You’ve seen David Tutera’s My Fair Wedding brides plan their weddings, but have you ever wondered how they feel about their big day long after the cake has been cut?
We caught up with four My Fair Wedding brides to ask them how the celebrity wedding planner made their dreams come true, just weeks before the guests were scheduled to arrive.
Wendy Nettleingham (now Wendy Nichols)
Wendy Nichols, whose touching story unfolds on the fifth season premiere of My Fair Wedding on Sunday, November 13, is one of the most inspiring brides in the show’s history.
When Wendy’s 15-year-old son, Ryan, received a life-threatening cancer diagnosis, she and her fiancé put their wedding plans on hold.
“We got engaged and then found out within a month that he had cancer. Everything spiraled — I gave up on the whole wedding idea,” she says.
Thankfully, Ryan was in full remission by the time he turned 17. But he still got to ask the Make-A-Wish Foundation for one wish: to bring David Tutera to Topeka, Kansas, to give his mom her dream wedding.
“He wanted David Tutera to come and do my wedding because he would see me watching that wedding show. The only wedding planning I did was watch David Tutera,” Wendy says.
Disappointingly, Wendy was told that Tutera couldn’t do the episode — he had another wedding planned on her wedding date. Make-A-Wish told Wendy they would plan her wedding as if it were a David Tutera wedding — all she had to do was provide details on her favorite episode, preferences etc.
At this point, Wendy was making her own centerpieces with the help of local Boy Scouts. She was told that Chinese food and flowers would be donated from the local grocery store. But she still held out hope that David would be able to do to the wedding.
“I kept thinking if I hoped hard enough, it would happen,” she says. Just in case, her maid of honor advised her to move the wedding date so David would be available.
At this point, the wedding was a week and a half away, and Wendy still hadn’t finalized the food. Just when she was starting to get really stressed out, she got a phone call — the whole time she thought she was talking to Make-A-Wish, she was talking to My Fair Wedding. And of course, David was behind it all.
Wendy doesn’t want to reveal any other details (because the episode hasn’t aired yet!), but she says David more than lived up to her expectations.
“Working with him was amazing — he just has so much passion for what he does that I didn’t feel any kind of stress about the wedding at all.”
As for Ryan, his wish came true, too.
“He said it was the greatest time he ever had in his life,” Wendy says.
Katie Vils (now Katie Wiggins)
Katie Vils wasn’t exactly your typical bride. She had her heart set on a “Day of the Dead” theme for her wedding — in the middle of June, no less!
“A Day of the Dead festival celebrates death, but it’s mostly a celebration of life,” she explains. “My husband and I are kind of offbeat — we liked the idea of celebrating living life to the fullest till death do us part,” she says.
Katie soon found out that her “offbeat” theme wasn’t so easy to apply to a wedding.
“I was having a really hard time, ordering tacky things online that didn’t work out. I’m a huge fan of My Fair Wedding, so we applied,” she says.
When David stepped in — only three weeks before the wedding — he pretty much overhauled all of Katie’s plans.
“Somehow he could I understand where I was trying to go with it,” she raves.
Katie had bought her wedding gown before giving birth to her baby, but it no longer fit, so David chose a new dress. He picked “perfect” black dresses with red roses for the bridesmaids, and a cake with a center layer that looked like a Mexican sugar skull head (Katie’s family is Mexican). He had dark red roses hand-sprayed so they looked old (“they were amazing,” Katie gushes) and put hanging moss everywhere.
“In talking to David, it went from Day of the Dead to Dawn of the Dead. It was more romantic — the way I was going it was looking a little bit obnoxious,” she says.
David even redid the proposal.
“Josh and I had gotten pregnant and then decided to get married,” Katie explains. “We didn’t have a lot of money and he hadn’t gotten me a really nice ring, so David set up a whole amazing proposal for us and got Josh to re-propose to me.”
As for the wedding rings, Katie and Josh planned to have them tattooed on during the ceremony — but David upgraded them to “respectable” wedding rings.
“I still to this day am completely blown away that this was my wedding,” Katie says.
Mandy Ferrer (now Mandy Little)
Mandy’s wedding was only a month away, and her plans were all over the place.
“I didn’t really plan my wedding out very well, and I didn’t have very much time before my wedding day was coming. It all happened so quickly, and I was like, ‘This could possibly be a disaster,’” she admits.
Mandy, an artist, pinup photographer and former Marilyn Monroe impersonator, said her wedding was shaping up to be “some kind of crazy carnival with Marilyn Monroe.”
That’s when David stepped in.
“I was happy to have somebody with a lot of experience giving me direction and making my wedding somewhat normalish,” Mandy says.
But not too normal, of course.
“It was still really fabulous and beautiful — I think it was just right. It still had a little bit of superglamness and he allowed for my creativity and quirkiness.”
For example, Mandy wanted a Marilyn Monroe/”Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” theme from the movie “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” so David had the waiters dress like characters from the movie with white handkerchiefs over their arms. He also set up a stage with a hot pink curtain and feather boas and had Mandy serenade her groom with Judy Garland’s “You Made Me Love You,” using a 1940s-style big band for backup.
“It was completely amazing what he did — it was almost like a show. Everybody said it was best wedding they’d ever been to,” she gushes.
Noelle Kane (now Noelle Carillo)
Southern belle Noelle was in the process of planning her wedding when she became a victim of identity theft.
“All of the money I’d put toward the wedding was taken,” she says.
A friend submitted Noelle’s video to My Fair Wedding, and David took up her case… just three weeks before the big day!
“I met David and he was absolutely wonderful. He took my mish-mash of a wedding and turned it into a dream wedding,” Noelle says.
Noelle really wanted her wedding to reflect her Southern roots, as well as her close relationship with her family.
“He molded the wedding around me, but my family as well. He saw very tight knit mothers and daughters were the backbone of my family,” Noelle says.
To do this, David took the saying, “Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue” to heart. He contacted Noelle’s grandmother, who had her mom’s wedding dress (Noelle didn’t even know it still existed!), cut up the fabric and wrapped it around her bouquet.
“It was really special — holding on to my mom’s dress for strength helped me get down the aisle,” Noelle says.
As for her Southern roots, David created a “Southern princess theme” that “felt like a forest.”
“It was like a giant fairy tale,” Noelle says.
Noelle had one big issue — she was addicted to her glue gun! But David showed her how to put it to good use.
“We personalized the table for me and my husband — he took lace and satin rose petals and rhinestones that really popped but were still very sleek and simple. He showed me you don’t have to be loud to be elegant.”
David then chose lighting that “made you feel like you were in a bubble of prettiness”; over 24,000 roses; a “va va voom” hairpin that he made himself using rhinestones and pearls; and “every freakin’ dessert that a Southern family would eat,” including a cake that he personalized using the pattern on Noelle’s mother’s wedding dress.
As for Noelle’s dress, he basically saved the day.
“I have body image problems… he helped me pick a dress that I felt comfortable in and gave me the confidence to wear it. He was like, ‘It’s your wedding day, pick a dress that you want to wear.’”
More than two years later, Noelle doesn’t think she would have been able to pull it all off without him.
“I don’t think I could have even dreamed this up if I went to sleep. I call him the Mary Poppins of weddings because he kept pulling tricks out of his pockets. He’s a genuine person — I don’t think he does this for money or fame, I think he does it because he loves it.”