Fantasy Weddings

With an unlimited budget and a lot of imagination, three top planners organize some weddings to remember.

WEDDINGS IN DALLAS RUN THE GAMUT FROM intimate, at-home family affairs to formal, sit-down dinners. To show just how different weddings can be, we enlisted three of Dallas’ premier part} plan Rust) Glenn, Nina Austin, and Todd Fiscus-to create three fantasy weddings. We didn’t impose a budget, just a time and the number of guests.

AT HOME IN THE GARDEN

LEARNED THE ART OF floral design as a child in the buck of a grocery store in Missouri, started his own business in the early ’80s with a $1,000 loan from a client. After working out of his East Dallas garage for four years, Glenn gained entree to Dallas’ A-list parties through clients like the Henry S. Miller Jr. family. Glenn’s talents have since been on display at virtually every major social event in Dallas, including last December’s Crystal Charity Ball.

“I’m a traditionalist and my weddings are traditional,” he says. “Trends are wonderful, but they are just trendy. You don’t want to look back 15 years from now and say, ’What the hell was I thinking?”’

We asked Glenn to design a traditional, 11 a.m. wedding at the home of the parents of a fictitious Dallas bride, followed by a brunch for 100 guests.

Glenn called on Dallas caterer Wendy Krispin to create a champagne brunch menu and Margaret Redmond, buyer for all Neiman Marcus bridal salons, for the wedding gown and bridesmaid dresses.

The Wedding

The springtime ceremony will take place at the home of the bride’s parents in the backyard garden under a pergola created from four 8-foot-tall architectural columns topped with a custom-made iron dome covered in honeysuckle vines, wild smilax, and 2,000 pastel pink Anna roses. One hundred bleached-wood ballroom chairs will be set up in 10 rows of 10, with an aisle in the middle marked by a garland of white heather and antique iron rods topped with a sphere of roses. The aisle runner will be hand-painted by Glenn’s in-house artist to coordinate with the climbing rose vines on the pergola.

The Bride’s Ensemb

FOR A MORNING WEDDING SET IN A GARDEN, Margaret Redmond suggests a sleeveless empire dress of ivory silk organza covered with embroidered flowers by Christos of New York. A chapel-length train and matching headpiece attached to a sheer fingertip-length veil will complete the look. “It is simple and elegant and fits the intimate setting of the home,” says Redmond. Etiquette rules out beading or sequins for amoming wedding, but a few pearls would be acceptable.

Glenn suggests a bridal bouquet of massed lilies of the valley, blush sweet peas, white lilac, and garden-variety tea rose sprays from Holland.

The Wedding Par

REDMOND SELECTED A LONG VERA WANG gown in celadon silk satin with a bib-style bodice, spaghetti straps, and slim skirt with a chiffon overlay for the bridesmaids. Etiquette rules out a tuxedo for a wedding before 6 p.m., so the groom and groomsmen will be dressed in gray single-breasted strollers, coordinating vests, striped trousers, and gray or striped gray ties.

For the bridesmaids, Glenn suggests a gathered stem bouquet of Viburnum, fresh rosemary, Bupleurum, Orchid Phlox, white lilac, pink tea rose sprays, pink sweet peas, Godetia, Calacina, heather, and pink hyacinth blossoms wrapped in a coordinating Swiss dotted ribbon treatment. For the flower girl, Glenn proposes a halo of pink garden roses with hyacinth, white lilac, white heather, and orchid tinged phlox, with cascading streamers of a narrow French milliner ribbon. A petal basket, covered in pink tea and peach cabbage roses, will be filled with fresh lavender, rosemary, and giant Swiss pansy blooms.

THE Reception

A DRAMATIC ENTRANCE TO THE TENT WILL be created by two 6-foot columns topped with vintage urns filled with flowering plum branches, a variety of flowers, and clusters of green apples and limes. Overhead, there will be four 35-foot Chilean grape garlands starting at each comer of the tent and meeting at four different points toward the center of the tent. Attached to each garland is a moss-covered hanging basket of flowers and variegated needlepoint ivy suspended at 8 feet. The bandstand, which will be surrounded at the base by a virtual rose garden, will be flanked by four columns topped with vintage urns overflowing with flowers.

