Ever since Prince Harry slipped that stunning rock on the hand of Miss Meghan Markle, the wedding industry and world at large has been captivated by this beautiful young couple. I cannot tell you how many Instagram photos, Tweets, and Facebook posts I have seen online. It seems as if all anyone could talk about was the upcoming wedding, which begs the question...
Do Americans have a new claim on the British Monarchy? I feel like we do!
Collectively, we have been obsessed with celebrity for years. The clothes! The glamour! The jewels! Add to that the accents and the long history of the British monarch....There is such a beautiful escapism that comes with following the lives and loves of the royal family. Maybe it's because our roots are so deeply tied to England. Maybe it's because we don't have a living Camelot here in America. Whatever the reason, this wedding just feels different.
It is the first time an American will be marrying into the Royal Family in eighty years! And this isn't just any American. On paper, Meghan Markle is the girl least likely. An American. Divorced. Bi-racial and part Jewish. An actress, feminist, and blogger. She appeared on a syndicated television show and ran a lifestyle blog. Meghan Markle wears messy buns and pants...pants!
When I wa a little girl, I watched Diana Spencer marry Prince Charles. My father said, "Look, she's becoming a real life princess." Years later, I watched with the world as Kate married Will. Beautiful weddings with extraordinary pageantry. I loved every moment, but they felt...far away. This time is different.
There is the sense that our bride is choosing Harry as much as he is choosing her; and for all the right reasons. Their relationship feels grounded in mutual respect, common interests, and a modern level of equality. When Meghan Markle weds Prince Harry, she bridges the gap between then and now. Without the weight of the impending crown, Prince Harry and Meghan are free to make their own way in the world, to marry and live and love by their own rules.
Available on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, & More.
I have started a Podcast of my own! And so the answer to the age old question, "You talkin' to me?" is "Yeah...I'm talking to you!"
I've been podcast-obsessed for several years now, and always wanted to start one. I've talked about it with friends in a someday sort of way...like, "we should start a podcast!" And yet I never did. Partially because I wanted a partner to bounce things off of. Partially because I wasn't sure that I wanted to interview people every day. And I have to admit, I was a little bit intimidated by the technology of it all!
Still, I wanted to talk directly to you. Every day I wake up excited. There is no doubt in my mind that I have the best job in the world! What we do together - whether in weddings, baby showers, birthday parties, or publishing - makes the world a more beautiful place. Whether you are a client or a creative, we come together to celebrate life, luxury, and above all else, love. We are the storytellers, the historians, the dreamers, and the doers. Our inspiration comes from everywhere...Pop culture, literature, fashion, reality TV. Hell, I even did an entire event design based on Maleficent after my kids watched it on rotation over and over again!
I want to talk about all of it! I believe that the best clients are the educated ones, and so I want to take you behind the scenes and allow you to learn a little bit more about me and a whole lot more about the industry. For my partners in crime (and creating) I want to offer a place where we can question, banter, and maybe find some answers.
I'm not going to lie, I don't have a scripted plan for this! Some mornings I may wake up with something to say, I'll post a quick 5 minutes of me talking to the void. On other days, I may post a behind the scenes conversation I have with client or partner. And if you guys are into it, I would love to get some of you to join me in a little Q&A session.
So please take a moment and find me on your favorite Podcast channel. I'm on iTunes, Google Play, Anchor, and more. Take a listen. It will be raw and real...
Like what you hear? Subscribe! Tell your friends. And if you want to talk and are interested in taping an episode with me, I'm here. Comment below or send me an email and we'll get your episode scheduled.
We got the cover of Wedding Editorialist Magazine!
One of the greatest things about self publishing is that you as the couple have complete control over the way we tell your love story.
Ashley and Will's beautiful Bacara Wedding was published by Magnolia Rouge, a romantic international wedding blog. And while the feature is absolutely stunning, it does not tell the whole story. It would be impossible to talk about how they met, how Will proposed, and their wedding planning in one post.
Not only that....you can't hold a blog post!
That's what makes Wedding Editorialist such a great keepsake! This issue builds upon the original destination piece that was created. It talks about how Ashley and Will met in school and became instant best friends, how they fell in love after college, and how Will pulled together the proposal of a lifetime with the help of Ashley's friends and industry contacts. There is a section on Santa Barbara, an artist's sketch of The Ritz Carlton Bacara, and a full overview of the wedding from the girls getting ready all the way up to Ashley and Will's gorgeous outdoor reception.
