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Tuesday, June 21st 2011

Shopbop Wedding Series: Advice from Celebrity Wedding Planner Colin Cowie

Known the world over as an arbiter of style, Colin Cowie has been planning parties for the world’s elite for more than 20 years. He counts Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Aniston, and Hugh Hefner among his list of celebrity clientele; makes regular appearances on The Today Show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and Live with Regis and Kelly; and is the author of eight bestselling books. We talked with Mr. Cowie about how he got into the business and asked him to share some advice for brides in the midst of planning a wedding.

Shopbop: Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get into the party planning business?
Colin Cowie: I started as a one-man show—chief chef, waiter, and bottle washer. I used to wake up at 6 a.m. and go to the flower market, arrange the flowers, do the marketing, then head home to cook the meal. I’d set their table, cork the wines, pour drinks, serve the meal, and do the cleanup. And I put 120 percent into everything I do. It’s kept me at the top of my field. I never set out doing what I’m doing now. One step led to another, and the dream has come to life.

SB: If you can whittle it down to just one, what would you say is the most important thing to think about when planning your wedding?
CC: The comfort of your guests is most important. Your wedding is a statement of style. True style has nothing to do with what you wear or how much money you spend. It’s about how you treat your guests. Your wedding is your first joint statement of style and an opportunity for you and your fiancé to function as the quintessential host and hostess. How you treat your guests and make them welcome is more important than the food you serve or the dress you wear.
SB: There are many moving parts. How do you approach the planning process so as not to feel overwhelmed?
CC: Stay organized in a way that works best for you! Being organized alleviates stress and tension that might be brought on from feeling overwhelmed with the idea that things are consuming you.
SB: A wedding is such a personal event. How do you recommend incorporating personal touches into the big day?
CC: Make it as personal as possible: the food you serve, the music playing, the vows you read, the colors you work with are all elements that should be personalized. Start with the invitation and weave a consistent thread of style throughout the entire celebration. From the wording on the invite to the color of the ink, it’s the first thing your guests will see and sets the tone for what’s to come, right down to the thank you notes you will write your guests after the wedding. At the end of the day, when you walk down the aisle it’s that single thread of well-edited ideas that will create the look, feel, and spirit of your wedding story.
SB: A wedding can be a really stressful time. What is your best advice for brides looking to keep their stress level at a minimum?
CC: Exercise! Instead of sitting on the sofa in front of the TV with a box of your favorite chocolates, get up and move! Get those endorphins flowing, hit the gym, get on the treadmill, hit that punching bag, and when you’re done, your endorphins will be up and your stress will be down!
SB: What was the best wedding you worked on, and what made it so special?
CC: The next one I’m working on, that’s really how I feel. Each is so different, I’m able to start with a blank canvas and go from there. Bringing a vision to reality and seeing it all come together is like weaving a thread through a needle, there are so many moving parts that must come together seamlessly, with only one take. It’s like live TV.

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