Pleased to meet you... an interview with uber wedding planners Wynn Austin & Thomas Bui

Wynn Austin of Wynn Austin Events and Thomas Bui of Thomas Bui Lifestyle are the best of friends. They are also widely acknowledged as two of the top event designers and planners in Southern California. We were able to get to know them a little better a while back and learn what motivates these two passionate people who are both so incredibly talented at creating beautiful weddings.  We are so pleased to meet .... Wynn Austin and Thomas Bui...

What did you want to be when you grew up?
Wynn
: I wasn’t sure the exact position I wanted to be in, but I wanted to be in the business world and climb the corporate ladder so I can wear a suit everyday.  Then, when I was in it, I hated the corporate culture and I hated wearing suites.  Thomas: I wanted to be a High-End Fashion Designer, but now I’m a High-End Wedding Designer so I think it’s pretty close to what I wanted to do.

What was your first job ever? 
Wynn
: I was a bank teller   Thomas: I was a pharmacy clerk

Who inspires you?
Wynn
: Steve Jobs, Oprah, and Tony Robbins.  They are three amazing people that overcame adversity and became successful because they stuck to what they believed in.   Thomas: Steve Jobs, Karl Lagerfeld, and Preston Bailey. The vision and the products that they create are amazing, and I love how they dream big and out of the box.

Why do you love what you do?
Wynn
: I love what I do because I love working with couples and getting to know them and their families.  Also, it’s such a thrill to see everything that we planned and brainstorm to come together before our eyes.  I love having the couple see the room for the first time.  Even for me when we are running around all day, and to stand back and see the finished room, it’s an amazing feeling.  This job allows me to embrace my creativity and to design and create things that don’t exist.   Thomas: I love creating new spaces and taking on an element that the client loves and expanding that vision to a higher level that they didn’t know existed.

Did you / do you have a mentor or hero?
Wynn
: My hero is my mom.  I know sometimes I take her for granted but I wouldn’t have all that I have if it wasn’t for her hard work.  I am lucky to have a lot of Mentors! I have my fabulous best friend Thomas Bui to be my wedding mentor in this industry.  I have my friend Mike Bosworth, who is an entrepreneur & author who continues to teach me that I need to work smarter not harder.  My biggest mentor is my husband who’s taught me to think out of my comfort zone.  Thomas: My mentors are my parents

What is your specialty? 
Wynn: My specialty is my passion for design.  I love the design element of weddings and bringing up ideas to my clients that they love.  Also, I would say another specialty is working with people.  I’ve always learned that you have to treat all people with respect. I work well with people, even when something goes wrong or not according to plan, or when we are all under pressure.   Thomas: My specialty is styling weddings & events. 

What do you like most about doing weddings? /  your favorite part of your job?
Wynn
: I love that it’s always a happy event.  Even when I know during the process everyone gets nervous and things can get pretty stressful.  I know that moment will pass and the end result will be a beautiful couple and a beautiful wedding.  On the wedding day there is always so much amazing energy because everyone is excited and happy, and that’s what I love!   Thomas: I love the entire process of planning.  From brainstorming different ideas, showing clients different products, and putting together all the details. 

If you could have a super power what would it be? 
Wynn: I would love to be able to read people’s minds.   Thomas: I want to be able to see the future, and predict the weather way in advance 

What is your most memorable [professional] wedding moment[s]?
Wynn: My most memorable moment happened last week.  It was a Saturday wedding, and the weather was acting up, sprinkling, then clearing up, then sprinkling.  We decided to have the ceremony inside so the chuppah was all set up.  But then the sun came out and the couple really wanted to have an outside ceremony.  Next thing I knew I had 5 handsome groomsmen that came in and picked up the chuppah and carried it outside.  It was crazy but cool at the same time.  Like something out of a movie.   Thomas: My most professional moment was when I was first starting out and I was getting hired for jobs where I was competing against very well known and high end planners.  It was a moment that made me proud because I felt it was a big accomplishment and turning point in my career.

What is the place in the world [where you haven’t been] that you would want to visit the most? And why?
Wynn
: I have so many places on my list.  One place that is on top of my list is Japan.  I love the food and the crazy fashion.  I want to experience the hustle & bustle of Tokyo.   Thomas: I want to go South Africa, it’s always been my dream to experience the safari.

