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Celebrity planner set for Rosewood workshop

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David Tutera with a bride on his new show My Great Big Wedding (Photograph supplied)

Some people might be too threatened to train up their own competition, but not celebrity wedding planner David Tutera.

Next week Mr Tutera, planner for the likes of Elton John, Jennifer Lopez and Nancy Reagan — will be in Bermuda to share business tips with industry professionals from around the world.

“I hope I am creating my competition,” the Los Angeles resident said. “That would be my goal. I’ve been doing this so long why wouldn’t I want someone to step up to the plate and be someone special?”

In the past, he has even hired some of his workshop participants.

The David Tutera Wedding & Event Planning Experience will be held from April 1 to 3 at the Rosewood Bermuda in Hamilton Parish. All 50 spots are already sold out.

“It will be three days of listening, learning and participating,” he said. “They will be walking away with greater experience of themselves, their career and their business.”

It will be his first trip to Bermuda.

“But my whole team has been there doing advance scouting at Rosewood,” he said. “They have been bragging and talking about how fabulous it is.”

Mr Tutera hosted WE TV’s My Fair Wedding: Unveiled for several years, but four weeks ago launched a new show on Lifetime, My Great Big Wedding.

“It is about deserving couples who have been through hardships,” he said. “They deserve to get the wedding of their dreams.”

He fell into event planning by accident, in his home town of Port Chester, New York.

“When I was 19, I left school,” he said. “The plan was I wanted to be a lawyer. Then I decided it was possibly the wrong direction. I took a break from school, and got involved in doing parties accidentally.”

He’d had a bit of experience with them helping his grandfather with his flower shop.

“Someone asked me to direct a bar mitzvah,” he said. “I didn’t even know what one was.”

But things went well and his grandfather helped him open a little store in the area.

Gradually, he began to make a name for himself. His big break came in 1998, when he got a call from The Grammys in Los Angeles, California, asking him to organise an after-party for 3,000 people.

“It was staggering,” he said. “I did that event for three years. I also did the Latin Grammys. I think it was my big break because it proved to the industry that I was not just a little guy on the block trying to be the big guy in the ocean.”

Ten years ago he left New York entirely to base himself and his family in Los Angeles.

At one point, he and his company were doing 60 to 70 weddings a year. Now he has cut back considerably and does about ten a year.

“David Tutera, the business, has a much bigger breadth than just doing the events,” he said. “I speak at symposia. I travel globally as a keynote speaker. I have my television show. I have a very large brand of products that sell internationally online. I am a fashion designer. I could never do all of that if I were doing 65 weddings a year.”

However, he thinks he would get bored just doing weddings, or just doing the television shows. He needs the variety.

One of the biggest changes he has seen in the industry is the rise in social media.

Clients can now use sites such as Pinterest to get ideas for every aspect of their wedding or party. He feels this is both good and bad.

On one hand, it has empowered consumers, on the other, it has created expectations that don’t necessarily match their budget.

“They don’t know how to break down what it costs to dox, y and z,” he said. “Sometimes they are deflated when they find out they can’t afford to do something.”

His advice to people just starting out in the industry is “be real”.

“Surround yourself with great people,” he said. “Allow yourself to grow.”

The Bermuda Tourism Authority is a key sponsor of this event, and are responsible for bringing it to Bermuda.

Planner to the stars: David Tutera, whose clients include Elton John, Jennifer Lopez and Nancy Reagan
David Tutera, left, with a couple on his new show My Great Big Wedding (Photograph supplied)