What I love most is that this piece is also so stunning in print. Ashley and Will can keep it out on their coffee table, send copies of the issue to their parents, their families, and friends. And one day, they will be able to pull this out and show it to their children! How cool will it be when the Thompson Babies see Mommy and Daddy on the cover of a magazine?!?!?
Are you a couple that wants to see your wedding (or other special event?!?) published in a magazine? Or a professional that wants move control over how your work is presented to the world? Leave a comment below or contact me here and I'll put you in touch of one of our Editorialist Partners ASAP!
Las Vegas Wedding Planner Andrea Eppolito introduces Danielle & CJ. Images by Brian Leahy Photo.
After almost two years of planning, I can finally introduce you to Danielle and CJ. And if you think spending two years working together is a long time...Wait until you hear how long they have been together!
Having met in high school, Danielle and CJ have spent the last 16 years together. They started a beautiful family together, traveled the world, and built a home. CJ knew it was time to propose, and he enlisted the help of the couple's 8 year old daughter in putting together a Birthday Dinner. Before hand, he told the family that they were going up to the top of the Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas to see the view of the strip. Danielle, not thinking anything of it, strolled around the observation deck with their new baby in tow. As she turned the corner she found CJ down on one knee, holding a breathtaking cancary diamond, while their oldest daughter held a sign that read "Will You Marry Me?" After a wild "YES" and some photos, the "birthday party" turned into an engagement party with all of their family and friends.
Now, with their two little girls by their side, they will finally be married in what I promise will be a stunning, romantic, and insanely intimate wedding. For a small gathering of nearly 200 of family and friends!
But first, we needed to properly introduce them. And for that, we needed photos.
Wedding Photographer Brian Leahy is used to shooting around the world, but for this session we headed into LA and to his backyard. We wanted something glamorous, and the Disney Concert Hall offered up clean lines, gorgeous metallics, and just a touch of gritty LA.
If you fall in love with this couple - and how could you not? - go ahead and leave them a little note congratulating them on their upcoming wedding. The comments section is open below!
PS - Just in case you're dying to know....The green dress is from Tadashi, and the little black lace number is Marchesa. Hair and make up is courtesy of Make Up Therapy.
The short answer is no. But, of course, there is more to it than that.
Technically, all you need to get legally married is a wedding license (currently priced at less than $100 in Las Vegas) and an officiant to sign off on the legalities. That's it. But a signature at the courthouse does not a wedding make!
After adding a Financial section to this site, many of you have written to ask about budgeting and pricing. My notes seem to fly in the face of what popular wedding blogs list as the "average" price of a wedding, which is currently estimated to be just over $27,000 in the United States. Quite a bit of money! And yet the weddings you see here all start with entry budgets of $1,000 per person and more, meaning that the weddings we design are anywhere from $75,000 - $500,000 each.
So what's average? The truth is...I don't know. These are not the weddings I specialize in.
My clients are never "average" in any way. All of the couples I work with are extraordinary people who live extraordinary lives. This day (or weekend for your destination couples!) has to feel different. It's important that we create an environment that speaks to who the couple is down to the tiniest detail. We must be diligent in creating something you cannot find anywhere else. This type of wedding is a luxury.
I talk alot about luxury, and am known for saying that luxury is not about money, it is all about experience. That belief has been a guiding philosophy for me since I started my business. Lately, I have been focusing on the idea of "intentional luxury". To me, this means we invest in the things we care about on purpose. For some couples, time is a luxury and we are tasked with creating opportunities for the couple to bond with their guess. For others, it's all things epicurean, and we work to develop tasting menus and wine pairings. Still others really want to focus on the room. They are looking to envelop their guests with sights, sounds, smells, and textures. These clients invest heavily in decor. The financial investment it takes to create these things can cost as little as $1,000 per person, and as high as $5,000 per person. The price varies as widely as the couple themselves.
Because in the end, luxury is not cookie cutter; luxury is personal.
So, do I have to spend a lot of money on my wedding? No, of course not. But you don't need an engagement ring, a Louis Vuitton bag, or a trip to Italy, either. Planning a wedding is not about need. It is about desire. It is about making a statement...Taking a stand and bending the universe to your will. I believe that planning a wedding is really about creating the most perfect moment you can, and sharing it with the people you love. That requires quality, customization, and a high level of detail.
