It takes a special personality, skillset, and level of creativity to plan a luxury destination wedding for discerning clients from around the world. Based in France, Alejandra Poupel of Alejandra Poupel Events and Design is a master at bringing the most lavish of wedding visions to life. We asked the wedding planning and design specialist to share more about her work and provide some expert advice for couples during the wedding planning process.

GO: How would you describe your wedding planning style?
A: My wedding planning style is upmost service and exceeding expectations. We pride ourselves on catering to all different faiths and nationalities and making sure we bring out all the traditions and lovely aspects of our international clientele. We want the planning journey to be fun and seamless, just as it shall be at the event itself. Infusing the couple’s personalities and surprising the guests at every corner is what we do best.

GO: What are some of your favorite aspects of planning a couple's big day?
A: Sometimes our brides ask us to help them find their dress in Parisian fashion houses such as Elie Saab, Zuhair Murad, or Celestina Agostino and it’s always very interesting to hear the questions the designer asks the bride in order to understand her so they can make the most important dress of their life. I really enjoy our onsite visits during which we brainstorm together, then seeing their faces light up as their dreams have become a reality on the wedding day. I never get tired of seeing the look on the groom’s face when he sees the bride for the first time walking down the aisle, or at the first look.

GO: What is your opinion on wedding trends vs classic décor?
A: Not all wedding trends fit every circumstance. I love timelessness in wedding décor,  but I feel it is important to wow and surprise your guests with the unexpected. If the couple trusts us and lets us push the boundaries a bit, they usually don't regret it.

GO: Is there an ideal amount of time a couple should dedicate to planning their wedding?
A: The planning can be done in 6 to 8 months, but the issue is the venue. If couples would like to have their pick of venues, it is important to start 12 months before – at least securing the wedding venue. In Europe, the high season is May to September and excludes August since it is very hot, and everything is very full. Therefore, there are only 12 Saturdays for the season in the venues. If the couples would like to do their wedding in a hotel and do a buyout, then we need to search minimum 12 months before.

GO: What wedding details are often overlooked when planning a wedding and designing the décor?
A: We want our brides and bridal party to be pampered on the wedding day, so we make sure we have a bridal valet and someone doing foot and back massages. They will have finger food, and everyone will be taken care of on the day of, so the bride and groom and their families are relaxed.

It’s also great when the couple has a pre-photo and video shoot to get to know their photo and video team in advance, since it is wonderful to have that connection beforehand and you practice your poses.

GO: What transforms a "standard" wedding into a memorable, luxury event?
A: By far, the emotion. It’s when the father of the bride gives his heartwarming speech, or when the guests all let go of sky lanterns giving special wishes to the couple, or when the guests get on boats in Venice to arrive at the wedding by water. Destination wedding guests love to feel pampered, so we like to give personalized welcome baskets with chargers, rescue flats, and hangover kits – and of course, French or Italian specialties. It’s when the guests connect and genuinely let their hair down and have a good time that the event becomes memorable.

GO: What can a couple expect when working with you as their wedding planner?
A: They can expect someone that will give them advice as if it were my sister or brother’s wedding! I will always give them all the options and we will work in partnership to make sure we transform their vision into a memorable experience for the whole family.

GO: Do you have any advice for couples who are going through the wedding planning process? 
A: I would say light and sound is extremely important in an event. For your décor, there should be one statement piece; it does not have to be many things, but one that makes you say, “WOW.” Choose a planner that you would like to have lunch or dinner with. Embrace the venue you choose, and once it is chosen, you need to enhance its beauty and work around what is appropriate at the venue – venue is the most important choice that you should make early on in the wedding planning process.