On Sunday night, we attended the Celebrate Gala at the Missoni Hotel. I expected to see a huge crowd and a ballroom covered with large tables and chairs. Instead, I walk in to hear quiet chitchat and a relaxed atmosphere, which I personally preferred. Round tables were decorated with gorgeous flowers and lit candles. The blue and purple set the whole mood while soft music was playing in the background. There were a few surprises that turned the event from formal to fun: a surprise performance by “The Three Waiters” who humorously sang on stage and an addition of French fries, pizza, and a mini burger for dinner to honor Preston Bailey’s visit.
Mr. Bailey gave a witty presentation about his experience in event design. We got to see how is work evolved from silly mistakes in table and flower setting arrangements to transforming a bland room into an outer space wonderland. At the end, he kindly gave the guests a chance to ask any questions. I personally didn’t ask any questions, because I had an opportunity to meet him in a 10-minute interview at the Celebrate Expo in Crowne Plaza. It was an honor and pleasure! Here are my questions and his humble answers:
What brings you to Kuwait?
Bibi brings me to Kuwait. We met online and she clearly had this wonderful exhibit and she invited me to come to be a guest and give a speech to the industry and potential brides. The Gala was great. I loved the American food. I felt like I was home. The French fries was great!
What was your first impression of Kuwait?
I’ve been here before. I’ve worked here four years ago and I was also here a year ago. I think you guys are great. It’s the most relaxed country in the area. The women, fashion, I mean, where do I stop? You obviously have great restaurants and it’s a good vibe. I like it a lot.
What was your favorite country to work in?
I worked in the Maldives Island once. I loved it there. It was in the water. It was amazing. It was great because they had different hotels, but they all have water. It was a little bit of a challenge, but it happened. I came back four times after it.
Where does most of your inspiration come from?
Nature, fashion shows, art galleries, but a lot of it comes from the beauty of nature. Nature is very abundant and very generous. I love bringing it indoor. It’s a very simple philosophy. That’s very much my signature.
What’s the most exciting thing you’ve experienced in this whole industry?
Of course, meeting people. There are certain people I also admire, love and cherish and meeting them in person like Mrs. Obama. I loved her. I think I get excited about the people I get to meet. I would have never met them if I weren’t in this business.
So you’ve been working in this business for 33 years. What have you learned the most?
How to understand and work with people and how to really connect with people. I think that’s one of my biggest lessons. There are tons of designers, but what makes you a good designer is being able to connect with the clients and understand what they’re really trying to accomplish. I think that’s one of my biggest gifts. Just listen well.
You’ve obviously met so many people. Do you have favorites?
It changes all the time. I like my Lady Gaga. I haven’t met her, but I like her. But Oprah is my favorite celebrity of all times. When you meet her, you want to become a better person. She’s real; there is no nonsense. What you see on television, that’s what she is. Another celebrity I absolutely adore is Joan Rivers. She’s the most giving, kind, generous person I know.
Millions would love to do what you’re doing. What’s your favorite part of it all?
I get to travel, to stay in great places, meet with people, getting to see great cultures, and planning these great events and seeing these things come to life. It’s the greatest joy.
Did you think you would have become this successful?
I don’t think of success. You just do what you have to do and I’m surprised of what I’ve developed. I live a good life so I’m very pleased with that.
If you weren’t managing an event planning industry, what would you be doing instead?
I don’t have a high school diploma and I don’t have any other skills so this is it. But I have this fantasy of becoming a therapist one day and listening to people.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I don’t know. I wish I had a crystal ball. I want to see where I see myself tonight! I’ve done everything I wanted to do and more. Remember, I’m 63, I’ve travelled a lot and done it all. I usually do what I want to do. But I might be involved in a movie as a designer in the movie, not an actor.
Describe your style in event planning in one word.
Dramatic. There is a sense of theatre and I want people to walk in and say “Oh my God.” That’s what I go for. I know I’ve planned a good party when nobody wants to leave.
What advice would you give a bride for her wedding day?
To be realistic of her budget. A lot of brides have very big dreams and don’t know what things cost. Do your research before you start dreaming big.
I’d like to thank Bibi Hayat for her amazing event planning and for introducing Kuwait to the charming Preston Bailey. The Celebrate Expo was beyond beautiful and I couldn’t have imagined it done any better.
You can learn more about Preston Bailey on his site LINK