That’s the number and the budget that Courtney Ajinca, Lance Devereux and Tori Williams have had at their disposal to make the celebrations of stars (from Cynthia Bailey and LeBron James to star athletes) come together in a way that stands out in Atlanta — a place where parties don’t stop and each one seeks to outdo all the rest. It’s a number that can create the events you find on Pinterest boards and on Instagram Explore pages. Simply put, it makes dreams come true. But a hefty budget isn’t necessary have your dream wedding. That’s why the trio of planners agreed to come together to create nuptials inspired by the stars at budgets much less than a quarter of a million for VH1’s newest series, My Celebrity Dream Wedding. It was a challenge, but an “exciting challenge” they jumped at, according to Devereux.
“It’s definitely outside of the norm of what we’re used to working with,” he says. “We just have to get creative and leverage our partnerships and relationships to make sure we give these deserving couples the wedding they envision.”
The series follows the planners as they meet couples looking to have celebrity-inspired weddings on a budget and compete to execute their vision. The brides select the planner they want to lead while the other two are resigned to assistant status, all working together to bring big ideas to fruition.
“The couples we work with, they are so deserving and their stories are amazing,” Williams says. “It makes us go harder in working together to pull off the weddings for them.”
“The couples, just getting to touch their lives, you’ll see us shed tears with them and for them,” Ajinca adds. “Their stories are really touching.”
Also a treat for the star planners, getting the chance to work together. “It’s really been a rewarding experience to work with them. These are my siblings. This is like family to me,” Ajinca says. Devereux adds, “We have to be problem solvers and we have to come up with solutions, but it’s been great during this process to have the support of each other where we step in and support each other to get through it.”
As for viewers, the ultimate treat, aside from getting to see the comical yet emotional episodes, is also receiving tips on ways to make your own wedding or general event sparkle for a fraction of the price. We asked Ajinca, Devereux and Williams to offer advice for people who want glitz and glamour without emptying their bank accounts completely. Take notes!
“You can never ever go wrong with candles. You can actually go to the dollar store and rack up on the different heights of those cylinder vases, and you can fill them with water and you can put the candles on a table everywhere and it changes the look,” Williams says. “It doesn’t cost $10,000 to make that happen. It’s something you can do that’s really inexpensive but it’s very impactful. It’s very romantic and it really sets the mood for your event.”
Pinpoint Your Backdrop and Go All Out
“Make sure your backdrop, that focal point, looks good,” Ajinca says. “Maximize the impact in certain areas and then the other places, the photo areas where people are really going to Instagram and social media it, maximize it there and then everywhere else can be more cost-effective.”
Hit Impact Points
In the same vein as making a backdrop stand out, Devereux says going all out with certain parts of the space can go a long way, too. “You may not have the budget to spread lavish decor around the room, but by focusing on impact points, maybe just decking out a cake table or an estate table, in those ways, people can still get the impact,” he says. “And even though it’s not spread throughout the room, you’re saving the budget and giving people a taste of that over the topness you want for your day.”
Flip Your Florals
Silk flowers are a special touch that when added to real flower displays can help fill them out and bring a luxurious look to any event. “It is good to incorporate with fresh flowers. It helps you save so much,” Williams says. “The initial cost to invest in those flowers can get a little expensive, but over time you save because it’s something you can use over and over again. Rule of thumb: If it’s up high and people can’t touch it, it’s fine. Some people really don’t know the difference at all.”
Maximize Your Space
Instead of going with two separate venues for the ceremony and the reception, consider finding the right event venue where you can kill two birds with one stone. “Depending on the exact space you use, if it’s feasible, sometimes using the same space for your ceremony and reception can help you save money. If you’re able to transition elements from one space to another or multipurpose elements within the space, you can save budget on things like the need for chairs, not needing to rent multiple sets,” Devereux says. “You just have to make sure it’s conducive with the venue that you choose, because if not, you may run into a heightened budget just from staffing to get the space flipped in a timely manner. But multipurpose spaces can help you achieve impact for both the ceremony and the reception, within the budget.”
“My Celebrity Dream Wedding” airs Mondays at 9pm/8c on VH1 and is available for streaming on the VH1 app the following day. Follow the social conversation at #CelebDreamWedding.