News & Politics

Ask the Experts: The Maestro

Andre Wells, Events by Andre

This article is from the 2009 edition of Bride & Groom. For more wedding content, head here.

What do you think of as your signature touch?

For me, it’s all in the details. As an example, if it’s a very hot night, I like having the valet leave two ice-cold bottles of water in the guests’ car. It’s a nice surprise when they get in. Or at cocktail receptions, we like putting mints around on tables. People appreciate having them if they’re eating things that are garlicky.

What are your suggestions for planning a destination wedding if you and your partner are from different coasts?

If you can meet on an even ground, it’s great. If one person is from California and the other is from Massachusetts, a Gulf Coast wedding would be fun. Or if you wanted to do something wintery, you could plan a wedding in the mountains of Colorado or the heartland of Missouri. But if your city is exciting, why leave? Get married in a place where the guests will have a lot to do and have fun.

Any ideas regular couples can steal from the high-end weddings you’ve planned?

The focus should be on making your guests comfortable. We leave little things in their hotel rooms each night: music CDs on the pillows, chocolate truffles or a crossword puzzle about the couple.

One thing that I think a lot of people don’t do, but should, is to have a hospitality suite in the guests’ hotel. Consider having it open the entire weekend and provide a message board, snacks, beverages, and games. Another trend at high-end weddings is to plan some kind of event every night, from a welcome reception to a rehearsal dinner to the wedding reception and after-party to a brunch and a farewell dinner.

What are some imaginative suggestions for alternatives to flowers at a wedding?

Candles are very romantic and can be done in a number of ways, from votives to tapers to three-wicks. If your wedding is in the winter, I like using branches with lots of different shapes and colors. For one fall wedding, we collected bags of leaves, and we laid them on the tables and threw them all over the floor of the ballroom. It really made a “Wow!” look. In the spring, you can use colorful glassware, china, and napkins on white linen. You can use picture frames all year round. Go with one color, like antique silver, wood, modern glass, or black and white.

If you were planning a fantasy wedding, who’d be on the guest list?

Oprah, Tom Ford, Carolina Herrera, Robin Roberts, and James Weldon Johnson.