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Wedding advice from local experts

Bridal planner Tammy Cunningham, pictured in her home

Bridal planner Tammy Cunningham, pictured in her home office in Sayville, gives advice on planning a perfect wedding. Credit: Photo by Danielle Finkelstein

Long Island is home to some of the most opulent wedding venues in the country. So it's no surprise that it's also home to some of the country's premier wedding planners and stylists. Here are tips from six pros for creating an elegant, memorable day:


Best known for overseeing the Oheka Castle winter wonderland wedding of pop sensation Kevin Jonas and his bride, Danielle Deleasa, in December.

-Pick a monochromatic color theme, such as cream and white or shades of pink. "This makes the wedding very elegant and contemporary and it can be done on any budget and it will look beautiful," he says.

-For spring and summer weddings, using fresh fruit and garden herbs in table arrangements is key, says Russo, who began his career as a floral designer. "Potted mini herbs placed at the base of floral arrangements can be taken as wedding favors," Russo says. "Using fresh fruit is low in cost and gives an overall lush and abundant feel to your table decor."

-Couples should chose a venue they love the way it is. "To change the decor of a venue dramatically means it's not the venue for you," he says. "Find a venue that fits your theme; this way, you can maximize the look for less."


Orchestrated the style elements of the February wedding of Olympic track star Sanya Richards and New York Giants cornerback Aaron Ross in Austin, Texas. She offers these pointers to style-conscious couples:

-Brides should change during the reception. "That way you're not dragging your wedding dress around, and you don't start looking like a wilting flower," White says.

-Brides shoud think outside the box in terms of dress color. "You don't have to wear white. Ivory, pale pink and dove gray are hot trends in weddings, as well as runway fashion."

-Think carefully about accessorizing the dress. "The rule for accessories is to ask yourself: 'Is it fighting with the ring?' 'Is it upstaging the wedding gown?' If the answer is not 'no,' then ditch it."

-Shoes should reflect the mood and shade of the dress, White says. "Go for a seamless look rather than a contrast." For Richards' big day, "We chose Stuart Weitzman ivory satin shoes with a crystal buckle for the ceremony and a higher, sexier pair for the reception."

Massapequa, 516-799-3643,

Lociero has been planning weddings and other celebrations for more than 10 years. Achieving a celebrity- style wedding is possible on a budget, LoCicero says.

-Couples should understand their costs upfront and be realistic about their budget. "If family members are helping pay for your wedding, have a clear understanding of what their contribution is," she says. "Most importantly, before you sign your first contract, educate yourself. All too often, brides blow a bulk of their budget on the first one or two elements, then struggle to pay for the rest of the necessary items."

-There is no substitute for live entertainment, LoCicero says, but at $1,000 per musician, a live band may not be an option. For couples choosing a DJ, "consider adding one or two live musicians to play along with the DJ like a percussionist or a bass guitarist," LoCicero says. "You'll still have the DJ sound with the same level of excitement that comes along with live music."

-Cocktail-style receptions are becoming very popular and can be a cost-effective solution for reducing your wedding budget, LoCicero says. "Cocktail-style receptions lend themselves to a variety of cuisines; consider various ethnic choices or vegetarian selections," she says. "In addition to butler-served hors d'oeuvres, add a few stations such as sushi, risotto, ceviche or a Mediterranean display. Separate the stations around the venue space to avoid the look and feel of a traditional buffet."

Sayville, 631-567-7970,

Cunningham has planned weddings and created custom invitations for more than 10 years. She has coordinated corporate events for Donna Karan and others in the fashion industry.

-Wedding invitations are one of the few pieces of mail that people enjoy receiving, Cunningham says, so make the envelope stand out by selecting a uniquely shaped style, such as a square or tea length.

-Custom wedding stamps are a great way to dress up your wedding invitation envelopes and to reflect your personal style, Cunningham says. Many Web sites offer personalized stamps using an uploaded photo in addition to ready-to-use wedding designs.

-Serve your cocktails from a "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" menu. Take recommendations from special people involved in the wedding for their favorite old/classic drink, a new/modern drink, a favorite borrowed unique drink recipe, and a blue cocktail. "It's a festive way to get the party started while involving those dear to you," Cunningham says.

Huntington, 631-547-9070,

Woodard got her start in corporate events and in 2002 launched Plan-It Productions of Huntington, specializing in high-end weddings.

-Let there be light, Woodard says. "Candles, candles, candles - flood your reception hall with them - candlelight makes everything look elegant."

-Woodard suggests having a florist design something special for the back of ceremony and reception chairs. "Have the florist incorporate a flower, ribbon, bead and jewel that they are using somewhere else in the decor. This ties in the overall look of the event."

-Continue your monogram throughout the wedding. "Put it on your cake, napkins," she says. Have a lighting template made to project the monogram on the dance floor at a cost of about $150. "It creates a great look for the party," Woodard says.


Corcoran-Pineiro is an expert at planning destination weddings. The company also has a consultant in military wedding protocol on staff.

-Caribbean weddings are still hot, Corcoran-Pineiro says. "The American dollar can get you an elegant and beautiful affair." All-inclusive resorts are the best way to go, she says, because all food, room and airfare charges are included.

-Couples planning an island wedding should make sure they are familiar with the residency and marriage requirements on each island. "Every island is different, and if you are missing one piece of paper or you are one day short of residency , they will not marry you," she says.

-Couples planning a military wedding should consult an expert in military customs. "Certain protocol has to be followed in a military ceremony," she says, such as order of entrance and seating arrangements, "especially when officers are involved."

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