The Champagne Brunc

FOLLOWING THE CEREMONY, THE GUESTS will be welcomed to the tented area and offered a variety of fresh-squeezed juices, raspberry mimosas. Bloody Marys, and sparkling water. Wendy Krispin’s wedding brunch will begin with scrambled eggs in a toasted bread cup topped with Beluga caviar, followed by bagels served with smoked salmon, capers, and cream cheese. An assortment of plum and apple Danishes accompanied by tropical fruits and raspberries will complete the meal.

Each table will be covered in cotton damask in a four-colored square pattern then topped by a silk organza overlay in a floral pattern. To keep the atmosphere personal, Glenn suggests the bride borrow the sterling and china from her relatives and close friends. Each table will have its own personality; a sense of continuity will be achieved through matching tablecloths, flowers, crystal, and silver chargers. With the permission of the bride, Glenn plans to raid the family heirlooms; everything in sterling silver will be used in groups for centerpieces-a variety of European garden flowers with groupings of grapes, limes, apples, and Brussels sprouts.

Wedding Cakes

Glenn chose Taste of Europe cake makers in Fort Worth to supply the three-tiered, orange-and-Grand Marnier wedding cake, which will be covered in butter cream icing and decorated with fresh flowers. The groom’s cake, also by Taste of Europe, will be a two-tiered velvet chocolate cake with ganache chocolate icing topped with roses, leaves, loops, and tears of chocolate and fresh raspberries.

Approximate total cost: $53,000, including the bride’s ensemble, ceremony decor, invitations, music, reception decor, food and beverage, staff costs, and cakes.

RANCH-STYLE ROMANCE

NINA NICHOLS AUSTIN WAS AN ASPIRING actress simply trying to make ends meet when she took a part-time job in a local bridal boutique. But after a month, Austin was managing the store. She went on to become manager of the Bridal Salon at Neiman Marcus NorthPark for three years and worked for a year in catering with Chow of Dallas before becoming an independent wedding consultant in 1985. Seven years later, she was asked to launch a bridal salon at Stanley Korshak. Since then, Austin has run her wedding consulting business out of the store at The Crescent, where she is manager and buyer for the Bridal Salon. Over the years, Austin has helped the Perots, the Horchows, and assorted Hunts with their weddings.

We asked Austin to arrange an afternoon wedding on a ranch for 250 guests. She chose the wedding gown and bridesmaids dresses from Stanley Korshak. She asked Garden Gate to help with the floral design and The Food Company to create the menu for the buffet-style dinner.

The Wedding

“WHAT I’M GOING FOR IS RANCH CHIC,” says Austin. “Without fighting the environment, the goal is to make everything elegant and comfortable for the guests.”

Upon arrival at the ranch, guests will be transported to the ceremony by flatbed wagons drawn by teams of horses. The family’s antique quilts will keep the guests comfortable. Ranch hands, dressed in black Wranglers, white dress shirts, and black cowboy hats, will serve as drivers.

Austin believes that the natural beauty of the rustic outdoors precludes the need for traditional decorations. Making a huge old tree by the water the focal point for the outdoor “chapel,” she suggests creating a simple altar from stones on the property and attaching an antique wrought-iron cross to the tree behind the altar. The altar itself will be covered in fall foliage and vines; roses, blue delphinium, calla lilies, and hydrangeas will be tucked in between the stones. Guests will sit on chairs covered with cream-colored organdy accented with leaves and tied in back with chocolate brown organza ribbon. The center aisle will be decorated with a garland of grapevines, coffee berries, and foliage.

The Bride’s Ensemb

For an afternoon, fall wedding, a semi-formal gown-without beadwork, sequins, or extensive lace-is appropriate. “It would seem that my fictitious, fifth-generation ranching family would have some divine family heirlooms,” says Austin. “So I picked a wedding gown to match an antique lace veil worn by the bride’s great, great, great grandmother.”

