It isn't every bride that can boast a wedding planner among her circle of family friends, but Nicole Zuckerman knew exactly who to ask for help when she and boyfriend Ken Morris got engaged: Louise Thomas of Events Made Special, Inc. "When I was in middle school, I told Louise she couldn't retire until I got married," laughs Nicole about her pre-determined planner. Having decided on their hometown of Tucson, Arizona, the California-based couple collaborated with Louise on an event that would complement the natural element of the desert's beautiful surroundings, "but with a little bit of glamour." They wanted a celebration that guaranteed a fantastic time for their guests.
With their goals in mind, the trio selected a base of neutral colors to keep the overall look of the wedding classic and elegant, and then chose brightly hued florals to create a striking contrast. They also decided to add additional allure to the already stunning grounds of the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort where the wedding would take place. "As soon as guests stepped onto the pathway to the ceremony, we wanted them to realize they were in for something magical," explains Nicole. Trees along the path were lightly embellished with strands of hanging crystals that became gradually more elaborate the closer guests came to the ceremony site. Archways were created using curly willow and natural rock, while hedges of flowers were lined up to frame the area. Just as the sun was casting a warm glow across the altar, Nicole made her way down the aisle accompanied by her parents. The mainly Christian ceremony also incorporated rituals from Nicole's family's Jewish faith: Nicole's grandparents presented the couple with a tallis, and Ken "broke the glass" at the conclusion of the ceremony as everyone cheered for the newly married couple.
Still intent on dazzling their loved ones after the ceremony, Nicole and Ken planned an extravagant reception. While a live flamenco band kept everyone's energy high, guests enjoyed drinks from an ice martini bar as well as a selection of sushi before sitting down to a choice of filet mignon, mahi mahi, or halved acorn squash. Tables were set with alternating centerpieces comprised of hydrangea, curly willow, orchids, tulips, and agapanthus, and an architectural study of votive candlelight on each table completed the design. The "wow factor" for the reception came from the incredible head table, which boasted a ten-foot brushed-steel canopy with a six-foot floral chandelier that was "dripping" crystals. Slices of wedding cake with alternating layers of white- and dark-chocolate mousse and fresh raspberries were a sweet spot during the reception, but the most memorable moment for Nicole was her father's speech. "He had been hospitalized for a serious bicycle accident just days before the wedding, and had to walk me down the aisle on crutches," says Nicole. "His speech was amazing -- he incorporated his brief brush with mortality, but kept the audience laughing."
The playful pair also plotted with Louise to create an elaborate surprise for their guests: An after-party lounge -- complete with a bar, DJ, couches, cocktail tables, and late-night snacks -- was dramatically revealed from behind draped walls. "We consider ourselves fun and energetic, and we wanted to ensure everyone had a great time at our wedding," explains Nicole. The guests enjoyed the Las Vegas vibe of the after-party, and the couple happily joined them in dancing, mingling, and filling up on the mini-sliders, French fries, miniature pizzas, and other treats arranged for the late-night guests.
Overall, the wedding was exactly as Nicole and Ken had envisioned, and both were very happy with the results of their big day. "People are still telling us that ours was the most fun wedding they had ever been to, and we're thrilled!" Nicole declares. We can't think of a better compliment for a fun-loving couple in love.