This is the man who can make every bride's dream wedding come true. Gan Tian catches up with Preston Bailey, celebrity wedding planner.
The ambience is perfect. In a room filled with petals and blooms, Preston Bailey sits, ready to be interviewed. Soft romantic melodies tinkle in the air while wedding dresses and veils flutter softly in the background. Bailey's celebrity clients have included Oprah Winfrey, Joan Rivers, Donna Karan, Uma Thurman, Jennifer Hudson, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones. In Asia, Bailey orchestrated singer Coco Lee's wedding to Canadian billionaire Bruce Rockowitz in Hong Kong.
According to the video clip that was posted online, the Lee-Rockowitz event attracted guests like Winfrey and Jennifer Lopez. Alicia Keys and Ne-Yo performed for the couple, and Bruno Mars sang his hit Just the Way You Are with Lee during the wedding. It was a post that was circulated more than 5,000 times within a day.
But, according to their contract, Bailey cannot talk about Lee's wedding for six months after the event, and that's why all he would say is that the bride said she was the happiest woman in the world that day.
Lee first met him when she attended a Bailey wedding in New York years ago, and they became good friends. When she decided to tie the knot, she called him.
"I work for incredibly savvy and high-end clients. They've seen and been to a lot of amazing events. What they want from me is something different, and I accept the challenge," Bailey says.
He has planned many styles of weddings, including themes inspired by African, Indian and Russian cultures.
Born and bred in tropical Panama, Bailey likes using thousands of flowers to create an extremely romantic feeling. The idea of bringing nature indoors is one of his main sources of inspiration.
For one wedding with a guest list of 5,000, he saw the venue as a huge space that he could turn into a huge green garden. He hung leaves and branches on the wall, and introduced hanging water features and cascades of flowers in the air.
Bailey has also organized a beautiful wedding in the desert, in a space the size of a football field. His favorite memory of that event was a flower-strewn dance floor. To prevent guests from trampling on the flowers, he covered the floor with acrylic glass.
He says he likes Chinese-style weddings, but with an updated touch. Lee is not his first Chinese client. Bailey also has many Chinese clients in New York, so he has done his homework.
He spends considerable time with his design team on the storyboard, incorporating the color red, ribbons and qipao. One of his clients was a New York socialite who wanted her ceremony to be in a mix of both Chinese and Western style. The couple collaborated on the overall design concept, down to the details of fabric and carpet, tabletop design, table linens, drapery, special decor items with Chinese characters, paintings and lighting.
To keep the wedding exciting, Bailey has a not-so-secret formula. There must be a highlight every 15 minutes - either great music or a change of lighting. It's all about creating an incredible experience, he says.
"We do this with the utmost care, because it is imperative that the client has a very clear understanding of what their entire event will look like. Only the guests should be surprised ... never the host," Bailey says.
"My design process is theatrical. I use my design to tell the love story of the wedding couple," he says. "I visualize their dreams."