Wedding central with 'My Fair Wedding's' David Tutera
His clients have included Jennifer Lopez, Elton John and Barbara Walters. Remember Star Jones' lavish wedding way back when? He was behind that too.
But for three seasons, party and wedding planner extraordinaire David Tutera has taken on the likes of everyday brides-to-be on WE-TV's "My Fair Wedding with David Tutera."
Part of the the "Bridal Sunday" block of programming, the show sees Tutera transforming a bride's troubled wedding into a fairy tale. ShowTracker snagged some time with Tutera to talk about the show, and we picked his brains about the horrid fashion sense and over-the-top nuptials of some of our favorite TV couples (click here for the gallery).
Tell me how the show came about.
Well it's kind of a cool story. The network came to me, and they presented the idea of doing the show. I had done television and I thought, "I'm not sure I want to do another TV show. They were very persistent with me and they wanted me to meet with the development department of the network. I took the meeting, they pitched the concept and I fell in love with the idea. They ordered six episodes and it just took off.
Why were you initially hesitant?
Well, I have a very busy company -- I've had my own my business now for 20 years. I had done television before; it's a lot of work and I wasn't quite sure I wanted to do a show geared specifically toward weddings because there are so many out there. To me, the show had to be unique enough that it would stand out. They had a great concept when they pitched me "My Fair Wedding." I thought, "Wow, go in and change the wedding three weeks before, make a difference in someone's life and the girl doesn't know what is going to happen until the day of the wedding? It's pretty cool.
It sounds pretty nerve-wracking!
I have to tell you, Season One was -- no one knew what was going on. We didn't know if it was going to stick. The viewer didn't know what it was about, the network didn't know, and here we are in Season 3 and we just got extended for 12 episodes.
And people are obsessed with the show.
I'm obsessed with the show. I love these girls.
Why do you think women like these wedding shows? And what sets yours apart from the others?
I just think people in general have become more infatuated with wedding programming because it's an escape mechanism in a sense that it's just a happy memory and they can celebrate their love. "My Fair Wedding" is like the wedding lottery. It's about the transformations of these girls. I find ways to make them feel better and the viewer is sort of rooting for the decisions that I make. One of the best things about the show is, I mean, not to make a comparison to other shows, but "Trading Spaces" is a perfect example. You watch the beginning of the show and you meet the couple. But you don't really care what happens in the middle, you wait to see the end. In my show, you have to watch the whole show, otherwise the end won't make sense. As a viewer you are in the same boat as the bride, who doesn't know what I'm going to pick. It sort of unveils itself and it's this journey over transforming these girls into beautiful women.
And you are given just three weeks to transform these weddings?
Yeah, three weeks. Well, the show in Season Three ... we filmed in New York, Dallas and Los Angeles and as we kept moving around the country, three weeks became two weeks because we were rushing against time so now it's three weeks or less. The reason for the short time frame was pretty much the content of the program. It's based on the idea that everyone has all their plans figured out three weeks before so, knocking on the girl's door and changing everything is pretty crazy.
What are some of the challenges? Your vision isn't always the same as theirs.
I think it's listening, learning and trying to get to know this person as best and fast and furious as possible and to get into their heads and into their hearts and try to understand what it is that they really want. I mean, yeah, you want a swamp wedding or you want a poker wedding or you want a pirate wedding, but I find ways to make it make sense to who they are. The one thing for me that I always try to be sure about is that I never judge the girls and I always make sure it's never about me, it's always about the brides. I just take their concept and, as the tag line says, "They have a vision, I have a revision." But it's still about who they are.
And you experimented this season with the grooms a bit more...
There was zero feedback asking for it, other than I went and met with some of these grooms ... at the first moment I'm in their home. I would go back to the producers and say, "This is a good storyline." You're going to see in an episode coming up in three weeks that the groom is getting really, really involved and there is an incredible surprise from the groom -- I don't want to give it away, but it's probably one of the most emotional moments on the show, if not even on television in general. It's really beautiful.
How do you keep from having everything look the same?
That's not the hard part. The show has really breathed some amazing life into my career and to me personally. What is hard sometimes -- outside the show -- is working with clients that have a lot of money that don't necessarily have a great idea and don't want to listen to me. But in the show, I get to call the shots in hopes that it winds up for the best.
Has someone on the show ever been unhappy with what you dreamed up for them?
No. Not in three seasons.
What's been the weirdest theme you've come across on the show?
Last week's episode with the pirates -- that was pretty odd. We have one coming up centered on "Day of the Dead." That sort of stumped me. It was pretty bizarre. That might have been one of the oddest ... and the swamp bride. Season 3 has had the weirdest ones.