Hi.

Welcome to ASTW - the place for bespoke brides looking for unique handmade items, ideas & inspiration

International Luxury Retreat Preview

International Luxury Retreat Preview

Today we're sharing with you the fabulous International Luxury Retreat Preview hosted by Pamella Dunn Weddings. A truly fabulous day for industry professionals, Charlotte from award winning blog Redamancy gives you the low down on this exisite and exclusive event.

What do the words ‘luxury’ and ‘styling’ have in common? It’s a pretty straightforward answer: Pamella Dunn. Pam, or Pami to friends (which I am so lucky to be able to call her), has been stirring up styling sensations in the wedding industry for the last 7 years. I first met Pamella when I was given the enviable title of intern and brand ambassador, along with 6 other fabulous ladies, back in June 2016 and getting to know her and her business has been an absolute delight. The number one thing I have learnt? If Pam asks you to go on an adventure, you don’t even hesitate. It will be the best ride of your life.

Cue excited emails passed back and forth between myself, Pam, and all-round wunderkind Ellie Kime, a brainstorming session, a very delightful meeting in Fillmore & Union (still dreaming about that Pistachio Rose Latte) and lots of instagram promotion. Sunday 14th of May had certainly seemed like a long way off when we were planning it but as with all majorly exciting things it soon came around quickly!

The night before the event I couldn’t sleep. I know this sounds like a terribly clichéd thing to say but it’s true. Not even the thought of setting my alarm for 5:45am could dampen my spirits (I’m more of a 8:45 girl myself). The next morning at 6:37 – I’m always 7 minutes behind schedule, potential future clients look away now – I was in my car, downing coffee in world-record time, and hot-footing it along the motorway.

I arrived at the beautiful Woodlands Hotel to find Pam doing what Pam does best – styling up a storm. It was a golden botanical haven, and the marquee styled to the nines really felt like a place where plans would be made and goals would be set. Exactly the type of place you want to be if you’ve got a hunger and passion for all things wedding biz. I immediately set to work helping recreate Pam’s vision, and as more of the LSRT (Luxury Styling Retreat Team) arrived it began to sink in that this was really happening.

This event was all about style, so I’m going to have to go into lots of adoring detail and descriptions and you’re just going to have to bear with me! Gold sequin tablecloths bathed the banqueting table running down one length of the room, lined with chivari chairs standing proudly dressed in their sashes. Golden glass charger plates, luxe golden cutlery and gold-rimmed goblets from Whitehouse crockery delivered opulence at its very best. Leafy green tropical table centrepieces stood high on golden plinths and candles filled every available gap. Palms reinforced the botanical look and balloons from Swoon Balloons provided some luxury fun. Pam’s favourite detail from the event was the stunning name plaque hoops she’d had designed to sit above each keynote speaker’s chair and I have to say it was an inspired idea which really added something a little bit special. Sofas created a chill-out area (3 course fine-dining experiences can be tiring, you know) and the table lined with gift bags just made me want to squeal.

By 10:00am setup was pretty much complete, which gave us half an hour before the guests were due to arrive. It was just enough time to revel in what Pam had created and take in the incredible atmosphere, which stayed with everyone for the rest of the day. During this time I met Kylie, the CEO of the Wedding Academy – with whom I completed my Advanced Diploma in Planning and Design – and Brand Manager for the Academy, Martha. After chatting with them for just 10 minutes I already felt totally inspired, so how the heck was I going to feel after the inspirational speeches?!

There was no time to dwell on that though as I shot off to the conservatory to be on hand to greet guests when they arrived. Champagne, anyone? This little welcome soiree was made even better by Liz Keeting doing her thing, performing some of the top wedding songs to ever exist. L is for the way you look at me… O is for… “Omg that balloon arch looks incredible!” I said in my inside voice, because I did not want to drown out Liz’s beautiful voice for a single second. Claire from Swoon Balloons had created an amazing display of white and gold balloons that really set the tone for the day as soon as guests arrived. My favourite detail? The printed banner displaying all of the suppliers involved in the event, from the lovely Zoe at The Golden Letter who designed the most stunning stationery suite ever, to YSL who sponsored the gift bags. Yes, you read that correctly – Yves. Saint. Laurent. There were also these super gorge quotation cards on the welcome table, inscribed with motivational sayings to get everyone in the mood. “Work until you no longer have to introduce yourself” is my favourite quote of all time and I’m very happy to say it made the cut.

After guests had enjoyed a little bit of bubbly in the sunshine, we all headed inside to commence the day. Liz, who was also acting as super-glam MC, had a special announcement for our guests. Hidden under 5 chairs were golden tickets that awarded the lucky recipient a free consultation with the lovely ladies from YSL in Harvey Nichols in Leeds, as well as a £50 voucher for a beauty makeover. What a prize, is what I thought when Pam told me, which was definitely echoed by the girls in the audience who threw themselves on the floor to check under chairs!

