Exclusive interview with Preston Bailey, Hollywood's most sought-after wedding designer
05 SEPTEMBER 2013Preston Bailey has created some of Hollywood's most extravagant weddings, from Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner's multi-million ceremony, to Sean Parker and Alexandra Lenas' dramatic celebration.
The wedding planner to the stars has taken time out of his busy schedule to chat exclusively to HELLO! Online about his whirlwind experiences.
Preston talks to us about Ivanka on her big day, his challenge of creating a Lord of the Rings-themed wedding, and what Joan Rivers was like as an officiator at his own nuptials.
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Your wedding designs have often been called "over-the-top". Would you say that's accurate?
"Yes, why not? If you look at the generosity of Mother Nature, she is 'over-the-top' as well. Think of the lush rainforests, the top of a mountain, fields of flowers or Central Park in the different seasons. One can be overwhelmed and in awe when taking in her work. Why would I not want to give my guests something as close to that feeling as possible?"
What was planning Ivanka Trump's wedding like?
"Ivanka is a class act with a very clear sense of who she is, and the direction she wanted to take. She was very hands-on with her vision which was to have a classic yet dramatic wedding. I will add that, she was a beautiful bride."
You recently oversaw Sean Parker's wedding. What was your biggest challenge in adhering to the Lord of the Rings theme?
"This was truly one of the most exciting jobs I have ever had the pleasure of doing. My love of Mother Nature is well documented and to have the opportunity to work in a location surrounded by the natural abundance she offered was a dream come true."
What's the most unusual request you've had from your wedding clients?
"We once created a completely over-the-top design for a grand ballroom and hired a 30-piece orchestra, a top chef and other lovely extras. The only guests were the bride and groom."
As a wedding planner, did this mean you made all the major decisions about your own special day? How involved was your partner in the decision-making?
"My husband, Theo Bleckmann, is also an artist — a musician — and he was a great partner and sounding board in every decision of our wedding. It was he who designed the playful 'Save The Dates' and our invitations."
What was the theme of your wedding and how did you choose it?
"We married at the top of the Empire State Building and decided to pay homage to one of our favourite classic films, King Kong. We chose to have fun and designed a humorous giant floral 'Kong' and placed it at the entrance where guests could enjoy it right upon entering the event. Our ceremony took place at midnight on Valentine's Day, which was appropriate as our real theme was love."
What was Joan Rivers like as an officiator?
"Joan is a cherished and dear friend to both Theo and myself. Before New York legalised gay marriage, we had mentioned our engagement to Joan who generously offered us use of her estate in Connecticut as a wedding location since our marriage would be deemed legal there. When gay marriage was legalised in New York, we thought her to be the perfect person to marry us. We loved the good humour she brought to our wedding."
What was the most memorable part of your wedding day?
"At midnight, there was the sound of 12 gongs — it gave me chills. I can still recall the excitement I felt as I made a lifelong commitment to Theo. It was a perfect feeling and it still is."
How do you feel after you finish working on a wedding?
"It really depends. I am very focused on doing it all for my clients, so when everything goes well, I feel like a million dollars. Thank God that experience has allowed me to experience this more often than not."
Have you had anything go wrong in the run-up to the big day?
"Have you ever heard the expression, 'If you make enough mistakes you might become an expert?' That is very much the case in my situation."
Do you get emotionally attached to the brides you work with?
"Yes, yes and yes! In fact, I have remained friends with quite a few of them."
Have you ever been star-struck at one of the weddings you've been to?
"I am not ashamed to admit that I was star struck the first time I met Oprah — what a wonderful and inspiring woman."