Percy is a highly sought after destination wedding and special event planner from Santa Barbara, CA. He is full of life and color and has been sought after not only by many destination brides but also donates his time to charity and has made many TV appearances.
To start off, a little birdie told us that you originally studied marketing but then moved to event planning, what made you make the switch to wedding planning?
PERCY: Actually my MBA was in Marketing, but my whole career has been in event planning. I actually started during the 90’s creating educational parties within the night club circuit, educating young people about HIV and AIDS. That was in Riverside County. I started a show called “The Rubber Show” where drag queens would be the subjects delivering the message. It was very popular. I then moved to San Mateo County where I applied for a position as an Event Specialist and got the job! I was still green but my boss gave me my first assignment doing an event in Mexico City for 200 people. This was when we didn’t have cell phones or computers. Everyone was still using Lotus and Word Perfect and typewriters. I had to learn on the fly, but I did it. It was a success and the rest is history!
WEDDINC: What are some of the challenges of planning a destination wedding?
PERCY: I’d say the biggest challenge is the language barrier for sure. Things can get really lost in translation, but thank God for Google Translate! The biggest thing is to be sure that everyone is understood and everything being communicated is correct. Most of the time I work with a Destination Management Company (DMC) who helps with the translation.
WEDDINC: Speaking of destination weddings, In your opinion what is the most underrated destination in the US that is great for a wedding but just isn’t on people’s radar?
PERCY: I’d have to say the open ranges of Montana or Bend, Oregon or the Pacific Northwest in general. There are a lot of exceptionally beautiful and different areas that people just don’t think about or rarely think about for a destination wedding.
WEDDINC: What is the best piece of advice you would give a bride considering a destination wedding?
PERCY: The best piece of advice is to keep your options open because things are ever changing. Everyone in your party is going out of their comfort zone and unexpected things are bound to happen. For instance, I had a bride who had a dream of getting married in a castle in Ireland. One of the biggest difficulties of a wedding in Ireland is the weather. I told her that her castle dream was absolutely possible, but she had to be truly open and prepared, for the fact that there would be a good chance of rain on her wedding day. As long as a bride understands the possibilities and is prepared and open, it will be a success.
WEDDINC: You have been in the wedding planning business for over 25 years. After all this time what drives you? What gives you the most joy in your work?
PERCY: I’d have to say that the driving force for me is the people that I get to work with.
As much as I live for the creativity, the events are based on people and their unique personalities. My clients definitely are my joy and drive, as they are the ones that drive my creative process.
WEDDINC: What does a day in the life of Percy Sales look like?
PERCY: Sleep. Eat. Work. Pick up my Kid. Eat. Work. Time with my family. Sleep. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. I actually treat my career as a job, but my family is most important to me. I have a husband and a 12-year-old and they are first. Oh…and doing interviews between calls while waiting to pick up my son from school.
WEDDINC: You and your company have won many awards and accolades. You’ve been named as the #1 Destination Wedding planner in the world by Wedding Industry Experts, you’ve been on countless TV shows and done many interviews. What do you think is the key to being an industry leader?
PERCY: Well, I’m very open about sharing my experience and I love mentoring new planners and designers. I see this business as a collaborative effort rather than a competition. Making sure everyone is putting their best foot forward in a collaborative and a kind way is key. I love to make sure everyone does their best. I’ve always felt that among my peers, I can call on any one of them at any time for help when I need them. I’m not really competitive with my peers. The only one I truly compete with is myself and that’s the way it should be.
WEDDINC: What is the one piece of advice that you would give a new wedding planner?
PERCY: Just be yourself, don’t try to be anyone else. Create your own brand and be yourself. Have I said be yourself? Don’t try to mimic another brand or logo because they seem to have done it right. There are no rights or wrongs. Just be yourself. Please don’t tell me who you like, rather build your brand as yourself as a person. Copying doesn’t do you any good and people will know. Be. Your. Self. That’s it!
WEDDINC: Trends come and go. How do you feel about the trends today and what is ‘IN and OUT”?
PERCY: What’s out? Anything rustic. Please don’t show me anything rustic and don’t show me Pinterest. If your images are already on the Pinterest board, they are not original. Pinterest is overplayed, over done and already played. Naked Cakes. Overdone. How many naked cakes can we see? Chairs with Eucalyptus branches. Done. Ring bearers with signs that say ‘Here Comes The Bride’. Done. Trends should be based on who you are. The only way to start a trend is to be original.
WEDDINC: Where do you find your inspiration?
PERCY: I typically find my inspiration from Architectural Digest, National Geographic or the Fashion industry. Typically, trends go in that order. Fashion is the last to be hit then we see the trend in the wedding industry. For instance, metallics were really in architecturally and they are just now making it to the fashion runway. Next, they will be in the wedding and special event industry. Plaids are also showing on the runway. If I could predict, Pendleton will be hot and we will be seeing a lot of it in the wedding industry. The same with graffiti. It’s all part of the 80’s and 90’s vibe. For instance, we’re seeing a Gucci bag sprayed with graffiti. I think we’ll be seeing graffiti cakes, too.