That level of precision will always come with a price that costs more than the average wedding, because we aren't creating the average experience. That is what you are truly investing in; the experience you have while planning, the emotions you feel on the day of the wedding, and the memories you are sure to cherish for years to come.
I hope this blog has been helpful to you! Please share this on your Facebook page, on Twitter, and all of the other social channels you love. Leave a comment below - I want to know that you are enjoying the blog and want to write more about what interstes you!
PS - Important to note....The term "a lot" is relative. What one couple considers to be "a lot" another client considers to be of value. You have to come to terms with what you are comfortable with. Design every inch of your wedding to that number, stretch in the places you care about, and then stop. When you do that you will never feel as if you spent too much or not enough; you will have gotten it just right.
If you want a reference of pricing in Las Vegas, let me know! I would love to discuss!!!
Wedding Planner Andrea Eppolito discusses her love of luxury brands and how they impact wedding design.
"You were built for luxury."
My husband says that to me all the time, typically while standing in Chanel, or Louis Vuitton, or Jimmy Choo. I used to joke and say that his utterance sounded like a complaint, but the truth is that it's always a compliment, especially coming from him.
I do love luxury brands, and if you have found your way here to me it's more than likely that you do, too. My couples and I regularly bond over our lust for the YSL Kate bag and the new LV GM Agenda. We compare notes on the hotels we've stayed at, and debate the amenity programs available at various spas and airline lounges. It would be easy to call us elitists, and to bash us for the absolute snobbery we appear to have when it comes to purses, and shoes, and jewelry. But to do so would miss the point of the branding entirely.
Do these brands come with a larger cost? Of course they do, but that isn't the draw. Look beyond the price tag, what element do all luxury brands share? Heritage. Legacy. History. The luxe items we buy tell a story that. They are timely, and also timeless. Luxury brands have endurance. They last. That's what draws me to them, and what I believe draws my couples to me.
And so it is no surprise that my couples find themselves drawn to these heritage brands, and also to me. (Hi, friends...) After all, luxury is not about money. Luxury is all about experience, and how a product or a service makes you feel. There is a romance attached to these brands; their life line has a past, a present, and a future. Just like the relationships we celebrate.
The brands a couple connect with gives me great insight into who they are as people, and influences the design of the day. Very few people are 100% completely married to one brand, we don't only buy Yurman or only buy Valentino. We mix it up a bit, but we all have our true love.
The sartorial choices we make tell a story, and if you pay attention they can lead you to the most authentic design and environment creation that a client couple could ever ask for. Imagine a bride who is primarily Banana Republic by day and Halston by night, with a deep love for Jimmy Choo. Her daily wear bag is Chanel, and she mixes it up with the occasional YSL and Valentino at night. Her watch is Cartier, her earrings Yurman, and her rings are Bauble Bar. What do you give her on her wedding day?
There is a definitive psychology that draws us into the family of a brand, and if you pay attention, it can help guide you through the design process. For example...
Jimmy Choo, Max Mara, and Breitling are sexy, but in a restrained sort of way. They catch the eye, but are rarely the star of the outfit. They are the something very special that add to the overall aesthetic. A couple who favors these brands will likely enjoy extra little touches on the table top. A set of gold rimmed wine glasses, two chargers instead of one. They expect the best and are most comfortable when they know that they are service the best wine, Nothing that screams loudly, but just enough of an accent to let guests know that they are paying attention.
Chanel and Hermes are the ultimate classics. Small variations are made from time to time, but the true value of these products is that they are icons. A Birkin Bag looks just as good today as it did 50 years ago, and is appropriate on Grace Kelly as it is on Angelina Jolie. The bride or groom who buys these brands values tradition, loves the classics, and finds timelessness to be comforting. These clients favor neutral color palettes of white, champagne, blush, and burgundy. When designing for this couple, I avoid anything too glitzy (that can be read as chintzy) and focus on really sumptuous textures. I start with a base color, always a neutral, and together we add interest by layering beautiful china and crystal glassware. Florals are lush and full, but never wild. The design is of the room is measured. The bride is styled with a classic red lip. The groom is clean shaven, and the bridal party is outfitted in long dresses with tuxedos to match.
