Throw a Wedding Like a Celebrity (on a Budget)

Get affordable ideas for hosting a platinum-style affair.

A wedding is a once-in-a-life-time opportunity to throw an elaborate, lavish event. But you don’t need to be a celebrity to have a dream wedding. Celebrity party planner David Tutera suggests the following tips and ideas for hosting a platinum-style wedding as well as tips for achieving the same feel on a smaller budget:

Flowers are key to a celebrity wedding. Tables are usually filled with an abundance of flowers -- in the centerpieces and on the chair backs. Most over-the-top weddings include tall centerpieces, which add height and drama to the room, but low centerpieces are often less expensive and can create an intimate, romantic vibe. Many celebrities import expensive flowers such as Lily of the Valley and Lady Slipper Orchids. These can be replaced with similar stems like Stephanotis or Cybidium Orchids, which are also readily available year round and therefore less expensive.

  • Instead of filling the center of the table with placed flower heads, place one on every place setting for a similar feel that requires far fewer stems.
  • Using big flowers like Hydrangeas cuts back on price because fewer are needed, and using extra greens and seasonal flowers is always a good money-saving trick.

Another key to a celebrity wedding is to keep the party going all night long. Since many weddings end around midnight, create an after-party lounge complete with low tables, custom leather furniture and lots of pillows and candlelight. Invite your closest friends and families to the lounge, and treat them to after-dinner drinks, passed mini desserts and some low-key, club-like background music to help them unwind while you stretch out the evening.

For a budget option, rent a nearby hotel suite which is already furnished, add your own votives, throw pillows and rose petals and provide your own bar set-up with sweet treats on stationary trays placed around the space.

Professional lighting always adds the wow factor to a wedding and is crucial to setting the mood for your party. Celebrity weddings often have colored lighting on the walls, pin spotting to illuminate the centerpieces and pattern or monogram projections on the dance floor. If you’re on a budget but crave the ambiance, be sure to ask your venue if they have any lighting installed already, as many will have pin spots built right in. Dimming the lights and adding candles will also help with ambiance.

Favors and gifts leave guests and bridal party members with a lasting impression of a wedding, and celebrities often spare no expense creating luxe gift bags or extravagant custom favors.

  • A fabulous gift bag might include a personalized bottle of special champagne with gourmet truffles, while a budget-friendly version would be a mini bottle of the spirit used in your wedding’s signature drink with the recipe printed on a small tag.
  • For a destination wedding, a cashmere travel blanket would delight your guests, while a satin travel mask or decorative passport case would make a great affordable alternative.

Welcome baskets are a luxurious treat for out-of-town guests, and my celebrity clientele usually requests one for each room. This basket contains beautiful bottles of water, gourmet snacks, a chic gift like a luxury candle, designer slippers or a box of monogrammed stationery, and the wedding itinerary with a list of local resources. You can welcome your guests on a smaller scale by placing just one or two of those items in each room with an envelope containing the itinerary, a list of local restaurants and activities, along with a personal welcome note.

Changing dresses is very popular at celebrity weddings. The bride chooses two gowns instead of one, and changes into the second dress for the reception. The first gown is generally a more traditional white dress, while the second gown is often a sleeker party gown that is easier to move in. By changing dresses it allows the bride to be more comfortable and gives her a second “big reveal” at the reception.

If two dresses aren’t in your budget, consider a quick hairstyle change (put your hair up if it was down and vise versa) and a change of accessories. Remove your gloves and change your pearl studs into dramatic drop earrings. Additionally, many designers are now creating “convertible” wedding dresses that have a removable or pinnable train and interchangeable or removable straps. Opt for one of these to change your look!

Musical entertainment is a must at lavish weddings. Often, celebrities will hire 10-piece orchestras or full bands in addition to a DJ. This added entertainment is the pinnacle of luxury, providing guests with entertainment and setting a mood for the wedding. The musical entertainment is often used at the ceremony in place of a traditional organ, at the cocktail hour or during the beginning of the reception as guests enter.

If a full band or orchestra is too pricey for your wedding, consider hiring one talented piano player to use the house piano, one harpist or even a soloist to add the ambiance at a lesser cost.