WEDDINC: Perhaps chiffon painted graffiti table cloths and gowns?
PERCY: Yes, that looks like the trend. I also think people are going to start having fun again. Currently, we see a lot of social media brides. Their weddings are based on what they see in social media. I always encourage them to be who they are. For a groom, if you’re not into tuxes. Don’t wear one. You won’t feel comfortable. The simplest message is to be who you are.
WEDDINC: During your career, what is one of THE most outrageous demands you have encountered from a client?
PERCY: Hmm? That’s a hard one. I think the most outrageous events I’ve ever pulled off was doing a wedding out in the middle of nowhere. We were 2 hours on a dirt road away from any civilization. It was a couple who had some family property who wanted to be married on the top of a hill on their property. We had nothing out there. We had to bring in generators, buses etc. I remember our rental car broke down because of all the bumps in the road. Everything turned out great. It was mainly the getting there that was so hard.
WEDDINC: Is there any venue (either in the US or abroad) that so far has eluded you? That one special place you are dying to use for a wedding?
PERCY: That has got to be The Palace of Versailles. I love Paris. I am dying to do a wedding at Versailles either there or at the Eiffel Tower, but I think Versailles trumps the Eiffel tower. Definitely Versailles.
WEDDINC: Who would you like to have to your home to dinner, your top three please? Let’s say it could be anyone dead or alive?
PERCY: Definitely, Audrey Hepburn, and of course, Jesus Christ. Hmm…Frida Kahlo and if I can have one more please, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart!
WEDDINC: Wow, what a colorful group of people. Speaking of colorful, what is the most colorful or edgiest item that you currently have in your wardrobe?
PERCY: That has got to be my new metallic tennis-shoes which just came, but I still haven’t worn yet. And my matching metallic bomber jacket. I can’t wait to wear them to the right event.
WEDDINC: We hear that you are a philanthropist and work with a lot of charities ~ one of them is ‘Wish Upon a Wedding’. Is there any event/wedding you organized for them that stands out in your mind as especially significant?
PERCY: They definitely all stood out. They were so meaningful and the couples were so in love and it was so meaningful. I can’t choose ~ all were so unique just as they were and of course, they didn’t have much time and that was so meaningful. It would be like me trying to choose what was my favorite wedding of all time. I just can’t choose.
WEDDINC: How has the wedding industry and your business changed over the years since you started?
PERCY: Well, I’ve been in the business for a long time and truthfully, I usually only do 12 to 15 weddings a year. I do spend a lot of time with my family. Not that I don’t want to do more events and weddings, but I know I shouldn’t. I want to give my family more of my time. My son just turned 12 years old and I love to spend time with him and I also don’t want work to be a chore for me. Once it’s a chore and if I tried to do 3-4 weddings a weekend, I’d end up being like a robot and I’d be in a routine. Also, I don’t take every wedding that comes my way. I really try to be sure that we are a good fit and if I feel like a client would be a better fit with a colleague, I will definitely refer them out to one of my colleagues. I really strive to make the client/planner relationship perfect, otherwise, there is stress. Also currently, I love to mentor new planners. It’s like where I come from in the Philippines and also in Hawaii, the custom is to give a lei to a junior signifying the passing of a legacy and knowledge to the next generation. I love to pass down my information to the next generation of planners. Since my name is known in the industry, “trained
by Percy Sales” would mean a lot to a new-comer and I love to see my legacy passed down, there is nothing that would make me prouder than to see that.
WEDDINC: What is on the horizon next for Percy Sales, do you see yourself continuing on your current path or do you see a change?\
PERCY: Actually, if I could do anything, I’d like to be a travel writer. I have been so many places, it would be a great way to wind down. Sort of the Anthony Bourdain of weddings. To be able to experience travel and write about it on a T.V. show would be fabulous.
WEDDINC: We know you by some of the TV appearances you’ve done, ‘Master Chef’, ‘Battle of the Wedding Designers’ and ‘Platinum Weddings’). Which one was your favorite and are there any TV shows you would love to do a guest appearance on?
PERCY: I’d love to do RuPaul’s DRAG RACE ~ OR Be a judge on Project Runway for a wedding dress challenge. That has not been done yet, the wedding dress challenge.
WEDDINC: Lastly, what do you generally do to decompress and wind-down after a large event?
PERCY: My wind-down is literally watching mindless TV and playing a mindless game like ‘Candy Crush’ on my iPhone. I might watch ‘Paranormal Witness’ or anything for white noise while becoming completely absorbed in my current level of ‘Candy Crush’ or ‘Panda-Pop’. Then I can fall asleep and I will definitely sleep in the next day!
If you would like to contact Percy Sales for a consultation or if you would like to visit his website, he can be reached at: