Secrets of the A-List Wedding Gurus

They really know their stuff

The world’s top experts share their tip-offs on trends, tricks and what you should be trying now.

THE PLANNER: Jacin Fitzgerald 

One of America’s most celebrated event planners, Fitzgerald’s organic approach sets the tone for an exquisite, ethereal wedding. 

‘Go with your gut when choosing your planner – this is someone you need to get along with, and really trust. How many weddings have they done, how long have they been in business, what’s their style like on the actual day? This is a saturated industry and there’s no barrier to entry so you want to make sure the investment you’re making in someone is going to pay off for whatever your goals are. More to the point, is this someone you feel sure can help in a crisis? I’ve planned weddings that have been struck by hurricanes and earthquakes – as a planner, you have to be calm and confident, even in the face of a natural disaster!’

‘I’m seeing less sparkles, sequins and saturated tones, and more of a fine art style that is influenced by film photography: a lot more muted colour, pastels and an organic feel. Over the past few years there has been a lot of blush and gold, and now I’m seeing a lot of blues. The direction is definitely less harshly feminine and incorporating some more typically masculine elements.’

‘When I’m working with my clients my biggest goal is to tell their story – not just recreate something pretty from Pinterest. It doesn’t have to be kitschy or too cute but a sentimental detail that someone’s going to notice, that’s what makes a wedding stand out for me. That and being an amazing, fun time that makes the guest feel like they’re honoured participants in this special day.’


Meet the man setting trends when it comes to romantic-yet-modern wedding photography: Villa’s work epitomises the fine art feel we love.

‘Whatever style of photography you go for, there are some guaranteed ways to look better in your photos. Most people are nervous when there’s a camera in their face, and wedding days can put people on edge. The thing I notice most with brides is that their shoulders go very high and tense, particularly until the ceremony, while chins often go up really high or really low. If they have champagne, I might nudge it a little closer – because it helps! I make sure they know to relax their shoulders, and I tell them to throw them back a little. Then, putting one leg forward and bending that front knee a little really helps to shape the body, versus just standing normally. It works with most people.’

‘Scheduling an engagement session with your photographer is key to getting comfortable in front of the camera and gives the photographer a chance to work out your best angles ahead of the wedding so on the day it’s seamless. But if for some reason you can’t, consider having them take photos before and during the rehearsal dinner, or even just go for a coffee to talk about the wedding. Those occasions give me a chance to look at mannerisms, faces and profiles. I ask about what sides of their face they like, which side of the groom they prefer to stand on – it’s really important to talk about that stuff beforehand. If you’re meeting your photographer for the first time at the wedding, that’s a problem.’

‘You need to know what look you want from your photos before you pick your photographer. Film photography is the go-to style for the romantic bride, with the over-exposed look and the pastel feel, whereas digital is more crisp and saturated in color. Whether your photographer uses film or digital will absolutely dictate the final look and feel. Something else to consider is how your wedding will work for the particular photographer: is there a lot of activity at sunset, and night time? Then you need a photographer who can handle low-light situations. It’s important to hire someone who you feel confident is going to do their research about things like the timing of the day, where you have your ceremony, if you’re planning to be in the sun or shade and when the sunset is. It is really important your photographer has a handle on that – don’t be afraid to ask.’

THE FLORIST: Jeff Leatham

He’s the Kardashians’ go-to floral stylist, and Sophia Vergara recently tasked him with decking out her wedding to Joe Manganiello in extravagant style.

‘Don’t get caught up in the trends. These days, you’re over-saturated with ideas from Instagram and Pinterest: the most important thing is to stick to a theme and a colour and then go from there. I always stick to what I call The Leatham Three: clean, simple and chic. Never use more than three varieties of flowers and never use more than three types of monochromatic colors together when you’re mixing them in the room. Instead, I’m all about creating interest by colour-blocking your day: keeping the ceremony florals one hue, cocktail hour another and dinner a different colour again. You want to create excitement at every stage and venue, so that people are anticipating what’s next.’

‘Most brides think more about the flowers at the ceremony, but I tell them to spend their money on the flowers at dinner. You’re at the ceremony for 20 minutes, and at dinner for hours! I always mix high centrepieces with low to create depth to the room. I love the trend of taking flowers off the table and hanging from ceilings – I just made floral chandeliers [for Kris Jenner’s 60th birthday party]. And any room with more than 12 tables should always have more than three different looks to create movement so the space doesn’t look static and boring. Remember, if you’re watching your budget, you’ll get more for your money in summer, because bigger-headed flowers are in season then, so you need less to have an impact.’

‘Finally, choose someone you genuinely enjoy spending time with. My rule in life is to always plan, work with, and hire people who you have fun with.’

THE CATERER: Carla Ruben

Oprah, Beyonce and Madonna have this caterer and planner—known for her creative approach to cordon bleu cooking—on speed dial.

‘Don’t get railroaded into food you don’t like – you should decide, not your planner or the guests. I’m always asked: what does everyone like to eat? Well, it doesn’t exist.’

‘Choose a menu that speaks to you and your partner, and don’t worry about the guests. Keep it close to your hearts and your palates. Brides are much more interested in food and they want to reflect what they like, so they’re taking more risks and that makes it more personal. It’s part of a bigger trend towards very personal weddings, while moving away from the super casual feel. That means setting the stage with the first and main course, and keeping the dessert fun, when you’re up and dancing – so that carefree feeling brides are looking for is captured as an after-party vibe.’

‘The first course needs to be particularly beautiful, because its message is: this meal is going to be different. And let me just say, there’s nothing exciting about a salad. The main course should be filling, homey and delicious, because by that point people are really hungry: they’ve been drinking, and haven’t been home in six hours. I always end with a visually-exciting dessert that’s portable – with drinks and desserts, you can get a bit wacky. I recently did a beautiful, sophisticated take on the Jello shot, with granita. Specialty drinks are always popular.’

‘Talk to your caterer about the flow of the event, that’s the most important thing – how you want it to feel, rather than the specifics. What do you want people to say when they leave at the end of the night? They’ve never danced so much in their life, or they loved eating in the open air? That can help the caterer understand what you’re trying to accomplish and how the food can help achieve that.’

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