If you could have 6 people to dinner from any time or place in the world who would they be and where would you dine [and on what]? 
Wynn
: My people would be Oprah, Coco Chanel,  F.Scott Fitzgerald, Tony Robbins, Preston Bailey, Steve Jobs.  We  would be dining on French food & wine in a little café in Paris.  Thomas: Coco Chanel, Motzart, Da Vinci, Tom Ford, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Barbara Barry.  We would be dining in a castle in Paris with a tasting menu where everything was infused with champagne.

What’s your best advice to couple regarding your specific field?
Wynn
: Hire a wedding planner that you click with and understand your style.  It’s a long -term relationship.  Also, if you have a planner that understands your priority and can accommodate that.   Thomas: Trust your wedding planner’s judgment.  They do this for a living and you hired them for their knowledge.

Is there any specific music/artist/song that gets your creative juices flowing?
Wynn: Bruno Mars  Thomas: Hip Hop- Pitbull

How do you come up with the inspiration for your work? Designs? Ideas?
Wynn: I get my inspiration from home magazines & books.  Also, fashion magazines.  Sometimes I just browse the mall or boutiques to find inspiration.  Thomas: I read a lot of books and get my inspiration from my travels and from the fashion industry.

What should brides/grooms/curious seekers know about you? 
Wynn
: I’m pretty playful, I like to joke around a lot and make people laugh.  Thomas: I enjoy fashion so I take pride on my style, my manners, and knowledge of etiquette.  I’m also well connected in the community.

What makes your business wonderful and stand out from the rest?
Wynn
: I think Thomas and I have our own style & design niche but we also share a niche of the Vietnamese community.  I think aside from the cultural standpoint, what makes my business stand out is that I’m willing to do and try new things.  So if a couple and I come up with an idea, and I know it’s something that my team can build or make, I’ll toy with the idea and see if we can make it work.  Thomas: I’m one of the few men wedding  planners in San Diego and it’s always been my thing.  I feel like I can bring a masculine feel or element to a wedding in the design.

What advice do you have for brides to be?
Wynn
:  Enjoy the process and don’t put things off.  The sooner you get things done, the less you have to worry about later.  That way you can enjoy  and relax before your wedding.  Thomas: Splurge on your big day for something that you really want because you can’t bring that day back and change it later.  Also, don’t micromanage your vendors, hire professional vendors and trust them.

What do you do in your ‘off time’ that might surprise people about you? 
Wynn: I’m a bit of a nerd so I like to read a lot.  Also my other passion is to cook. Thomas: I love shopping & shoes so I like to go shopping!

What’s your favorite part of a wedding?
Wynn
:  My favorite part is when I send the bride down the aisle.  I love watching her go down the aisle.  That’s the moment everyone is anticipating and that’s the whole reason for the wedding. Thomas: I love seeing everything come together on the wedding day and seeing the couple happy.

Featured Artist: the genuine and lovely Susanne Duffy of Crown Weddings and Events

We had the pleasure of interviewing this lovely and talented event designer and planner, and know you will be pleased to meet the genuinely lovely person that is....Susanne Duffy of Crown Weddings and Events.

What did you want to be when you grew up?
A physiotherapist although I ended up studying Hotel Management! 

What was your first job ever?
Working in a candy store.

Who inspires you? Did you / do you have a  hero?
My mother is my hero she has a fantastic sense of humor and always set the table beautifully and made food look like a work of art. She had parties and ladies over for tea all the time when I was a child I was always making the tea and picking flowers for the tray and artfully placing biscuits on pretty plates.  

What is your specialty?
Classic, Elegant and beautifully designed weddings. 

What do you like most about doing weddings / your favorite part of your job?
Quite honestly meeting wonderful couples and spending time getting to know them and working with them to create a wedding that is a complete reflection of who they are as a couple.
 
If you are married what was your wedding like?
Fabulous… I actually got married (again) 4 years ago and planned the wedding myself . It was so easy I focused on my two boys and included them in the ceremony my elder son Aaron  walked me down the aisle and my younger son who was the ring bearer danced up and down the aisle it was heartwarming. We wrote our own vows which were funny and sentimental  and we exchanged rings with the boys and did a sand ceremony together as my sons godmother sang a song. For the design we did a white winter wedding to reflect Chris’s love of the mountains and snow and then a vibrant jeweled tone reception with all the colors that I love. (luckily Purple is his favorite color too) We also threw a big after  party and invited more friends to party with us.. it was an amazing day.

