When holy matrimony becomes a production
Pity the wedding planners of Los Angeles, who face new battles every awards season.
“Our clients want the same thing they saw at their company’s Emmy party,” says Caravents owner Cara Kleinhaut.
Wedding planning is a fiercely competitive industry, but movie premieres, nightclub openings and product launches also use the same hotels, restaurants and private estates; they often have the same budgets and audiences. And they have the same goals: Be spectacular, memorable and — most of all — unique.
What to do? If you can’t beat them, join them.
From prop houses to lighting crews, planners are turning to Hollywood for guidance and inspiration.
“It’s not all about one table for the bride and groom, white tablecloths and a dance floor anymore,” says Kleinhaut. “These couples want their guests to be served signature drinks and feel like they’re hanging out at the Tropicana bar.”
She cites the lounge look as a current trend that surrounds the couple’s guests with white tufted couches, shag rugs and Lucite tables — a look not unlike an early incarnation of Privilege.
“People want to create their own atmosphere, to make their dreams come true,” says event planner Mindy Weiss, whose wedding clients have included Kate Beckinsale, Steve Wynn, Gwen Stefani and Sting. “Some people consider us over the top, but I think we know when to stop.”
However, one bride’s bridge too far may be another’s fairytale setting. Weiss recently transformed the Beverly Hills Hotel’s Crystal Ballroom with thousands of flowers, trumpeters announcing guest arrivals and a 10-piece orchestra. “People didn’t even know where they were,” she says. “It was like ‘Cinderella.’ ”
Almost. “Cinderella,” the 1950 animated movie, had a budget of $2.9 million; budget for the Cinderella wedding, $2 million.
Hollywood glamour has also given a new lease on life to the venerable 20th Century Props in North Hollywood. Three years ago, owner Harvey Schwartz remained wholly devoted to the film and TV industries. Today, his “events division” accounts for a third of his business.
Schwartz says white furniture is very popular for the nightclub-themed wedding party, but old Hollywood is in even higher demand.
“Everyone wants our five-foot silver and gold Art Deco angels on the weekend,” he says. “We’ll drop them off for an event on Friday, pick them up for a Saturday event and do it again on Sunday.”
Marley Majcher, owner of catering and event planning company the Party Goddess, says there’s benefits even if the guests don’t know the cinematic history. “The bride won’t come to me and say she wants the couch from ‘Legally Blonde,’ but when I tell her where it’s from, she’s thrilled.”
And if you want a really great performance, get an actor. Veteran thesp Norman Lloyd, seen most recently as Cameron Diaz’s poetry-loving professor in the Fox 2000 pic “In Her Shoes,” has made a small reputation as a first-class officiant (with the Universal Life Church’s blessing). Although born in Jersey City, he has the locution of Alec Guinness.
“As a ham actor, I inject it with emotion and feeling, but something happens when I think about what (the words) really mean,” says Lloyd, who celebrates his own 70th wedding anniversary June 29. “Certain things fall away and others remain. Love is one of them.”
Let them eat (good) cake
Wedding cakes shouldn’t just look good enough to eat, so we sliced through L.A. bakeries to find triple tiers both edible and photogenic. Going to the chapel? Order quickly; most require a month’s notice.
|SweetCake||Susina Bakery||Sweet Lady Jane|
|With a graphic arts and pastry background, chef Darby Aldaco creates edible artworks with handmade, personalized decorations and whimsical cake toppers, including a Day of the Dead bride and groom.
Popular pick: Carrot cake with pineapple, raisins and nuts
Our favorite: Triple chocolate: chocolate shortbread crust, chocolate sour cream cake, bittersweet honey chocolate mousse, ganache and bittersweet chocolate shards
Cost: $6-$7.50 a slice
5825 W. Sunset Blvd.
|Cakes so delicate (think fresh whipped cream and mousse icing) that they’re delivered no earlier than one hour before cutting.
Popular pick: Berry Blossom — three layers of vanilla sponge cake filled with white chocolate mousse and fresh berries
Our favorite: St. Honore. This traditional European celebration cake is made from puff pastry with layers of pastry cream, chocolate mousse and whipped cream, topped with profiteroles.
Cost: 7-inch rounds ($25); 17-inch rounds ($150)
7122 Beverly Blvd.
|Jane Lockhart will surely tell you that she did one of J. Lo’s wedding cakes. What’s the attraction? Not-too-sweet icing.
Popular pick: Triple-berry shortcake
Our favorite: Vanilla cake with dulce de leche filling and icing
Cost: $6.75 per person and up
8360 Melrose Ave.
|Cake Divas||Leda’s Bake Shop|
|Joan Spitler and Leigh Grode will make anything you want, including your mom’s favorite recipe. Decorations veer from traditional to theatrical.
Popular pick: Marble cake with a thin ganache layered with light chocolate mousse
Our favorite: Lemon cake with lemon curd and passionfruit mousse
Cost: $6.50 per person and up
9626 Venice Blvd.
|Ledette Gambini specializes in mini cupcakes made with organic, all-natural ingredients, with a thin layer of filling between cake and icing. All cupcakes also can be made as tiered cakes.
Popular pick: Devil’s food cupcake with peanut butter ganache and peanut butter buttercream
Our favorite: Carrot with blood orange curd and marscapone buttercream frosting
Cost: $1.50 for each mini cupcakes; $5 per person
13722 Ventura Blvd