Lebanese wedding and event planner Ziad Nassar is more popular than ever!
Here is what The National had to say about Ziad Nassar:
"From the million-plus shimmering crystal beads ordered from New Delhi for a Bollywood-themed event to the 70,000 white petals blanketing a garden because the bride did not want any greenery on show, understated is not a word that sits easily in Nassar's vocabulary."
"Even his lavishly produced coffee-table book - chronicling the weddings he has planned meticulously to the last crystal flute comes in a giant linen clamshell case, costs Dh2,550 and weighs a hefty 5kg. But, then, the wedding planner who has the ear of 100 princesses across the Middle East can afford to be a little extravagant."
Ziad says: "When someone pays you US$1 million (Dh3.7m), you have to make it look like $10m. We are not talking about people who live normal lives. This is how they are used to living in their own houses, so everything has to be big - from the lighting and the music to the food - not to show how much they have spent but to build something really impressive that works for all five senses."
Ziad has organised 100 weddings for royalty across the Arab world, including 50 Saudi royal weddings, as well as numerous lavish parties. And each one has to be different, not least because the same guests are likely to turn up and it would be anathema to repeat a theme.
So there has been the Alice in Wonderland-themed soirée in Beirut, where guests entered through a keyhole-shaped door and were welcomed by the Queen of Hearts; the romantic English countryside wedding in Riyadh with a carpet of 45,000 white hydrangeas and roses; the French fantasy theme in Riyadh with gold leaf walls and a two-metre-high marron glacé cake embroidered with white edible lace fashioned from sugar strands; and the Bollywood-themed wedding, also in Riyadh, inspired by the film Devdas, complete with thousands of mirrors, crystal beads and gold imported from India.
"It is a big challenge to do a different wedding for several royal clients because the guests are the same every time," explains Ziad Nassar, 43."You have to first create the mood, then start working on the material. You have to know the way they live and create the same feeling, only more so because it is a wedding - but rather than exaggerating you have to respect the bride's personality."
The son of a shoe and handbag salesman from Byblos, Lebanon, Ziad Nassar was formerly an art director of an advertising agency but left after 10 years feeling unfulfilled.
"I liked the creative part but I did not like the lack of instant feedback," he says. "I like to see emotion on people's faces."
It was a chance opportunity to plan a friend's wedding in 2004 that opened another avenue to him.
With his eye for design, he was asked to create a wedding for 850 guests along a classic English theme. He filled the venue with white roses and added personal touches such as opera singers at each table, silverware with the couple's initials embossed on them and perfume favours for all the guests.
"I was afraid and a bit stressed because it was my first wedding, plus it was for my best friend, but everyone was very happy," says Nassar.
That wedding gave him a taste for event planning and offered him his first high-profile client. A royal guest from Saudi Arabia, impressed by his creativity, asked him to plan his son's wedding, and as more royalty contacted him by word of mouth, this had a snowball effect.
Ziad Nassar moved to Riyadh a year later and founded his events company, Once. This was followed in 2007 by his home furnishings and accessories line, So.