An earlier version of this story incorrectly spelled Fabienne Laveau. This version has been updated.
Images of pink flowers are set between shots of layered cakes and breezy white gowns on Maia McDonald’s “Wedding Inspiration” board on Pinterest. Their presence surprised the freelance graphic designer, who is planning her upcoming wedding and originally thought she wanted nothing to do with the girly color.
“I started pinning stuff and pink started showing up a lot, and I realized, ‘Oh maybe I do want pink and I was lying to myself.’ ”
Those visual cues are a hallmark of the social media Web site, which allows users to pin images to online bulletin boards. The weddings category is among the most popular on the site, which overall pulled in 17.8 million unique visitors in February — up 52 percent from 11.7 million in January, according to comScore.
With legions of brides (and grooms) finding inspiration all on their own, will Pinterest replace the professionals? A concern reverberating through wedding planning circles is that those inspiration boards could diminish interest in their services.
But Fabienne Laveau, owner of the planning company Wedding Muse and a speaker on wedding planning with Pinterest, says the fear is largely unwarranted.
“I don’t think Pinterest is having this [negative] impact; in fact, I can see more of a case people are looking at all of these things and saying ‘I need a wedding planner.’ ”
She credits all that pinning with an increased interest in her Web site and uses it as a tool for marketing her brand. And just as inspiration boards showed McDonald she wasn’t afraid of pink, Laveau has found they can help her decipher exactly what a woman is imagining.
“You really get very little info from the brides. A lot of it is really intuition-based,” she says. “I will leave a meeting and just throw some pictures on to a board that I think reflects what I think I heard them say, and it’s really just the best way I have come up to communicate.”
All that sharing can mean exposure for wedding planners and vendors, and traffic for wedding blogs. Style Me Pretty, a luxury wedding site that features real ceremonies, vendors and inspiration, reports a rise in visitors from Pinterest, now its leading source of referral traffic next to Google search. But plenty of pinners with a do-it-yourself mentality aren’t looking for professional help — they’re just looking for the ideas.
Newlywed Christine Daigle Weiss used Pinterest and other DIY sites to plan nearly her entire wedding on a strict budget and short timetable.
“There were some things that I can’t even imagine paying anyone to do, like a basket of flip flops for guests,” says the Charlotte resident.
She also bought unfinished wood from craft stores for signs and old bird cages for card holders, and she had a friend who knew how to sew repurpose a small pillow for the ring bearer — all projects inspired by images she had seen on Pinterest.
“If I had no idea to go from, I wouldn’t have anything to make. I think that is the best aspect of Pinterest. There are some things I never even thought of doing.”
Though Pinterest can seem like a vast reserve of free information on everything wedding, Laveau doesn’t believe there will be a rush of women constructing their celebrations from start to finish.
“I think Martha Stewart and other do-it-yourself sites have been much more responsible for people having the idea that DIY is easy.”
Katie Martin, chief executive of Elegance & Simplicity, Inc. and editor-in-chief of Eco-Beautiful Weddings, is similarly skeptical of DIY projects that dominate Pinterest feeds.
“I’m not a big fan because I think people get the misconception that they are going to save money,” she says. “You can end up buying all kinds of gadgets. It’s very rare that I re-pin them.”
Martin makes a point of pinning things she likes and believes are valuable ideas, in addition to photos from nuptials her company has designed.
The inventive ways that brides and planners alike have begun using the Web site is only the beginning, she says.
“I think we’ve only scratched the surface of Pinterest.”