Working with an ankle-length heirloom veil, Austin suggests a simple silk shantung gown by Wearkstatt featuring a princess-cut silhouette and a tank neckline. The coordinating fitted bolero jacket will have short sleeves and a stand-up collar. Austin selected a miniature tiara from Stanley Korshak in an antique finish embellished with pearls to secure the veil. Because the waltz-length gown will reveal the bridal shoes, Austin picked a t-strap design with a rhinestone buckle.

Tocomplete the ensemble, Austin asked Garden Gate to create a small bouquet of white amaryllis, white freesia, lily of the valley, white tulips, and stephanotis accented with pearls.

The Wdding Parrty

TO COMPLEMENT THE BRIDE’S DRESS AND the color scheme, Austin selected a short-sleeved chocolate brown Jim Helm dress with a velvet bodice and waltz-length satin skirt for the bridesmaids. Hand-tied nosegays, designed by Garden Gate, will include assorted roses, marliese, bells of Ireland, berries, seed eucalyptus, dark blue delphinium, and coffee berries.

For the groom and his groomsmen, Austin suggests a tailored, black wool Western suit, crisp white shirt with black satin ribbon tie, and black dress boots.

The Reception

AS THE SUN SETS, THE RANCH HANDS WILL light torches and a bonfire. Guests will enjoy hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, in addition to a simple buffet of cheese and fruit. The cocktail tent will be decorated with small, flower-filled copper urns and fruit surrounded by votive candles on damask-clothed cocktail rounds.

Inside the main tent, Austin will juxtapose the elegant with the rustic. Beginning with the ceiling, she will create a magical view of the moon and stars through leaf-covered branches. Japanese lanterns will be suspended from the ceiling; tiny lights will give the effect of looking through the trees to the stars.

Arrangements for the buffet-huge copper urns overflowing with flowers and fruits-will echo the overall autumnal color scheme. Taupe-colored damask tablecloths will be topped with an iron tripod holding flower arrangements custom-designed by Garden Gate. Three slow-burning pillar candles will complete the centerpieces and add a romantic glow. At the far end of the tent, a dance floor will accommodate the Dr. Larry “T-Byrd” Gordon Band.

Logistics

A BIG CONCERN OF A RANCH WEDDING IS transportation. Austin recommends two buses: one to transport in-town guests from a designated location where they can park their cars, and another to transport out-of-town guests from their hotel.

Having dinner in a field means bringing inside comforts to the outdoors. Floor covering for the tent is a must. In addition to the cocktail and dinner/dancing areas, extra tents will be needed for coat check, catering preparations, breezeways, and the portable bathrooms, which will require an independent water source. Because of the cool nights in late October, the tents will also have to have perimeter heating.

The Dinner Buff

THE MENU CREATED BY THE FOOD COMpany complements the season and location of the wedding. Waiters will pass duck gumbo in pastry cups, bite-sized crab cakes with tomato remoulade, and roasted onion soup in demitasse cups. Austin specifically requested a menu that could be eaten while standing and with just a fork: peppered beef tenderloin, grilled pheasant, and rabbit sausage presented on a bed of roasted fall vegetables; boneless dove breast in mole sauce; layered pasilla casserole with black beans and cheese; baby spinach with red and yellow pear tomatoes in a cayenne buttermilk dressing; and assorted breads.

Wedding Cak

THE EVEN-LAYER, AMARETTO-FLAVORED cake by Frosted Art will be covered in smooth fondant icing. Fondant fruits and braided ropes of icing will accent each layer, and the top will be finished with an urn filled with cascading flowers and fruit. On either side will be two chocolate-and-Kahlua-flavored groom’s cakes, also by Frosted Art.

The Finale

AUSTIN’S CLIMACTIC END TO THE EVENING: fireworks will go off as the bride and groom run through fresh flower petals to their getaway car-a white ’72 Cadillac convertible with red interior.

Approximate total cost: $97,000, including the bride’s ensemble, music, tents and accessories, rentals, flowers for ceremony and reception, staff fees, food and beverage, fireworks, transportation, invitations, and cakes.