Bums firmly back on seats, it was time for the speakers. First up, Helen Davies of Rise Hall. It sounds like an incredibly fancy title, and this lady deserves every single bit of it. ‘H’ is for Helen, but it’s also for Hustle and she has this in abundance. Helen started her own wedding planning company, The Wedding Concierge, 5 years ago. Within 12 months, Helen had been approached by Sarah Beeny (yes, the very one) who asked her to take over the wedding side of things at Rise Hall, which up until this point had been pretty poor, and turn it into a wedding venue of dreams. Helen was unsure at first, as anyone would be, but six days later she moved into Rise Hall with just a computer and a suitcase. What she has accomplished is quite frankly astonishing, or it would be if it wasn’t the result of sheer graft and determination. Because that’s the real reason Rise Hall is now a top wedding venue and hotel, hosting around 40 weddings a year – Helen quite simply worked her arse off. Her talk provided inspiration in bucket-loads and you could tell there was a buzz amongst the guests once she’d finished.

Next up, couture dress designer Anita Massarella. Now, let me tell you, this woman has a wicked sense of humour! – she had us all in absolute stitches! She’s a fantastic speaker and storyteller, and you want her to keep reeling off amazing anecdotes all day! She happened to mention that she had designed a wardrobe for Margaret Thatcher and I swear every single jaw in the audience dropped. Imagine being able to say that?! Anita also brought along some of her stunning dresses, and it’s not hard for one second to see why people pay the prices they do for Anita’s designs. To put it simply – they are bloody gorgeous! Anita is one of the most focussed and driven people you could hope to meet, and I’m very glad I got the chance.

Kylie Carlson, Director and Founder of The Wedding Academy rounded up the inspirational talks. I was really intrigued to hear Kylie speak because I’d already heard what a charismatic and engaging speaker she is, and she did not disappoint. I even lent over to Pam during Kylie’s talk to comment on what a ‘ball-buster’ she is, because when Kylie sets her mind to something – she achieves it. She doesn’t let anything stand in her way, and if there is an obstacle of some sort then she quickly susses out the most efficient way around it and achieves her goal. Which is why it’s not hard to see why The Wedding Academy has received the international acclaim it has. With Kylie at the helm how could it have achieved anything less?

That rounded up the morning’s events, and as the guests seated themselves at the table for lunch, the suppliers quickly headed off to the bar for a well-deserved glass of vino and a bit of a chin-wag. You just can’t beat it on a summer’s day! I did ask the guests how they enjoyed their food though, and I was met with lots of faces that resembled the heart-eyed emoji. However, with this being an industry event, it’s safe to say that this bunch of lovelies enjoyed the networking opportunity just as much as the food!

The afternoon kicked back off with a floral styling demonstration, from florist support on the event – Jade from Flowers By Jade. I think the guests were a bit disbelieving when it was explained to them that Jade was going to demonstrate how they could recreate a very similar centrepiece to those on display, at home, however her easy way of explaining things made us all realise that it’s actually possible. That’s the great thing about Jade; she’s down-to-earth, she’s bubbly and she’s very approachable. I find flowers quite daunting, because there are so many different types and I can never remember their names let alone their appropriate seasons. But Jade put us all at ease with her demonstration, and then it was time for everyone to try out these tips and tricks by styling their own greenery display in a gorgeous white vase. Bonus – they got to take it home too. And there were some absolutely fabulous creations!

Once everyone had arranged their own floral display, and after a very inspirational note to end on from the woman herself – Pam, it was time for mojitos and a dessert table selection to wind down the afternoon. One way to move 24 women into another room fast is to mention ‘cocktails and cake’, just FYI. It was so lovely to see everyone chatting to the people who they’d met during the day, swapping Instagram handles and friending each other on Facebook, especially as many of them had turned up alone without knowing anyone else.

I couldn’t believe how fast the day had flown by when everyone started coming to say thank you and goodbye, laden with the luxury goody bags stuffed full of treats. I met some truly wonderful people who I know I will stay in touch with, and it was definitely a sentiment that I could see a lot of people shared. There was such a positive tingle in the air come 4:00pm that day. It’s like when you’re little and you go to a children’s party – you’ve had the best time playing with all of your friends and you’re so chock-full of sugar that you genuinely feel that life is better than it ever has been, and you can’t wait for tomorrow. 

That’s the feeling that the Luxury Stylist Retreat gave me. And with a conclusion like that, you can’t possibly tell me that you don’t want to come to Sydney and do it with us all over again? I’ll see you down under. G’day Mate.

Discover more about the Luxury Retreat Preview and future events at Pamella Dunn

Written by Charlotte Spain

With special thanks to |

Soniya Zeb

The Golden Letter

Whitehouse Crockery

Pop Up Weddings

Redamancy

Blooming Beautiful

Blooming Beautiful

Springtime Ballet Brides

Springtime Ballet Brides