The Insider: Celebrity Wedding Planner Mindy Weiss' Top Wedding Essentials

We asked Weiss—a planner to the stars—to describe what her idea of a perfect wedding looks like.

Mindy Weiss
Photo: Dennis Kwan

If you're in the thick of wedding planning, you've likely already discovered the importance of prioritizing a select few vendors or details. This priority list, of course, varies by couple. The same is true for the vendors who actually bring weddings to life-they have priority lists of their own. The difference? Theirs come backed with years of industry experience. To help you shape up your own big-day musts, we've tapped the biggest names in the wedding sphere-from planners and photographers to florists-to share their three wedding must-haves. Follow along with The Insider to learn which wedding-related details professionals can't live without.

Mindy Weiss, one of the industry's most lauded wedding planners and Shutterfly style partner, has seen just about everything (imploding cutting cakes, included) in her 30 years as an event planner-but she still remembers her first wedding like it was yesterday. "I kind of had to fake it all. I didn't even really know how to do a rehearsal. You know what I did? I went to the venue the weekend before, to see how to do a rehearsal. To watch somebody. Yes! I didn't even know how to do that. So, I literally watched. It was such a good idea. I learned that way how to do a rehearsal," she recalls.

She's come a long way since then-and knows all the foolproof advice that only a seasoned professional can offer. In addition to sharing her top three wedding essentials, Weiss-who works on some of the most high-profile celebrity weddings (including Ellen DeGeneres and Portia DeRossi, Sofia Vergara and Joe Manganiello, and Ciara and Russell Wilson) and events (such as parties for the entire Kardashian family) in the world-also opened up to Martha Stewart Weddings about the importance of prioritizing people, from guests who love you to vendors who understand you. Ahead, discover Weiss' version of an idyllic wedding, and more.

First thing's first: Choose tactile décor that's reflective of who you are.

"My favorite tables are the ones that look like I went into someone's cabinet and just set a table with what that person has," explains Weiss of her dream tablescape, which she says should encourage guests to pick up the beautiful objects at their place settings. "The things that are on the table are in front of guests for five hours. They're in their faces for five hours. [Couples] forget that guests are touching the glass, touching the silverware-it's so present in front of them." The easiest way to translate this concept on your own big day? Take inspiration from the items you collect-like vases, vintage bells, or antique dinnerware-and integrate those into your tablescapes' design. Weiss knows firsthand how effective this approach can be: Ahead of her son's wedding, she and her now-daughter-in-law spent a whole year collecting blue-and-green vintage vases, simply because the bride loved the colorways.

Keep centerpieces low.

Consider the art of conversation when ideating your reception's florals, advises Weiss, who is "very into low centerpieces." "Conversation is so important right now. I mean it always is, but right now, there's so much to talk about," she says. A taller, more cumbersome centerpiece could impede that flow, she explains-which is why keeping these arrangements close to the tabletop is an absolute must.

Don't be afraid of color.

While Weiss loves green and white, a shade combination that many of her clients gravitate towards, her idea of a dream wedding involves an unexpected color palette. "I would definitely bring color in. My life now is about color. When you walk into a room with color, it's surprising-and I like that," she explains. "It definitely permeates energy in the room when there's color in it." Her favorite way to bring color into a space? By pairing bold hues with nuanced textures. "These muted velvets-oh my God! In California, people go, 'I can't use velvet, the sun wrecks it!' There are no rules! It's your personality. You love it? Well we just personalized your wedding. If you love it, that's you."

One last thing: People-from your guests to your vendors-are what really matter.

While Weiss' three big-day must-haves revolve around décor, none of the design matters, she says, if the people you surround yourself with on your wedding day don't fall into the "nearest and dearest" category. "Through all of my experience, I have learned that this is the most important thing-to validate the marriage in front of these people who have been in your life forever," she adds. Thanking them for being present on your day, then, is mandatory, Weiss continues, especially if your wedding involves significant travel; she advises that all brides and grooms prepare a thought-out speech of gratitude to deliver during the reception. "These kids, besides paying off their student loans, have to pay off these trips. Even though no one talks about it, I guarantee you it is a huge undertaking. And then the wardrobe and the presents, taking off work and all that stuff. It's a big deal," she says.

Just like you couldn't have a wedding without your loved ones, you couldn't execute your big-day vision without an unparalleled team who understands what you really want. The most important vendors for Weiss? Photographers and videographers. "This is something that should be a big part of the budget-not something you hire online and never talk to the person until they show up. This is someone you need to meet," she says. "Even more important is videography. I love video because you can see people moving, and talking, and hearing the voice. I'd put them in the same category: photography and video. Not an afterthought. It should be something that's really well thought out, together."

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