Learn Event Styling Tricks From Teddy Manuel, Who Helped Reinvent This Thriving Industry
Grandiose is never a bad thing if you’re Teddy Manuel. As one of the most celebrated and sought-after event stylists in the Philippines, Teddy's signature touch is one of opulence that’s tempered by just the right amount of elegance. “Guests often say that my events are over the top, but a good kind of over the top. It’s grand and lavish, but it still has enough breathing room that enables guests to appreciate the smaller details.”
This trademark look could easily be seen in Teddy's recent work for some of the country’s brightest stars. He’s done lovely event styling for the weddings of Maxene Magalona, Iza Calzado, and Rachelle Ann Go, just to name a few.
Styling beautiful and unforgettable events comes naturally to Teddy, so one could easily assume that he completed an arts course in college. This couldn’t be farther from the truth as the event stylist was in a different line of work altogether before he got into the wedding and events industry. "I studied to be an aeronautical engineer and I majored to be an air transport engineer. I was supposed to be an air traffic controller. During that time, you had to be a doctor or engineer, or you have to have a profession that people deemed stable.”
While pursuing a corporate track related to aviation, Teddy rediscovered his deep love for everything artistic. He recalled that growing up, he loved subjects such as home economics and even excelled in it. “It was really natural to me. I was like a little Martha Stewart! I drew, I painted, I did loads of creative things at home and I didn’t realize that eventually, those things would be the fuel that would lead me to event styling.” So when he found the opportunity to change his career path, he took it in a heartbeat.
Luckily, taking that risk paid off and changed Teddy’s life. “On my first week as a florist, Metro Weddings used my bouquet for their magazine cover. It’s a big sign. When they featured my bouquet, that was my go signal for me to push as an event stylist. It was my big break. I am indebted to Metro Weddings because they gave me the sign I was looking for when I was unsure if I should pursue event styling.” Things worked out like a fairy tale for Teddy and he was able to move on to making fairy tale weddings for his clients come true.
Photos from @teddymanuel
For one client’s fairy tale wedding, a happy couple commissioned Teddy to work on a setup inspired by the hit movie Crazy Rich Asians. “It’s one of my greatest challenges recently,” shares the event stylist. “They asked, “Teddy, how can you emulate how the bride walks down the aisle? The one with water?” To achieve that look, what I did was come up with a LED catwalk. It was fabricated in such a way that once the bride starts walking, it will project images that look like water ripples. It looks like water. It was a big challenge because we incorporated technology like lighting, LED. It’s not just design. It has gotten more technical. It’s not all about the look anymore. It’s really about incorporating an entire production for the wedding. It’s really about transforming the venue from the ceiling, walls, and even the floor!”
In his many years in the industry, Teddy witnessed how it evolved. While the days of simple flower arrangements and catering are long gone, he notes, however, that some things do stay the same. Good taste, for one, will endure and always be a staple regardless of whatever technological advancements or trends come his way.
Aside from his excellent taste, clients love Manuel because he goes the extra mile. He listens well to their needs and ideas. He also promises to deliver personalized designs for everyone he works with. “People assume that because I’ve done several events before, it shouldn’t be difficult or it shouldn’t cost that much. But the thing is, it’s something different for specific clients. I myself do my best to not repeat anything I’ve done before. As a creative, I don’t want to feel like the client is shortchanged. If they want a look that’s similar to something I’ve done before, fine. But I’ll make sure to add a twist to it. That’s also because you have to respect your other clients as well. You don’t wait them telling you, “Hey, Teddy, why is our wedding similar to your other clients?” The challenge is to come up with new things all the time.”
Teddy has styled countless events for happy clients and his success has driven him to pay it forward by giving back. This led him to teaching a master class. “When events styling started, there were no schools for this! There were no mentors, nothing. No one tells you how it works. But this time around—I’ve been doing my master class for three years now and I get to do mentoring. I also have international students. It’s for 2 days. What I try to put in my students’ minds is the value of business ethics. Because while our industry is young, there is a lot of room for improvement, we shouldn’t forget about business ethics, how to respect each other. I also stress to my students that this is a challenging job. You should come up with your own style. You have to make it your own and really respect others’ work.”
For those who’d like to learn some styling tips for their tablescapes at home, the master events designer generously shares his wisdom. “You always can come up with something nice without spending much. Remember that. If you have a nice vase or cutlery or household materials, just be creative. Once, I just made use of stuff I found at home. What I did was get a lot of charcoal, put it in the middle of the table like a runner, and then I added white orchids on it. It was a very nice contrast. Also, of course, you could also train your eye. Look at pegs for inspiration. You can train your eye to edit a look you want to achieve. Remember that we each have our own distinct taste and style. We just have to work on refining it.”
Read more about Teddy Manuel in Metro Society magazine's latest issue, out on stands now for only P250.
Photographs by Paul Del Rosario and JC Inocian for Metro Society