Wedding Planners Give the Royal Wedding an 'A'

By Courtney Thompson April 29, 2011, 12:33 PM EDT

Photo:  David Jones/WPA Pool/Getty Images

The royal wedding of Prince William and Princess Catherine unfolded this morning, garnering an estimated two billion television viewers worldwide. We asked some of the country's top wedding planners to weigh in on their favorite (and least favorite) details of the day. Here's what they said.

Marcy Blum
What I Liked: “Fabulous McQueen dress, and I loved that Pippa wore white and Kate let her sister look so hot. Interesting that the ceremony processional is different than ours, with the wedding party walking behind them. Loved that they were joking to each other at altar. Her mother's dress was spot-on perfect, and Camilla looked fabulous too.”
What I Would Have Done Differently:
“Didn't like her makeup, too pinky, but she still looked beautiful. I'm giving it a B-plus, mostly because I have real problems with half the guests not being invited to the party and the five-hour lag between two receptions ”
Letter Grade: B+
Blum, owner of Marcy Blum Associates in New York, has a worldwide event portfolio that includes the weddings of Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick, Salman Rushdie and Padma Lakshmi, Billy Joel and Katie Lee, and Samantha Bryant and Colin Hanks.

Bryan Rafanelli
What I Liked:
“Kate's small bouquet was brilliant. Loved the lily of the valley in Westminster Abbey at the base of the 20-foot trees.”
Letter Grade: A+
Rafanelli, founder, president, and C.E.O. of Rafanelli Events in Boston, produces 100 events annually; he did Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky’s wedding last year in Rhinebeck, New York.

Bronson Van Wyck
What I Liked: “Ceremonial is ridiculous if it isn't flawless. The British do this better than anyone, and it showed today. The whole thing ended up as incredibly nuanced political theater. The liveried procession across the Mall was pure pageantry. The bride combined the shamrock, the thistle, and the rose in the design of the lace on her dress, each symbolizing one of the constituent parts of the United Kingdom. Details, details, details. From a planning perspective, the execution was stunning. This was one of the most elegant exercises in crowd control I've ever seen. It showed the Metropolitan Police at their best. They were diplomatic and gentle, and they guided millions people effectively, safely, and also pleasantly. It clearly shows the importance of rehearsals for large events, even of professionals like the police and military.”
Letter Grade: A+
Van Wyck, president of Van Wyck & Van Wyck in New York, is a former State Department staffer who has handled events for the White House, the Department of State, Vogue, Chanel, Sean “Diddy” Combs, and Vera Wang, and plans weddings all over the world.

David Beahm
What I Liked: “I thought that all the decision teams gave us a wonderful combination of girlish excitement and manly restraint. I loved how Shane Connolly's spring-green trees and airy arrangements gave life to the abbey and contrasted beautifully with the scarlet carpets, giving us television viewers breathtaking snapshots. My only eye roll came from the silly hat right behind the queen; I believe it was one of Fergie's daughters. Catherine's dress? Perfect. Given the constraints of tradition, I'm not sure I would have done things differently. I never once felt that the happy couple (what a concept!) were being forced to do anything of which they would disapprove or feel uncomfortable.”
Letter Grade: A
Beahm, president of David Beahm Designs in New York, produces more than 200 weddings annually; he did the nuptials of Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas.

André Wells
What I Liked:
“I liked the precision of the execution. Absolutely seamless. The hymns were just beautiful, and Shane Connolly did an outstanding job warming the atmosphere with plush trees and greenery. He literally brought the countryside into Westminster Abbey. I thought the couple was genuinely sincere, and that is what matters most. Overall, it was very well done and gave us all a much-needed break from the weights of the world.”
What I Would Have Done Differently:
“I would have liked to have seen Kate a bit more dramatic. First, a bigger bouquet and more floral accents in the church. Her timeless elegance would have been perfectly complemented by a longer train and given viewers a little extravagance in the midst of an essentially minimalist, traditional setting.”
Letter Grade: B
Wells, creative director and owner of Events by André Wells in Washington, produces roughly a dozen weddings annually for celebrities, politicians, and pro athletes both in the United States and abroad.

Erin Patrick McDonald
What I Liked: “Loved the majesty of the whole wedding, the trees outside of the abbey with the red carpetfabulous and so chic. Both of the gents looked so handsome, wow, so elegant and so sophisticated. Catherine just got in the car; her bouquet has myrtle inside of it. I am thrilled to watch this. The sky opened up, the sun is shining. I am in tears! The choir, of course, is remarkable. ”
What I Would Have Done Differently:
“Why was Kate's veil not left over her head? It should have remained over her head until her father drew it back and then revealed her wonderful face. And her makeup was not the best; I wish it were a bit softer. The bouquet was less than impressive—it should have been a statement. The flowers at the abbey were underwhelming. It is spring—give me blooming branches, for God's sake!”
Letter Grade: A
McDonald, owner and president of Erin Patrick in Chicago, has worked with clients like Oprah Winfrey, Gloria Estefan,  President Barack Obama, and  Nascar's Kyle Busch.

