The topic of today’s conversation? You guessed it–My Million Dollar Wedding to none other than the star of Million Dollar Listing: Los Angeles, Josh Flagg. Now when I say My Million Dollar Wedding what I’m really saying is OUR million dollar wedding, with my hubby, Josh.
Today, I have a special treat for my readers, because I sat down with my wedding planner, Michelle Weita of Details Details, for an hour and I am writing this blog post about our discussion. As some of my readers and followers might know Michelle was diagnosed on Valentine’s Day with Leukemia and has been in treatment since then. When we sat down for this discussion neither one of us could have imagined what she would be going through just a short month later.
As a tribute to her, I am releasing this much earlier than I had planned. Michelle, is so much more than just a very talented wedding planner. She is someone who practices generosity everyday of her life. She is the first person to raise her hand when someone else is in need. She is an outstanding friend, who I consider a member of my family, and a phenomenal mother to her son, Nixon.
In this blog, we are going to share what the most expensive line item was (hint: it’s not what you would expect.) We also will discuss her biggest headache when dealing with wedding planning clients, and some of my favorite experiences from getting married.
Are you ready?
Mazel Tov! I hope that is how it is spelled. (Remember, I’m not a member of the tribe.)
Michelle the Miracle Worker
Michelle got her start doing event planning for one of the biggest companies in the world: the Walt Disney Company. As a result, her career has been nothing less than magical ever since.
Her first project with Disney was working on the 2000 grand opening of the Disney California Adventure Park. Because it was brand new, she worked with them on every special event, every VIP event and party, and even helped to manage all of their press conferences.
I found this very exciting because for many years I would take a trip to Disney’s California Adventure every year with my then girlfriend’s family, to celebrate New Years Eve. These are memories that hold a very special place in my heart. As the kids today would say, Shout out to the Gonzalez family 🙂
Knowing how to cater to that clientele was important and would set the tone for how she would serve her clients later on. Since then, However, nothing would prepare her for my husband’s random emails all throughout the night. Just to clarify–he would sometimes send like 30 a night, because he changed his mind so many times.
I mean it’s more than a little cute that he wanted everything to be perfect for our special day, I just didn’t realize he would be a Groom-Zilla! However, those short two line emails every thirty minutes were probably a little excessive, but Michelle has dealt with actual Bridezillas in the past and handled it with class. Even though he is a little insane, he is still one of the most creative characters I have ever met and even though it was an excruciating process, the kid does have a really good eye for design! 😉
Josh Was a Little…Extra
While I had always wanted a destination wedding with few guests and a stunning view, think The Isle of Capri at sunset, both wearing all white surrounded by our close family and friends saying I do with an Aperol spritz in hand–my husband likes to put on a show.
Leave it to a Leo!
After proposing in a flash mob at the Four Seasons in Paris on Bastille Day, what else could I realistically expect?
A theatrical Hollywood experience at the Beverly Hills Hotel? You betcha!
We were a little worried about protestors due to the stigma of being at the Beverly Hills Hotel. However, it all worked out because we did it for the right reasons. It was about honoring his grandmother and his family traditions of going there as a child. If you do things for the right reason, things have a way of working themselves out. Josh’s reasoning for why it was not a problem to do it at the hotel was simple, he considers the employees and staff, family. Many of them are gay, and there is no reason to punish hard workers who earn their living there.
Our wedding was a big deal, or at least we thought it was. The hotel repeatedly told us that our wedding was different because it was “all hands on deck.” They even went as far as to say that out of all of the weddings in the history of the hotel, that ours topped all of them! The staff really upped their game and were so amazing, even coordinating the timing and synchronization of when they brought out the caviar. I guess you get what you pay for!
I felt that Josh and I did a great job merging both of our personalities into every aspect of this wedding. We made sure to make all of the sentimental parts of the big day a priority, but at the end of the day, we both agreed we wanted our guests to be entertained. We wanted our friends and family to leave feeling they also had the best night of their lives.
To explain what I mean, there were girls hanging upside down pouring champagne for example–not your typical church wedding and stained glass windows!
I mean, since we are two men getting married, why not make it over the top with a lot of style and class mixed with a splash of Camp?
There was so much activity throughout the entire wedding that it was like being at an Awards show, maybe giving a new meaning to the term trophy husbands 😉
All in all, it lasted twelve spectacular hours, and it definitely was a spectacle!
Josh wanted something from another era. In his old school, classic charm he wanted to transport our guests to another time period, and make it magical. An example of this would be when Josh planned and arranged for a team of 52 servers to come out in white dinner jackets to the song “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” while holding personal ice sculptures of caviar for every guest.
