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Happily Ever

Happily Ever


On the eve of Californians' voting on Prop. 8, which would eliminate same-sex marriage, wedding planner David Tutera saves the day for straight couples on WE TV's new series My Fair Wedding. Tutera is the out wedding planner behind star-studded soirees for stars including J. Lo, Al Gore, and Matthew McConaughey.

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 about the show's bridal makeovers, his own dream wedding, and why gays should be throwing the bouquet. 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 onMy 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.

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.

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.

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