After a year of planning and $10,000 spent, Shelby Ellis and Matthew Ikeda of Orange had almost everything picked out for their wedding, including a historical landmark wedding location, dozens of handmade table centerpieces and the wedding gown.
But a phone call they got just weeks before their planned Nov. 14 wedding made them toss aside all of their plans and purchases. They even changed their wedding date.
On the phone that day was celebrity wedding planner David Tutera, host of the primetime show “My Fair Wedding” on WE TV.
Tutera asked Ellis and Ikeda to let him take the reins of their wedding plans with all expenses to be paid by the network. The catch? The couple had to give up control of their wedding, allow their nuptials to be televised on his show and accept that they would not see until the day of the event any of Tutera’s revisions, including the gown, wedding location and the menu.
“I agreed in a heartbeat,” said Ellis, 24, a freelance graphic artist. “I mean, this is the premier wedding planner David Tutera — what bride in her right mind would say no?” Though that call was a surprise, it wasn’t out of the blue: Ellis had submitted an application months earlier to appear on the show. A huge fan of the reality show, Ellis was impressed by Tutera’s ability to tackle brides’ often-outlandish ideas and transform them into weddings beyond their imaginations.
Not that Ellis thought her “passport to Africa”-themed wedding was outlandish. She had spent more than a year incorporating zebra prints and tropical accents into everything from the invitations to the table settings to the zebra-print bridesmaids’ dresses.
Tutera had other ideas, starting with moving their wedding date up by two weeks to Oct. 29. He also let the couple know that their wedding would not be held at their original location. Instead their wedding would be at a private estate in Silverado. The elegant site has an ecological garden and a zoo home to dozens of wild animals including — you guessed it — zebras.
“My goal always is to make all of my girls’ wedding dreams come true,” said Tutera. “What I want all of my brides to remember is to never stop dreaming and to always dream bigger.”
On the day of their wedding, the couple discovered their fantasy had become a reality after the show’s producers removed the blindfolds that had been placed over their eyes and revealed the ceremony site: a lush garden in the backyard of an estate filled with thousands of tropical flowers, billowing greenery and hundreds of candles dangling from the surrounding trees. “Every detail of our wedding took our breaths away,” Ellis said. “It was more than I ever imagined, but still everything that I had hoped for on our wedding day.”
— Kim Kabar, Custom Publishing Writer