Episode 11 Colin Cowie: Creating Groundbreaking Luxury Experiences

Colin Cowie is a top designer for all things weddings—as well as galas, charitable events, corporate and destination celebrations. He’s beloved by the likes of Oprah, Jerry Seinfeld, Elton John, Michael Jordan, Bruce Willis, Jennifer Aniston, and countless other A-list celebrities.

Ever since Colin arrived in Los Angeles from Kitzwe, Zambia at the height of apartheid in 1985, his professional life has soared. While teaching cooking lessons at age 23, he met a woman whose chance encounter soon led to his first wedding assignment for a local bachelor: Hugh Hefner.

Thirty-one years of parties, weddings, and multi-day events later, he’s never created the same event twice.

The degree to which Colin cares for and personalizes his work is not just unmatched, it’s nearly indescribable, and precisely why he’s consistently relied upon by the most discerning of clientele. He learns everything there is to know about his clients, over hors d’oeuvres and champagne, until the event he crafts (and the journey on which he takes his clients to get there) is not just perfectly tailored, but permanently unique. When he isn’t designing weddings and Fortune 500 parties, Oprah Winfrey’s Legends Ball or Guinness Book of World Records-breaking pyrotechnic shows abroad, Colin works as “creator-director” for elite brands like NetJets, Dom Pérignon, and Bergdorf Goodman; even private islands.

Idyllic as Colin’s life may sound, and so often is, he and Andy extend their conversation today beyond the exclusive glamour of the luxury events industry to the unseen challenges once faced in the midst of the great recession, Colin’s daily routines (from meditation and “I am” statements to nightcaps), professional strategies, and the critical value of humility and gratitude.

Episode 337 THE NEXT LEVEL: SEAN LOW discusses IRA LEVY – Tastefully Using Technology to Create Lighting Designs

Andy welcomes Sean Low back to the show. Sean is the owner of the consulting firm The Business of Being Creative, which focuses on providing practical advice to those in the business of being creative. He also has a podcast on The Wedding Biz Network called The Business of Being Creative.

Listen as they discuss Ira Levy, the Creative Director of Levy NYC Design & Production, a full-service design and production company focused on lighting, sound, and video for events, architecture, and what he calls architainment. Ira has been the lighting designer for such event luminaries as Preston Bailey and Colin Cowie. Past clients include Martha Stewart Weddings, Dolce Gabbana, and the American Museum of Natural History.

Episode 336 IRA LEVY – Tastefully Using Technology to Create Lighting Designs

“Light starts in the ceiling and ends in the floor, and there is nothing in between.” Listen as Andy and his guest Ira Levy discuss his journey from pre-med to concerts, lighting design, and entertainment, why he uses the term architainment, his process when working with clients, designers, and planners, plus much more on this episode of The Wedding Biz.

Ira is the Creative Director of Levy NYC Design & Production, a full-service design and production company focused on lighting, sound, and video for events, architecture, and what he calls architainment. He has also been the lighting designer for such event industry luminaries as Preston Bailey and Colin Cowie. Past clients include Martha Stewart Weddings, Dolce Gabbana, and the American Museum of Natural History.

“It’s not the turning of the screw; it’s knowing which screw to turn.” Ira believes that the mood you create with lighting is part of the experience. Ira shares mixing entertainment and architecture to create architainment, which happens when light touches inanimate material.

Listen as Ira speaks about the need for event industry professionals to allow more time before an event so that lighting designers can work their creative magic. Ira also shares what he still hopes to accomplish and what he is looking forward to.

Episode 229 THE NEXT LEVEL: RACHEL BIRTHISTLE discusses JOSE VILLA/Part 1 – Redefining Success With Fine Art Photography

Do you prefer to take photographs digitally or with film? Listen as Andy and Rachel discuss Jose Villa and why he uses film almost exclusively. Rachel is the Owner and CEO of The Lake Como Wedding Planner based in Como, Italy. She works with clients directly but also has the pleasure of morphing into the local team for many foreign agencies such as planners in the states like Lisa Vorce on Chrissy Tegan and John Legend’s wedding, Colin Cowie, and many more. 

Jose Villa is a celebrity photographer known for crafting vibrant, fine art images that are as unique as the people in the photographs. Jose has been published in many magazines around the world and was listed in the Top 10 Wedding Photographers in the World by the American Photo Magazine. This interview from two years ago is being re-released to get you ready for Part 2 coming out in a few weeks.

Rachel has worked with Jose many times and shares how focused he is on-site, his underlying intuition and empathy when shooting weddings. They chat about how important it is to connect with the client, whether you are the photographer, the planner, the entertainment, or any other creative partner in the industry. The more you feel connected and know the client, the more you want to do a better job because you have a personal bond with them.

Listen, as Andy and Rachel discuss how guests taking pictures with their phones can get in the way during the ceremony and why they should just sit back and let the professional photographers do their jobs. Plug into this episode and keep a lookout for Part 2 in the next few weeks.