Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes at a wedding? I mean...what do all those people do all day? What does it takes to plan a big, lavish, wedding for 300 people in one of the most exclusive locations in the world?
Last week, Patricia Shay married Snehal "Shinz" Bhoola in a lavish, over the top, multi-cultural wedding celebration at the Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas that showcased two separate wedding ceremonies, a Chinese Lion dance, three dress changes, and two complete "set" changes of the ballroom. We even had a comedian preform!
When Patty & Shinz approached me about their wedding in December, they tasked me with planning an over the top, luxe, and dynamic wedding....in just 12 weeks! Talk about power planning! Some people find short planning periods to be stressful, but I find them invigorating! Planning a wedding unjust 3 months forces you to be really clear about who you are and what you want. Decisions tend to be made by instinct, which leads to a wedding that is so very personal, that really speaks to the core of the couple.
For this Behind the Scenes feature, I have to take you back to January, when we all began planning. After having spent some time speaking with family and playing on Pinterest, Patty and Shinz asked for a wedding of deep colors, with a royal blue base, deep reds, and vibrant oranges. Having tapped the creatives at Destination by Design (DBD Vegas) to handle the florals and rentals, we embarked on a proposal filled with rich images and vibrant colors.
At first, they loved it! But something felt "off. There was a hesitation that no one could quite put our fingers on. With the bride and groom coming in for a custom tasting, we scheduled a demonstration which would allow them to see samples of their tables, play with linens, and adjust lighting. With DBD's master florist Mirian on hand with buckets of flowers, we were ready for anything...And wow! Did we make crazy changes!
By the end of our meeting, we had completely tossed the original color scheme in favor of something softer, elegant, and much more in line with the bride's classic sensibilities. Note to all planning brides and grooms....Sometimes you will see things on Pinterest or in a magazine that look beautiful, but they don't always translate into "you" when you put them together in real life. Sometimes, you just need to see something right before your eyes, and tweak it by hand so that your wedding is truly yours. I cannot recommend a planning demonstration enough if your time and budget allow for it!
The next stop in our planning trip was a tasting set forth by the culinary team at The Mandarin Oriental. With nearly 70% of the guests having an Indian and vegetarian background, we needed a menu that was culturally on point to ensure that Shinz' family would enjoy their evening. And what about our bride? Her family was traveling all the way from China, and their tastes were equally important in the planning of our meal. Chef Dinesh was the perfect person to plan with, as he not only hails from India, but he spent years cooking in luxury resorts throughout China.
rYou would think that after 3 days of non stop planning every decision would have been made, but we were making small adjustments and little tweaks to the design, decor, menu, and music right up to the very end. But when the planning process is on point and you keep to the time frame, you can make small changes here and there without disrupting the whole of the day.
Patty, Shinz,and their families converged on Las Vegas on April 2nd. This is what I call "going live" - from here on out, we were in production mode and moving towards execution. The family quickly began unpacking boxes, assembling gift bags, and putting together packages for the hotel to deliver. My team was on call 24/7, and we logged countless hours of photo planning (they had a list of over 80 people which required formal portraits), musical timing (setting walks to the exact moments of songs) and load in schedules.
On Thursday evening, a team of Mendhi artists arrived at the bride's Presidential suite to apply henna to her skin in intricate, beautiful patterns. Patricia sat perfectly still for nearly 3 hours while she was beautified from top to toe. Both Altf Photography and Something New was on hand to catch the work being done, and I have no doubt that their footage will be nothing short of spectacular! For now, you are stuck with mine....
On Friday morning, DBD began loading in what we call the "hard set" at 8 am. Chairs, dance floors, tables, linens...Everything that won't wilt or die over night was delivered to the resort, and we began marking placement for the next day. When wedding production is this intense, I stay on property to be on hand at any hour and any minute. As much as this was "work" the moments spent in my room were almost vacation-like...Perhaps it was the lack of children?
Our first order of business was to host a rehearsal for the bridal party of both the Western Ceremony and the Indian ceremony. Once we were certain that everyone knew their places, the bride and groom were off to prepare for their Welcome Reception. While they dressed and enjoyed hair and make up, my team and I joined Ali Murray of the Mandarin Oriental and the staff from DBD in setting up the pool deck. Our Welcome Reception was a grand affair! First, there was a mini-bazaar set up where the ladies could help themselves to jewelry, a glittering Bindi, shawls, belts, and pins brought directly from India. To the side in cabanas, we set up the same team of women to provide henna art and Mendhi for the guests. And fear not; the men were not forgotten. For them, we had a hand rolled cigar station. Music provided by DJ Rodney kept the party going strong, with open bars, passed food, and floating candles in the pool.
Once again, our friends from Altf Photography and Something New were with me, capturing every detail from land and air - just wait til you see this video! I managed to grab a few shots of my own as a sneak peek into the madness and fun!
My wake up call on the morning of the wedding came at 6 am, and there was already a flurry of activity happening. Our mandap, the structure under which the couple was married, was constructed on site and by hand. Rolling racks of flowers and buckets of yet to be placed blooms were strewn around the floor. Carpeting was placed on the riser, sound checks were done, and in the back of the house there were prep cooks, line cooks, chefs, and more chefs preparing a meal that somehow managed to be the most delicious blend of the Chinese and Indian cultures. The bride and groom were tended to with tender loving hands, ensuring that every hair was in place, and ever stitch of their custom made suits, shoes, and dresses were dresses were hand steamed and placed to perfection.
There is no doubt in my mind that the formal photos and cinematic movie trailer showcasing this wedding will be spectacular and epic. And I will not ruin the delight of what is to come. Instead, I leave you with production photos and a glimpse behind the curtain....
In the end, on Saturday, April 4, 2015, Patricia Shay married Snehal Bhoola not once, but twice in a once-in-a-lifetime wedding that took the hands of over 50 people, over 1,200 emails to and from my account (not to mention those of the vendors), over 600 minutes of team conference calls, and more text messages, lunches, quick chats, and walk throughs than I can count. This wedding weekend was truly a labor of love, brought to life by the bride, the groom, their families, and the most extraordinary teams that I have had the pleasure of working with. It was an honor and a privilege to lead this charge!
Venue and Vendors
Luxury Wedding at the Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas
Floral and Decor by Destinations by Design Las Vegas
Entertainment Management by Destinations by Design Las Vegas
Floral Walls by Paper Flower Girls
Photography by Altf Photography
Wedding Cinema by Something New Films
Bridal Beauty by Make Up in the 702
Friday Night DJ Rodney Munnings
Saturday Night Live Guitarist Robby LeBlanc
Saturday Night Indian DJ Jay Dabhi
Las Vegas Wedding Planner Andrea Eppolito is often published, with works featured by the likes of BRIDES, Style Me Pretty, Grace Ormonde Wedding Style, The NY Times, LA Times, Junebug Weddings, and more. With an eye catching style that shares not only the story, but the soul, of a wedding, Andrea's clients praise her for being their wedding planner, event designer, advocate, and friend.
An internationally acclaimed speaker, Andrea appears and speaks at events for the Engage! Luxury Wedding Summit, NACE, The Knot, the Wedding MBA, and more. Named the Best Wedding Planner in Las Vegas (2013, 2015, 2016), Wedding Professional of the Year (2011) and ranked as one of the top 50 wedding planners world-wide, Andrea works with celebrities, athletes, executives, and all people in love!
Based in Las Vegas, and working as a destination wedding planner world wide, you can learn more at www.AndreaEppolitoEvents.com.