The “big day” is a big deal for Brian Worley.
For one of the first weddings he orchestrated, the LA-based party planner went all out: Flowers were flown in from Ecuador, fabrics came from Milan and he drove over three hours to San Antonio just for the chairs. Sure, it was his sister’s, but even his parents thought he was nuts. “They were like, ‘Why are you doing this?’ and I said, ‘Because! You have to!'”
His passion for planning and design is deep-rooted in his childhood, when Worley made clothes for his sister’s Barbies. That creativity spills over into his career now, and not just as a wedding planner – he recently created eight full wedding displays for the famous Hotel del Coronado in San Diego – but also as the artistic mind behind “American Idol” parties and over 60 movie premieres. He even planned the Santa Barbara polo match that Prince William and Kate Middleton partook in during their recent trip to the U.S. Worley has also starred on wedding-themed reality shows like The CW’s “Shedding for the Wedding” and TLC’s “Battle of the Wedding Designer.” “If there’s a wedding show,” he says, “I’ve pretty much been on it.”
With those types of credentials, it only made sense to go to Worley for some tips on making the big day the best day.
How did you get interested in planning weddings?
I think that weddings are fun because it’s such a personal day. Weddings are way different than dealing with corporate clients because, especially as the designer of them, I get to spend so much time getting to know whoever is getting married and really figuring out who they are. I call it “psychologizing” my clients – what makes them tick? – and you tend to become a therapist as well, and also a friend. You’re creating something magical for someone for this day they’ve been dreaming about for the majority of their life. There’s a reward at the end of the tunnel when you see what you’ve created actually makes someone happy.
My sister’s wedding was one of the greatest weddings I ever did. She had no idea what her wedding was going to look like, and she walked in after it was all set up and she just started crying. There was nothing better than throwing my sister her dream wedding. She left it all up to me to create something magical. So when people ask why I like doing weddings, that’s the icing on the cake right there.
How often do you plan gay weddings?
I haven’t done any gay weddings since the influx of, “Is it legal? Is it not legal?” Back in the day when it was commitment ceremonies I used to do a lot of those, but now that everyone is trying to figure out if they can get married or not, it’s been a weird thing. There’s this ambiguity of, “Should we have a big wedding?”
I think people are doing weddings differently these days; it’s become more of a party than a traditional wedding. I always say to my clients, “It’s not your grandmother’s wedding, it’s not your mother’s wedding, so break tradition; there really are no rules anymore.”
My whole philosophy on weddings is that you’re throwing a celebration and bringing people together who care about you – make sure it’s fun and memorable! The day goes by so quickly that if you don’t take time to smell the roses, then it’s gone and the roses are dead.
What traditions and trends do you find people breaking most?
The idea that you have to have a sit-down dinner. You get a lot more bang for your buck if you really are just wanting to throw a fun party. I’ve had clients who didn’t understand how they’d afford a wedding that they wanted with the money they wanted to spend and I said, “Have the ceremony for 7 p.m., have a great band, have appetizers.” You save a huge chunk of money by not having a sit-down dinner or buffet; just feed them with heavy appetizers and a dessert station, and have the party you want to have. You don’t have to have a program if you don’t want to have a program. You don’t need to have the set itinerary of the dos and don’ts of having your wedding. Just make it fun. I look at weddings like birthdays – it’s your day to shine and have fun and do it your way. If you want everyone to dress like Stormtroopers, do it. If you’re into My Little Ponies, go for it.
One rule I’d like to see broken is that people stop playing “Butterfly Kisses.”
I had a client who got married and all of the songs during their ceremony were Pink Floyd, Led Zepplin and Guns N’ Roses. Then, during cocktails, the orchestra played all of their favorite theme songs from their favorite TV shows, and during the reception we had a jazz/soul band. So the music was very different and very nontraditional. People are choosing songs that mean more to them instead of just Googling them.
You’ve said that people are having weddings without guests. What do you think?
A lot of people do it, and I actually I think it’s a great idea. Just the two of you, go get married on the beach or somewhere tropical, somewhere that means something to you. If your first vacation was Provincetown, go there. Go somewhere and get married in a location that you can relax and enjoy yourself and have fun just the two of you, and then come back and throw a party for everyone to join. It saves you expenses if it’s just the two of you, or the people closest to you, instead of making a big production out of it.
What places do you suggest for destination weddings?
Besides P-town, Mexico is a great place to go for a wedding, especially if you’re from the U.S. I’ve done weddings in Cabo and I’ve done weddings in Cozumel and on the Mexican Riveria. Mexico is a really great, inexpensive place to go. It’s beautiful, you get the sun and I think most gay men, and lesbians as well, want to go somewhere tropical – they want ocean and a tan. Being somewhere beautiful and seeing a beautiful sunset is just romantic and charming and has all the elements of what a wedding should be.
So, after seeing “Bridesmaids,” I have to ask: Is it ever OK to eat ethnic food before a fitting?
(Laughs) If you’re eating somewhere that’s reputable! But in “Bridesmaids” I don’t think they went to a restaurant that had a grade-A stamp of approval, so maybe then you run the risk of not having the most sanitary of standards.