The real-life great gatsby: Johnny Roxburgh

Johnny Roxburgh has held the Royal Warrant for organising many royal events at  Buckingham Palace, Holyrood, Highgrove and Windsor—including the party The Queen hosted at Christmas for her staff, and also Prince William’s 21st birthday.

 Johnny Roxburgh has envisioned plans for nearly 9,000 parties in a career spanning almost 40 years now. He has designed and breathed life into the weddings of the former Crown Prince of Jordan, the son of His Royal Highness Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia, and His Highness the Prince de Croÿ, among many others. What is his creative vision like? A Glasgow boy, whose dreams whirled around figures and numbers when he started off as a Chartered Accountant (CA), later moved on to captivate the elite with his larger-than-life parties that he and his team can fashion with the utmost ease. The boy who gave up his career as a CA to pursue law as his father did, became the royalty of the ‘Party Planners’ in the Western world, with no hard-core marketing strategies, but only ‘word of mouth’ and his love for moulding perfect parties. This dignified him as one of the best around the globe.

 Wedding Affair (WA) asks Johnny Roxburgh (JR) –

WA: What motivates you the most about the Event Planning industry?

JR: I am motivated by how the events industry keeps evolving, allowing us as planners to create something new and innovative for every event. It’s competitive, and that environment results in a higher standard.

WA: What is the key ingredient, according to you, for a well-planned, successful party?

JR: Keep it simple, but with style. Never have too much space and always have interesting guests. Most importantly, however, is to have great, simple food and good quality drinks.

WA: Which city in the world do you enjoy planning parties the most in?

JR: Venice is definitely my favourite city to organise parties. I will also soon be planning a party in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which should be enjoyable.

WA: Walk us through your creative work in India.

JR: I have planned several events in India already, but I want to do more. Once I spent days planning a very famous party for an English client in Agra, Jaipur, and Udaipur. I have also celebrated Holi in Jaipur. Hence, it’s not just my creative work that brings me fond memories of India.

WA: We would like to hear about your connection to William Roxburgh House in Kolkata.

JR: William Roxburgh was my great-great-grandfather. I’m also involved with the Asia Scotland Institute’s team, which is currently sponsoring multiple developments in Kolkata, including the restoration of a school, St Andrew’s Church, and the creation of the Roxburgh Hub which will be a centre for education. The Roxburgh Hub will use the restored William Roxburgh House and the buildings in the Botanical Gardens of Kolkata.

WA: Could you name your most memorable yet challenging event?

JR: The most memorable event of mine is a party which I designed at a castle in England where the Queen was the guest of honour. The tent was multilevel; it was truly spectacular. Three weeks before the day of the party, the client changed the design of the tent, due to which we had to scrap the metal and the glass structure, which we had specifically painted in France. If that wasn’t challenging enough, the florist was changed a week before. The new florist only arranged the flowers in Perrier water, and we had to find hundreds of vases for him in just four days. Luckily, the whole thing was a triumph but I aged ten years pulling it off.

WA: Are some cities particularly difficult to work in?

JR: Definitely. Especially those, where the access is poor and there are no reliable local contractors.

WA: What trends in the event planning industry do you foresee?

JR: I think that the ‘look’ of events has become much less predictable than it used to be. There are still incredibly glamorous and over-the-top parties, but there is a move towards toned down, polished and uber-cool events. Less may seem easier, but it’s not. The detail has to be perfect; it can’t be hidden behind mountains of floral arrangements.

WA: How important is incorporating local elements in a party?

JR: I always try to incorporate local elements when planning a party. It’s a compliment to the country that’s hosting us.

WA: Which place would you most want to explore next to design a party?

JR: I would love to explore and design a party in Tibet.

WA: What qualities, according to you, constitute a perfect host?

JR: To be the perfect host you need to have charm. You must have an interest in your guests, and be able to endlessly introduce people at your own party. You can’t forget the awkward and shy guests; they must be looked after. Most importantly, you can’t be drunk.

WA: What makes a Johnny Roxburgh party different?

JR: Johnny Roxburgh.

“I always try to incorporate local elements when planning a party. It’s a compliment to the country that’s hosting us”

Also read: Opulent, Refined, Elegant—Jean Charles Vaneck!


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