Working with celebrities and pushing creative boundaries is all in a day’s work for this event stylist. Amber’s a professional creator, dreamer, and list maker.

Occasion Lab

“People used to say ‘You do, what?’. I got a lot of that when I first started, and to be fair, I didn’t even know, I just knew what I wanted to be doing. There was a little bit of it going on globally. I don’t know if people were really calling themselves event stylists, but people were effectively doing that job.” Amber Roper was an event stylist before the profession had a name. 11 years on, and with two small children in tow, Amber’s heart still skips a beat when faced with a flower design request.

Oops I’ve already read this, take me to PART 2 please!

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Events unique enough to impress a stylist

A young couple with an appreciation for good design approached Red Creative for “one of my all-time favourite weddings”. “It was amazing to work with them. They came to us with an open mind and one of their parents’ homes as the venue which was amazing. I really love doing events in a home environment because, while it has distinct challenges, it also has something you can’t match with a venue. It’s got a warmth. You’re inviting people into your home, so that idea of hospitality rings truer.” It was a beautiful art deco home on Cheltenham beach, but the parents had a relationship with the owners of an old venue on the waterfront and felt like they couldn’t host the wedding without having part of it there. “We had a challenge with two very different venues, to create some kind of continuity. So, we did a progressive dining event.” The ceremony was at the house on a platform built above the swimming pool. The platform had a “beautiful pergola over the top … and a courtyard next to the swimming pool where we put all the guests”. After the ceremony the guests moved to an outdoor lounge in the front garden beneath a Raj tent, for cocktails and mingling. “We created … little lounge spaces and a bar. Following that they moved over to the other venue for their dinner.” The team transformed the space and shifted the focus to the dining and the tables. “Then they moved back over into the house and had dessert and dancing. We completely transformed the feeling of the house with lighting, did a huge dessert buffet, and used the kitchen as a hub with a bar setting. Having two very different venues was a challenge, but a “really interesting challenge”. “The family was amazing to work with, they were really open to ideas. They just wanted to have a great time and do something a bit different. That was quite a special one. “

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Amber’s team styles parties and events as well as weddings. “We had a really special party. The clients have multiple homes all over the world and one of their homes is north of Kerikeri. The wife wanted to throw a surprise birthday party for her husband.” She found a florist she loved, who she had been visiting in Spain. “She decided for the party that she wanted to bring the florist out to New Zealand to do flowers for her event. Because it was a surprise it all had to happen very backhandedly. So, she passed off the florist as a friend that she’d met in Spain and she wanted to invite to the home. Because of that the florist herself couldn’t really do much of the event at all because she had to maintain this façade that she was a guest. So, the florist came to me and said we need a facilitator in New Zealand. We need someone who knows NZ well, can run all the practical side of things, and let me be the face of it … She had me and five staff, plus two florists from Spain, and paid for all our accommodation. We created an amazing dinner celebration at their home. Another beautifully architecturally designed home. It’s always really nice to work in a space that’s really interesting to start off with so you’re not having to overhaul it, you’re just adding to it. We created an installation in the swimming pool which was amazing. We sourced everything for that event from scratch so we didn’t use a lot of hire wear. We bought the dinnerware, glassware, and linen because she wanted something really specific.” Ambers client was “amazing and generous and lovely… Just a beautiful person to work with.” They kept up the façade that the florist was a friend until the very end. “It wasn’t until the actual event that she said to her husband ‘Oh, by the way, this is a florist from Spain’!”

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Managing expectations in the inspo age

Amber says that with so much inspiration available “I think the only difficulty that it brings is that clients have unrealistic expectations. There’s a lot of inspiration out there and not a whole lot of practicality”. So, how to delicately tell a client that what they want looks achievable in that inspiration photo, but isn’t achievable for their wedding? “It’s difficult. It depends on the client and the circumstances. I try and have some pretty up-front conversations from the beginning about budget and expectations and reality.” Seeing a styled reception table shoot by local vendors tells you that the items used in the shoot are available in your region, “but can you get them times 200, and can you afford them times 200? Because what you can do on a small scale looks amazing, but the practicality of it can be really difficult”. Fortunately for Amber, Red Creative has evolved over the past decade to attract higher end clientele who “can be more accommodating with their budget”.

Vendor Spotlight // Red Creative Interview on OccasionLab.com

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Vendor Spotlight // Red Creative Interview on OccasionLab.com

Courtesy of Red Creative // Full credits at end of article

Then comes the melding of minds to settle on an event style that suits the client’s unique personality. “While mood boarding’s a really big part of it, we try and spend as much time as possible chatting to the client to get an idea of who they are.” Weddings, conferences, and birthday parties all need the same questions answered: “What’s the purpose of the event? What are you trying to convey with the event? … Is it that you’re wanting a relaxed party where your family and friends can celebrate with you, or is there something else going on? Are you wanting to impress your parent’s friends? … That’s where it’s about getting to know them. Those things come out over time as they warm up to you and you get a feel for it.”

