An Interview With Aimee Dunne | What Defines A Luxury Wedding?

How do we define a luxury wedding? What separates a luxury wedding from a wedding? Is it merely down to perception or budget? An overall experience? Or is it down to guest lists that include, high society and celebrities? Does a luxury wedding need to be completely decadent and over the top? Pretentious or exclusive? Or can it be intimate, elegant, fun and subtle? What are the key components that define luxury?

Luxury: a state of great comfort or elegance, especially when involving great expense

I have always wondered about the myriad of interpretations of luxury. What truly defines a luxury wedding and how we can inject real luxury into our own wedding day. To help, I have invited London-based luxury wedding and event planner,  mother of two and footballers wife, Aimee Dunne to educate and give us an insight into luxury.

I love meeting inspiring and progressive businessmen and women, who share the same desire to elevate the wedding industry standard around quality and inspire to serve wedding couples, as individuals, rather than a one size fits all commodity.

Nu Bride sponsor Aimee, a perfect example of this. I had the pleasure of meeting Aimee over three years ago, at the Dorchester no less, and I instantly loved her effortless down to earth mix of sophistication and calm natured energy.

With a passion for producing luxury overseas events for an eclectic range of clients; from celebrities, to sports personalities, CEO’s and couples with generous budgets; Aimee is naturally talented at what she does and unwaveringly calm. Perhaps owing to her successful career in banking and degree in business.

What moved me most about Aimee’s story into luxury events, was a painful life event and her own wedding that was the catalyst she needed to start her own business and create a life with purpose and meaning. A business that plays a part in celebrating all the wonderful moments life brings. A value that was firmly instilled in her since losing her mother and one that she holds dear to her and weaves throughout her business values; celebrating life.

Truly inspired.

Say Hello Aimee

Photography: Andy Catterall

I’m Aimee, I run Aimee Dunne Ltd, specialising in planning luxury celebrations for high-profile clients including celebrities, sports personalities and high-end business people. I started the business in 2010 following my own wedding and after planning many events in my spare time. I was on the Events Committee at College and University in Bath where I studied Business. I was always involved in planning any and every event, but it took a while for the penny to drop and I spent 10 years working in banking before setting up my own business.

As well as running my business, I also juggle being a mum of two and am the wife of a professional footballer.

What inspired you to start your own luxury wedding and event planning business?

Photography: Abi Chadwick

Planning my own wedding played a big part in starting my own career, but ultimately it was a desire to do a job I really loved and cared about. My heart was never in banking, but it was in events and planning celebrations.

I had a childhood that made me learn to appreciate the important things in life, including celebrating all the moments that are worth celebrating and making the most of them. I lost my mum at a young age and it’s always pushed me to celebrate the good times in life when you can and follow your heart; life is too short not to. I wanted to use my skills to help others celebrate and also run a business doing something I love.

My Business degree and career in banking has given me a great foundation as a business owner and in running events. There’s a lot more looking at spreadsheets and budgets than there is enjoying champagne and cake!

If I had a pound for every time someone said ‘wow, I wish I had your job’! I do have a wonderful job but it’s hard work and I often work very unsociable hours; there is no such things as 9-5 in this industry. My clients have high expectations, and they should do. I work hard to meet those expectations and people generally don’t see all the work that goes on behind the scenes that’s not quite as glamorous as they imagine.

Define Luxury in your own words

Photography: Abi Chadwick

Luxury can mean many things to many people but I think it’s really an experience.

Luxury is not one thing or one product, it’s a bit like an emotion. You feel luxury through the experience you have. Whether it’s staying in a luxury hotel, buying a luxury product, dining in a fabulous restaurant; they’re all part of an overall experience and they create a feeling. You may buy a luxury product but it’s also the service around that which you’re buying into and you’re buying into how something makes you feel.

Luxury weddings are generally defined as those having budgets over £75,000. Saying this though, it really depends what type of wedding someone is having with their budget as to what it can involve. I always say to clients to really think about what is most important to them and where they want to spend more of their budget, and where they wouldn’t mind spending less; food, wine and the venue really are key.

