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I don't make a habit of giving away all my industry secrets for just about anyone to read, but I happen to think the question of "what is luxury?" is incredibly important. Never more so as the internet expands and grows to make a busier and more competitive market.

I have written about it before here but I have decided to delve deeper and reveal more. Why? Because I feel the word "luxury" has become a marketing term thrown around too freely. I see vendors using the word in their advertising because they understand it to mean "more expensive" and they desire a levelling up of their trade and ideal client.

And why not? It's a much (much!) smaller market, and it's absolutely much more work, but incredibly rewarding when you can deliver to the highest standards. What does it really mean though? What makes a luxury wedding supplier luxurious?

First are foremost, I have always maintained that true luxury wedding vendors have a special talent for combining artistry with business nuance and exceptional customer services. Structure, strategic thinking, boundaries, confidence... all of things are absolutely essential to take any creative from hobbyist to professional. High fee paying clients expect those they invest in to have their house in order, as much as they expect the highest quality and artistry.

That being said, you can be as sharp as pin, logistically brilliant and incredibly driven, but if fundamentally you lack the talent, originality and visionary outlook required, you'll always fall short.

For me though, what elevates any business beyond all of this is the client. Yes I am obsessed with my work, with training my eye and developing new ideas, but I always put my client in focus. I am obsessed with them more than anything else. I consistently aim to go above and beyond, continually ask myself how I can be better, how can I serve my clients more closely, exceed expectations. If you start there, you are on the right path to developing your portfolio and attracting the right kind of client. Those that you resonate with. Where trust is built and established quickly.

Customer. Service. Is. Everything.

Repeat that.

Everyone will have their own way of achieving the best way of going above and beyond. Really seeing your clients, giving them your full attention, and ensuring you listen to your brief.

For me as a planner it is a delicate balancing act. I am often given an initial brief I know won't work logistically, where too much focus is on spending big rather than spending smartly. I have to approach it with sensitivity and tact because fundamentally it's my job to tease out the clients story, to elevate their vision and ensure absolutely everything is tasteful, impactful and part of a guest journey that leaves the very best memories for decades to come. I am a master if subtlety and cannot abide garishness or the spending of money for the sake of spending it. I find it uncouth and uninspiring. However I must always listen, let the client lead the conversation, and offer my professional advice with proposals created that they completely fall in love with. I have to "get" them. Their desires, their dreams, their aspirations, their fears and history. It's not easy.

Enabling a client to relax and trust you, requires an element of vulnerability. It is a beautiful connection to make with somebody, and something I do not take lightly. Once you've achieved this then what next?

Over-deliver, over-prepare, over-come.

This is tricky, because whilst a luxury service should always aim to please and serve at all times, it is crucial to set boundaries and manage that relationship. With multiple clients it is all too easy to drop a ball, or end up tying yourself in knots over a relatively simple solution. Do not over-think or over-compensate. Be confident, anticipate your clients needs, set expectations and exceed them, go the extra mile. Fix problems calmly, effortlessly and in a timely manner.

All of the above is required for a service or product to be defined as luxury, but what makes it luxurious?

Expensive but not overpriced. High quality and everlasting. Bespoke and original. Service first and not elitist or inaccessible. It is first and foremost about your brand values. Pamela N. Danziger, author of Putting the Luxe Back in Luxury: How new consumer values are redefining the way we market luxury, previously said that there are ten particular values that a brand should have in order to rightfully be named "luxury." Published back in 2011, I still think all of them apply today.

  1. Superior performance

  2. Craftsmanship

  3. Exclusivity

  4. Innovation

  5. Sense of place & time

  6. Sophistication & design aesthetic

  7. Creative expression

  8. Relevance

  9. Heritage

  10. Responsibility.

The secret behind luxury brands that are luxurious is that they have all of the above alongside meaning, belief, rarity, exceptional service, and value.

Luxury is a mindset. It is a lifestyle. It is not something you can pretend to be, that you can imitate, or that you can convince someone of without being authentic.

I look for all of these things when I commission artists and vendors for my clients, I have an eye for the best and I pride myself on building a solid network of incredible well respected colleagues - decades of experience reveals authenticity very quickly.

What do you think luxury means? Have I missed anything?



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