With holiday party season in full swing, it was great timing to speak with celebrity party planner Ron Wendt, whose clients include the likes of Cartier, Chanel and Louis Vuitton.
Ron shares his tips for creating the perfect event and how he built the business he has today.
What does your company do?
We create decor for corporate and private events with a specialty in high end luxury brands as well as not for profit charity galas. We listen to our client's needs and develop decorative strategies to achieve their goals. Even if it is a wedding, there is so much subliminal story telling that happens through color references, texture, shape and volume. We love finding new and elegant ways to translate these messages, making our client's presence known without being overt. One of the highest compliments I can receive about an event is to hear a guest say ..."this is so her (/him) or them!"
How did you start the business? What were you doing at the time?
I was designing gardens and (my partner) Philip was an actor working in commercials and daytime television. His theatrical background and training coupled with my knowledge of the floral and botanical world created the perfect alchemy for Ron Wendt Design. We were asked to design an important corporate luncheon for which we used a strong botanical approach. It was lush, it was textural and it was a huge success and led to many introductions. I still love designing gardens but find the immediacy of event design so exhilarating, meaning, that all the elements come together in a much more condensed and rapid timeframe.
What was your first big break?
It was a friend's New York wedding in a beautiful 5th Avenue hotel. She has impeccable taste. It was my first experience personalizing an event for a private client. It was challenging and exciting choosing custom tabletop fabrics and materials and then of course finding the perfect flowers to complement them and still relate it all back to the bride and her amazing gown which of course she had designed herself. It was and still is an amazing journey to take with a bride and her family.
What have been some of the highlights of your career thus far?
Last year I did a series of parties in Paris for a private client, all in the private dining rooms of Five Star restaurants. Each evening had a completely different ambience. The last farewell evening was themed "Time Flies". For the stunning 18th century interior, I was able to "borrow" from an antiques dealer friend over a million dollars' worth of gilt bronze 18th French clocks, and arrange them amongst period style vases frothing with the most beautiful garden roses I think I will ever see! The room was dimmed and alight with amber flickering candlelight. It was sublime!
I have also worked on some exciting projects with my fashion and luxury clients like Chanel, Cartier and Louis Vuitton in New York and across the country.
Top five tips for creating the perfect event?
1. Remember that the memory of your party/event starts at the point of arrival. Install a dramatic decorative element so that your guests know they have arrived at the correct destination.
2. Begin at the beginning. The party begins on arrival. Elevate your guest's arrival experience perhaps with a carpeted entry, scent the air so that they are transported from their everyday world immediately, let them hear the music and light the way in candlelight or beautiful washes of light.
3. Once in, create a heart or focus to the reception with a decorative element. Guests like a space that is grounded. They like to know they are in the center of things and are able to see and be seen, not crushed against a bar or in the way of the catering staff.
4. Separate a cocktail reception from its dinner counterpart. Everyone knows this but sometimes, events are held large open loft spaces, so its important to create a screen, a facade, or a baffle so that the dinning room is a revealed surprise instead of a foregone conclusion!
5. Quality. Make certain that everything your guests come in close contact with leads to a pleasant tactile experience. If you have a floral centrepieces they should be well crafted specimens and beautifully presented. The dinner napkins should be linen or a natural fibre. The tablecloths should be of a material that is pleasant to touch. Often they are the largest design element in the room and the one thing that your guests come immediately in contact with. The chairs must be comfortable. The music, lighting, temperature must all be comfortable and appropriate to meet your goals. If you have a large guest list, ask your caterer what they do best and keep it simple but maybe add a personal twist to it.. A meal that is prepared and presented beautifully is better than one that tries too hard and misses!
What can we look forward to from Ron Wendt Design in the future?
While I will continue to hone my event design services through research and travel, I am happy to say I have been designing gardens again and look forward to one in particular coming to final fruition this spring. It's interesting, I have arrived at a very different place in garden design today than where I was when I made the shift to the glamorous world of parties and galas. I think the one informs the other!
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