Planning luxury weddings and events, is all about the experience from the minute my clients meet me. I want them to have a wonderful experience not just on their wedding day, but through every step of the planning process and with everyone else they meet throughout it.

6 key tips to better understand luxury weddings

Photography: Abi Chadwick

Overall Cost

Generally speaking, luxury weddings are seen as weddings with a budget of £75,000+, and ultra-luxury weddings with budgets of around £400,000 +.

Budget

Clients in the luxury market have often worked hard to earn their wealth and it’s very important to be respectful of this. It also means that they are pretty wise with their budget and won’t splurge on everything (contrary to what many people imagine – Nu Bride – Agreed!); it’s often the case that they will have some elements they’ll want to spend lots on and others a lot less so. They’re incredibly smart with their budget.

Photography: Abi Chadwick

Multiple Celebrations

There are often a number of events, not just the wedding itself. My clients know how to celebrate and often do so over a number of days, whether it’s a pre-wedding party, brunch following the wedding, or taking all the guests away for a wedding weekend. It’s most often a series of events, all of which need to be planned in tune with one another, down to the finest detail.

Photography: Abi Chadwick

Food and Drink

Food and wine are key. My clients often eat at the best restaurants and enjoy the finest wine,  often with their own wine collections and cellars. They know their stuff and expect very high standards, as do their guests. People remember bad food and wine at any wedding, and this is even more so for the luxury weddings.

The Finer Details

Perfection and the finer details are extremely important.  It could be anything ; such as a specific tablecloth or napkin that a client wants, or imported china for the table setting because it has some special significance to them. These elements and meticulous attention to detail are absolutely key in executing the finer details to luxury weddings.

Photography: Jea Photography

Managing Expectation

Clients expect a lot from a luxury wedding and they should, but it’s important to be realistic and manage expectations from the start. From confidentiality and privacy needs, right down to execution, it’s my job to communicate to my clients and keep them informed, and that involves being honest. It’s also extremely important to be detailed and precise in the planning stages of a luxury event. My running orders are often pages long, by the minute.

If something isn’t possible or simply won’t work, it’s my job to explain that and why, or if something is possible but will cost a lot more than they anticipated it’s also my job to make that clear. This saves a lot more trouble down the line. Like with most elements of the planning, communication is key, as it trust.

What has been your favourite event to plan and why?

Photography: Abi Chadwick

I love London, it’s such a beautiful city and there is so much choice when planning events here and so many wonderful venues. But I love destination events. I’ve always had a huge love of travelling and from a planning side I love the challenge of logistics, it’s definitely one of my skills. Destination events can be so unique with so many fabulous locations but they need expert logistical planning.

Photography: Abi Chadwick

One of my favourite has to be a week-long 40th celebration I organised in St Tropez. We hired a fabulous hotel overlooking the bay and organised all transport for guests including bringing my clients own cars over from the UK (including an extra vintage one as a surprise present). We had a week of events including a yacht trip, beautiful private dinners, and a party at the end of the week with a surprise performance by Ronan Keating. (Nu Bride: Well that sounds pretty epic!)

What has been your most challenging wedding and how did you learn from this?

Photographer: Sean Christopher Weddings

My first large wedding was a marquee wedding down in the New Forest. I hadn’t been a planner for very long and it was a very big wedding with many challenges.

Guests were flying in from different locations including the States and Hong Kong. We had guests visiting London and then travelling down to the New Forest the day before the wedding (which was the day of the Olympics opening ceremony in London none the less), a very large marquee build, a pre-wedding party at a separate venue, a post-wedding day brunch, a Rwandan dance troupe performing (the only one we could find in the UK), and the most wonderful surprise fireworks display which brought the guests and staff to tears. There was so much to consider and plan and it was the most amazing learning experience for me.

I learnt very quickly to surround yourself with a good team, never be afraid to ask questions, and however crazy things get, always remember your manners (you never know when you’ll work with someone again or need their help)!

Nu Bride: 100%!

Thank you so much for sharing a snippet of your world with us Aimee. What a delight.

To discover more on luxury weddings and events please visit http://aimeedunne.com/ 

Header Image

Photography: Abi Chadwick

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