Ziad Nassar doesn't do anything by halves. From the million-plus shimmering crystal beads ordered from New Delhi for a Bollywood-themed event to the 70,000 white petals blanketing a garden because the bride did not want any greenery on show, understated is not a word that sits easily in Nassar's vocabulary. Even his lavishly produced coffee-table book - chronicling the weddings he has planned meticulously to the last crystal flute - comes in a giant linen clamshell case, costs Dh2,550 and weighs a hefty 5kg. But, then, the wedding planner who has the ear of 100 princesses across the Middle East can afford to be a little extravagant.
"You have to think big," he declares. "When someone pays you US$1 million [Dh3.7m], you have to make it look like $10m. We are not talking about people who live normal lives. This is how they are used to living in their own houses, so everything has to be big - from the lighting and the music to the food - not to show how much they have spent but to build something really impressive that works for all five senses."
To date, he has organised 100 weddings for royalty across the Arab world, including 50 Saudi royal weddings, as well as numerous lavish parties. And each one has to be different, not least because the same guests are likely to turn up and it would be anathema to repeat a theme.
So there has been the Alice in Wonderland-themed soirée in Beirut, where guests entered through a keyhole-shaped door and were welcomed by the Queen of Hearts; the romantic English countryside wedding in Riyadh with a carpet of 45,000 white hydrangeas and roses; the French fantasy theme in Riyadh with gold leaf walls and a two-metre-high marron glacé cake embroidered with white edible lace fashioned from sugar strands; and the Bollywood-themed wedding, also in Riyadh, inspired by the film Devdas, complete with thousands of mirrors, crystal beads and gold imported from India.
"It is a big challenge to do a different wedding for several royal clients because the guests are the same every time," explains Nassar, 43.
"You have to first create the mood, then start working on the material. You have to know the way they live and create the same feeling, only more so because it is a wedding - but rather than exaggerating you have to respect the bride's personality."
The son of a shoe and handbag salesman from Byblos, Lebanon, Nassar was formerly an art director of an advertising agency but left after 10 years feeling unfulfilled.
"I liked the creative part but I did not like the lack of instant feedback," he says. "I like to see emotion on people's faces."
It was a chance opportunity to plan a friend's wedding in 2004 that opened another avenue to him.
With his eye for design, he was asked to create a wedding for 850 guests along a classic English theme. He filled the venue with white roses and added personal touches such as opera singers at each table, silverware with the couple's initials embossed on them and perfume favours for all the guests.
"I was afraid and a bit stressed because it was my first wedding, plus it was for my best friend, but everyone was very happy," says Nassar.
That wedding gave him a taste for event planning and offered him his first high-profile client. A royal guest from Saudi Arabia, impressed by his creativity, asked him to plan his son's wedding, and as more royalty contacted him by word of mouth, this had a snowball effect.
Nassar moved to Riyadh a year later and founded his events company, Once. This was followed in 2007 by his home furnishings and accessories line, So.
His weddings are extravagant affairs that take a year to plan. He usually meets the bride-to-be to understand her tastes, then suggests a theme.
The next stage is using storyboards, rather like those used in film-making, to show what will happen at each stage of the event.
Once they have agreed the theme, he puts his team to work sourcing materials. Geography and cost are rarely a barrier so their research might involve several trips to Europe to find the right fabric to upholster, chairs or a jaunt to India to track down the right kind of mirrors.
About four months after the first meeting, Nassar stages a miniature version of the wedding banquet, complete with table settings, to ensure she is happy.
"For me, it is very important to get to know her well," he says. "If you really know your bride, you will reflect her personality in the decoration and the mood.
"It is not a business deal and it is very personal. It is a big responsibility because they are spending money so you have to give them a show.
"I understand how to emotionally impress and how to envisage things dramatically and theatrically."
No doubt his clients are won over by Nassar's own sense of theatrics. In his book, he is pictured in a billowing black cape like the magician David Copperfield, poised to make the dreams of a thousand brides come true while he insists on being called a 'wedding designer' rather than a wedding planner because "I work on everything from the concept to the emotion".
Despite the overt flamboyance, he is surprisingly down-to-earth and affable - and utterly discreet when it comes to his clients, refusing to divulge any diva tantrums that must surely come with the territory.
Little wonder, though, since they are splashing out up to Dh44m on their nuptials. With his cheapest event starting at Dh1.8m, budget rarely comes into the equation.
For the most expensive affair to date - the wedding of a GCC princess - he ordered 100,000 orchids from the Netherlands, reams of dark red silk from Spain for the chairs (the fabric was printed with a custom-made design using real gold), and laid the tables for 3,000 guests with 550 crystal vases.
The bride wore a haute couture, silk-and-lace Stéphane Rolland creation with a seven-metre train and entered an acrylic glass ballroom made from scratch, complete with palm trees inside and fabric dotted with lights to give the impression of a night sky.
The groom has little to do with proceedings and "is like a guest. He takes no part at all; it is a surprise for him".
Nassar adds: "In Lebanon and Europe it is different, they both give their opinion, but in the GCC, the groom usually says: 'I will do whatever my future wife wants'."
It is, he says, not about staging fabulous parties but once-in-a-lifetime events reminiscent of a bygone era, a sort of tableau vivant to leave those who are not easily impressed speechless.
Nor is it down to the roses, the silks, the music or the fine fare but it is "about putting all these elements together. Celebration is a spiritual experience".