How to Throw a Wedding Like A Celebrity (Even on a Budget)
Attainable ideas for the couple that wants to keep it real.
Updated Jun 24, 2019 6:35 PM
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If fame and fortune will get you anything, a knockout wedding is certainly it. Call them what you want—over-the-top, unnecessarily outrageous, excessively stupendous—but celebrity weddings are more than just star-studded affairs with big-name bank accounts behind them. Okay, so, Kanye and Kim’s two-week Italian extravaganza (which, if you didn’t know, included a private tour and carriage ride through Versaille, a custom Givenchy Haute Couture gown, and a lavish pre-wedding dinner with guests like Serena Williams and Andre Leon Talley in attendance) is what we all imagine an A-list wedding to entail, Kimye’s fanciful fete is actually the exception—not the rule.
In part to the fact that life under a microscope can take a toll on one’s soul and sense of personal privacy, celebrity weddings tend to be more intimate gatherings, free of paparazzi. Seeing that celebrities don’t like to settle when it comes to their daily lives, A-listers certainly make few compromises on their special day. Testing the bounds of celebratory tradition and embracing alternative party ideas are two things the stars do best—especially when they’re saying “I do.”
So what does this mean for us? Ahead, we look back on some of the most memorable A-list weddings from the past few years, and pull the attainable tips and tricks we’ve learned from each.
You don’t need a formal altar
Just really, really big flowers. It’s no secret that former super model-turned-celebrity chef and Twitter extraordinaire, Chrissy Teigen, appreciates the louder things in life. For their Lake Como destination wedding, the now mama-of-two and her Grammy-winning husband, John Legend, suited up for a waterside ceremony that was easily the year’s most iconic outdoor fete. In lieu of a traditional altar or arch, the couple instead opted for four cascading arrangements primarily composed of coral amaryllis, olive branches, roses, and eucalyptus. Though her Vera Wang gown (just one of three she wore on the day) stands to rival both the blooms and the surrounding scenery, the lakeside florals double as a lush framing device.
Impromptu is possible
Comedy queen and Trainwreck actress Amy Schumer’s surprise wedding to chef Chris Fischer in Malibu, California earlier this year is about as laid-back as you can get when it comes to a beachfront ceremony. After only four days of planning (if that doesn’t stress all you type-A readers out, I don’t know what will), Schumer rounded up an intimate gathering of 40-or-so guests who wore smart-casual attire and, well, just kind of hung out. The takeaway? Last minute doesn’t have to mean a flight to Vegas or even a stroll down to City Hall. If you’re determined to make it happen quickly, the right pieces (and people!) will fall into place.
Don’t be afraid to embrace cliches
As a dedicated Disney connoisseur and knower of all things princess decorum, to say that John Stamos’ now-wife, Caitlin McHugh, really, really loves Walt Disney World would be an understatement. Thus, it was only fitting that pair quietly wed on the park grounds back in February. Be it a low-key ceremony at an imaginative theme park for children or Comic Con-inspired after party, if quirky and theme-y is your thing, embrace the niche you love and make it completely your own.
City Hall, but make it fashion
Bring together a mustard yellow jumpsuit, a dramatic black veil, and a handful of incredibly chic friends and you’ve got Emily Ratajkowski’s cool girl-approved city hall wedding. Inexpensive and utterly convenient, there’s little we love more than a rad city hall ceremony. Aside from her own knockout outfit, Ratajkowski’s DIY approach also included a slew of stylish friends who donned leopard print suits and socks with heels. With no white in sight, this alternative City Hall approach makes a case for going off-palette.
Let your girls in on the wedding white
Throwing the color rulebook out the window, supermodel and beloved Victoria’s Secret Angel Chanel Iman paid no mind to the tradition that only the bride is allowed to wear white. Instead of swathing her bridal party in a sea of blush, taupe, or cream, Iman let her ladies in waiting get in on the all-white glamour by putting them in equally stunning gowns. Committing to a monochromatic color scheme is one of our favorite ways to create a cohesive, luxe-looking ambiance. Of course, the bride can still stand out from the crowd by way of embroidery and added texture.
Find a dramatic backdrop
A stunning floral arch can only take you so far. But a soaring tree? That’s one way to elevate your standard backyard soiree. For their outdoor ceremony in Napa Valley, five-time Olympic gold medalist Nathan Adrian and his glowing bride, Hallie Ivester, set the scene with a towering tree. An array of wild greenery and lush flora that has not been fabricated by your wedding planner or florist can take an ordinary al fresco party to the next level.
Need another reminder that a draw-dropping landscape can instantly elevate an outdoor ceremony? Take Hilary Swank’s whimsical woodland approach. Beneath a canopy of 800-year-old trees, Swank’s crowd walked deep into a redwood grove to watch the actress and her hubby share their “I do’s.” The only element designating the pair from their audience was a simple circle of petals.
A new kind of getaway car
Forgo the expected limousine or vintage roadster for a refreshing take on transport. Twilight actress Ashley Greene and her hubby, Paul Khoury, took off after their intimate outdoor party in a retro three-wheeler that boasted just enough room for two. Equal parts sporty and romantic, you’ll actually want to leave the party behind in a ride like this.
You can be beachy casual
Even if the ceremony itself isn’t actually taking place on the beach. Against the picture-perfect backdrop of Sumba, Indonesia surrounded by rice fields, The Hills alum Brody Jenner and longtime girlfriend Kaitlynn Carter recently tied the knot in a breezy, tropical ceremony across the Pacific. For the nuptials, the duo donned beach-approved ware—Brody in a tan light wool suit and Carter in an understated, floor-length dress that was the perfect mix of mod and bohemian. While tropical destination weddings often feel expected, introducing small, elevated touches (like elegant fabrics) will take the sandy and salty soiree from conventional to memorable.
Forgo the veil for spontaneous florals
Solange Knowles is the queen of the unconventional—and her wild-child spirit certainly showed on her wedding day back in November of 2014. Swapping a traditional veil for a sporadic collection of wispy florals, the singer made a blossoming beauty statement with hair florals (one of our favorite up-and-coming bridal trends right now). Whether paired alongside a veil or worn solo, a floral-adorned hairstyle is one way to wow as you make your way down the aisle.
Think in terms of metallics
Having an after-party dress doesn’t mean you have to spend a small fortune on another elaborate white gown. In fact, we’re partial to sparkly, sequin getups. Pretty Little Liars star Troian Bellisario stunned post-ceremony in a slinky gold dress that featured a pop of red silk lining. Considering this is really your one chance to party alongside everyone you know and love, change into a second debut that brings out your inner fun.
End the evening with a towering cake
When it comes to dessert, celebrities go all out. While Sofia Vergara and Joe Manganiello dropped a reported $3 million on their wedding, if there’s one thing we mere mortals can take away from their elaborate celebration it’s not to skimp on the cake. A classic, all-white cake that towers over guests is sheer Instagram gold.
Reserve a table for two
Who says you can’t reserve a seat for your own wedding? Gossip Girl’s Penn Badgley and his now-wife Domino Kirke, a musician and doula, tied the knot twice this year. For their first vow exchange, the pair opted for a simple courthouse ceremony in NYC, followed by a casual dinner in Brooklyn at Maison-May where the duo snagged their own table. Consider this proof that booking your venue is as easy hopping on Open Table.
Bring on the shimmer
In exchange for florals and a veil, actress and activist Nikki Reed finished off her wedding day look with sparkly accessories. A reminder that dreamy jewels shouldn’t just be relegated to the rings, this shimmery hair piece brought the right amount of glam to her rustic outdoor celebration.
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