Whenever David Tutera speaks at a bridal show, no matter where he is in the world, he typically likes to open his presentation with humor.
He’ll ask the room full of eager brides- and grooms-to-be and their families what one word comes to mind when they think of weddings. People will call out words like “gown,” “cake” and “budget.”
“No one says the word ‘love,'” said Tutera, an event planner known for numerous wedding reality TV shows and his celebrity clientele.
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This usually makes the room chuckle, he continued, and serves as a bit of a reality check as to why the audience is there.
Tutera will be reminding couples attending the Columbus Weddings Show on Jan. 15-16 that their event should be centered on their love.
“I want all couples preparing to wed, whether it’s far in the future or soon, to take a deep breath and remind themselves why they’re in this position — they’re in love, getting married and they’re celebrating that,” said Tutera, who lives in Malibu, California, with his husband Joey and their two young daughters. “All the other stuff will fall into place.”
The celebrity wedding planner, who has headlined the event at the Ohio Expo Center in the past, will give his inspirational talk and answer questions both days at 2:15 p.m. (Attendees can add a VIP meet-and-greet experience for $25.)
He’ll have tips for every step of the planning process, from selecting the right dress silhouette to managing guest lists and how to navigate a wedding during a pandemic.
Ahead of this weekend’s event at the fairgrounds, Tutera spoke to The Dispatch about these topics and more.
Wedding planning Q&A with David Tutera
Question: Since you’re not starring in a TV series right now, what are you working on outside of the events you plan?
Tutera: We’ve been running the David Tutera Experience mentorship program. It’s an online program via Zoom that you join for a year if you’re in the industry as a planner or designer. It’s led by me as a mentor and my husband Joey is a part of it. We cover a different topic every month
Q: How have you helped other event planners, as well as brides and grooms, navigate weddings during a pandemic?
Tutera: I remind them our job is not to push something through, and this goes for clients and planners. When couples start planning, I tell them don’t try to fit this in under the radar … we’re not in a world where if you want a wedding on Sept. 22 that you’ll definitely get that. Be prepared with contingency plans and be sure as a planner, a bride or a groom that those contingencies are in the contracts.
I want couples to feel excited for the big moment. They shouldn’t feel like they got the short end of the stick.
Q: Are there any wedding trends that emerged from the pandemic that you think might stick around?
Tutera: There are some things we’re doing that we should’ve always done pre-COVID … with catering, food would come out of the kitchen, not covered and we’ve been looking at how food is prepared and presented. Putting plexiglass shields in front of buffets — that’s a great way to prevent any virus, like the flu or a cold, from spreading. We’re realizing those things should stay forever.
Q: What about all the smaller weddings?
Tutera: Consumers have to understand prices have gone up. I’m not increasing my rate as a planner, but I have to account for all the vendors who have. If I want to have 200 people, my budget might not allow it. Think of all the people you really want there and still have it be magical and maybe that’s only 100 people.
Q: And smaller weddings aren’t necessarily a bad thing?
Tutera: My wedding was 300 people and when it was over, I turned to Joey and said, ‘Why did we have 300 people?’ It wasn’t a cost issue, but I couldn’t enjoy all 300 people. Intimate ceremonies are more memorable … when I talk about smaller gatherings, I don’t mean 20 people. I’m talking about 50, 75, maybe 100. The less people you have the more of your budget becomes usable.
Your dreams of things you want at your wedding, you might be able to do based on the guest list.
Q: Any other trends you’re seeing going into 2022 and 2023?
Tutera: More creatively trending is that I’m getting a lot of weddings where they want the style to be in the woods but not in the woods. They’re in a ballroom. They want garden, romantic, like it doesn’t feel like you walked straight down the aisle to get married.
Q: What do you like about speaking at bridal shows like the one in Columbus?
Tutera: First of all, I love weddings. It’s my career. What I love about these shows is I hope my intel serves (brides and grooms), and offers them a better way to plan and produce their wedding and bring it to a brilliant place. I hope I help them with their budget. I’m pulling from 30-plus years of experience. I don’t talk about what I’ve done or my celebrity clients. I am there to talk about them.
At a glance
The 2022 Columbus Weddings Show will take place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 15-16, at the Ohio Expo Center, Interstate 71 and East 17th Avenue. Masks are highly recommended. Tickets cost $12 online at www.dispatchshows.com or $15 at the door. Discounts are available for couples or groups attending together. For more information, sisit www.dispatchshows.com.