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Party Perfection With Events Planner Extraordinaire Benjamin Shaw

Toast.Life chats to events planner extraordinaire Benjamin Shaw to hear how he delivers perfectly planned events

With over 25 years’ experience, Toast.Life chats to events planner extraordinaire Benjamin Shaw to hear how he delivers perfectly planned events, and just which VIP client has been one of his favourites so far. Plus, his top tips for throwing the ultimate Christmas bash this year. Let the countdown commence!



With over 25 years of experience in events and hospitality, events planner Benjamin Shaw is a dab hand at bringing dreams to life. His contact book is brimming with the most talented florists, caterers, venues and suppliers in the industry. He’s hosted royalty, kept his cool at celebrity weddings and wowed brands and big corporates with his commitment to delivering excellence, but getting to where he is now hasn’t exactly been a walk in the park. 

“I wish I could say it was easy to become an established event planner but I have to admit - it’s been a lot of hard work, dedication and persistence” he explains.

“I really had to keep my focus on my career in the early years, but it’s not so hard now; I just make sure I carve out time during the year so I can take a turn at being a guest at something, not organising it!”

Ben Shaw

Originally from Scotland, Ben has been living in London for the past 20 years. He got his first job in hospitality back in 1994, working at The Angel Hotel in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, and he immediately knew that hospitality was his calling. Since then, he has worked around the world from Australia and Ibiza to the French Alps, and pretty much everywhere in-between.

“I remember working at a wedding in a tent in Scotland and it was a really tough event to put together. It felt like nothing was working - we couldn’t get power to the fridges, the rain turned the grass to mud, and we were understaffed. We knew we were going to have to dig deep and work as a team if we were going to make it work, and we did” he recalls. 

“We managed to turn it around and after a lot of work, it was a huge success. The adrenalin rush was intoxicating, and I’ve been coming back for more ever since!”

And now, after 27 years in the industry, Ben works at some of the world’s finest venues and locations, and his schedule is an eclectic mix of weddings, sporting events, music festivals, chalet management, private parties and high-end, pop-up events. Barclays, Coutts, Virgin Atlantic, Christian Dior, BBC, DeBeers, and Linklaters are just some of the clients who have experienced Benjamin’s dedication and expertise, not to mention countless happy couples, hosts and hostesses.

“I’ve spent many years working with the Royals, Russian oligarchs, film stars and sports stars, but my absolute highlight was working with Pippa Middleton for a few years” he smiles.

“Working in events is synonymous with team work, and that’s how we pull off such feats of logistics to make something a success - I have a great team of dedicated staff and we work together like a well-oiled machine. It has to be that way because guests can feel the energy of the staff is something isn’t working and that’s the opposite reason of why we’re there. We’re there to make the experience wonderful and the service needs to feel seamless.”

Ben Shaw Gallery

With ‘stunning yet stylish’ as his mantra, whether it’s a blow-the-budget affair or something more modest, Ben is renowned for pulling out all the stops to ensure that every aspect comes together with flair and efficiency, whatever the scale and scope of the event. And of course, ‘organisation’ is his middle name.

“My style as a planner is to be organised to the point of neurotic before the event. I want to know every detail and I learn as much as I can about the event and everyone’s expectations. You plan as much as you can before the event so one the day, when the inevitable chaos erupts, you can lean in and know you’ve got it all covered. That, and take a deep breath and smile, you can get away with most things with a smile” he grins.  

“On site, I keep the big picture front of mind and I hone in on every detail. They say the devil is in the details and they’re not wrong. When any event starts, I maintain the balance between keeping everything running like clockwork, and continuously reading the crowd to make sure the event feels harmonious.”

Ben Shaw Ice Bar

In broad terms, Ben offers three types of service; event planning, event management and event consultancy. Event planning involves taking the vision that the client has for their event and creating a strategy and concise plan in order to actually make it happen. Event management focuses more on the hands-on, where Ben and his team are on site before, after and during the event to quite literally make things happen. And after 20 years of working as an event planner, Ben also consults for corporations and associations at an operations level to forward-plan and maximise the success of their events and festivals. 

“Event planning by its very nature requires flexibility, and I bring that to my services too” he explains.

“I bring fresh eyes and a fresh mind to everything I do. When one event is done, I mentally archive it and move on. You have to, because no one wants to hear a planner tell them about past wins. Clients want you to bring your ‘A’ game today, not rest on yesterday’s success.”

 Ben Shaw Cocktails

Ben Shaw Canapes

Ben tells me that his clients are usually accomplished professionals who have worked very hard to achieve their successes, so when it comes to planning their events, no expense is spared. Consequently, Ben never uses the word ‘no’ when it comes to event planning, only ‘how?’

“That’s attractive to clients who want their event to transcend the norm and enter the spectacular” he explains. 

“I think the hospitality and events industry has changed somewhat because we as a society are changing. Clients are now choosing to celebrate more of their personal milestones more often with friends and family. Where we used to value material wealth over everything, we now value experience equal to or greater than buying things.”

 Ben Shaw Sushi

Ben Shaw Table Setting

Planning one’s own event can be incredibly stressful, but when you’re planning someone else’s? Even more so. Event planners have to be able to deal with a considerable amount of pressure and stress, and keep their cool about them at all times, even if things don’t always go according to plan.

“Working to a strict time frame, especially in a lot of the venues in London where you are given such a short time to work your magic, is very challenging” Ben explains. 

“But the most rewarding part of my job is getting it right. Even if things go disastrously wrong at one point during the event, it’s how to recover and correct that turns a good event into a great event.”


As well as sharing his expertise Benjamin Shaw has also given his top tips on seasonal entertaining for this Christmas. Take a look over on TheEDIT now. 

If you’d also like to work with Benjamin Shaw you can find his page in Toast.Life’s Little Black Book, complete with more information and contact details.

 

Posted in Spotlight

by Sophie Farrah
on on 08 November 2018

  event catering, event planing, luxury events

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