FEATURE. “I am a good listener, a kind of psychiatrist even,” says the Beirut-based wedding designer Ziad Raphael Nassar who likes to envision a couple’s dynamic even before envisioning the setting for an event. “Most people will speak a certain way about themselves, but in the end they are not like that. I often go out to dinner with them to see what kind of restaurant they choose, how they interact.” Nassar has become the go-to event planner for Arab royals and A-listers since founding his studio Once in 2009, and has designed more than 100 spectacular weddings in the region. His background as a advertising director and painter ensures that each is given individual flair.
“A wedding has to give a wow effect almost like a fairytale,” he says. “It’s not about showing how much money the couple has, but reflecting their personalities in a creative way.” Although the end result is invariably opulent, it can take a stretch of the imagination, and trust in Nassar’s skill, to picture the transformation at the outset, especially if the blank canvas is insalubrious.