13 Wedding Secrets Celebrity Planners Really Want You to Know

#3 is *literally* genius.
sarah hanlon entertainment and celebrity editor the knot
Sarah Hanlon
sarah hanlon entertainment and celebrity editor the knot
Sarah Hanlon
Entertainment & Celebrity Editor
  • Sarah is the Entertainment & Celebrity Editor for The Knot, with special focuses on pop culture and celebrity wedding news.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Sarah was a contributing writer for Bravo at NBC Universal.
  • Sarah has a degree in journalism and resides in New York City.
Updated Jun 29, 2023

There's nothing quite as captivating as a luxurious celebrity wedding. When stars get married on a global platform, it's hard not to be consumed by every single detail, from the venue to the fashion and even the food. (Remember when Sofia Richie's wedding literally took over the internet for months? We won't ever forget.) As we watch these highly-anticipated nuptials play out on Instagram Stories and TikTok videos, we can't help but wish we had a behind-the-scenes look into the nitty gritty details, and we'll bet you feel the same. Whether you're also planning your big day or you just love analyzing famous nuptials, curiosity strikes all of us—and that's why we've tapped a handful of celebrity wedding planners to give us the insider industry scoop we know you're craving.

We've asked three celebrity wedding planners to tell us the biggest secrets they wish all couples knew… and their hot takes might surprise you. Read on to learn the best wedding planning hacks from these industry mavens, and take note of their top tips for when your big day rolls around.

Meet the Celebrity Wedding Planners

  • Mikie Russo is the founder of Michael Russo Events, a full-service event planning company based in New York, California and Florida. He's planned weddings for countless high-profile celebrity couples, including Kevin and Danielle Jonas, Rachel Lindsay and Bryan Abasolo, Ross Mathews and Wellinthon García, Joey Fatone and Kelly Baldwin, and Robert and Kym Herjavec.
  • Lisa Lafferty began her career as an in-demand luxury caterer in Beverly Hills. She launched her full-service event planning company Lisa Lafferty Events in 2018, and her celebrity wedding clients include Selling Sunset's Christine Quinn and NFL Super Bowl champion Sebastian Joseph-Day.
  • Manda Worthington is the founder and CEO of Mae&Co. Creative, a luxury event design and production agency specializing in destination weddings. She planned the recent destination wedding of fitness influencer and internet star Whitney Simmons.

    Stay calm. Seriously.

    In the words of Luann de Lesseps: Be cool. Don't be all, like, uncool. You've probably heard this plenty of times, but Mikie Russo maintains that it's the number one piece of advice he gives to all his clients. "At the end of every single one of my weddings, whether it's a celebrity wedding or not, my clients all say the same thing," he tells us. "They're like, 'I don't know why I was so nervous. I don't know why I stressed out so much.' And I'm like, 'I know, I've been telling you this the whole time!'"

    To stay calm on what very well may be the most anticipated day of your life, Russo encourages couples to prioritize mindfulness and be intentional about taking time to soak up every moment. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime situation, and most people don't enjoy the process. Really try to enjoy every moment you can," he urges. If you do find your emotions getting the best of you, either on the wedding day itself or throughout the planning process, give yourself grace. "The emotion of getting married is such unfamiliar territory to most people, and it can manifest in many different ways. People don't know why they feel so 'crazy,' but it's just because they're so unfamiliar with what they're feeling."

    Reconsider the favors.

    Here's the truth: Wedding favors aren't always required. In fact, they're one of the first things you can get rid of the moment your budget starts getting a little tight. "A great solution for couples that want to achieve a lavish look without breaking the budget is to reprioritize spending and cut out things that will have less of an impact," says Lisa Lafferty. "One way to do this is to skip the party favors. After a long night of dancing and celebrating, the last thing guests will want is a trinket that they will either throw away or forget to bring home in the first place. Instead, opt for something customized that can be enjoyed at the wedding, such as a signature cocktail or after-hours hors d'oeuvres."

    Do a half-dressed first look.

    First looks are a great way to maximize your time taking formal photos before the party and to get some private time with your fiancé. But if you're not sold on spoiling the full excitement of your walk down the aisle, Russo has a clever way to make both moments special. "I always tell my couples not to accessorize fully [for their first look]," he shares. "So, for a bride, I would say don't wear don't wear your veil, don't carry flowers. Just walk out in your dress. Because when you does walk down the aisle, it's a different feeling."

    Plus, if you think you'll have a case of the prewedding jitters, Russo says that having a first look can do wonders for calming your nerves. "The reason why I really love for couples to do a first look is because they're so nervous throughout the whole process, and the build-up is that first time they see each other," he explains. "Doing a first look takes off the anxiousness and the nervousness of the day. Once that's done, they enjoy the whole day far more."

    Be open to trimming your guest list.

    Let's say you've been swooning over Paris Hilton's wedding since the first photos dropped in 2021. (Same, tbh.) While you might not be working with the same budget, you can certainly achieve a similar luxurious look for your own celebration. In order to make it feasible, though, get creative with budget cuts. "Extravagance is not something you can do halfway," Manda Worthington notes. "While you can focus on certain aspects to the design of your day to be more extravagant, this will still be hard to do on a budget. If you want to have a lavishly designed wedding but you need to stick to a certain budget, lower your guest count. Any budget goes a lot further with only 50 guests than with 200 guests, for example. This is the most efficient way to get the look you want."

    Avoid copying a celebrity's wedding.

