Party planner to the stars Julie Perry
- Credit: Julie Perry Events
A little bit of luck may have started Julie Perry’s glittering career in events planning, but her imagination, skill, energy and sheer hard work has cemented it.
‘A friend of mine was doing some work for a renowned businessman in the sporting world and overheard him talking about organising an anniversary party for him and his wife. She said “I know someone who could do that for you.”’
Julie, who at the time was working in music management and organising events on the side, was asked to pitch her ideas – and won the job. Her work impressed him so much he immediately offered her two more events, including his daughter’s wedding.
‘I had no idea when I was organising this that of the 400 guests many would be premiership footballers and important business people; gradually I began to build up a roster of clients from people who’d been there on the night.’
It was the wedding of Phil and Julie Neville in 1999 that really put her on the map however. ‘Really it spiralled from there,’ she says. ‘Guests included every Manchester United face of the time, including David Beckham and his wife Victoria.’
Julie soon became the name to call when a party, of any variety, was in the offing, and it is testament to her skill and her ethics that once someone becomes a client, they tend to stay a client. ‘I have long-lasting relationships with nearly all of my clients,’ she says. ‘From arranging intimate dinner parties to huge events for their charity foundations or corporate projects.’
Her contact list reads like a chapter from the who’s who of British sports, TV and business celebrity, but the vast majority of her events take place without the press being any the wiser.
- 1 10 of the best restaurants for al fresco dining in Norfolk
- 2 35 great Surrey pubs with beer gardens and terraces
- 3 Win a holiday for two on the Isles of Scilly
- 4 12 outdoor dining experiences in Surrey
- 5 16 of the best spots for al fresco dining in Essex
- 6 6 of the best outdoor events in Cheshire this spring
- 7 Sussex pubs with beer gardens to visit this summer
- 8 Two Cornwall fish and chip shops named country's best
- 9 10 pubs with pretty beer gardens in Canterbury
- 10 19 great places to eat outdoors in Cheshire after lockdown
‘Some planners work very differently to me, wanting to be pictured with their famous clients. But I’m very protective of all of my clients. I tell people very little; I’m a nightmare for the paparazzi,’ she laughs. ‘For every wedding or party that features in the press, there are hundreds that don’t. Discretion is hugely important. The only time the press or public will know what I’m working on is if the client wants them to know.’
Most people so close to celebrities are only too happy to make sure everybody knows. Julie is not only ultra-careful not to share names, but she’s also strangely modest when talking about her achievements. Julie and her team manage events for between two and 20,000 people; she was the imagination and drive behind Wayne and Coleen Rooney’s five-day wedding (which took place at four different locations with five different themes); designed a millennium ice themed wedding for Julie and Phil Neville; created a quintessentially English country garden-themed dinner inside a custom-built glass marquee; organised a 16th birthday celebration where the birthday girl and her friends occupied every single suite on the top floor of a 5-star hotel, had Hermes pyjamas waiting for them on their beds and were gifted diamond necklaces; and quite literally gift-wrapped a five-bedroomed house – a gift from a client to his parents: ‘That was very special,’ Julie says.
There are many more examples, each one demonstrating what an extraordinary woman Julie is, and how she and her team are worthy of fame in their own right, but the Cheshire-based team are barely known outside the world of sport and celebrity.
2020, and the series of lockdowns and restrictions changed Julie’s year plan dramatically.
‘We had almost 70 events in the diary,’ she says. ‘From small, intimate dinners to huge occasions, such as SoccerAid. We had weddings, baby showers, birthdays, product launches, corporate and private parties. Nothing has been cancelled, everything has been rescheduled, but it’s not as easy as just picking a new date. Some events are so big they can be two years in the planning, so postponing is very hard.
'Many overseas weddings we had planned in for local clients have moved back to the UK, to avoid any potential travel ban restrictions, however I have two very high-profile events planned for US-based clients next year. One is a corporate event in Miami in March and the other is a private party in Las Vegas in May, and whilst the actual dates seem way off yet, we are eager to get over there to do site meetings with our clients and the venues in order to work out logistics and overall production, as well as things like menu tastings, meeting with local vendors, etc. I have been working on these for more than 18 months now and Zoom meetings can only take you so far...'
One wedding that is, at this moment, still in the 2021 diary is that of Love Island star Olivia Attwood and her fiancé, Bradley Dack. As the whole affair is being filmed for ITV’s Olivia Meets Her Match, Julie has found herself, for once, in the limelight she usually seeks to avoid.
‘I was very hesitant about being involved in a reality show, however, Olivia has been an absolute delight to work with, I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,’ Julie laughs, ‘She’s so honest and kind. We’ve developed a really strong bond.’
The wedding is planned for this summer, but of course it remains to be seen whether the day she dreams of will be allowed.
‘Olivia is in the same situation of so many brides right now; just waiting and hoping. It’s so sad for them, adding unnecessary stress to what should be a really exciting time. We’re hanging on to see what the situation is.’
The current situation would be enough to send most event planners into a spin, but not Julie.
‘It’s really just driven us to a new level of creativity. Not only because of changes to times, places and conditions, but because we just can’t wait to get back! We are really optimistic and really excited; we just need the green light to go.’
Uncertainty isn’t slowing the bookings down, indeed, after a year of Zoom and Facetime, people seem quite desperate to party.
‘People seem to be planning to really go for it,’ Julie laughs. ‘Private events and corporate, small and huge, we’re receiving so many enquiries. Venues are getting overwhelmed – Monday is the new Friday – or looking for marquees for outdoor events. It’s crazy, but I just can’t wait.’
Unflappable and with a solution to every challenge, who could possibly be better to have in your 2021 party corner than Julie Perry?