Celebrity event planner David Tutera reveals his floral roots and how he makes brides’ dreams come true on his hit TV show
flower: David, it is such a pleasure to meet you. Obviously flowers play an important role in your life as an event planner. Will you share a little about that with our readers?
David Tutera: It is so nice to meet you, as well. Flowers are my passion. It’s simple: flowers make your smile. They evoke happiness. I have them all over my house in every room. They’re not just an accessory to fashion or an accessory to interior design.
And what inspired your flower passion?
I grew up with flowers, because my grandfather was a florist. When I got into the biz accidentally, I realized that flower actually do make you feel great. Last year I went to Bogota and did a tour of the biggest rose farm in the world. I was like a kid in a candy store. It was hundreds and hundreds of acres of roses–just roses. I can’t even begin to express to you the craziness that I felt. It was amazing.
So your grandfather was a florist. I understand he was a key player in encouraging you to pursue your dreams as an event planner. Can you tell us more about him.
Great guy. He came over from Italy at the age of 8, and at 13 he worked in a flower shop sweeping the floors. Forty-something years later, he bought the place he had worked in for all that time. It was quite the flower shop!
Hard work, persistence, and a dream–quite a legacy. What are some practical things you learned from him?
He taught me a lot. In junior high, I worked in the back of his flower shop taking FTD orders, so I would always be watching the designers. When I decided years later to open up a business, my grandfather would sit with me and tell me how to order flowers–and how perishables could lose a lot of money. He also taught me how to look for quality, where to go, how to design, and then the most important thing: the construction.
A priceless education! We are big fans of My Fair Wedding. What are some of the wildest things you’ve done on the show?
Well, some of the themes [I've had to work within] have been bizarre, from “Day of the Dead,” to “Monopoly,” to an episode that was themed “Gothic”–like really spooky gothic.
Gothic? How did you make it work?
By the love of God. I managed to remove my preconceived notions and get to the other side–the dark side–and embrace it to make it work. I actually made it happen, and it wound up looking more like romantic gothic as opposed to dark gothic. The bride wanted to wear a black dress, and she ended up wearing a black-and-white plaid dress from Paris that was so beautiful. So you have to kind of navigate around the waters.
I know your mission is to make brides’ dreams come true. It must be rewarding to literally “save the day” while still making that happen.
It’s the best thing I’ve ever done in my entire career. Twenty-five years in the business, and I will tell you that this show has changed me. It’s made me realize that I have an ability I never knew I had, which is to listen, very carefully, to what people want–not to dictate what I think people should have, and then to just simply go out and make their dreams come true. It takes my breath away!
Go to a flower market and spend a day there with a friend walking around. And, no pun intended, literally stop and smell the roses. Look at every single thing. Look at texture. And then figure out what is best for you. Don’t let a floral designer tell you what will be best for you. Treat it like you’re picking your bridal gown.
What are your favorite flowers?
Easy! I’m all about fragrance. You can smother me with gardenias, and I will probably pass out from happiness. I also have a thing for ‘Casa Blanca’ lilies, because I love the 1920s. And I like a flower that most people don’t like, which is tuberose. It’s one of those flowers that’s ugly when it’s not in bloom, but when it blooms it’s a vertical floral, so it begins to open up all the way down the shaft of the flower. The fragrance from tuberose is amazing. Ironically I wear tuberose cologne, and I wear gardenia. And my favorite flower–peony! I like the crazy-colored peonies, like the deep burgindy. You know, I have an incredible peony garden. I have a beautiful home in Connecticut on 10 acres. We have a sunken hydrangea garden in all blue, and the house is blue. We also have a wildflower garden, a phlox garden, an echinacea garden, a lavender area, and a rose garden.
That sounds heavenly. And I love your poppy-pod boutonniere, by the way!
Thank you. Isn’t it cute? This is a perfect example of what a boutonniere should look like. It’s a piece of fashion.