Wedding planners reveal the wild demands of the very wealthy
Celebrity wedding planner David Tutera had just put the finishing touches on an elegant Manhattan celebration at Gotham Hall several years ago.
He had auditioned and hired the violinists, sourced hundreds of Swarovski crystals and candelabra for the tablescape, and dressed a towering chuppah with thousands of white rose petals.
Then, the day before the wedding, the high-society Manhattan bride dropped a bombshell: the groom was still married. Could Tutera find a fake rabbi to perform the ceremony?
The bride’s father, who was footing the bill, adamantly refused to be publicly humiliated by the shocking news – and so they had a fake wedding.
“I had to dress him, so he looked the part. It was a fast and furious cast. He had to read the prayers and get the hell out of here before anyone could say it was wrong,” the Los Angeles-based Tutera recalled of the six-figure deal.
“It was a circus,” Tutera said of shelling out thousands of dollars of his client’s money to save the blitzkrieg event.
When celebrities and the 1% get married, wedding planners often work overtime with an unlimited budget — and find themselves trying to avoid stepping on landmines when they can’t work magic for guests. who are not used to being told no.
Such was the case for heiress Nicola Peltz, who last spring married Brooklyn Beckham – son of soccer star David and fashion designer Victoria – in a star-studded affair in Palm Beach, in Florida. The final bill was estimated at around $3 million. Serena and Venus Williams and Eva Longoria were present.
In the wake of the big day, however, there was utter carnage, according to court documents in a lawsuit brought by set planners Nicole Braghin and Arianna Grijalba, and a counter-suit apparently pettiness of the bride’s billionaire father, Nelson Peltz, who wants his $159,000 deposited back – after tasking the duo with saving the mess of an event just six weeks before the big day.
The whole affair turned out to be so chaotic that Nelson reportedly wanted to call off the wedding, calling the event an “s–t show”.
Tutera said that while billionaires may have money to spend on paying for pop star performances, canopies made from cherry blossoms and multiple custom Versace dresses, as Peltz demanded, this can often result in headaches and pure chaos when it comes to getting the job done.
“Three decades of doing this, and I’m still saying I think I’ve seen it all, and the answer is no,” Tutera told The Post.
Sometimes he can’t get the bunnies out of the hats – but he will always try.
“My answer always to my clients is never ‘no’ – it’s ‘Let’s take a look at what’s possible and redefine what’s possible based on what you want to spend on those crazy requests'” , did he declare.
Grand entrances are usually where some of the scariest delusions of grandeur come into play, Tutera said, recalling a time when a Manhattan socialite bride marrying a real estate mogul wanted to walk down the aisle with a tiger. on a leash at Cipriani 42nd Street.
“I said, ‘OK, we’ll look into that. And obviously that’s not going to happen, because we can’t control the tiger,” Tutera said.
In another case, Tutera found himself having to do backflips to convince an Armenian bride that it was not a good idea to enter her wedding ceremony with several hundred guests in downtown Cipriani in SoHo from a 70 foot high trapeze.
“I said, ‘I don’t know if that’s a good idea, because you’re wearing a ball gown. Are you in a circus? I don’t think so.’ ”
Tutera made a deal with her client – if she took lessons at a trapeze school in Chelsea, she could potentially swing it.
“She took classes, and on the wedding day she got up there in her dress and she didn’t. She panicked. She spent a fortune on logistics, permits, trapeze lessons,” he said, noting, “I try to tell people it’s a bad idea, but they don’t listen.
In another instance, Tutera said he found himself providing extra security for the 2004 nuptials of a former “The View” co-host at St. Bartholomew’s Church in Midtown when she spilled the beans on the air where his ceremony was to take place.
“She announced her wedding day, her wedding time, the venue – I looked at her, I thought, ‘I can’t believe what you just created for all of us.’ We only had a few days. She wanted a grand entrance, a very grand entrance, like she was the Queen of England,” he said.
“We had to secure the NYPD. We had to find a secondary security company to close off Park Avenue on a series of streets because we now had a traffic problem,” recalls Tutera, who typically plans weddings in the high six and seven figures. “What she wanted, she got.”
Kristin Banta, creative director of her eponymous event planning and design firm in Los Angeles, whose parties typically cost six figures, sometimes seven, has been asked to ask for everything from half-naked angels to the tops of golden ladders serving guests under edible cotton. clouds of candy, a dragon (a costumed human walking around on stilts) spitting fake flames, and a living hawk ring bearer.
“Everything we’ve achieved,” she told the Post.
“The goal is to sort of find ways to keep the luxury of the event while adding these quirky requests so that they’re just a nod to the people in attendance,” Banta said, noting that she had to refuse some requests to ensure security. of guests.
These examples have included requests to light paper lanterns in the middle of the woods, flaming cocktails and a particularly enthusiastic hora in an 18th-century room with 8-foot-tall ceilings.
“Honestly, it’s more comfortable to work with a hawk ring bearer or a couple wanting to get in on elephants than an untrained dog or baby wearing a diamond ring down the aisle – or whatever is on fire , in general,” she said of having to reign. overzealous demands.
“Our intention is to ensure that each wedding is completely different, that each is relevant to the couple and that we keep it classy and tiger-free.”
Meanwhile, despite Tutera’s years of experience, many of its customers simply won’t be told what to do.
He recalled one instance where he advised a deep-pocketed chiropractor client – who was unusually determined to have Tutera call him “doctor” – not to sing at his daughter’s wedding in the Hamptons in 2018 .
He also told the father to spend a few thousand dollars on a backup generator, in case the power goes out. Both tips were ignored.
“He didn’t listen to me, of course. Karma came in and we lost power just as he picked up the mic,” Tutera said, thankfully, noting that the Frank Sinatra ballad the doting dad chose to sing went unheard.
The icing on the cake, says Tutera: The doctor knew he had no one to blame but himself.