Celebrity Wedding Planners: Behind the Spotlight Is No Cake Walk
The royal wedding is only days away and the country is riveted by every detail. "It is the closest thing we have to a real life fairy tale," says Amy Eisinger, associate editor of WeddingChannel.com. But behind the glitter and glam of the decorations, flowers, food, entertainment and the bride's glorious dress, is a celebrity wedding planner with the weight of the world on her shoulders.
"The most surprising aspect of being a celebrity wedding planner would have to be that it is not always glamorous; in fact it never really is," says Yifat Oren, celebrity event planner to stars such as Jason Bateman, Mariska Hargitay and Reese Witherspoon.
While the bride has her one day to feel like a princess and the groom gets a big party in his honor, planners like Yifat are working tirelessly behind the scenes to make everything "appear perfect" for someone else's big day.
How celebrity weddings are different
Nicole Hirsty, president and founder of Cobalt Events in Los Angeles, says that orchestrating weddings for famous people is unique because "everything is on a different level with celebrities." For example, "you don't always plan a wedding with the bride; you plan it with her 'people.'" Because everything is relayed to you through handlers, publicists, assistants or entourage, it is difficult to know exactly what the bride desires for her big day.
Also, Hirsty says, "The press factor is a given with any celebrity wedding" -- which means more security and an added level of secrecy when planning. Even the smallest details, like where a wedding planning meeting will take place, are kept secret until the last minute so that the paparazzi doesn't show up.
Gifting is also something that goes hand-in-hand with celebrity weddings. "You get lots of calls from people offering their services or products for free" -- such as cake bakers, florists or dress designers who are trying to "get on the map" -- "but you don't always want those items or know how reliable the vendor's service or product will be," Hirsty says.
Breaking into the business
Both Hirsty and Oren broke into the celebrity wedding planning business by "working their way up," which both agree was a long, hard road.
Oren worked for another event planning company first, but when that went out of business she started her own company, Yifat Oren and Associates. "I started my own business and used my drive and motivation to move me along," she says. "I had to work incredibly hard to get to where I am today; I always under-promised and over-delivered."
For Hirsty, the process was similar. Out of college, she worked as a media buyer and got to attend a number of spotlight events and upfront parties. "Once I got a taste of those parties, I realized that advertising was not my life-long dream; bringing people together for special occasions was what I wanted to do."
As much as Hirsty loves "making people's dreams come true," she does admit that there are drawbacks to her work and that it is stressful and challenging much of the time. "You have to have a lot of patience," she notes, adding you also must be a "creative designer and a therapist all at the same time. This job makes you wear many hats and switch gears quickly."
If you are looking to break into the business, Oren recommends "being mindful that it takes a lot of dedication to be successful," and that being a wedding planner, even for wealthy celebrities, is no cake walk. Having clients with more money does not make the process any easier.
The royal wedding: Possible surprises?
Even with a budget as large as Buckingham Palace, there are still so many elements to organize for the royal wedding that any celebrity wedding planner would be stressed.
The Wedding Channel's Eisinger says that "timing is everything," because the day is jam-packed with event after event -- so it's important for things to "remain on somewhat of a time schedule so the planners can move seamlessly between events."
With an anticipated global audience of over 1 billion for the April 29 event, Oren believes that the wedding will be "lovely, fancy and fabulous, as all are expecting," but that surprises may not appear. Hirsty, however, suspects that "surprises may abound since Kate wants to do things a little differently."
Regardless of what viewers see as the royal wedding unfolds on national television, you can bet that there is a team of wedding planners working behind the spotlight making sure everything is fit for a king and queen.
If you think being a celebrity wedding planner is for you, "don't go into it planning to be a celebrity wedding planner," advises Hirsty. "Have a passion for making people's dreams come true and just focus on that; that is an amazing opportunity."
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Gwen Parkes is a seasoned writer and editor and a subject matter expert (SME) on healthcare and healthcare reform. She spends her days freelancing for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and various publishing houses. Parkes exercises everyday to cleanse her mind and find her inspiration- running and hot yoga are her current devices of choice- and she is an amateur chef and self-proclaimed foodie; she believes that good supermarkets are happy places, a good Pinot Noir goes with everything and coffee should be served hot, with cream and sugar and as frequently as necessary.