AN ELEGANT AFFAIR

TODD FISCUS, WHO MAJORED IN RESTAU-rant and hotel management, spent his early post-graduate years as a social sales director for a hotel, where he was decidedly underwhelmed by the floral design and decor that he saw at hotel events.

He went to work for veteran floral designer Terry Inman in 1993 to see if he could turn his affinity for flowers into something more. Within weeks, Inman suggested Fiscus start his own business.

In 1994, Fiscus and partner Rob Dailey opened the doors to Two Design Group and focused on the lucrative business of Dallas weddings and parties. Fiscus points to a trend toward small, more intimate gatherings with greater attention to detail. His clientele is getting older, with the average age of most brides falling between 29 and 31 and many between 32 and 40.

’They don’t mind spending $30,000 or $40,000, but they want to spend it right,” he says. “Unlike the ’80s, where bigger was best, brides today want something subtle and sophisticated.”

Fiscus usually has to recommend that the family pare down its guest list. He has a rule of thumb for who makes the cut: “If you would invite them to your home as a couple for dinner, then you should invite them to the wedding.” Based on this philosophy, we kept Fiscus’ guest list to an intimate 80 and asked him to design a formal wedding followed by a reception and dinner at The Crescent Club. Fiscus worked with Patsy’s Bridal Boutique to find the gown and the chef at The Crescent Club to develop the menu.

Two Design Group strives to reflect the personality of the client in the thematic development of fabrics, colors, and flowers. So before Fiscus could create a fantasy wedding, he created a fantasy couple: world travelers in their 30s who collect fine Asian antiques and plan to honeymoon in the Orient. Both the bride and groom have an affinity for clean lines. Fiscus chose a seated dinner format for the reception, but points out thai this menu and design concept could easily be transformed to a buffet dinner or cocktail party.

The Wedding

IT IS IMPORTANT TO FISCUS THAT A PARTY’S design concept flow from the invitation. For this occasion, he recommends a custom-made folder of silk book cloth in the form of a long, narrow booklet tasseled with silk ribbons and a silver bead. The traditional wording of the invitation is in hand calligraphy.

The decorations for the ceremony, held at the church of the bride’s family, will be as sophisticated and understated as the bride and groom. Fiscus, going for impact at the altar, will design two simple, but commanding, arrangements of 200 mahogany-colored French tulips in aged fluted urns sitting atop stone columns. Hand-tied clusters of chocolate brown orchids with a string of five copper-leafed brown pears and a lemon grass tassel will mark the pews and create a dramatic center aisle. The music is definitely different: In addition to strings, the celestial a cappella voices of the 40-member Collegium Cantorum will echo from the balcony.

The Bride’s Ensemble

AN 8 P.M. WEDDING MEANS BLACK-TIE attire for guests-even if it is not specified on the invitation. A bride marrying at this hour can dress as formally as she chooses, in an elaborate dress with extensive beadwork, lace, and sequins. Patsy’s Bridal Boutique suggests a Lazaro sleeveless gown of white silk satin in a sheath silhouette with a stunning Austrian crystal encrusted neckline and an oval sweep train. The matching chapel-length veil, which extends beyond the train of the dress in a tier of silk illusion sprinkled with Austrian crystals, can be attached to abandeaux or tiara headpiece. Patsy’s recommends opera-length gloves by Carolina Amato in a soft white matte satin. Because of the veil’s extensive length, Fiscus recommends the bride wear a pair of antique platinum straight hairpins embellished with pearls and Austrian crystal pomanders during the reception. The bridal bouquet: a pave of gardenia and jasmine blossoms wired into a long handle with a looped end finished in Chinese silk ribbon.

The Wedding Party

FlSCUS CHOSE A RICH, BROWN EMPORIO Armani gown for the bridesmaids and commissioned a local couture designer to make a brown organza wrap with black beading as a gift from the bride to her friends. Fiscus, who routinely scours vintage shops for ideas, suggests vintage, black beaded bags to complete the look.

Etiquette dictates tails and white-tie for an 8 p.m. wedding, but Fiscus suggests “tuxedos with style, not tradition” for his sophisticated groom. The groom and groomsmen would look best, he says, in a five-buttoned, black wool tuxedo with a mandarin collar worn with a white-banded collar. No tie.

