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Here Come the Experts

Three wedding experts–an award-winning event planner, a fashion designer turned bridal-gown couturier, and a nationally acclaimed master confectioner–lend their advice on planning the wedding of your dreams

Rondeau Lake View cabin, Lake Placid

photograph by John Labbe and courtesty of Lela Rose, Ron Ben-Israel

Preston Bailey

Renowned for his breathtaking weddings, unique floral designs and inspired table settings, Preston Bailey offers his tips for your big day

What are the most important aspects of creating an amazing wedding day?
It’s a combination of many elements: visual, scent, taste, lighting, etc. It’s about tickling the senses. I know I’ve helped create an amazing wedding when the guests do not want to go home.

How do you help brides deal with the multiple opinions coming from everyone in their lives?
Being a planner, designer, and florist takes some strong diplomatic skills; you have to be somewhat of a politician.  I am able to navigate a design that makes everyone happy. If the mother likes pink and the bride likes white, one might suggest
pink cocktails served during a white wedding. That said, it is best to defend the bride’s point of view above any others. During a bridal consultation, what should be considered first? Create a realistic budget with realistic expectations. It’s not uncommon that new brides approach wedding planning without a clear understanding of how much things cost. If you find that you cannot have it all, invest your money in the things that are most important to you—which in my opinion is décor.

What wedding was the most memorable for you, and what elements made it extra special?
It was Ivanka Trump’s wedding because of her understanding of how classic and original statement pieces blend together beautifully.

How can a bride make her wedding unique?
Do not worry about following trends. This is the one day that you get to define your taste. Just make sure to stay true to yourself and your vision to experience exactly what you want. Knowing who you are and what you want is the first step in making it unique.

What is your dream wedding? Usually the one I am currently planning. I like working in the moment.

Final words of advice for planning a wedding? It is essential that you hire the right people, tell them what you want, and then relax on the day of your wedding and let them do their jobs. I have seen too many brides try to control every moment of the day and that results in them forgetting to enjoy it!

Lela Rose

Ready-to-wear fashion and wedding-gown designer Lela Rose, on her bridal collection and finding the perfect dress

How would you describe the Lela Rose bride? She is confident, independent, sophisticated, and wants something unique that she hasn’t seen everywhere.

How is designing for brides and bridesmaids different from designing an everyday line for women?
Our bridal customer is purchasing the biggest dress of her lifetime to date—the pressure from a design perspective is much more intense than a dress for a cocktail party. Bridesmaid dresses are versions of our ready-to-wear collection; dresses that flatter many different body shapes and sizes and also are comfortable to be in all evening. In addition, you don’t want to outshine the bride on her big day, so bridesmaids dresses are more about color and fabulous fit.

What do you consider to be your bridal signature? We have been dubbed as the “organic couture” bridal collection, but I would also describe it as “simple elegance.” Our fabrics are made with natural fibers and don’t have that artificial shine that you see in many wedding dress collections. In addition, the embroideries we use focus on hand-crafted, rather than opulent, beading. We use pleated tulle, double-faced silk crepe, guipure lace and silk cotton faille.

What is your favorite style of bridal gown? I love a wide, off-the-shoulder V-neck, as it evokes ’50s glamour and helps highlight the neck and shoulder.

Where do you see bridal trends going in the near future? I think brides are more open to being a bit less traditional, making room for designers to be creative with silhouette, fabrics—and even show some color for the big day.

What advice would you give to a bride when she is looking for her wedding day style? When choosing your dress, consider the location of your wedding and how formal it is. On your wedding day, focus on being the most glamorous version of you. That way you won’t look like every other bride.

What’s the most common mistake made when choosing a wedding dress? Trying to please your friends and family. Just worry about pleasing yourself!

Ron Ben-Israel

As one of the country’s finest confectionary artists, Chef Ron Ben-Israel shares his advice on selecting your wedding cake

What are the most important components of a wedding cake?
The structure, which I call “the silhouette.” Determining how the cake will be seen in the room is crucial, and this is where we consider size, shape and placement. Next comes the execution. I continuously strive for fine craftsmanship, and feel that the cake should be as perfect as the wedding dress. And most importantly, the cake has to be fresh and delicious. There is no substitute to visiting the bakery and tasting the options offered. Let your taste buds be your guide.
How can you make the grooms’ cake stand apart? I like to surprise and amuse both the groom and the guests by incorporating his habits and hobbies in a humorous way. For instance, for a football enthusiast we would place a huge football-shaped cake on a crumpled football jersey made out of frosting. Or for a penny-pinching groom, we would replicate his favorite pair of sneakers with a penny stuck in icing chewing gum on the sole.

How many tiers should the cake have? I always like to have enough cake to feed every guest and create an impressive presentation at the reception site. Every baker has their own proportions, but in my case I think that taller is better.

Have you ever had a cake disaster? I’m such a paranoid perfectionist that I think in advance about what could go wrong. At the bakery we have double the equipment just in case something breaks. Even though we have never had a major disaster, there are always extra sugar decorations and icing to save the day.

What do you think about the dessert trends that are happening right now?
I feel that dessert buffets are on the way out. Enough with quantity over substance. Guests appreciate a quality dessert and cake over a table laden with too many options. I also think the cupcake trend is childish and amateurish. Cupcakes don’t require much expertise to make, and I don’t see them enhancing the reception. But cupcakes are fun as a giveaway on the way out—who doesn’t like cake for breakfast the next day?

What’s your best advice for the wedding day? Simply enjoy. Make all the plans and decisions in advance, and then let go and party.

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