In today’s world of opulence and dreams, luxury wedding planners are a vital component of what may become the most defining moment of one’s life. With social media taking on the realms of showcasing the most extravagant settings for weddings and parties, wedding planners are promising an array of entertainment and sumptuous enticement, to bring our visions of indulgence alive. To gain a real insight on what its’ like to plan and create a unique luxury wedding, Bride Icon spoke exclusively to the Director of Scarlet Events, Marc Ahmed to find out what made him take on the reins of the luxury events world – and why he wants to party with Lionel Richie!
It actually happened by chance about 8 years ago. I was always in the events industry and started out as a photographer. So, when my sister was getting married, I was planning her wedding, and bumped into an old friend who was a planner in the wedding industry. We seemed to have hit it off instantly and decided to set something up together – a new venture into new grounds. It was a time I thought there was a gap in the market and thought I could do a really good job with it – so that is how it started off – and the business has been growing and growing ever since!
Client’s sign up with us because they love what we do, and they buy into our ideas or they have a vision for the event, and think we will be the best fit to bring that vision to life. We are not the right choice for every client, nor are some clients the right choice for us, which is why we hand pick our clients and only organise a small number of events per year. Therefore, there are only a handful of clients we can take on – and those are the ones who really want to work with us, they love our style, our designs and understand what they are investing in with us. When it comes to parties, many of our clients leave the design completely to us, and let us come up with the concepts and ideas. Whereas some clients, will come to us with their own ideas and it is our job to translate them and bring them to life, whilst exceeding their expectations!
With weddings, it’s a little different, due to the social media influence now, and especially how Instagram has just exploded in the last few years, brides will come to us already knowing what they want. For example, recently brides have been opting for heavy florals, very light in colour, and a warm ambience with lots of candle light. However, at the same time, we will make it a little different. We don’t want our work to look exactly like what the client has just seen on social media, we want it to be unique to the client and to represent the couple, so it is important for us to tailor it to them.
We don’t really follow trends – actually we go the opposite direction of what everybody is doing. We don’t want to be the same as everyone else. Lets’ say for example, chair covers – nobody wants them any more – but I can guarantee that soon they will be back and we’ll probably be the first ones to use them! Therefore, when somebody goes in one direction we go in the other and that is what differentiates us. We don’t want to copy, we want to be unique and different and create some kind of a twist, as client’s personalities and tastes are primary in representing the couple.
Some agencies are set in their ways, and offer exactly the same thing to every client, but we are very much bespoke in our approach. We tailor the event towards the clients from the beginning, and they have a lot of input in terms of what they like and dislike – so by the time we get to the end – they are completely satisfied. With Scarlet, keeping our clientele happy is paramount – so even if a month before, our client decides to suddenly change the entire design of the wedding – it won’t be easy – but they have the absolute right to do that, and we will make it happen! We are here to look after their every need 24/7 or 365 days of the year.
Could you tell us what was the most extravagant party or theme Scarlet Events have created so far?
We just did a huge party in Florence, Italy. The clients were from the US and after watching the Royal Wedding they decided that they wanted a Royal affair! So, we flew out over 100 staff and entertainers from the UK to Italy, and we had everybody from a Queen Elizabeth lookalike to Prince William, the Duchess of Cambridge, the Royal Guards and trumpeters – it really was a full-blown Royal extravaganza! The theme most certainly would not be something for British couples, but the Americans loved it!
It all took place at the client’s villa which was under complete renovation and proved to be a massive logistical challenge, as we were creating a million-pound party on essentially what was a construction site. We built a huge marquee on top of the client’s swimming pool, which was no easy feat before turning her Orangery (which was an empty shell and falling apart) into Buckingham Palace. All whilst having to deal with the site constantly changing every time we went there, as construction work didn’t stop for the party! Having less than two months to organise everything and in the middle of summer, it was one of the most challenging events we have ever done!
I would probably have to say the defining moment would be last year when we flew in Lionel Ritchie to perform at a client’s party. We have a small list of legendary stars that we have always wanted to have at our events, and he was one of them. Lionel was booked at very short notice and we flew him in on a private jet from an Awards ceremony in L.A. just to perform at the party – and then he flew straight back – that was an incredible moment for us! The client had originally booked Enrique Iglesias to perform, but he couldn’t because his concerts were cancelled and re-booked due to the hurricanes in Florida last year, so he had to pull out at the last minute. We suddenly found ourselves having to find a last-minute replacement and Lionel, being the gentleman that he is, said he was more than happy to do it!
It’s about the level of service from start to finish, and not having that ego that can be found these days with some of the big wedding planners. Humility is the most important virtue that you can have – as your clients are the reason why you survive in the business, and why you live for the business. You can never ever make your clients unhappy, not even 1%. People say that you must be strict with your clients and tell them where the limit is and that you ‘can’t do this’ or ‘this is not a good idea’ or ‘it’s too short notice’ – I completely disagree.
We will always accommodate a client’s request, no matter how insane the idea! Even if we have to do it differently to make it work, we will make it happen. For us, service and the client experience are what sets us apart, it’s exceptionally important and we will never say no to our clients – that is the expectation here at Scarlet and with my team of suppliers – I will never work with anyone that says ‘no’. If our clients want us to meet them on a Sunday morning, we will go to them – if we must travel to another country to meet our clients – that is no problem at all. Our services also extends beyond the wedding, we are here 24/7 for our clients, and should they need anything non-event related such as a last-minute babysitter, or a restaurant booking then we open our private concierge service for them too.
I know I would want it abroad – I have been to so many amazing locations that I honestly couldn’t choose – but I know I would want it to be kept very small. When you have done pretty much everything, from private islands and luxury hotels to spectacular castles, it is hard to actually choose a venue! I would say it would be somewhere possibly in Europe with a stunning view. I would expect the party to be very timeless and elegant, something that is reminiscent of high fashion. Actually, something which I have always liked is a monochrome theme which I think doesn’t get much justice. So just having a purely black and white colour scheme for example, and maybe adding in a very small pop of colour – if done well – it could look amazing!
Lionel Richie! I’ll tell you why… because he was an absolute gentleman and a lovely, lovely person. He went above and beyond than any other artist we have worked with before. He invited the client on to the stage, and made him sing along; he brought guests up onto the stage to dance with them, and took double the amount of time at the back to meet the client and their families. The whole time he was just so humble and such a lovely person, appreciating our clients and everything that we had done. We really love working with people such as him and I would love to work with him again but this time planning his party!
We would like to say a very special thank you to Marc Ahmed for taking the time to speak to Bride Icon. For more information and details or if you like to contact Scarlet Events see their website here: www.scarletevents.com
Photos courtesy of Scarlet Events.