(Typically a standard serving of caviar is 1 oz. However, for our wedding everyone received 3 oz! The guests were stuffing it into their handbags to take home!)
And who could forget when at the clink of the glass, a gospel choir belted out my favorite Mariah Carey song, “Make it Happen.” It literally shocked people!
The Biggest Line Item(s)
The other thing that shocked people was the amazing scent that filled the air. My hubby and I absolutely love flowers.(Okay maybe me more so than Josh, but he can still appreciate them.) And while with most heterosexual couples (per Michelle’s experience,) the man leaves flowers and decor up to the woman, in our case it was definitely a joint effort.
It looked like you were walking into a Botanical Garden, and it smelled like heaven. Whew after writing this sentence I think I now need a shot of tequila, but hey they say you only get married once! 🙂
The flowers weren’t the only thing that smelled great. We labored over the menu until it was just right. I hate going to weddings and eating rubber chicken. Gross. You try to make small talk in order to cover up the fact that everyone hates the food, and it leads to everyone drinking too much.
So, we decided to splurge on food so that everyone could enjoy getting tipsy and have a fun experience.
People still tell me about how good the food was, which means it was worth every single penny! Like for dinner, everything from fried chicken and collard greens to Chateaubriand. And for late night snacks we had In & Out cheeseburgers and milkshakes. I mean caviar and In & Out cheeseburgers meant that we had a little something for everybody!
We took our favorite meals from all over the world and incorporated them into our wedding. It was such a success that the hotel now serves a few of those dishes at the Polo Lounge. Josh’s Chateaubriand, as they call it, is a huge success for weddings at the venue now! Our Pasta Bolognese was on a whole different level, which is probably why the hotel now has it on their menu!
The next thing that was pretty fantastic were the dancers. We had professional dancers, The LA Follies, who choreographed special dances just for our wedding and spent hours of training in rehearsal. They worked incredibly hard and everyone loved watching their breathtaking performances throughout the night.
Our first dance was choreographed by the amazing George C. Estrada. Musically, we started with Etta James’ “At Last” for a calm, romantic sentiment. However, it quickly worked its way into a frenzy with a swing version of Beyonce’s “Crazy In Love.”
For the finale we finished with The Humpty Dance by Digital Underground. I hope no one was videotaping! Oh wait, we hired someone for that too. I have to admit, learning to dance with Josh was pretty incredible and very sexy. People don’t know this about my husband, but he used to be a ballroom dancer. While he can’t dance to current music for the life of him, he can definitely swing and waltz. I mean the kid has moves!
The Hardest Part About Planning A Million Dollar Wedding
I was a little shocked to hear from Michelle that the hardest decision to make for the client in a wedding, is also the most difficult part about selling real estate.
At the end of the day, it always comes down to budget.
Working to fit within a certain price point is the biggest limitation. Working with the other wedding vendors can also be a real challenge, just like working with other agents in real estate.
Every vendor wants to do well for high profile weddings. However, the client’s budget may not always be compatible with the recommendations of the vendors, so it can be a tricky process to navigate. This is very similar to real estate in the sense that you have to work with the client and make some compromises. Pricing is always tough, and proof of finances can be an issue.
Just like in selling houses, people get cold feet and Michelle and I, both have had clients call it off at the very last minute! This can be disappointing for a home sale, but there is always another property just around the corner. However, with weddings, it is obviously a much bigger deal! I can’t even imagine!
However, for most wedding clients, Michelle has her hands full and the experience can be a real tearjerker for her. For instance, during our wedding we had a Candyland extraordinaire!
We had a customized candy shop that bedazzled all of our guests. We had girls dressed in lollipop costumes and we took the entire garden of the Beverly Hills Hotel and converted it into a Dylan’s Candy Store that would have left even Willy Wonka shook.
By the way, this was no easy feat! Right after the ceremony, the entire team dismantled the catwalk and reassembled something entirely different, while everyone was inside.
The caviar came out on little dry ice sculptures. It was very chic and elaborate, and it was a surreal experience.
But in the end the things that matter most to Michelle (and to Josh and I,) actually have nothing to do with her role in the ceremony.
And that part is the most sacred part of the whole experience: the vows. The truth of what they entail is the reason that Michelle stays in the business, and sometimes she needs some tissues handy because she really cares about her clients.
What is exchanged between the two people going into union is what really matters. As a wedding planner, she really wants to see people feeling genuine, and not just someone going through the motions on the altar.
There is no amount of glitz and glam that can compare to the feeling of exhilaration knowing that you are marrying your soulmate! However, our experience is something that was one of the biggest moments of my life (if not the biggest) and it was like a fairytale come true!