Today I have the honour of featuring Deborah of Dez Events, wedding planner and author of Fabulous Functions for the Faint-Hearted where she spills all: trade secrets, sensible advice and practical ideas written in her witty and humorous style. Here is my interview with Deborah. As you can see from her answers she is one vivacious and bright personality who can light up a party and equally a sincere and really lovely person. Perfect for the job!
How did you get into the event planning business?
I had worked in the voluntary sector for many years in marketing and fundraising, and as part of my work organised many events, from seminars and conferences to dinners and charity balls. So I took this invaluable experience and decided to set up on my own focusing solely on organising events for all kinds of clients, in late 2014. Since then I have organised such diverse events as the launch of an app, a 21st birthday party and a Scottish-themed post wedding celebration.
What would you say your main influences and inspiration are when it comes to your approach to styling an event?
When I approach an event, I always take my lead from the client, and I like to pick a decade to convey the client’s theme and mood. So if they want full blown glitz and glamour, the Hollywood of the 40s is a good place to start. Strong colours for blooms, satins and velvets convey the feeling of warmth and love. But if the client is cool and uber chic, the 60s is a useful decade to mine, as colours are more muted, clean, bright, with geometrics, stripes and straight lines, conveying control and sure-footedness. I love designers as diverse as Abigail Ahern and Kelly Hoppen – both fabulous with contrasting styles, one opulent and one pared down.
Who are your most favourite designers / thinkers / world-changers who have shaped your values and beliefs?
I grew up in the 60s, when designers’ names were on everyone’s lips: Mary Quant, Barbara Hulanicki of Biba, and Terence Conran. I lived in Biba, and I loved the prints, the colours and textures of the designs and the shop interiors. But now I absolutely adore Vivienne Westwood’s clothes. They are endlessly inventive, quirky and playful, but always focused on a woman’s shape, so they always make a woman look fabulous. She also has strong views about the way we live, not all of which I agree with, but I admire her for making a stand about the things she cares for. My role models are people who are trying to change the world for the better, particularly women, such as Michelle Obama, Bette Midler, Jo Brand and Sandi Toksvig, who started the Women’s Equality Party in the UK.
What advice do you give to those who want to plan their own event DIY style? To those who want to hire an event planner?
For those who want to plan their own event, my #1 tip is to plan! That may sound simplistic, but if you plan your event on paper, recording everything on a spreadsheet, you will feel in control. That means popping down all your items, from food and drink to flowers, photographer and music, and of course, venue. Then you can see at a glance what you have done and what you have to do, how much everything is going to cost, and you can manipulate it trying different suppliers to work out the best budget for you.
For those who are considering using an event planner, you must try to meet them before you book them. The personal relationship between an event planner and their client is really important. There has to be mutual trust and confidence between the two, and that can only be achieved by meeting face to face. Skype just won’t cut it, I don’t think. Make a list of three, and meet them over coffee. And have a list of prepared questions, including what they’ve done before and how they like to work – and what their fees include. Most planners work on a percentage basis, so they will charge according to your total budget.
Do you love what you do and why?
I absolutely love what I do because I think everyone should have the right and the wherewithal to celebrate! There is nothing more fulfilling seeing a room full of happy people having a brilliant time partying, dancing, eating, drinking and making merry.
What would your ideal and dream event look like?
Wow – what a great question! My ideal event would be held at the Café Royal in central London, a Belle Époque venue with a grand staircase and sumptuous ballroom. Guests would be dressed in glamourous attire, and the evening would begin with a treasure hunt. Guests would be given clues on their arrival and would spend the first hour hunting them around the venue, interacting with each other to work out the answers – Champagne glass in hand, natch! They would then congregate in a reception room to find out the answers and the winners be presented with tickets to the opera in Vienna as a prize. Guests would then be shown to their tables, where a sumptuous banquet would be served. After dinner, there would be a short comedy spot by Bette Midler, and then the dancefloor would be set up, and a there would be a display by two dancers from Strictly Come Dancing. Guests who wanted to would be invited to take part in the dancing, assisted by other pro dancers. The evening would culminate in a song set by Bette, and we would all go home with a fabulous goody bag!
What is your dream regarding your business?
I would love to be the best little event company in London, organising beautiful and stylish social and corporate events for clients who care about making their guests happy.
What is your dream regarding your personal life?
In ten years’ time I see myself in a gorgeous and bijou country house in Southern France, writing detective novels and dipping into my swimming pool to cool off, while checking in with my staff in London who are continuing to provide fabulous events for happy clients.
If you want to go the DIY route, it’s well-worth getting Fabulous Functions for the Faint-Hearted. If you want to hire someone who knows what she is doing to make your wedding go as smoothly as possible so that all you need to do is sit back and enjoy, you know who to call! Deborah can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, via her website, Facebook and Twitter @dezevents.
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