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How to host a luxury wedding or event, by top UK wedding planner and designer Jessie Westwood for Studio Sorores

The word "luxury" has become a bit overused in recent years, and over the last decade I have worked hard to redefine what it means to Studio Sorores and our clients. It's certainly not about being ostentatious or outlandish. It is also not about grand displays of hedonism.

So what is it?

For me it is about creativity and uniqueness, quality over quantity, the best service, a quiet understanding around guest or client privacy, trust and integrity, impeccable design and seamless planning. It is a feeling. No matter what the size of the event, it should be a truly unforgettable experience for guests attending. It should tell a story, make an impact, have attention to detail at every level.

There are however some magic ingredients, and the first place to start is always the venue. An experienced planner will be able to advise on what can realistically be achieved with any space and how flexible it is in enabling luxury design and the highest level of planning. It is always best to start with a canvas that works for your day. From the suitability of private grounds, to dedicated wedding & event spaces, and hotels. Each will have their flaws, and some will be impossible to work with if expectations are to be met.

The Five Senses

I talk about this a lot. Always have done. Because it is so important that each and every sense is delighted. You cannot necessarily see the level of detail in design and planning in an image or film, so it is important to work with someone who truly can deliver not just an aesthetic, but also an ambience and ability to delight the senses of your guests.

Sound - the trickle of a fountain, birds singing, the dulcet tones of an opera singer, the tinkling of a piano, the excitement of a show band, the party brought by a DJ.... all of it must flow and be cohesive and changes the atmosphere throughout the day.

Sight - how a space looks when you walk in is so important. The colours must work beautifully, the lighting must match the ambience intended to be created, the eyeline should not be interrupted or overwhelmed.

Touch - this one get's forgotten... the thickness and quality of your linen, a delicate but high quality glass, a heavy set of cutlery, texture of stationery and details like ribbons, the lounge furniture and soft accessories. Make it literally feel good.

Taste - it amazes me how often this element isn't included within design of an event or wedding. It is sensory in itself with visuals and scent also being important in delivery a menu, but it really has to taste good too. So many opportunities here to story tell, use colours, take your guests on a journey, and all the while ensuring the rest of the event design works seamlessly with it.

Scent - my favourite. You can make a thousand memories with a scent. When I design weddings I plan out the key notes that form part of the client's brief, personal preferences, story and the ambience I am creating for them. It really does change a space. It must work with the food and florals too, so it takes an expert in scent layering to really ensure a luxurious feel.

When guests leave an event or wedding I have planned and designed, I want them to say "it was all so amazing, I couldn't tell you which bit was my favourite, it was all just perfect". That is when you know you've delivered. The entire experience delighted them so much, it all worked together. Of course it also needs expert management, staff and logistical work behind the scenes too! There is no use planning ideas to delight all five senses in an amazing venue if the staff are slow, the food late and the schedule all over the place.

So that for me is luxury.

The best. The most personal. The most detailed. The well planned and executed. The smiles on faces as guests leave. Laid back luxury, understated elegance, timeless yet fashion forward, fun filled and plenty of wow factor at a level that just perfectly balances the extraordinary with the refined.




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