"My Fair Wedding's" David Tutera Gets Real: High Style Weddings On A Budget

by Jolene Rae Harrington, Director of Creative Content

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview celebrity wedding planner David Tutera at the Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena. Even though he’s worked on events with such VIPs as Jennifer Lopez and Vice President Al Gore, I was impressed by his enthusiasm for helping non-famous brides have equally stellar weddings.

David and I dished about his WE TV show “My Fair Wedding”, where he does “wedding interventions” and creates dream celebrations for brides who got a little off track when planning their big day.

During our chat, David also shared some of his wedding tips for ways to get high style with lower cost.


Your wedding stationery tells a wedding story; it’s the first chance to get your guests to feel invested in your wedding.

  • The color scheme and wording set the energy and tone of your event.
  • David and Jolene agree: Don’t send your invitations via email!
  • Ways to save:
    • Have guests RSVP via email.
    • Use a simple 1 panel card.
    • DIY your upgrades and add details like crystals, autumn leaves.

The Take Away: You don’t have to spend a lot to make a strong first impression.

The Wedding Dress

Sample Sales are good ways to save money, but beware: Check for stains, damage, fit, and need for pressing. Repairs, alterations and dry cleaning cost extra!

  • Choosing the right dress:
    • Know your body type.
    • David says: “Do not buy gowns on the internet!...Always consult a professional.” Jolene says: Trunk Shows are a great way to get that designer perspective. Make sure your choice of dress matches your personal style and the style of your event. David and Jolene agree: Don’t bring more than 1 or 2 people with you when you go dress shopping!

The Take Away: Even if it costs less, make sure it still looks good on you!

Bridesmaids’ Dresses

Jolene and David love “Two Birds” bridesmaids’ dresses. The line offers a rainbow of colors, and can be worn 15 different ways.

  • Bridesmaids’ dresses are an important element in setting style of your wedding.
  • Biggest problem: Most ‘maids dresses don’t come in Plus Sizes, so how do you get them to fit all your gal pals?
  • Solution: Open your mind to think maybe all your attendants don’t have to wear the same dress; rather keep them in the same color or even different shades of the same color.
  • But your attendants have to be guided to choose their dresses; otherwise the look won’t be cohesive. “They’ll look like guests showing up at your wedding.”

The Take Away: Be flexible, but keep control.

Think Style, Not Theme

“Theme” is the wrong way to think of your wedding. Instead, think in terms of “style,” and then use it sparingly throughout your event.

  • The goal is sophistication and elegance—so don’t knock your guests over the head with your idea so that they feel like they’re attending a kid’s party

The Take Away: Less is More.

It’s the Flow

All-in-one venues have certain challenges.

  • Make sure your event has “movement.” Your guests need to always feel like they have someplace to go, and not feel trapped—even if you’re in one large space.
  • “The Bridal Journey”: A way to help your guests become invested in your wedding—and if they’re invested, they’ll enjoy themselves.
  • David says: “Something different should happen every 30 minutes.” Even if you’re in one space, you can use lights, music, etc. to help the event flow. But you can also move them around to different parts of the room.
  • Jolene says: Use lighting, décor and furniture to help define separate areas of a large room or outdoor space.

The Take Away: Change it up.

Wedding Music

David says: “Music is the heartbeat to any celebration!”

  • David & Jolene agree: Nix the iPods! A wedding needs energy…and direction!
  • David calls iPod “a recipe for disaster.”
  • If you’re on a budget, choose a couple of important areas to spend your money for maximum impact.

The Take Away: DJ or live band with an MC is a wise investment.

Outdoor Events

How to make rustic outdoor venues sophisticated and chic? David likes contrast because it’s more exciting.

  • Think about doing something less obvious with the space—put china, silver and candelabras in the middle of a vineyard, for example. “A black-tie affair in the middle of a run-down barn…people walk away remembering that.”

The Take Away: Do the unexpected.

Cocktail Receptions

Jolene says: They’re not necessarily less expensive and you don’t want your guests to leave hungry!

  • David says: “If you want to have a great wedding, throw a great cocktail party…” BUT make sure your guests feel taken care of (and fed!).
  • Start with passed hors d’oeuvres, and then open up to small food stations. Keep the food changing every hour.
  • It’s like an extended cocktail hour, but you save because you don’t need a full bar—just beer, wine, champagne and one specialty drink.

The Take Away: Keep the food and drink dynamic.

Courtesy: The Golden Rule

You need to consistently go around and greet your guests: “You’re a bride, but also a host.”

  • Your guests will remember “the little things” that you thought about for their comfort and enjoyment.

The Take Away: Make your guests feel appreciated!

A Wedding Coordinator—Luxury or Necessity?

It is an added expense, but it’s also a necessity.

  • One of the most important wedding investments you’ll make.
  • But you need to choose the right wedding planner for you.
  • Find one that understands you, someone whom you like, and who matches your taste and style.

The Take Away: The right wedding planner is worth the cost!

Read more about David Tutera and his shows “Amazing Cakes” and “My Fair Wedding.”


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