Happily Ever After

By Dan Avery

Originally published on Advocate.com October 28 2008 12:00 AM ET

With Proposition
8, which would eliminate same-sex marriage
rights, coming to a voting booth near you in
California, heterosexuals will be sticking their noses
into gay marriage. Of course, gays have been meddling
in straight weddings for centuries. Just ask David
Tutera, the out event planner who’s whipped up
hundreds of glamorous weddings and star-studded
soirees, including affairs for J. Lo, Elton John, the
Rolling Stones, Al Gore, and Matthew McConaughey. But
David’s new reality series, My Fair Wedding,
takes him away from his usual A-list clientele as he tries
to rescue everyday brides on the brink of disaster.
(Well, what would you call Pepto-Bismol-colored
bridesmaid dresses, artificial flowers, and
glow-in-the-dark ice cubes?)

In each episode
David and his team transform nightmare nuptials into a
dream wedding, changing the food, the decorations, the venue
... even the gown. “My philosophy is that the
wedding is a story starring the bride and
groom,” David says. “I could come up with
something I think is fabulous, but it has to have an
emotional connection to the couple. I have to give
them what they want but maybe can’t visualize or have
the budget for.” David chatted with
Advocate.com about the show’s bridal makeovers,
his own dream wedding, and why gays should be throwing the
bouquet.

Advocate.com:One of the celebrity events you worked
on was Star Jones’s wedding. Was that a nightmare
or what?
David Tutera: For me, it was basically just another
wedding. The issue came with dealing with all the
paparazzi. Star had the ceremony in St. Bart’s
and a party at the Waldorf, which was very nice. I’d
done parties for her in the Hamptons and I’d
been on The View a lot, so I knew what she wanted.
And she got everything she wanted -- and more. The
brutal word we heard a lot was
“sponsorship.” The bottom line is ,most brides
tell their girlfriends and family members all the
details of their reception. Star just happened to do
it on national television.

What was your take on Al Reynolds? My take on Al ... is probably the same as
everyone else’s. [And] the poor guy went from
being just another private person to being thrown into this
huge media spotlight the whole time they were married. He
was like a deer in headlights.

Star definitely knew what she wanted, but what
about the brides on
My Fair Wedding? How do they handle finding out you’re
changing everything?
It’s definitely a shock for them.
They’ve thought about this day forever, and
now, three weeks before the wedding, this total stranger is
rewriting the script. But these brides have no budget
and no ability to tell good taste from bad. They
don’t realize they’re going down a disaster
path. They think we’re gonna alter something
small here or there. Actually, I’m going to get
rid of your wedding dress, show you four new options, and
you won’t know which you’re going to wear
until the day of the wedding.

I would be kicking and screaming the whole time.
How do you get them to go along with it?
Honestly, I think they’re so stunned that
I’m able to just swoop in start making changes
before they come to their senses. If there was any more
time, they’d be more resistant.

 DAVID TUTERA X100 (WE TV) | ADVOCATE.COM

Who was the biggest Bridezilla? Every one of the brides had, let’s say, a
unique perspective. One acted like Marilyn Monroe all
the time. Full makeup, hair, clothes -- the works. And
she was a real pinup type covered with tattoos. She wanted
to do "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend." but in a
fire station with plastic plates. I finally got one
bride to not wear this giant dress with a ton of
tulle, but when I saw her go down the aisle, she was
wearing flip-flops.

Was there a common thread to the brides’ mistakes? They all shopped online. Some only did it online
without going into a single bridal shop or a florist.
One woman bought her dress on eBay and it came in a
garbage bag. Bayyina, from episode 6, told me she’d
never set foot inside the wedding venue before I went
with her to look at it. Don’t plan your wedding
online! Do the legwork.

I watched the first two episodes and some of the
bride’s choices were just mind-boggling, like the
Little Bo Peep dresses. How did you keep from just
running away in horror?
Once again it was a question of time. Three
weeks is nothing, so there was no time for me to throw
a fit. I just had to see what they had put together
and start coming up with alternatives right away. But there
were plenty of times I did feel like screaming.

Will we see a gay ceremony as part of My Fair Wedding? Not this season, but I’d love to do one
if we get renewed. I bet the grooms would be more
trouble than the brides we’ve had!

Speaking of gay weddings, there was a bit of a
scandal a while back about Disney not allowing same-sex
ceremonies at Disney World. Did that affect your
relationship with the company?
Honestly, it was mostly something generated by
the press. I had gone on TV to talk about the Disney
Couture Wedding packages I’ve designed. And
some people said they thought it was wrong for a gay man to
plan weddings at Disney World when gays
couldn’t have ceremonies there. So I talked
about it with Disney, and they had some internal discussions
and decided to approve same-sex celebrations at Disney
World. I was very happy that I had some small part in
changing that.

Does the wedding industry itself do enough to
acknowledge gay weddings and commitment ceremonies?
It’s changing slowly. Certainly in places
like New York and California, the industry is aware of
gays getting married, and even a separate industry is
emerging that caters specifically to gay couples. But it
should be a lot more and it should be nationwide. I mean,
it’s smart business -- our money is just as
good as straight people’s.

 DAVID TUTERA X100 (WE TV) | ADVOCATE.COM

What’s your take on the various initiatives
threatening to ban gay marriage, like Prop. 8 in
California and Prop. 2 in Florida?
Well, I’m not usually a political person,
but I think marriage is a wonderful institution that
should be available to everyone, straight or gay. No
one’s telling people they have to accept it or have
it in their church. But it’s a basic right.

Are you married? My partner and I got married in Vermont five
years ago. We’ve been together for 10. It was a
great little black-tie ceremony with 120 people. But
it made me have a new appreciation for planning a ceremony.
It’s a lot more stressful when it’s your own
wedding.

Gay weddings are still a relatively new phenomenon.
How do we create our own traditions?
I’ve done lots of gay weddings and
ceremonies, and I think sometimes we try to hard to
make our ceremonies unique. Everyone wants their wedding
to be special, but I don’t understand why people
think gay weddings should be in this separate
category. To me that’s saying we’re not the
same or we’re not acceptable. Why can’t we go
down the traditional road, with the Wedding March and
the whole nine yards? The only difference in a gay
wedding should be the fashions.

Any words of advice for gay couples planning to say
"I do"?
Don’t fixate on whether Aunt Gertrude or
someone is going to be uncomfortable with it being a
gay wedding. If you pull the reins back or worry, it
becomes contagious. And then everyone gets uncomfortable.
It’s your day -- just do what would make you
happy.

If you could plan any gay celebrity wedding, who
would it be -- Clay Aiken? Neil Patrick Harris?
Actually, I’d love to plan Lindsay Lohan
and Samantha Ronson's wedding.

My Fair Wedding
airs on WE TV Sundays at 10 p.m.