Inside Our Wedding-Planning Consultation with David Tutera

Meet the winners of our Pin to Win a Dream Wedding Design by David Tutera Contest
, Rigo Garcia and Claudia Hernandez! As part of their prize, the couple won a wedding-planning consultation with David Tutera himself. Here, Rigo and Claudia each share their recollections from the highly-anticipated meeting, starting with Rigo:

I have to admit that winning the contest has been more significant than we could have ever imagined. I originally wanted to surprise Claudia and just make her smile. That’s why I (secretly) entered the contest. Well, let me tell you, the smiles haven’t stopped! I'll have to be 100% honest with you guys and tell you that, at first, I was primarily looking forward to the beautiful honeymoon in Mexico and the tuxedos from Jim’s Formal Wear. Claudia, however, was most thrilled about meeting David Tutera!

On September 30, her dream of meeting David came true. It wasn’t just a quick meet-and-greet; it was an event nothing short of, as she said, “most important day ever!” (besides our upcoming wedding, of course!). I guess in the world of brides- (and grooms!) to-be, some things cannot be understood unless you’re there to experience it for yourself.

Little did I know that David Tutera had already influenced so many of our wedding plans through his hit show, My Fair Wedding with David Tutera — the color scheme, the attention to detail, the unique ideas, and the “feel” of our wedding were secretly being inspired by David and updated with every episode Claudia watched. She was completely hooked, and although I would never admit it to my Wednesday night poker buddies, I, too, was curious every week to see what drama the groomzillas or mothers-in-law were creating.

When David's team called and asked if we wanted to meet him in person, I tried to remain cool and composed on the phone... but bubbled over with excitement and screamed, “YES YES YES!” (I was just happy for Claudia, I swear!). The date was set for September 30 at 1pm, and the countdown began. The next couple weeks were spent taking pictures of our centerpieces, obtaining floor plans, making appointments to get hair done, collecting swatches of color from table coverings, photographing various flower arrangements, compiling a list of questions, and shopping for new threads. By the way, that was just my list of chores; Claudia was much busier getting ready for our meeting with David.

The day before our meeting, I could tell Claudia was getting a little nervous, although she may not admit it. She decided to calm her nerves with a 12-hour My Fair Wedding marathon, only pausing to check (and double check) the itinerary for the following day. Camera? Check. Questions? Check. Photos? Check. Small carry-on luggage with all the collected info? Check. Nothing left to do but get some shut-eye, so off to bed (late) then up for the morning (early).

We arrived early and set up and arranged our “gear”. We were rehearsed and well prepared for this once-in-a-lifetime meeting. We had a strict agenda to follow with military precision, and we would take advantage of every moment with David. With 15 minutes to go until our meeting time, Claudia was definitely nervous. To relieve her anxiety, I performed my best 1980s dance moves in hopes of relaxing her. I had just finished my rendition of the "Running Man" and was about to begin the Cabbage Patch when, by the look on her face, I knew David was walking up behind me. He was early!

As I turned to meet him, I was greeted by a very warm smile and most sincere embrace. His entire staff then introduced themselves and were quite engaging and very pleasant. While chatting with some of David's team, I turned to see Claudia and David laughing and talking like old high school BFFs. There she was, happy, smiling, and as beautiful as ever. I joined them in conversation and got a crash course in event planning by the best in the business. It was truly remarkable to see David's talent at work.

From Claudia's perspective:

As entertaining as Rigo’s recollection is, it might not have been so accurate. Considering everything, I think I was rather composed throughout the entire process. If I was just an intsy bitsy tiny bit anxious, can you blame me, girls?! It is, after all... DAVID TUTERA!!!!!! I was actually beside myself with excitement and anticipation. I could have never imagined that David would be involved in my wedding planning. I imagined and rehearsed all the scenarios for our meeting and was pleasantly surprised when the reality was even better than what I imagined.

I first saw David as he walked up behind my “dancing” fiancé. He was extremely nice and very welcoming. I was immediately set at ease. Despite all the people and cameras and video equipment, he made me feel like I was the only thing that mattered at the time (okay, and Rigo, too).

After a few minutes of getting to know each other, he requested that we tell him our ideas. The vast collection of information we brought, as if we were giving a formal presentation, never made it to the table; David just wanted us to talk to him. We went over color schemes, floor plans, entertainment, formal wear, food, flowers, and “extras.” That was just for starters. David asked us many questions and then he processed all the information.

He then sprinkled some David Tutera Magic all over it and gave us some incredible suggestions and ideas for the wedding:

Seating arrangements: We are planning for around 250 guests with six at the head table. We originally considered a traditional floor plan with the guests evenly split on either side of the dance floor. David suggested incorporating a Feng Shui style-seating pattern that would maximize the overall flow and feel of the room. He said that “separating your guests will create a ‘my side and your side’ feel.” Instead, he recommended a U-shaped arrangement, with the head table at the top of the U. This way, all of the tables are somehow connected. We loved this idea and tried the arrangement at the venue the following week. It was perfect! 

Show off the wedding cake: David's idea for how to display our wedding cake was brilliant; he suggested putting the cake on a highboy table and using it as a backdrop behind the head table. The cake would be high enough for everyone to see during dinner, low enough to cut, and it'd add a great photo opportunity. Set against some hanging tulle and highlighted with uplighting, it is sure to be breathtaking.

How to get guests more excited: We told David that we are putting a lot of effort into providing entertainment for our guests; we imagine our guests staying all night because they are genuinely having a great time. David gave us great ideas to help build some excitement with our guests and space out the entertainment. Initially, our cocktail hour and reception were to be held in the same location. David suggested holding the cocktail hour in a separate room; by not allowing guests into the reception hall until after the cocktail hour, it'd increase their anticipation. They will see the finished reception hall minutes before we are introduced as husband and wife. 

Hair and makeup: Next, I wanted David's advice about my bridal look. I was really nervous about this one! I was fortunate that the wonderful girls at Trisse Salon offered to do a “trial run” for David to evaluate — they did a wonderful job, but David would have the final say. When I asked him what changes I should make for the big day, he told me, “You need to go with whoever did your make-up and hair. It looks beautiful!” Needless to say, I was ecstatic. He then gave me some really great ideas on how to easily change my look throughout the evening. 

A memorable save-the-date: We had one other very important area that we needed help with — our save-the-date. Rigo and I had a few preliminary ideas but nothing that really grabbed us. Our ideal save-the-date would be fun, romantic, clever, unique, and encompass both of our personalities. We told David that we wanted our guests to receive it and think, “Yeah, that’s Rigo and Claudia!" I have to say, David far surpassed our expectations. He gave us the most incredible save-the-date idea ever! We loved it!!! We will be shooting it very soon and will be sure to stop back and give you a sneak peak when it’s done!

Our time went by very quickly! He helped us so much and reassured us that he would help us navigate through the next nine months. We exchanged contact information, and he has since sent us some picture ideas for cakes and gowns. Later this month, I will be meeting with the team from Mon Cheri. He has made his line available for me and made some great suggestions for my wedding dress. I cannot wait to try them all on! I will be sure to keep you posted on the progress.

This is truly an exciting time for us. We would both like to very sincerely thank Bridal Guide, Mon Cheri, Jim’s Formal Wear, the Mexican Tourism Board, Aero Mexico, and all the sponsors that have made this possible. Of course, we would like to especially thank David. He is an amazing event planner and an even more amazing person.

—Rigo Garcia and Claudia Hernandez