Exotic Wedding Planning

A Glimpse Into The 13th Edition Exotic Wedding Planning Conference In Bodrum

The 13th Edition Exotic Wedding Planning Conference (EWPC) unfolded from 24 April to 26 April 2024, showcasing a lavish blend of innovation, creativity, and expertise in the wedding planning industry.


  • The EWPC brought together industry professionals, offering expert speakers, innovative workshops, and valuable networking opportunities.
  • Attendees gained insights and inspiration for planning unforgettable weddings, from cutting-edge trends to timeless traditions.
  • The conference was a must-attend for anyone involved in the wedding planning industry, providing a platform for learning and collaboration.
  • Visit www.sandtontimes.co.za for more stories.


Hosted in the picturesque surroundings of Bodrum, the event gathered industry leaders, wedding planners, and designers from around the globe to exchange ideas, network, and celebrate excellence in wedding planning.


Exotic Wedding Planning
Opening cocktail event at the Susona Bodrum, welcoming guests dressed in blue and white, overlooking the Aegean Sea. Image: EXITO Media Concepts

Bringing together some of the world’s top event planners and wedding experts, the 13th Edition Exotic Wedding Planning Conference created an unparalleled platform for networking, knowledge sharing, and celebrating excellence in the industry, fostering innovation and collaboration among the best in the business.


Alexander Leibner, Founder & Managing Editor of The Sandton Times, expertly fulfilled the role of Master of Ceremonies (MC) for the EWPC. With his charismatic presence and eloquent speaking style, Alexander seamlessly guided attendees through the event’s dynamic agenda. Alexander’s adept handling of the program, including moderating discussions, significantly contributed to the event’s overall success and left a lasting impression on all attendees.


Exotic Wedding Planning
Alexander’s professionalism and engaging demeanour set a welcoming tone from the very beginning, ensuring that each session transitioned smoothly and maintaining high energy throughout the conference. Suit: London Royal Tailors. Image: EXITO Media Concepts

The conference kicked off with a glamorous welcome cocktail reception, including a female violinist on a disco ball, that set the tone for the conference ahead. The MC welcomed guests and officially opening the event as the sunset over Bodrum. Following this, acrobats dazzled the crowd with a captivating opening act.


Exotic Wedding Planning
Party band Champagne Chic ensured delegates danced well into the night at the opening Cocktail event at Susona Bodrum. Image: EXITO Media Concepts

Rishikesh Shetty, CEO of Exito Media Concepts, and representatives from Nilyum Wedding & Event Design and Susona Bodrum, LXR Hotels & Resorts each gave welcome remarks, further establishing a sense of excitement and purpose among the attendees. As the evening progressed, guests filled the dancefloor to live musical performances by Antonis Dominos, followed by a lively performance by the band Champagne Chic and a DJ, ensuring that the first day ended on a high note.


The second day began early with Rishikesh Shetty openng the day with welcome remarks, setting an inspiring tone for the sessions that followed.


Go Türkiye delivered a presentation, followed by the opening keynote from renowned designer Preston Bailey. Celebrated globally and named one of the best wedding planners by Vogue Magazine, he is renowned for his unique ability to transform ordinary spaces into lush, theatrical environments. Since opening his design studio in 1980, he has crafted one-of-a-kind designs for presidents, celebrities, royal families, CEOs, and athletes. Preston’s passion extends to public art installations showcased worldwide and a tabletop collection collaboration with Nuage.


Exotic Wedding Planning
The Exotic Wedding Planning Conference (EWPC) featured panel discussions with some of the world’s leading event and wedding planners. Image: EXITO Media Concepts

He hosts the popular podcast ‘Stop and Smell the Roses’ and has contributed to various licensing agreements with brands like Sandals Resorts and Godiva Chocolate. Committed to the event design industry, Preseton initiated the PBLIVE program, offering masterclasses for industry professionals. An accomplished author, he has published seven books, five of which are bestsellers, and frequently shares his expertise through speaking engagements and media appearances.


Preston’s presentation, The Art of Design: Secrets to Creating Transformative Designs, offered valuable insights into crafting awe-inspiring, transformative designs that captivate the senses.


Exotic Wedding Planning
Alexander Leibner, Founder & Managing Editor of The Sandton Times, expertly fulfilled the role of Master of Ceremonies (MC) for the EWPC. Suit: Frank Bespoke. Image: EXITO Media Concepts

The next session, The Signature Touch: Developing a Distinctive Style in Wedding Planning, led by Vandana Mohan, delved into creating a unique and personalized wedding planning style. For nearly three decades, Vandana Mohan has been at the forefront of conceptualizing and managing luxury and lifestyle events through her flagship company, Backstage Productions. In 2005, she launched The Wedding Design Company (WDC), elevating the standard of luxury weddings. WDC is renowned for creating glamorous, timeless, iconic, and classic weddings, particularly destination weddings across Europe and India. Their personalized approach has made them trendsetters in the wedding industry. From concept and design to hospitality and logistics, rituals, and opulent moments, WDC offers a comprehensive suite of services, managing every aspect under one roof.


A highlight of the morning was the panel discussion on Mastering the Art of Grandeur: Large-Scale Event Planning for Exotic Weddings. Moderated by Bruce Russell, the session featured insights from industry experts on planning and executing extraordinary large-scale weddings. Panelists included Aditya Motwane, Funke Bucknor, Kevin Lee, Jove Meyer and Diane Khoury.


