Whether you are expecting a Valentine’s evening proposal, spending the day planning your wedding or just dreaming about it, there’s reason to curl up with a box of chocolates and a stack of celebrity magazines.
And plenty of reason not to.
When flipping through tabloid coverage of weddings, you can feel both envious and relieved. While the nuptials of the rich and famous are frequently breathtaking, they’re often over the top, packed with features and stunts most of us would never be able to pull off.
Last year saw some of the biggest, most star-studded celebrity weddings. Local experts weighed in on which trends to try to replicate, and which to leave to the one-percenters.
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George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin
Do: Dress up for the legalities.
It’s fitting that when seemingly perennial bachelor George Clooney finally tied the knot to human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin, he did so in style. The Venice wedding was lavish, with the bride in a custom Oscar de la Renta gown, but one of her most talked-about moments came at the civil ceremony. She was the epitome of chic in a custom Stella McCartney cream pant suit and wide-brimmed hat.
Fashionistas swooned, and some say this is when her status as a style icon was cemented. (George who?)
While waiting in line at the courthouse to sign a marriage certificate is far from the most elegant part of a wedding, there’s no reason not to dress it up a bit.
Don’t: Plan a flotilla as a means of transportation.
The photos of celebrity guests arriving at the wedding via water taxis through Venice’s famed canals made for some stunning images, but it’s not a feat to be repeated locally. Having guests canoe or kayak to your nuptials down the Trinity doesn’t have quite the same appeal, though Rachel Leuck, owner of Rachel Events Wedding Planning (http://rachelevents.com), says that providing transportation is a nice touch, especially when a ceremony and reception are far from hotels or accommodations.
She suggests offering shuttle services throughout the night so guests don’t have to worry about logistics and can just enjoy the party.
At the very least, give them reliable taxi service phone numbers and check whether Uber is available in the area.
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie
Do: Include your children.
When Brad and Angelina made it official, it seemed natural that their famous brood of six kids would be included in the festivities. Their oldest sons walked Jolie down the aisle, while the others served as flower girls and ring bearers, and helped write the vows and bake the cake.
Leuck says including children in the ceremony adds a personal touch. “It gives them a part of the ceremony and makes them feel special, too,” she says.
In a recent wedding she helped plan, the groom gave the bride’s daughter a diamond ring as a symbolic gesture, creating a sweet and intimate moment. Leuck says that most couples with children want to recognize that a marriage isn’t just about the bride and groom, but about the entire family.
Don’t: Decorate your dress with your kids’ artwork.
Jolie looked stunning in her wedding gown, but it’s not a look that is easily replicated. Luigi Massi, the master tailor at Atelier Versace, is responsible for sewing the dozens of colorful designs from the couple’s children’s drawings into the dress and veil.
Unless you’re pals with one of the world’s most famous fashion designers, experts suggest leaving your children’s artwork in frames.
Under the headline “Angelina’s wedding gown a gross display of parenting run amock,” New York Post writer Jane Ridley wrote: “While die-hard Brangelina fans are mooning sentimentally over this ‘exquisite expression of family love and dedication,’ the rest of us are reaching for the sick bucket.
“Reflecting the kids’ jet-set lifestyle, Jolie’s dress boasts self-portraits of the junior nomads donning jaunty French berets — not to mention exotic animals such as zebras and lions, no doubt spotted on one of their parents’ charitable trips.
“With ‘buttock fattock’ inexplicably embroidered on the rear, Jolie’s dress is Exhibit A in the case of overindulgent parents gone mad.”
Jenny McCarthy and Donnie Wahlberg
Do: Personalize the food.
Long gone are the days of rubbery chicken and tough cuts of beef at wedding receptions. McCarthy and Wahlberg reportedly wanted to showcase their hometowns of Chicago and Boston through their food, serving guests sushi, filet mignon and lobster — and later, deep-dish pizza.
Carlo Capua, owner of Z’s Café and Catering in Fort Worth, says the menu is a great place to add a little of your heritage into your wedding. Whether the couple is from a specific region of the country they want to honor, say, with Midwestern or Southern-style food, or they want to honor their Greek, Italian or Mexican heritage, there’s a way to do it with the menu, he says. And most caterers will work with couples to customize their plan.
Don’t: Have an open mic at the reception.
Your great-aunt may shine in the church choir, and your best friend may rock at karaoke, but you don’t want them stealing the limelight at your reception.
