of the Gods Wedding in Collaboration with Minted Weddings

To take your digital mock-ups to the next level, don’t hesitate to explore more techniques. For instance, you can add subtle shadows beneath objects to create a sense of depth and realism. This can make your mock-ups feel more tangible and convincing.

You can even consider overlaying mockups for items such as seating charts, bar set-ups, and ceremony sites with venue images into your design presentations. This strategy goes beyond showcasing individual design elements and empowers couples to visualize the complete experience within their chosen space.

Easy Adjustments for Impactful Design

While I did venture into the world of sketching design ideas, I’ve found that most frequently, I keep returning to my simple yet effective digital mock-ups. Why, you ask? Well, it’s because they offer an unbeatable combination of speed, flexibility, and client involvement. In fact for sketches, I often start with digital mock-ups to get a feel for the final product and then sketch out truly custom items as needed.

One of the standout advantages of digital mock-ups is their ease of adjustment. Whether you’re fine-tuning a centerpiece arrangement or experimenting with different color palettes, you can make these changes right in front of your clients. This level of real-time interactivity not only saves time but also makes your clients feel more involved in the design process, turning them into active collaborators rather than passive observers.

Let me share a real-life scenario that perfectly illustrates the power of digital mock-ups in action. I was meeting with a client at a cozy coffee shop to discuss the menu and place settings for her upcoming wedding. We had the initial ideas in mind, including the planned chargers, flatware, and napkins. To bring our concepts to life, I whipped out my laptop and got to work creating a digital mock-up right there and then.

Menu Design for a Glamorous & Classic Winter Ballroom Wedding in Collaboration with Minted Weddings

With the bride by my side, I began with the assembled menu and place card elements we had in mind. We started with a basic concept and then fine-tuned it based on her feedback. The ability to make instant adjustments allowed us to explore different formats, layouts, and elements until we landed on the perfect menu and place card combination that resonated with her vision.

Not only did this real-time collaboration save us from countless back-and-forth emails, but it also had an unexpected bonus. The client was genuinely impressed by the speed and skill with which I created the mock-up, even though it’s much simpler than it may seem. This experience not only solidified her trust in my abilities but also boosted her confidence in the design choices we were making together.

This example underscores the incredible efficiency and empowerment that digital mock-ups bring to the table. They facilitate on-the-spot adjustments, foster collaboration, and empower clients to actively participate in shaping their event’s design.

To Wrap it Up

In the world of event planning and design, the ability to transform creative visions into tangible realities is the essence of our craft. Throughout this journey, I’ve come to realize that digital mock-ups have not only become a fundamental part of my design process but have also revolutionized the way I work. What began as a practical solution to bridge the gap between imagination and reality has now evolved into an invaluable tool that enhances collaboration, saves time, and boosts my clients’ confidence in my work.

The beauty of digital mock-ups lies in their accessibility. They are not the exclusive domain of skilled artists or trained designers but are techniques that anyone with a computer can learn and master. With the right tools and a dash of creativity, you can transform your design concepts into persuasive visuals that captivate your clients’ imaginations.

As we look to the future, the role of technology in design is set to expand even further. The emergence of AI-driven design work is a very real prospect that has the potential to revolutionize how we conceptualize and execute weddings and events. As well as assisting us in how we present these concepts to clients.

AI-Generated Wedding Concept by Anne Jang

As we stand at the intersection of creativity and technology, the wedding and event design industry is on the brink of exciting innovations. Embracing digital mock-ups and the broader accessibility of design tools is not just about making our work easier; it’s about pushing the boundaries of what’s possible and reimagining the art of celebration.

Remember that creating digital mock-ups is not just a practical skill but a creative superpower. It empowers us to turn dreams into reality and invites clients to join us on that creative process. So, embrace the digital mock-up and watch as your visions come to life in ways you never thought possible.

The future of design is here, and it’s waiting for your unique touch.

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Photography by Smith House Weddings