Clients can prepare for these initial chats by sharing “anything that inspires them. Not necessarily in terms of their event, but as a couple”, company, or individual. “It’s more about their lifestyle. People tend to think ‘I need to come with a Pinterest board of all the details I want’, but that’s our job. Let us do that bit. All they need is an open mind and an idea of … details like budget, how many guests, what time of year; practical things.”

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Styling advice we can all learn from – thanks Amber!

“Think about the overall feel before you start delving too much into detail. People sometimes get too caught up in ‘I love this centrepiece’ or ‘I love this particular flower’.” Think more about the season and the purpose of the event. “If you’re having a dinner party for example and it’s … autumn, take your cues from that. Do something a bit more organic … Don’t necessarily get caught up in small details at the beginning.” Start with the big picture and the details “will flow out of that.”

Red Creative promise to “bring the wow to the party”. Amber thinks that wow factor “comes from experience and knowing what works.” So, what’s the magic ingredient? “it’s that combination of beautiful with practical, because it’s got to work.” The feel on an event “is so much more than what you’re seeing through your eyes. It’s the whole experience your guests are having … You’re building a big performance and you’re building it from the very beginning. Controlling all those elements of the experience for the guests. Thinking about their comfort and what they’re going to take away.”

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We’re marrying later, self-funding our weddings, and parting from tradition

Is the global shift away from traditional weddings evident in your day to day clients? “Definitely. We’re seeing a lot of that. Which is cool … because while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with tradition sometimes you’ve just got to ask, ‘why do I feel like I need to have a five-storey cake when I don’t even like cake?’” Traditional celebrations usually start with the couple’s parents paying for the wedding and a lot of the decisions involve pleasing the parents. Less traditional celebrations are often hosted by professionals who marry later and pay for their own wedding. Their approach sways toward celebrating with their family and friends in a way that uniquely reflects their love.

Blooming beautiful flowers

Amber loves the special vibe that flowers bring to an event. “Where else do you see beautiful floral arrangements. It’s kind of an art that people only get to experience in that setting.” “I have buyers who go to the market on my behalf because I don’t want to be up at 3 o’clock in the morning.” The style sheets Red Creative create for each client ensures that the buyers are clear on the style being achieved, budget, and numbers. “I’m lucky that I’ve got good relationships and I trust that we’re going to get what we need, but if I can I like to make it out and tweak the order.” Then the team brings back the flowers “and the magic starts from there”.

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When things go wrong

I want to know more, take me to PART 2 please!

 

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We're the creators, the dreamers, the planners, and list makers. The lovers of all things heart-felt, unexpected and authentic. We're the florists, stationers, designers and makers. The boundary-pushing, out-of-the-box thinkers and we can't wait to meet you!

Whether you're planning an intimate wedding with only a handful of your nearest and dearest, a gala dinner for thousands or hosting your clients at your annual do, we'll bring the wow to the party.

http://www.redcreative.co.nz/

 

CREDITS (in order of appearance)

Header Photography: Kate Grewal Photography // Assistant Photography: Caron Nicole Photography // Cake: Made From Scratch // Millinery: Natalie Chan Boutique // Hair and Makeup: Sarah Knight Hair and Makeup // Styling: Red Creative // Wedding Dress: Joanne Fleming Design

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Hair and Makeup: Sarah Knight Hair and Makeup // Styling: Red Creative // Wedding Dress: Joanne Fleming Design // Photography: Kate Grewal Photography // Assistant Photography: Caron Nicole Photography // Cake: Made From Scratch // Millinery: Natalie Chan Boutique

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Courtesy of Red Creative

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Courtesy of Red Creative

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Hair and Makeup: Sarah Knight Hair and Makeup // Styling: Red Creative // Wedding Dress: Joanne Fleming Design // Photography: Kate Grewal Photography // Assistant Photography: Caron Nicole Photography // Cake: Made From Scratch // Millinery: Natalie Chan Boutique

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Hair and Makeup: Sarah Knight Hair and Makeup // Styling: Red Creative // Wedding Dress: Joanne Fleming Design // Photography: Kate Grewal Photography // Assistant Photography: Caron Nicole Photography // Cake: Made From Scratch // Millinery: Natalie Chan Boutique

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Courtesy of Red Creative

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Courtesy of Red Creative

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Photography: Emma Hughes // Styling: Red Creative // Venue: Stonyridge, Waiheke Island

 

 

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