McCarthy and Wahlberg reportedly had an open-mic reception, but rather than drunken frat buddies singing alcohol-fueled ballads and making on-the-fly speeches, it was likely used by the lilting voices of members of Wahlberg’s New Kids on the Block.
Leuck says she strongly warns brides against having an open mic — especially if there’s alcohol at the reception. “Someone starts talking and 20 minutes later, I have to figure out how to steal the microphone out of their hand,” she says.
If the couple really wants to let their guests speak, she suggests doing it at the rehearsal dinner, where it’s a more intimate group and you — and the speech-giver — are less likely to be embarrassed.
Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka
Do: Write your own vows.
While this can easily go very wrong, Leuck says that she has also seen it go very right. She says it usually works best for those who have writerly inclinations and have time to think it through.
When done on the fly, or if not enough thought goes into the writing, self-penned vows can fall flat. In religious ceremonies, couples may need to work with their pastor to add personal touches, and in nonreligious weddings, Leuck said, some couples write the entire ceremony.
Don’t: Add pyrotechnics.
On Late Show With David Letterman, Harris talked about a perfect moment, during the couple’s first dance to A Moment Like This, when fireworks shot off as the song crescendoed.
While the photos are breathtaking, fireworks are not easily replicated. Leuck says she rarely has requests for fireworks, as they aren’t only expensive, but often prohibited and tricky because of permits involved.
They’re especially dangerous — and probably not permitted — in areas suffering from drought.
Kim Kardashian and Kanye West
Do: Put your personality into it.
The wedding will fly by, but the photos last forever. Kim and Kanye shared a photo of themselves in personalized “Just Married” matching leather jackets — showcasing not just their love, but also their sense of style.
Leather jackets may not be your speed, but Leuck says that adding a little personality to your portraits can be cute. The main factor here, she says, is time. If you’re taking pictures between the ceremony and the reception while your guests are hungrily awaiting a meal, it’s best to keep the photo session short.
But if you’re doing a “first look” — or even pre-wedding engagement photos — take all the pictures you want.
Leuck does warn against getting too cutesy, though. “A lot of times, in 30 years you’re going to look back at your wedding day and say, ‘What were you thinking?’”
Don’t: Attempt to have your wedding at Versailles.
If Kimye can’t pull it off, neither can you. The couple was reportedly denied a wedding at the famed French palace, though they did treat guests to the rehearsal dinner of a lifetime there.
Leuck says it’s not unusual for couples to have unrealistic expectations about where they can get married. And typically, no matter who they know, they’re usually turned down at the historic or public places.
“Most of the time, it just doesn’t come to fruition,” she says of brides who want to shut down city blocks or have public places closed down for their big day.
Jessica Simpson and Eric Johnson
Do: Provide late-night munchies.
After a long night of drinking and dancing, even a three-course meal and wedding cake can seem like a distant memory. Simpson and Johnson anticipated this and provided a tasty snack bar for reception attendees.
Guests reportedly chowed down on sliders, french fries, pizza, cookies and s’mores. Capua says this is a great idea, as guests can usually “dance up an appetite.”
He says it’s even better appreciated at receptions with an open bar. He has served everything from tacos to homemade brownies and cookies as a late-night snack, sending guests home not just tired, but full.
Don’t: Overextend your guests.
These days, wedding days have turned to wedding weekends and even wedding weeks. While there’s nothing wrong with hosting friends and family for a longer stint of festivities, make perfectly clear you’re creating a vacation — not an obligation.
Simpson and Johnson’s weekend extravaganza reportedly included a festive Fourth of July bash, a golf outing, time at the spa and a farewell brunch.
Leuck says the most important factor here is your guest list. She says older couples whose guests have more established careers and longer vacation time tend to have better success with wedding weeks. She pointed to a recent wedding she planned in Southern California that included several days of parties. The couple’s friends were happy to take time off, especially considering many events were catered and included childcare.
“Just make sure you give them things to do other than come in town and sit around their hotel,” she says.
Sources: T Magazine, People Magazine, Us Weekly, E! Online, NBC, Radar Online, New York Post
Feb. 4: Unique gifts and experiences
Feb. 5: Noncandy alternatives for kids
Sunday: A romantic proposal-moon
Tuesday: Plan a family date night
Wednesday: Red velvet indulgences to make
Saturday: Inspiration from celebrity weddings