SL Experts: Colin Cowie To The Rescue

Our new Design Editor happens to be the world’s best event planner. Lucky us.

Colin Cowie
"My favorite part of any event is when the candles have burned halfway down, the wine's taken its effect and everyone's got a smile wrapped two-and-a-half times around their face,' says 'saratoga living' Design Editor Colin Cowie.

I have traveled more than 14 million miles on behalf of my clients, I’ve been fortunate enough to constantly find inspiration from cultures and traditions all over the world, allowing me to bring new and exciting elements to my designs. I put a lot of effort into the timing and flow of events so that the guest experience is seamlessly constructed from beginning to end.

1. What Makes A Colin Cowie Event Distinctive?
I pull from the client’s unique DNA, meaning no two of my parties ever look the same. I use my five-senses approach to guarantee that everything guests smell, touch, taste, see and hear is flawlessly orchestrated and catered to the seasons, time of day and overall experience of the event. There’s a certain art in giving guests just the right amount of time to eat before livening up the dancefloor with a carefully curated musical selection. My favorite part of any event is when the candles have burned halfway down, the wine’s taken its effect and everyone’s got a smile wrapped two-and-a-half times around their face. That’s truly why we do what we do. My recent work in Saratoga’s the ideal example. After expanding our presence into the area, I was able to get involved with events like the Saratoga Wine & Food Festival and use the DNA of the event itself to enhance and revamp it. This September, guests at the festival can expect to experience it like never before.

2. What’s The Best Way To Make Over Your Home?
I like to start with a basic canvas. Gray or white are my favorites, as they showcase all other colors fabulously. When it comes to entertaining, I’m a huge collector of tabletop items. Start with your basic white and treat it like a little black dress. You can dress it up or down, depending on the occasion and your mood. Embrace a couple of colors that speak to you and build a collection of coordinating napkins, placemats, candles, water glasses and objects, allowing you to create multiple looks. That way, you build a wardrobe that is a reflection of your own personality, whether you’re setting a few placemats up for a TV dinner or a formal meal at the dining room table. I find it’s a good idea to think of your home as a summer and winter space. Lighter, more beautiful and airy colors for the warm summer days, and darker, warmer colors for those winter nights. Always remember that bringing guests into your home is the best way to give them a window into your life!

3. What’s The Most Difficult Part Of Planning A Destination Wedding?
The obvious difficulty is the added logistical consideration. If guests are flying in for a multiday event, you have to think about moving their luggage seamlessly, making sure everyone’s able to make it to and from each venue in a timely way and creating a well-thought-out production schedule to adhere to. What I usually do is bring in a core management team and then hire local creative partners and vendors, who are familiar with the location should we need anything. I’ve had the pleasure of teaming up with the right people at these destinations and making sure that I have a crew of intelligent and professional producers who can handle site-visits and other premeditated logistics, so that there are minimal surprises on the day-of. And remember, with all the logistics, a well-informed guest is a happy guest. Send a save-the-date, set up a website with all the travel and attire information the guests might need and mail out a confirmation package that clearly stipulates the different events, times and dress codes. Finally, assume that they haven’t read anything and leave them the itinerary again, along with a welcome note.

4. What’s The Single Best Tip You Can Give An Aspiring Colin Cowie Protégé?
The one ideology that’s guided me throughout my career? Ruthless editing and perseverance. The service industry today is oversaturated with products. We don’t need another solution or hospitality provider; what we need is to ruthlessly edit to get rid of the 90 percent of clutter and keep the 10 percent that truly matters in making a quality offering to the client. Perseverance is key. Remember, every “no” gets you one step closer to a “yes.” Surround yourself with a team of individuals who are experienced, knowledgeable and ready to put in the work. Having a support system that you can depend on is a major key in being able to sustain a successful business.

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