CHILL OUT: If you attempt to micromanage every aspect of your big day, a la these two in Bride Wars, things are bound to turn to custard.

A marriage proposal is bliss, particularly if it involves French champagne and a sunset by the ocean. But planning the actual wedding? Not so much.

But help is at at hand, in the form of wedding planner to the stars Preston Bailey.

We spoke with Bailey on the dos and don’ts required to get you from the proposal to the altar in style while maintaining sanity and solvency. No small feat? Bailey is definitely up to the task.

Let’s take a moment to establish his credentials: the softly-spoken American masterminded the $US10 million wedding last year of former Facebook president Sean Parker, which included Tolkien-esque costumes for all 364 guests that were created by Lord of the Rings costume designer Ngila Dickson, and cost Parker $US4.5 million alone for the wooded site at Big Sur.

Bailey was also behind the nuptials of James Packer and Erica Baxter, when they tied the knot in 2007 with a lavish five-day celebration at Hotel du Cap Eden Roc in Antibes.

His client list also includes Oprah Winfrey, Donald Trump, Michael Douglas and Donna Karan.

For his own wedding on Valentine’s Day last year, Preston hired the Empire State Building in New York, where he emerged from a giant sculpture of a bridal gown to marry his partner with Joan Rivers presiding as the celebrant.

Bailey clearly moves in social circles where cost is not much of an issue, but the genial American is adamant anyone can have their dream day no matter what their budget is. Here are his dos and don’ts.


– Be sure to create a budget. No one wants to pay much attention to this area because weddings are about fantasy and enchantment, but sometimes our dreams are much more expensive than the reality.

– Focus on what is most important to you. If you can’t afford everything, you might want to choose that one element that is more meaningful to you. If you love music, invest your resources there, or if you are passionate about food, focus on that.

– Hire a wedding planner. Most people don’t understand the level of detail that goes into planning a wedding. If you have a professional who understands the ins and outs, you will save yourself a lot of headaches, and even sometimes money.

– Consider a theme. Think about those elements that are most important to you, and how you can meld them into an evening with a certain feeling and theme.

– Have fun. On the day of your wedding it is important to hand it over to other people and have a great time. I’ve seen way too many couples so invested in micromanaging their wedding that they forget to relax and enjoy the day.


– Do not follow trends. With social media and all the different images we have out there now, it’s easy for people to get carried away copying celebrities or dresses. Focus on something unique to you.

– Don’t go into debt. One of the biggest problems I’ve had in all these years is money. I’ve known couples who have gone into debt because of not paying attention to their budget. Getting married is exciting, you are in the moment and you think you must have it whatever the cost, but remember your budget.

– Don’t forget the groom and the groomsmen. One of the biggest mistakes potential brides make is thinking it’s their show and their day, so they consult the groom very seldom. Of course some grooms don’t want to be really involved with the planning, but always make an effort consult them.

– Don’t fight with your mother. The relationship between the daughter and the mother can be difficult during the planning. The mother always think it’s the daughter’s wedding but that it’s the mother’s party. So it’s incredibly important to maintain that connection between mother and daughter to make it into a fun, productive wedding instead of the struggle filled with fights. So be very careful about fighting with your mum, especially when your mum and dad are paying for your wedding.

– Don’t forget the details. There is no one detail that is more important than another. Make sure that all the details are covered, from the table centrepieces to your dress.

– Sydney Morning Herald