YSL and Gucci are irreverent. Exceptional quality that flies in the face of convention with bolder color patterns, interesting metals, and textured leather. The moment I see a couple with either of these, I know that I have permission to push the envelope a little bit. The strong graphics that appear season after season in Gucci let me know that, on some level, this couple is comfortable with a bit of risk. They will accept a sketch instead of a demo, knowing that you need go to the edges and create something if you want to do something really different. With these couples I can up the bling factor, layer in pops of color, and maybe add some geometric pieces that are interesting to the eye.
To my couples....The person you are every day must show up at your wedding. The decisions you make, the things you choose to invest in, and the brands you build relationships with tell us as your designers you are. That person must show up at your wedding! When you walk into your wedding, it should feel like going home; to the most perfect, authentic environment you could imagine, and in a way that makes you feel completely comfortable and at peace. And yet to blow you away, you need to take your style and your authentic values and we need to blow them up! Everything needs to be heightened. We need to take the things that matter to you on the inside, and we need to layer that over and over again with an intentional design that speaks to people on the outside....
And to my colleagues and other creatives....Every fashion designer has told us the same thing in different ways. "Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak." —Rachel Zoe. "Clothing is a form of self expression. There are hints of who you are in what you wear" —Marc Jacobs. "Fashion is the ultimate form of self expression, therefore it really depends on mood." —Nicole Richie. "In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different." —Coco Chanel
And never forget: "We must never confuse elegance with snobbery." —Yves Saint Laurent
People tell you who they are in 101 ways. Pay attention. Look, and listen. And let's create something really spectacular together.
Louboutin image by AltF Photography. Perfume in Hands by Stephen Salazar.
Destination Wedding Planner Andrea Eppolito. Images by J.Anne Photography.
Planning any wedding is an honor, but when you are hired to do the wedding of a friend and colleague, it just means that much more! When fellow wedding planner and event designer Ashley Schnippel started planning her wedding, she knew right away that she and her fiancé, Will, would be leaving Las Vegas.
"I have always dreamt of a destination wedding in a place where my family and friends could gather somewhere beautiful, and where no one would have to worry about work the next day— I wanted them to take a moment for themselves, relax and enjoy life! After visiting the central coast of California a few times, Will and I fell in love with the relaxing yet super fun vibe of Santa Barbara. There is a great mix of what southern California has to offer with its beautiful beaches and laid-back culture plus nearby vineyards and gorgeous mountainous views. We instantly had a love affair with Bacara the second we walked on property!"
Working with someone who has a strong design aesthetic is always amazing. During wedding planning, we visited Santa Barbara with the bride's parents, and spend a weekend in tastings, demos, and rental facilities. Watching Ashley expertly select her china, her chairs, and her florals was a joy. After all, we have spent years doing this for other couples, and so to see her transition from professional to bride was a special treat!
The entire wedding was decidedly un-Vegas. From the ceremony by the sea, accented with urns overflowing with flowers, to the tiniest detail of the reception, this wedding was a beautiful mixture of trendiness and timelessness. The wooden tables and chairs are a very much en vogue right now, while the classic green and ivory color palette will look good for generations to come. There were so many details...The hand torn menu cards. The long ribbons which tied the napkins, which perfectly matched her bouquet. Wooden charcuterie boards, stone vessels for floating roses...even the menu was a decided departure from the traditional wedding food with options such as sliders and tacos!
Oh, and the wedding cake! There was none. Quite the shock, considering that the groom and his sister own a bakery in Las Vegas! But that's exactly why they choose NOT to have a cake at their wedding. Instead, they tapped the team from famed McConnell's Ice Cream and set up a sundae station.
Ashley and Will's wedding gave me the opportunity to leave the desert behind and work in one of the most naturally beautiful locations on the west coast. More than that, though, more than that...I got to help two people I love get married and start their official life together.
Beyond the sea and the sand and all of the pretty, that's what this was about.
Las Vegas Wedding Planner Andrea Eppolito introduces ARIA's newest ballroom.
This coming week, ARIA Resort and Casino will unveil a series of new ballrooms, and I was lucky enough to be invited in for a private tour in advance. And all I can say is....You want to get married here. Hell...I want to get married here! And I'm already married!!! This space is so good, though....It makes you want to do it all over again!
