Hollywood is saying, “I Do” to lavish wedding productions.
Showbizzers accustomed to elaborate undertakings at the office often treat their nuptials as another grand affair to orchestrate, albeit one with its own social landmines attached.
Body doubles, movie makeup artists and, occasionally, decoy brides are brought in along with wedding planners and designers to help ensure nuptials come off without a hitch.
Wedding planner Colin Cowie, who worked on the nuptials for Joel Silver, Jerry Seinfeld and Lisa Kudrow, says elaborate industry weddings are “highly, highly evolved.”
Cowie says the clients who really want to splurge often opt for destination weddings, during which the party starts in a private air terminal, moves onto a passenger plane — where all of the seats have been torn out and replaced with first-class thrones — and winds up in a faraway setting.
This is along the lines of the type of bash Cowie planned for Silver. The wedding maestro wouldn’t divulge specifics about the “Matrix” producer’s bash in Venice, Italy, four years ago, but did say Silver is “a man who wants only the best, and he’s happy to pay for it.”
If anything, the aborted union of Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck was to be even more elaborate. Bennifer’s $2 million nuptials entailed body doubles and dripping jewels for bride and members of the wedding party. The couple said they called off their ceremony when they found themselves considering deploying three decoy brides.
This frenzy did not deter ex-Baywatch babe Carmen Electra and rocker Dave Navarro, who’re turning their marriage into an actual production for MTV. The cabler is remaining tight-lipped about the mini, called “Til Death to Us Part: Carmen and Dave,” until it airs in January.
Even scribes have gotten into the act. Akiva Goldsman’s recent nuptials are mentioned as an example of a lavish industry “I Do,” though the busy scribe and Silver both demurred the chance to talk about their ceremony for Variety.
Party pros say it should come as no surprise that showbiz weddings, big or small, exhibit more flair than your average festivities. Industryites are used to lavish productions at work and on the social circuit. Many are invited to soirees nearly every night of the week.
This is, after all, a business accustomed to multimillion-dollar movie premieres aboard aircraft carriers (“Pearl Harbor,” anyone?).
“They’ve been around, they know how to do it right with all of the premieres, awards shows and after-parties,” says Billy Butchkavitz, the party planner who oversees HBO’s high-gloss affairs and has also devised weddings for some of the cabler’s execs. “With their menu choices and everything, they’re a lot more sophisticated because they’ve seen the best.”
However, these spiffed-up nuptials can tack on added pressure.
“After going to these beautiful, star-studded events, it does raise your expectations on what you think a party should be like,” says Ronni Coburn, HBO’s director of talent relations, who married Richard Basis, a television marketing exec, in March.
Couples must first decide on the right location — should it be a faraway destination, luxe hotel nearby or a more exotic location such as Union Station or the Self-Realization Fellowship? Perhaps Steven Spielberg or Marcy Carsey will turn their estate into wedding grounds, as Carsey did for Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston when they tied the knot.
Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards relied on the help of fellow showbizzers Gary David Goldberg (the “Spin City” producer lent his Brentwood estate) and choreographer Debbie Allen (dance lessons) for their 2002 nuptials.
Coburn and Basis opted for the Peninsula hotel. Their nuptials, planned by Butchkavitz, had all the trappings of a Hollywood production. The colors (amber and burnt orange) were chosen to match the redheaded bride’s locks, and Butchkavitz designed the chair covers out of antique satin to match Coburn’s 1930s-style dress.
The all-important centerpieces aren’t just flower arrangements anymore, either. They’re often artistic feats from master florists such as Mark Held of Mark’s Garden, who supplies blooms for the Governors Ball and other gala events.
Even wedding favors tend to reach new heights.
Though confidentiality agreements prevent him from naming names, Cowie recalls one wedding where photographs were snapped of each guest as they entered the party, and by the time the reception had ended, that picture was placed in a sterling silver frame and waiting for the guest in his or her car, thanks to professional-quality printers brought onsite.
And the invitations — which can cost thousands of dollars from prestige stationers like Creative Intelligence — are always a concern, especially in a town where the guest list is usually wrapped up in politics.
Cruise Wagner production exec Darren Miller and his publicist bride, Carri McClure, decided to plan two separate do’s — a family-centric ceremony in McClure’s hometown followed a few months later by an apres-wedding reception at the estate of screenwriter and friend Robert Towne, this time with hundreds of revelers.
McClure and Miller decided to have their post-wedding party to keep all of the right revelers in the mix, while leaving the actual ceremony more private.
“We wanted to involve people who are part of our lives here, like my fiance’s bosses and my clients, our friends down here and co-workers,” says the former PMK/HBH publicist who recently started her own shingle, McClure & Associates.
David Kopple, a motion picture literary agent at the Gersh Agency, and Robin Herman, a wardrobe stylist at E! Entertainment, also decided upon a more intimate affair for their May nuptials at the Brentwood home of Kopple’s parents. Which is not to say they skimped on details.
“We resisted the temptation to do the big hotel wedding with all of the friends in the business,” Kopple says. “We wanted to do in a very intimate environment, in the house that I grew up in, because we’d both been to a lot of weddings where you just don’t feel any connection.”
Still, as elaborate and multi-layered as industry weddings have become, the most difficult part of planning has nothing to do with flowers or paper or china.
As Kopple explains, “Actually having a private life and being gone for two weeks — that’s hard.”