    Sure, we all loved Sofia Richie's quiet luxury soirée and Simone Biles' beachy destination wedding—but copying another person's event will put you on the fast track to disappointment. "I always feel like you really shouldn't model your event based on someone else's, because then it's someone else's event. It's not your event," Russo warns. "Focus on the things that bring you as a couple excitement and joy. When you incorporate those elements into your wedding, that's when it becomes very specific and personal to you."

    That said, you can definitely be *inspired* by your favorite celebrity nuptials. After all, it's common for elements from celeb weddings to trickle down and become mainstream trends. Just be sure to infuse your big day with special details that make it uniquely your own.

    Rethink your idea of luxury.

    So, you want a celebrity-style luxury wedding? Rethink what "luxury" means to you. While a private Italian villa or a 10-course reception dinner may not be in the cards, there are so many other ways you can elevate your event and make it one your guests won't ever forget. "Luxury elements can be found in plain sight, and don't always have to be over the top," Lafferty explains. "Custom drinks, centerpieces and interactive guest experiences can easily transform a wedding from traditional to extravagant and memorable."

    Do your homework.

    One of the best ways to protect your peace throughout your wedding planning journey is to set yourself up for success from the very beginning. Worthington tells us that it's critical to do your homework ahead of time to make a fair budget and to manage your expectations. "Do some serious digging to understand costs and set yourself up with realistic expectations in regards to the costs of weddings," she says. (Psst: We've got a handy budget breakdown cheat sheet for you.) "You can have a stunning day with any budget, but understanding how that relates to your guest count and the vendors you are able to bring on will be huge."

    Keep a prompt timeline.

    Fact: Guests love a wedding that runs on time. One of the easiest ways to lose their excitement and attention is to pack the day with too many events or have lengthy breaks in between activities. "Be conscientious when scheduling the wedding," Lafferty suggests. "Many couples plan a very long day for their wedding, leaving the guests on-site for hours and hours, which can be exhausting. Keep it to a maximum of six hours, otherwise, it can feel stale."

    If you do find yourself strapped for time, Lafferty says, it's okay to get rid of "traditional" wedding moments so as to not break the flow of the day. "If there is a tighter timeline at your wedding venue, opt to not announce certain activities, such as the cake cutting," she notes. "This is a great way for couples to quickly get a few photos without breaking up the vibe of dancing and partying."

    Hire an emcee.

    Is an emcee part of your vendor list? If not, it might be time to start looking. "Always hire an emcee," Lafferty recommends. "An emcee should be energetic, entertaining, and can help guide all of the speeches and performances in a thoughtful way." If you've already booked your entertainment, don't panic: "Some live bands and DJs also offer this service via singer or add-on."

    Focus on the vibes.

    The concept of a "wedding vibe" has taken the internet by storm this year, and it goes far beyond picking a theme or a color palette. Committing to a wedding vibe will inspire you to think about all elements of your day in a cohesive way, including the color scheme, the decor and even the smell. Being intentional about curating a thoughtful aesthetic woven throughout every element, from the stationery to the cutlery, will really wow your loved ones. "Create memorable moments that wow guests through visual elements such as floral installations, mixed media tunnels, and ceiling installations," Lafferty says. "These can leave guests wanting to take pictures and videos because of how incredibly gorgeous they are!"

    Don't put others' wishes above your own.

    One of the biggest mistakes Worthington sees couples make is that they're "trying too hard to please everyone else," which she says is the number one faux pas to avoid. "Your wedding day is literally supposed to be a day to celebrate you, which means it should be exactly what you want—not your grandma, or your uncle, or your best friend."

    Even though weddings are steeped in tradition, you should feel empowered to rewrite the rules that don't fit your vibe. "If you don't like cake, get rid of it. If you don't want to walk down an aisle, get rid of it," she recommends. "Weddings are parties to celebrate the union of you and your partner, so whatever you want to do is what you should make happen."

    Plan beyond the dance floor.

    Guests love to break out their best moves once the party starts, but there are so many additional ways you can keep them engaged throughout the evening. "Giving guests more than just a dance floor and a sit-down dinner is a must when it comes to elevating your wedding," Lafferty urges. "Couples can bring in elements such as live custom portraits, celebrity entertainment and more."

    According to Lafferty, even something as minuscule as experimenting with the names of your cocktails or dinner menus will surprise and delight attendees. "I encourage my clients to have fun and get creative with naming the food and beverages featured at their weddings," she adds. "Thought-out, curated menus that reflect the couple are an easy and effective way to create simple luxury."

    Please, hire a planner.

    There's one wedding tip all three of these celebrity wedding planners agree on, and it's not exactly a secret: You should be working with a planner. "If it's in your budget, a wedding planner should be a non-negotiable," Worthington says. "Not only will it save you stress, it will save you time and money, and probably relationships. People really underestimate how valuable a good wedding planner is."

    To that point, Russo says that a lot of his work as a wedding planner happens behind the scenes. "I feel like 90% of my job is mediating everything," he says with a laugh. "There are a lot of moving parts, so when there's a neutral person involved—who truly just wants to have a beautiful day for everyone involved— it makes the planning easier. Couples know that there's someone who has their best interests at heart."

    Plus, when you hire a pro who truly understands your vision, Lafferty says you'll have the ultimate hype person cheering you on when the big day arrives. "Planners help guide couples along the way, and can in turn save time and sometimes even money," she reflects. "I want all of my clients to have the wedding of their dreams, regardless of how much it strays from tradition."

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