When ARIA debuted, my husband and I were invited to the opening. I was so impressed with the sense of modern luxury that it embodied. There was no doubt that it would grow to be the crown jewel of the central strip. "I wish they had a space for weddings," I told my husband as we drove home. "You know, something really chic and sexy..." And now, sitting in the space once occupied by the showroom, they do!
With over 200,000 square feet of new space, ARIA offers a collection of expansive, indoor / outdoor locations complete with high ceilings, a state of the art audio visual program, and a stunning color palette with a neutral base. With luxurious touches and textures throughout, I envision designing a stunning ceremonies inside, transitioning to the balcony for cocktails, and then returning to find the ballroom transformed with florals, lighting, and entertainment. The height of the ceilings are perfect for aerialists, strolling artists, hanging florals, and chandelier installations. Even the carpet, which tends to be an eyesore in many spaces, is beautifully designed so that it serves as a wonderful accent to the space. The design is interesting enough to make a statement, but not garish or overdone in a way that would compete with the decor you bring in.
And the food! Follow my Instagram Stories and you will see that I eat like it's my job, and you will often find me with one of ARIA's featured chefs. With an all star cast of chefs and concepts just steps away, they knew that the standard banquet food just wouldn't do. The team at ARIA has doubled down on their promise to surprise and delight your guests with a truly spectacular menu. Their food is indulgent. Think of the absolute freshest ingredients, prepared in a straightforward way that let's them shine, and accented with really velvety sauces and delicious seasonings. For something truly decadent, don't leave out dessert! Of course you will have wedding cake, but take your culinary journey to the next level by including something spectacular, like the smoking chocolate tasting platter.
Thank you to the team at ARIA for being so generous with your time and for sharing these beautiful renderings. Having worked with you all in the past, coming together again feels so much like reconnecting with my best friends from long ago.
To all of the newly engaged couples looking for that perfect venue, stop and contact me now so that we can set up your tour of ARIA. I guarantee that you will fall in love.
Las Vegas Wedding Planner Andrea Eppolito. Images by J.Anne Photography
Archana and Diego knew they wanted to get married in Las Vegas after getting engaged while dining on the Fountains of Bellagio. A proposal like that demanded that an equally elegant and oh so glamorous wedding would follow, and the two set their sites on the Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas.
Planning a destination wedding can be a daunting task, which is why the Mandarin Oriental recommended that Archana ring me. The moment we connected was magic. "You immediately got inside my head, and you were able to cut through all of my thoughts and pull out exactly what I wanted."
On the day of their wedding, the ballroom doors opened to reveal all that her heart desired. Tall, dramatic bundles of roses lined the aisle, which was crafted from sleek, black enamel. At the top of the space a circular stage was enveloped in crystals strung from the ceiling. Their vows were deeply personal, and spoke to their initial meeting, their courtship, and the life they planned to build together.
The crystal fall was Archana's most beloved design element, and we designed the space to allow her to enjoy it all night long. With the crystals serving as the room's anchor, we used it as the backdrop for the newlywed's sweetheart table. Just in front of them we placed a glamorous black dance floor enhanced with painted red roses, and we lit it from above. The perimeter of the room was full of the people they love most in the world. To keep the space interesting, we used tables of different shapes and sizes, and filled the room with both high and low centerpieces. Each table was slightly different from the next, but all dressed in gilded linens. On top, metallic glass chargers gave way to clusters of candlelight. The red roses, a long time favorite of the couple, brought in the dynamic pops of color my bride so loved. And in the back, for an extra touch of drama, we set a beautiful black wedding cake trimmed in a floral wrap.
Our bridal party burst into the room to the sounds of Pitbull before Archana and Deigo took to the floor and shared their first dance to the eternally classic love song "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" by The Four Seasons. As a surprise to her guests, and in honor of her heritage, Archana changed into a bronze saree just moments before the newlyweds cut their cake. While some guests took advantage of the photo booth set up by Joy Squad, others flocked to the dance floor. DJ Mike Fox spun a mix of western Top 40 songs with contemporary Indian music, a recipe guaranteed to keep them moving until the very last drink was served! And yet the party didn't end there! Afterwards, many of their cousins and friends took to the strip for gaming and dancing, cocktails and celebrations.
Archana still surprises me with text messages and notes from time to time, and seeing her transform from a newly engaged woman to a beautiful bride and now wife has been an absolute joy! She knows she has a friend in Las Vegas, and I will forever cherish the days we spent together.
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