Leading international wedding planner Bruce Russell shares his hallmarks for a successful wedding and discusses what couples are asking for in 2017 and beyond
While Bruce Russell is a name synonymous with luxury weddings, he says the last thing he would want is for a guest at a celebration he planned to recognise it as a ‘By Bruce Russell’. To his mind, a successfully planned wedding party reflects the personalities of the couple, never the planner. As he puts it: “Getting married is an emotional process, but couples also make a big financial investment in their celebration. Clients who come to me invariably have an overall vision of what they want – my role is to help them translate their vision into reality.”
In practical terms, that means a drill sergeant’s eye for detail and the diplomacy of an ambassador. And it also means sitting down at the start of the process to gain a very thorough understanding of the couple’s tastes and wishlist. Budgets also come into play from the start because, whether it’s an intimate celebration or a £200,000 spectacular, costs are managed forensically and transparently.
“A wedding should reflect the personalities of the couple, never the planner”
Structure is the overriding factor in shaping the celebration and is dictated by the logical order of things. Bruce says: “At the heart of all weddings are the key elements – the service, entertainment and food – so these are central to the planning equation”. Weaving together the necessary and the fabulous is a balancing act, but always grounded in the minutiae of timings and supplier briefings to ensure that everything comes together as it should and the party flows naturally.
Bruce is reassuringly down-to-earth on the subject of not attempting to reinvent the wheel, noting that it’s often small but important details that add the ‘wow’ factor. If the couple want to serve a classic such as fillet of beef, at tastings Bruce will discuss with them how this might be tweaked to make it a little different – so it feels specific to their taste and their celebration. Similarly, a venue such as The Savoy plays host to many glorious weddings, so he will explore how non-static elements are tailored so that it loses none of its hallmarks but still feels fresh to guests – even those who have attended a dozen celebrations there in the past.
He’s wary of talking in terms of upcoming trends such as flowers and themes – these elements are invariably dictated by the couple’s tastes (and most have very clear ideas of styles they like), but he has seen a marked trend towards destination celebrations. And, whether it’s UK or abroad, celebrations are getting longer. He says: “Gone are the days of the one-day affair – typically a wedding might involve a welcome event, service and celebration and then a farewell party afterwards”.
“My role is to help clients translate their vision into reality”
Perhaps the biggest shift over recent years is towards a more relaxed style – with more couples feeling confident enough to blend the formalities you expect with bold and sometimes quirky extras. Bruce has a stellar list of suppliers to call on – from renowned photographer John Nassari and top London florist Nikki Tibbles to hair stylists Errol Douglas and Gustav Fouche of Michael Van Clarke. Like all successful wedding planners, he not only gathers the right people for the wedding journey, but also acts as guardian of the clients’ brief. As he puts it: “My role is to ensure an event that runs seamlessly, is warmly remembered long afterwards and feels completely unique to the couple”.
About Bruce Russell
Bruce Russell is one of London’s most sought after wedding and party planners, synonymous with flair and style. His experience includes over 15 years in high-end hospitality around the world – including The Plaza New York – and culminating in his appointment as The Savoy’s resident weddings expert. By Bruce Russell also offers independent, specialist services for weddings and civil partnerships, as well as private parties and occasions. In September 2014, he unveiled The Bridal Room – a curated marketplace of luxury products, services and suppliers covering everything from the moment of proposal through to planning the perfect honeymoon. bybrucerussell.com