If you are a fan of weddings, you probably are a fan of celebrity wedding planner David Tutera. As the star of David Tutera’s CELEBrations (née My Fair Wedding with David Tutera), he plans elaborate events that showcase personality in a tasteful fashion. With his own line of bridal and bridesmaid gowns, tuxedos for both men and women, jewelry, and wedding stationery, we asked him for his advice for couples wanting to tell their love story through their nuptials.
Particularly with the increased popularity of dating apps, not every couple has confidence in the romance of their love story. “I’ve been talking about this for many years,” Tutera says. “It’s important for guests to understand the couple, but I find they can’t always articulate it.” What he likes to do is use a storybook invitation, with an illustration on the cover to represent the beginning. The inside of the invitation suite can include similar illustrations with their initials carved in a tree – showcasing when they fell in love – and then a final image of the couple as cake toppers. “Telling the story doesn’t have to be so literal,” Tutera says. The tale of the sweethearts doesn’t have to end with the paper elements, however. According to Tutera, the music, the choice of bridal party members, and dance songs can all tell guests about the couple’s love. Selecting loved ones to do a reading at the ceremony helps thread the story throughout the event. “I also like to have someone give a toast at cocktail hour,” Tutera shares. Combined with reception speeches, this keeps the focus on the newlyweds, without dragging on throughout the day.
Nowadays, a couple’s biggest priority tends to be making their nuptials personal and unique. Many brides worry about how to incorporate their interests or theme without being heavy-handed to the point of an event looking more like a birthday party than a wedding. To avoid going too far, Tutera recommends utilizing paper products to throw in personal details. Save the dates, invitations, programs, esort cards, and even cocktail napkins can be customized to include facts about the couple, quotes from the film your décor is inspired by, and more. “These details cost the least amount of money and provide the most information,” divulges Tutera. When personalizing save the dates and invitations, he recommends first deciding on how you want the wedding to look. “I don’t go into design concepts until I’ve locked down the look. These are going to dictate the style, etiquette, and vibe to the party,” he states.
Tutera explains that when he was working in the business 10 years ago, couples almost always had their parents helping them through the planning process. However, now he finds that the engaged sweethearts have to do it alone. As a result, they often make mistakes, particularly with their budget. He tells his clients that costs should be focused on food, beverages, visual décor, and entertainment. “A wedding lives and breathes by the music,” Tutera notes. Often, people will first book elements that they can look into online, and use up their spending limit on less-crucial aspects of the big day. With so many details involved in wedding planning, it can be difficult to know what to prioritize.
“People spend so much money on flowers and other visuals, but they don’t think about lighting,” he explains. “You can’t see anything without lighting!” Colorful uplighting and projections can also double as design, as well as showcasing the centerpieces you spend so much time picking out. A detail he feels you can skip, on the other hand, are favors, as they are notorious for being left behind or underappreciated. If you do choose to provide your guests with favors, they have to make sense. Monogrammed items tend to not have a use for anyone, so it’s tricky to choose a personalized gift that your nearest and dearest will appreciate. “Favors are the last sentence in the book to be told,” Tutera muses. For an example of a simple, yet touching, parting gift, he recommends “a beautifully wrapped bag of chocolate cookies, with a card featuring your grandmother’s handwritten recipe.” The cookies are sure to be enjoyed, and the recipe is something personal without being too specific.
With all that in mind, David Tutera has four key pieces of advice for brides-to-be: “Enjoy the planning process, don’t make decisions too quickly, take a breath, and most importantly, have fun at your wedding!”
Opening photo courtesy of David Tutera