Destination Weddings, Fitness Packages and Tattoos Punch Up Wedding Salon 2015


An Aerithe gown picture worth 1000 words


Wedding Salon 2015 CEO and Founder Tatiana Byron promises exquisite Luxe Trends at her hotel shows.  “Exquisite” proved to be an understatement this ninth year at the Beverly Hills location From a 19th Century Singer Sewing Machines to Exotic Destinations and Tattoos.  Prerequisite for tickets ($75 per couple) was a $60,000+ wedding budget.  Vendor costs matched.


Inspired fantasies in the form of gowns (sewn on an old Singer like mine!), destination locations, food, décor and fitness packages were on hand, to be sure.  But this was a jumping off point to the dazzling array of bridal magazines and samples in the Santa Claus sized bag – featuring some of the vendors present at the show.  Calm, collected and capable volunteer, Stephanie, and her crew oversaw the gift-bag counter with huge smiles and patience.  Here a four-page questionnaire was required to collect the heavy goody.


Stephanie and friendly crew at the GIFT BAG station - Ara Photography


Weddings have become a day of Cinderella fantasy for everyone involved, a Disneyland for adults.  And overall, who can’t help but love this idea of luxury for the sake of luxury created by such welcoming, dedicated artisans and vendors - especially welcome to contrast with our current 24-7 news cycle world of political turmoil.   At the same time, the consensus of the vendors and the participants we talked to was that it was television food and fashion shows that educated viewers, and encouraged a more sophisticated and aware audience.


Entrance lines snaking through the hotel lobby and out the door to a snarled up 20-minute valet wait proved that a wedding in any economy is still “the most important day in the life of...”  Today it can also mean that it will be a most memorable party day for guests as well.  Move over Bar Mitzvah parties --and make that double because there are two honored guests, not one.  


Lines snaked through the lobby - Ara Photography


Classic novelties abounded, from the popular and outrageously priced Sugarfina candy box cake and country BarBQ restaurant grillers to temporary tattoo art and patterned glue-on nail decoration booths at Incoco Nail Appliqués.

the outrageous and popular candy box cake


I love wedding gowns and could easily list a dozen luminous film favorites that usually marked the ending of romantic comedy films, including Sophia Loren in Grumpy Old Men. These days, though, narrowing a gown into a “wedding” category is “old hat.”  Couture gown selections and informal modeling by Aerithe, Claire Pettibone, Winnie Couture and Panache Beverly Hills were a reminder that au currant breathtaking wedding gowns - still with yards of beading and lace - follow cutting edge fashion in endless possibilities, including the backless gowns, net skirts over shorts, pants, and elaborate configurations made possible with insanely adaptable fabrications.


Fantasy even defines Sharlenne Chen’s brand, Aerithe.  Sharlenne Chen happily sat at the Singer Sewing Machine that caught my eye, and “Aerithe" is the name of a fantasy game character. In her words, “I was inspired by my husband who is a game developer and the game Final Fantasy had a great impression on both of us.”        


Family portrait - with the beloved, refurbished Singer Sewing Machine


How did Sharlenne become a custom wedding dress designer?  “I’m from Indonesia, where most people, including my mom, had her clothes custom made. I loved this practice even as a child and learned how to design this way.  The Singer machine has such a sentimental value because we had one in the house all the time.   And when I grew up, as a designer, I always preferred designing gowns because of the way they flow on the body. I saw and entered the new market for custom bridal gowns three years ago.  My gowns are priced from $1500 to $3500 and have proved so successful that a line will  be sold in selected boutiques next year." (



To look the part of the bride takes the skill of such artists as the show’s Celebrity Makeup Artist, Kimberly Bosso.   And fitness studios are featuring more and more wedding packages. Some, like Pure Barre Fitness & David Barton Gym, encourage ongoing regimens, not just three-month stints “to shed for the wed,”  smiled Aubre of Pure Barre.  “The Pure Barre workout wedding package, three to four sessions a week, can perform in an amazing way to shed inches and tone every single part of the body.  We have mostly brides and some start earlier than that.  But to us, it’s definitely about wanting the couple to feel confident, it’s more than looking good.  It’s having that feeling long after the wedding.”