The Recepti

THROUGH BEAUTIFUL, BUT RESTRAINED, decor, Fiscus plans to transform The Crescent Club into a magical setting for the wedding dinner. The guest-book table and a table at the center of the cocktail party both have huge arrangements of tulips, parrots, peonies, cosmos, Leonidias, Estelle de Milan roses, and lambs ear in shades of brown, gold, celadon, lavender, coral, mahogany, and white. For the focal point of the dining room-the chandelier-Fiscus will create an Ora-gami lampshade of silver iridescent paper with the couple’s monogram inscribed on the backside and illuminated by the lights. W.T. Greer will provide the music.

The dinner tables will have floor-length tablecloths of kiwi-colored silk charmeuse with an overlay of kiwi silk organza. For the centerpieces, a simple mahogany box will be filled with a pave of 80 white cabbage roses. Fiscus suggests elaborate bone china and Waterford crystal goblets for each place setting. Two Design Group’s silver chargers and silver napkin rings around a crisp Irish linen napkin complement the silver Chivari opera chairs covered in Two Design Group’s silver silk cushions and chair backs. Guests will find their places at the table personalized with names written in calligraphy on a Japanese floral paper tucked into a miniature sickle pear. Also at each place setting are gifts from the bride and groom: passion fruit lea leaves and a small silver tea caddy.

The Seated Dinn

THE CRESCENT CLUB’S HEAD CHEF, RON Rosenbaum, in consultation with Fiscus, proposes a first course of Asian California rolls served with a steamed dumpling and peanut dipping sauce. Passion fruit sorbet will cleanse the palate for the pistachio-crusted veal served with a gold coin corn cake with sesame French beans. Rosenbaum completes the meal with a prelude to the wedding cake: brandied pears topped with an almond meringue rosette.

Wedding Cak

FISCUS KEEPS IT SIMPLE WITH ONE WEDDING cake. Working with Frosted Art, Fiscus designed a square cake with a harlequin cut border. More than 300 marzipan sephanotis blooms with a pearl dragee in the center will mark each cross point of the harlequin pattern, and thin ribbons of frosting will cascade from top to bottom.

Approximate total cost: $48,000, including the bride’s ensemble, ceremony decor, music, reception decor, staff costs, food and beverage, cake and cake table, guest favors, invitations, and bridesmaids’ gifts.

Kristy and Jim French call them “God-things.” Others call them plain good luck. Whatever the term, most of the details for Kristy and Jim’s November wedding waited until the days, even hours, preceding the ceremony.

The former Kristy Stubbs, an art dealer, met Jim, a real estate broker, in October 1994, when he walked into her art gallery with his girlfriend. Kristy was stuffing Invitations to an upcoming opening and handed one to the couple. At the opening two weeks later, Jim showed up without the girlfriend. They had their first date the next night.

Three years later, they were planning their wedding. The couple decided on a small ceremony at First Presbyterian Church of Dallas, followed by a reception at their new home in Greenway Parks.

The first in a series of “God-things” occurred eight days before the wedding. Kristy and Jim French call them “God-things.” Others call them plain good luck. Whatever the term, most of the details for Kristy and Jim’s November wedding waited until the days, even hours, preceding the ceremony.

The former Kristy Stubbs, an art dealer, met Jim, a real estate broker, in October 1994, when he walked into her art gallery with his girlfriend. Kristy was stuffing Invitations to an upcoming opening and handed one to the couple. At the opening two weeks later, Jim showed up without the girlfriend. They had their first date the next night.

Three years later, they were planning their wedding. The couple decided on a small ceremony at First Presbyterian Church of Dallas, followed by a reception at their new home in Greenway Parks.

The first in a series of “God-things” occurred eight days before the wedding. Kristy had commissioned a designer to create her gown, but when it was delivered, it looked “like a short dress with a robe over it.” With little time to spare, she found a white Carmen Marc Volvo gown off the rack at Neiman Marcus, as well as five Dana Buchman dresses for her bridesmaids. On the day of the wedding, Kristy found a veil at Patsy’s Bridal Boutique and pieces for her honeymoon trousseau at Sheers Body Bar.

