Colin Cowie, event planner to the celebrities, said the events he puts together are more about the people who are there than the gorgeous décor he designs.
“People think you have to impress people,” he said. “I think you impress people by making them feel comfortable and welcome. I think Maya Angelou said it best: ‘People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.’”
Cowie spoke at the annual Rose Festival Ladies’ Luncheon. Several rose queens, past and present, were honored at the event.
“There are so many gorgeous women in the room, I feel like James Bond,” he said.
Cowie travels all over the country with the business he’s created in the past 26 years. In the past year, he’s traveled to France, New York, Italy and even coordinated some events in Texas.
The audience gasped and murmured at the photo slideshow Cowie showed of the details of some of his events.
He’s planned events with budgets ranging from $10,000 to the multimillions.
“I have the best job,” he said. “I get paid well to spend other people’s money and make everyone happy.”
Cowie was born in Zambia and raised in South Africa. After being disheartened by apartheid and the lack of opportunities around him, he came to the United States in 1985 with “a big dream, $400, one suit and a great sun tan.”
He stumbled into planning Hugh Hefner’s second wedding by sheer vision and enthusiasm and has been coordinating events ever since. He’s also planned events for Jennifer Aniston, Tom Cruise, Jennifer Lopez, Oprah Winfrey and Kim Kardashian. His next event to plan is Oprah’s 60th birthday party, he said.
“My favorite event is always the next one,” he said. “That’s the one your heart is in.”
Cowie recently launched a wedding planning website, www.colincowieweddings.com . He also runs a consulting business for international hospitality and design projects for hotels, retailers and airlines.
He is a regular contributor to NBC’s “Today” show, contributes his own home and lifestyle collections to HSN and has written nine books.
Cowie also is an avid supporter of several charities focused on children’s education and health.