Pure Barre - the new way to get in shape

Near Carrie Duff's Spectacular Events tropical table, Leah Horrigan of Flowers by Leah caught my eye with her easy-going smile and classic bouquets.  It was not surprising that she lives in laid-back Sunland  and has been doing flowers (i.e., consultation, sample, delivery and set up) for weddings up and down the California coast  for over two decades  ( You believe her when she says, “I still love what I do.”  Carrie, who has worked with Leah, attested to her quality of work and so do her website galleries, especially her unusual floral patterned aisles for ceremony settings.


Calling herself a "Destination Wedding Producer," rather than a wedding planner, Carrie Duff of Spectacular Events never thought she would be doing special occasion events.  She began developing and designing live performance production, in 1976, and it has taken her into the homes of former presidents, media moguls and industry tycoons.  Nothing is too big, and she has developed themed shows for thousands, such as her Knights of the Realm Arabian show and Meadow Gulch Round up Stunt Show.


Contrary to the image of the frenetic planner (think "Father of the Bride" both versions and "The Wedding Planner"), Carrie feels capable, comfortable and witty, the “Eve Arden” of event producers, who inspires trust and maintains a sense of fun.  She makes you want to “run away in her circus,” just listening to her recounting stories of international weddings from an “elaborate royal Haitian destination wedding that drew gasps” in Hawaii, to one at the famed (“Some Like It Hot”) Hotel del Coronado near her hometown of San Diego, complete with a full-out singing and dancing troupe of performers headed up by Kenny Rogers as a surprise gift from the groom to the bride.



A seat at the wedding - in the wedding salon - Ara photography

A seat at the island wedding - Di-lanatta's Photography


Carrie’s current favorite destinations are the Greek islands (pictured here), Prague and the Oheka Castle in upstate New York.  No matter where the location, though, “a team goes ahead  to scout, and almost everything is shipped in to the location, including flowers, décor and even food at times.  The team covers everything from handling luggage and transportation coordination and make-up for the wedding party to food, decor and entertainment production."  Tandeleya Guizar of Di-lanatta's Photography ( often photographs the entire production ahead of time to avoid getting in the way of the celebration – no detail is too small.


Greek Island wedding getaway - Di-lanatta's Photography

Greek Island pre-wedding in the water - Di-lanatta's Photography

Walking to the wedding ceremony - Di-lanatta's Photography

Ceremony in the amphitheater - Di-lanatta's Photography


Carrie pointed out several factors in choosing between a destination or hometown local wedding location. It is surprising that destination packages can sometimes come in at the same price as a hometown one.  This is because hotels have developed extremely attractive all-inclusive packages to do so, with the Hard Rock Hotel in Cancun and the big island hotels in Hawaii two very popular and well known such locations.  However, outside the continental United States,  “added considerations include the price of transportation and accommodations, schedules, down to whether the wedding party and guests have the proper shots and a passport,” she explained.   Added in to plans for wedding locations farther away from home are local customs, seasonal weather, traditions and marriage requirements.  For example, many countries have a "residency requirement" (24 hours in Turkey and a week in England, and 40 days in France!)  Respecting the traditions of the host country is also a must.


And how does all this hoopla work out, over all?  Everyone we talked to at the Wedding Salon had a big smile on their face.   Speaking with Aubre, Sharlene, Leah and Carrie reinforced this impression.  Confirmed Carrie, “people often send me updates on their married life after the event, and then even send me baby pictures. (



The youngest at the event taking notes


 About  Wedding Salon:. Founded in 2004 by celebrity wedding planner, Tatiana Byron, as a one-stop shop for engaged couples in search of vendor options,  Wedding Salon features luxury wedding vendors and award winning service providers showcasing the year’s newest products and trends in the industry at shows in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington D.C. and Miami.   Other venders included Combatant Gentlemen, Event Design, Styling, and florals by Designer Dana and  Lavender & Clove; mixologist, and beverages by BevMO! & Eternal Beverages.  Gift bag products included Tan Towel, Gold Ink Tattoos, Mentholatum Anti-Aging Face Masks, Murad Intensive C-Radiance Peels and Essence Lip Liner  For more information: (

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