Exotic Wedding Planning
Aditya Motwane, Funke Bucknor, Kevin Lee, Jove Meyer and Diane Khoury joined Bruce Russell to chat about the secrets to large-scale event planning for exotic weddings. Image: EXITO Media Concepts

Bruce Russell, an acclaimed wedding and event planner based in San Francisco and London, spent fifteen years designing exceptional events for a global clientele. Named one of the Top Wedding Planners in the World by Harper’s Bazaar US, he is also known for co-hosting Ireland’s RTE2 wedding reality show My Big Day Home or Away. His work spans prestigious venues worldwide, and his expertise in honouring diverse cultural traditions ensures unforgettable experiences.


Aditya Motwane, founder of MEW, has executed over 25 luxury weddings globally since 2013. Funke Bucknor-Obruthe, CEO of Zapphaire Events, is a pioneer in Nigeria’s event planning industry, with over 2,500 successful events and a strong emphasis on education. Kevin Lee, a trendsetter in event design, has created memorable experiences for A-list celebrities and appears regularly as a keynote speaker. Jove Meyer, celebrated for his joyful and inclusive wedding designs, emphasizes authenticity and diversity in his work. Diane Khoury, a sought-after Sydney-based planner, is renowned for her bespoke celebrations and exceptional creative flair, making her a standout in the industry.


After a networking lunch, the afternoon featured a fireside chat with Meltem Tepeler and Pamela Mansour, titled In the Limelight: Up Close and Personal with Meltem Tepeler and Pamela Mansour. Moderated by Alexander Leibner, Founder & Managing Editor of The Sandton Times, this session delved into the unique paths that led Meltem and Pamela to their current successes.


Exotic Wedding Planning
Alexander Leibner, Founder & Managing Editor of The Sandton Times, with Pamela Mansour and Meltem Tepeler at the Exotic Wedding Planning Conference (EWPC) hosted at Lujo Bodrum. Suit: Frank Bespoke. Image: EXITO Media Concepts

They shared the challenges they overcame and the triumphs they celebrated. The conversation provided deep insights into what makes their work fulfilling, the impact of gender perceptions in the industry, and advice for young professionals aspiring to carve out their careers in this glamorous and demanding field. Both speakers discussed their initial steps into the wedding planning industry, pivotal career moments, and the aspects of their roles they find most fulfilling. They also offered valuable advice to young professionals, particularly women, about entering the wedding planning and event management industry.


They highlighted how gender perceptions influence their interactions with clients and vendors and how they navigate situations where gender biases might affect business. Furthermore, they reflected on how their skills as women and mothers contributed to their success. The session concluded with their thoughts on what the future holds and final advice for the audience, making for an engaging and informative discussion.


The afternoon concluded with a final session of the day, including workshops by Preston Bailey and Ambika Gupta.


Exotic Wedding Planning
Alexander Leibner, Founder & Managing Editor of The Sandton Times, with Çağla Yöntem of the Türkiye Tourism Promotion and Development Agency as well as representatives of Susona Bodrum, receiving an APEX Award. Image: EXITO Media Concepts

The evening culminated in the EWPC Apex Awards & Gala Dinner. The awards celebrated outstanding talents and initiatives in the wedding industry, with categories such as Best Destination Wedding Venue and Most Creative Wedding Planner. The evening was filled with performances, including a fire act and musical entertainment, creating a celebratory atmosphere.


The final day began with registrations and welcome coffee, followed by opening rem. Colin Cowie delivered a keynote on Crafting Bespoke Experiences: Tailoring Events to the Elite, providing valuable insights into luxury event planning.


Exotic Wedding Planning
Colin Cowie, a renowned event designer and producer, has shaped the landscape of high-profile celebrations for over thirty years. Image: EXITO Media Concepts

With a client list boasting names like Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Lopez, and heads of state, Colin has orchestrated events ranging from lavish hotel openings to royal weddings. An expert in lifestyle and entertaining, he has authored 11 books and is a sought-after television personality with appearances on CBS, NBC, and the HSN Network. Beyond events, Colin consults with luxury developers and hoteliers, recently launching Thrive Hospitality to expand his influence in the industry.


A panel discussion on Journey to Luxury: Mastering Destination Extravaganzas explored the intricacies of planning high-end destination weddings. The morning also included a presentation on modern luxury by Antonio Paraiso, and the announcement of the next EWPC destination.


Exotic Wedding Planning
A live band at the Closing Cocktail Party at No.81 Hotel overlooking the shoreline of Bodrum entertaining guests until late into the night. Image: EXITO Media Concepts

The afternoon featured networking lunch, coffee breaks, and workshops, including sessions by Jove Meyer and Colin Cowie. These workshops offered hands-on learning experiences, focusing on inclusivity in weddings and crafting bespoke luxury events. The conference concluded with a Closing Cocktail Party at No.81 Hotel under the starlit skies of Bodrum.


Exotic Wedding Planning
Attendees enjoyed gourmet cuisine, signature cocktails, and live music with fireworks, celebrating the successes of the conference and forging new connections. Image: EXITO Media Concepts

The 13th Edition EWPC was a resounding success, leaving attendees inspired and equipped with new knowledge and connections to elevate their careers and businesses in the wedding planning industry. The 2025 event will be held in Ras Al-Khaimah.


For more information on the Exotic Wedding Planning Conference (EWPC) in 2025, visit the website.


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