Preston Bailey’s energy is magnetic. As soon as he walks into a room, everyone automatically livens up and it begins to feel like a great, big party. It is this same vibrancy that he uses to transform simple spaces of windows, walls and walkways into amazingly intricate works of art. With a unique sense of style and keen eye for detail, he travels the globe meeting with brides to dream up whimsical, illuminated venues fit for royalty.
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He’s also a favorite of celebs and socialites alike—creating ceremony and reception sites for clients such as Oprah Winfrey and Donald Trump; penned three books (to date) on the art of entertaining and floral design; and has even secured a partnership with destination weddings and honeymoon hotspot, Sandals, offering couples a signature P.B. experience at affordable prices. With his roster of famous friends and a portfolio of jaw-dropping recreations, it perhaps leaves one wondering, "Is there anything this man can’t do?"
Perfect Wedding Guide recently caught up with the in-demand designer during a recent stop in Birmingham, Alabama, where he candidly shared his secrets of success and what the future has in store for Preston Bailey Designs.
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PWG: Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with us. You’re one of the greatest in the industry we’re really excited to share some of your wisdom with our brides.
Preston Bailey: Oh, thank you love. I appreciate that. It’s my pleasure.
PWG: Well, let’s jump right in, shall we? You seem to outdo yourself at every event. Is there a certain formula or conceptualization process that you follow when designing for a new client?
PWG: What are some of your signature elements or trademarks?
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Preston Bailey: I use a lot of elements of the outdoors, like trees. I love bringing in trees from the outdoors and redoing them. I love working with color. I love working with rooms that are very monochromatic, whether it’s hot pink or green or white. I think nature is very monochromatic and I like to keep things that way. Also, I like abundance. I think nature is very generous and I like that generosity of abundance and bringing it indoors. So bringing the outside, in, is really a great signature of mine.
PWG: You’re used to designing some of the most lavish spaces on pretty large budgets. However, a "money is no object" type of wedding isn’t always possible for some.
Preston Bailey: First of all, even if people are billionaires, money is always an object! So that’s very important to keep in mind (chuckle).
PWG: Is there anywedding decorations, one flower, lighting technique or design concept that you absolutely will not use? Is anything considered off limits?
Preston Bailey: I don’t like using Christmas lights in design. I know a lot of people use them . . . and I think they’ve been overused. With my tablecloths, fabric is really important to me with so I’m not crazy about using synthetic materials for fabrics. And personally, I’m not crazy about tropical flowers—but that’s just me. I prefer flowers that are softer and more romantic. And not only that, but I grew up in Panama and all the tropical flowers were weeds! So maybe that’s one of the reasons why I hold back from them.
PWG: What has been your most unusual request to date?
Preston Bailey: There was a request to have a party on a private plane. We had to decorate an entire plane to be the actual party and the guest did not know this. They thought they were going to away to a destination, but the party actually happened in the plane itself. I thought it was very unique in the challenges of how to go about doing that.
PWG: You’re an author as well as a florist and event planner. In your latest book, Inspirations (Bulfinch Press), what can fans take away from reading it?
Preston Bailey: I think with Inspirations or any of the other books (Preston Bailey’s Design for Entertaining; Preston Bailey’s Fantasy Weddings), the concept is to create layers of ideas that everyone can use by looking at the pages and finding some kind of a concept or idea—from planning a party at home to more elaborate events. From ways of doing centerpieces, ways of using chair covers or ways to decorate a tent; for me, it’s just a matter of showing the different ways that I’ve done it and hopefully everyone will get inspired—as the book says—to find inspiration of their own.
PWG: Lastly, what would you say is the best thing about your job or wedding planning?
Preston Bailey: Three things: first of all I get to travel a lot, which I absolutely love. Secondly, I get to meet so many different cultures. Sometimes I feel like I work for the U.N.! Third, I get to create this one day that people will remember for the rest of their lives. For me, I think that is a very powerful thing. I am one of those [who is] really blessed by God almighty that my work and my life are one. I don’t think of my work as ’work.’ I think of it as fun and I enjoy it a lot. Inventing and creating these spaces keeps me excited.
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For more information about Preston Bailey, please visit his Web site at www.PrestonBailey.com.