What is your most memorable wedding moment as a wedding professional? 
A father who was very sick but he managed to walk his daughter down the aisle and to do a short but beautiful father /daughter dance . He passed away a few weeks later.

The best moments for me are the ones that show real emotion and love- times when both living and people who have passed are honored, fathers that talk lovingly about their daughters in their toasts. We are truly blessed to attend these events and  Weddings are so wonderful because that is what they are all about and so there have been  countless times over the years where things have happened and I am the first one to pull a Kleenex out of my purse.
 
What is the place in the world [where you haven’t been] that you would want to visit the most? I really want to walk the great wall of China with my son Aaron. It’s the only man made thing you can see from Space and I find that amazing! I am also very interested in Chinese History. 

What’s your best advice to couple regarding your specific field?
Be true to who you are .. you don’t have to follow wedding trends think about the things you love individually and together and incorporate them into your special day.

Is there any specific music/artist/song that gets your creative juices flowing?
Not sure about creative juices but it gets me dancing around the kitchen LOL, Abba "Dancing Queen". 

How do you come up with the inspiration for your work? Designs? Ideas?
The clients honestly inspire me..for example - finding out that the bride loves to paint  and incorporating water colors into the invitations and paper goods. Or that they collect birds or angels and making them a whimsical feature of the wedding. I also use Pinterest a lot its so fabulous for ideas and I read Elle Décor and Architectural DigestBetter Homes and Gardens that type of thing they always show beautiful spaces with gorgeous color combinations or a room with one fabulous wow factor these are things that we can incorporate into weddings.

What should brides/grooms/curious seekers know about you?

  • That I’m a mother of two wonderful boys with completely different personalities one 6 foot tall and a teddy bear and one 5 feet and feisty. A fabulous supportive husband who is has introduced me to skiing down crazy mountains, Ziplining, biking and Ice hockey 7 years ago and now we are all avid fans and have season tickets. Go Ducks!
  • That I used to Irish Dance competitively in England !
  • That I currently work closely with an incredible charity set up by one man.. www.onehundredfriends.com and I have helped him build the first “Crown” School in Ethiopia and 2 libraries in Tibet in the past few years. He is a huge inspiration in kindness and selflessness and a wonderful man.
  • That I have an amazing group of girlfriends who provide inspiration and love and laughter in my life. 

What makes your business wonderful and stand out from the rest?
Gosh that’s a hard question there are so many wonderful planners in San Diego! I think my accent makes me stand out the most LOL  I also  have Irish Parents so I have a great sense of humor and its important to have some  laughs along the way it helps ease any stress associated with the planning. I'm a good listener and I am very detailed which are important attributes as a wedding planner. I love matching brides and grooms with the perfect vendor and see them get even more  excited about their wedding. I also have a lot of experience my background and degree are in Hotel Management and so prior to stating Crown Weddings nearly 15 years ago I worked in some fabulous five star hotels in London that hosted parties for the Music and Film industry and Royalty  which were incredible to be part of. 

What advice do you have for brides to be?
Hire a wedding planner then Breathe…… we will make sure we get everything done in  the meantime the energy and attitude that you take throughout the process and on the day should be a joyful positive one. There maybe one or two bumps along the way as everyone has an opinion but stay true to who you are and what you really want and you will be able to plan a memorable heartwarming celebration.

What do you do in your ‘off time’ that might surprise people about you?
I yell very loudly at Ducks Ice hockey games. ! (think pretty woman at the race track !) I LOVE to Zipline and go on huge roller coasters and I wish I had more time to paint again. 

What’s your favorite part of a wedding? 
I have a couple -The bride and grooms faces when they see each other and the joy as they walk back down the aisle...And watching everyone dance like crazy on the dance floor during the evening !

What would you choose as your epitaph OR what would like to hear ‘your maker’ say about you when you reach heaven? 
Susanne was a good mother & wife and a kind and generous soul !

Here are a few photos from one of Susanne's weddings at the Hotel Del Coronado captured by the talented Pam Scott Photography...enjoy!

See 2 complete weddings by Susanne Duffy of Crown Weddings & Events in NUPTIALS.