The invitation to the reception (“blue jeans optional”) set the tone, and the centerpieces-a bottle of tequila, shot glasses, and limes atop silver chargers-reminded guests they were there to have fun.

“The mini-honeymoon” took place at The Mansion on Turtle Creek. Executive Chef Dean Fearing, whose wife Lynae was one of Kristy’s bridesmaids, sent an eight-course dinner to the Frenches’ suite. Anyone would consider that a “God-thing.”-C.D.

KEEPING UP THE TRADITION

You never know what will make you fall in love. For Megan McElhenny, now 23 and a first-grade teacher at the Greenhill School, it was watching her then-boyfriend, Brian Fox, as he helped two elderly ladles scrape the ice off their windshield outside a movie theater. Maybe she was looking for a reason to fall In love that night. Earlier In the evening, her fortune cookie had read, “Stop searching. You have found happiness forever.”

Although it took him three years to ask her out, Brian admits to love, or at least crush, at first sight: “I’ve had a crush on Megan since freshman orientation at SMU.” Last May, Brian, 24, an accountant with Ernst & Young, took Megan’s father to dinner and asked his permission to propose.

Brian and Megan decided on a big traditional wedding at Highland Park Presbyterian Church. With 12 attendants in pink Vera Wang bridesmaid dresses and pink and white flowers, It could look like a scene out of Steel Magnolias. But they are trying to keep things elegant and simple: “We are both traditional and we want the wedding to be traditional,” says Megan. “Pink is my favorite color, so I wouldn’t feel like it was my wedding if it wasn’t pink.”

Like most brides to be, Megan has the evening of her 7 o’clock candlelight wedding pictured perfectly. The flowers at the church, predominately white with hints of pink and peach, will be placed on every fourth pew and in two huge arrangements on the altar. For their reception at the Belo Mansion, Megan envisions tables accented with candles and white flowers and a string quartet to welcome the guests, Dessert, of course, will be cake-a five-tiered Italian cream wedding cake and a three-layer banana groom’s cake with chocolate icing.

There is still plenty of time left for ballroom dancing lessons, registering for gifts-and getting nervous. Megan is sure that her decision to marry Brian is right but admits, “There would be something wrong with me if I didn’t question marrying Brian,” she says. “But I could not picture life without him.”-C.D.

A HOLLYWOOD RECEPTION

On April 11,1997, the weather in Dallas was unseasonably cold for a reason. As a guest toasting Ladd Hirsch and Cindy Frankel at their rehearsal dinner put it: “The 39-year-old confirmed bachelor is getting married. Hell Is freezing over.”

Cindy and Ladd, attorneys with Patton Boggs and Haynes & Boone respectively, settled on a Hollywood movie premiere theme. The invitations, on black glossy paper designed to look like a roll of film, read, “Hirsch Productions Proudly Presents A World-Awaited Premiere: The Wedding of Cindy and Ladd. The Curtain Rises on Saturday, the twelfth of April at half past seven o’clock.”

The Jewish wedding ceremony was theme-free, except for the recessional: The string quartet played a tango, the theme from Scent of a Woman. The couple personalized the ceremony by making their chuppah, the traditional Jewish wedding canopy, and writing the English portion of the ketubah, a Jewish wedding contract. For the chuppah, Cindy decorated the poles with silk garland and gold tassels and used a prayer shawl purchased in Israel-where Ladd proposed- for the canopy.

At the reception at the Dallas World Aquarium, they rolled out the red carpet-literally-for guests who forged through the flashing lights of paparaz2i to make it inside. Even the wedding cake was topped with a chocolate movie camera and garnished with pseudo movie film. Marilyn Monroe and Humphrey Bogart look-alikes mingled, as guests indulged in caviar and smoked salmon and danced to big-band music.

The Hirsches left for their honeymoon the next morning-five days on St. Thomas and two days in Orlando, Fla., followed by two days In Sarasota with Ladd’s parents. Says Ladd: “What more could a Jewish son do but include his mother on his honeymoon?”-C.D.

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