Susan Cordogan

What I Liked: “The pomp and circumstance of the Great Britain royalty will never be matched. The entrance was perfectly choreographed, building the excitement as guests and family arrived and filled Westminster Abbey, while church bells filled the city. Kate was an absolutely beautiful bride. Her bouquet was understated and beautiful, nothing to take away from how gorgeous she looked. Westminster Abbey, surprisingly, had minimal floral decor, but very noticeable were the trees in the entrance of the church. Westminster Abbey is stunning in itself, but the trees added to the fairy tale to the point where I wonder if that was their intention—Kate walking through a forest to find her prince?”
What I Would Have Done Differently:
“Kate's veil was a little boring, especially compared to the many incredibly entertaining hats scattered throughout Westminster Abbey. The mother of the bride was a little drab in an understated gray dress. I would have loved to see her in a color that drew attention to her for this very exciting day.”
Letter Grade: A
Cordogan, owner of Big City Bride in Chicago, works with her team to plan 150 events annually, including Nascar's Kyle Busch recent wedding, and has been featured in People magazine and Martha Stewart Living, and on the Style Network and VH-1’s My Big Fat Fabulous Wedding.

Frank J. Andonoplas
What I Liked: “Loved the gown. So romantic. And just as I predicted, lace and sleeves. Hope this starts a new trend for sleeves—I am so over strapless. Loved her bouquet—the shape most of all, not round and not a cascade, truly an English oval.  Also loved the texture and simplicity. Her veil was down before she left for church … again, romance personified. ”
What I Would Have Done Differently:
“I would have had someone on each side of her to straighten her train after she made the turn toward the main aisle.  The train being laid down perfectly to me is so important! The abbey seemed rather bare. I liked the trees (and the fact they are being replanted), but think the aisle needed a bit more decor for such a regal walk. I would have repeated the greens and lady's mantle on every third pew or so. I would have liked Kate’s sister to stand next to her, as Harry did next to William. It was the first time in a long time there was an actual maid of honor (instead of head bridesmaid) and best man (instead of a supporter).”
Letter Grade: A-
Andonoplas, owner and creative director of Frank Event Design in Chicago, plans roughly 18 weddings a year, including a recent wedding on ice for U.S. championship ice-skater Judy Sargent.

Brooke Craig
What I Liked: “For a day on which rain was forecast, it truly turned out to be spectacular. Prince William and the now-Princess Catherine both looked spectacular. Her dress was the perfect combination of elegance and simplicity. It is everything you expected her to wear. Her delicate, lace-scalloped veil was the perfect pick. I was shocked to see her wearing a tiara, as it was rumored before that she was not to wear one. The royal kiss was groundbreaking, with not one, but two kisses from the new prince and princess. This was a great treat.”
What I Would Have Done Differently:
“I did not like her flowers; I felt they were minuscule. Catherine is so petite, so you would want to keep a small bouquet, so as not to overpower her small frame. The concept was in place; however, I just felt they could have been a bit bigger. I also did not care for the choice of flowers. I think they could have used softer, more full and elegant blooms.”
Letter Grade: A
Craig, founder of the Ultimate Event Planner in Palm Beach, Florida, plans roughly 25 events a year in Florida and throughout the world.

Erica Farthing
What I Liked: “With all of the hype surrounding the royal wedding, I was more than happy to see that chic simplicity and local influences shined through on this grand occasion. The 20-foot hornbeams and English field maple trees in Westminster Abbey provided the feeling of an English countryside. The trees created the overall feeling of fairy-tale wedding, as the gorgeous bride made her way down the aisle, but did not take away from the grandeur of the setting, only added to it. These trees were an excellent choice by Kate, as they represented the local area, season, and a symbol of a growing family. It was wonderful to see the decor, the dress, and the makeup were all very natural. This was a flawless example of local, traditional elements with a modern twist. We must all prepare for the countless British influences in future weddings to come!”
What I Would Have Done Differently:
“I am shocked to say this, but nothing. Everything was executed beautifully.”
Letter Grade: A
Farthing, brand manager for Longwood Events, has helped her team execute more than 200 weddings over the past 12 months at the company's four event venues across New England.

Janet Woodson 
What I Liked: ”The trees in Westminster Abbey were breathtaking. Getting that outdoor feeling in such a historic and sacred place is not easy, and it added just the right amount of warmth to a springtime affair. Although the bouquet was understated, we appreciate the thought she put behind the meaning of all the flowers. Overall, Kate wanted this wedding to really represent her country and the traditions of the royal family. This indigenous trend has become very popular with the 'farm-to-table' movement we've seen in food and the increased use of local products. The best theme for any event is the local surroundings, so it's nice to see this exemplified in such a modern and tasteful way.”
What I Would Have Done Differently: “We didn't like that Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice came to the wedding toting those hats. One of the main rules to remember when dressing for a wedding is to never upstage the bride. Those hats definitely weren't subtle. With that being said, we also weren't crazy about Kate's sister Pippa wearing white, even if it is an English tradition. I know that Kate wanted to keep everything sleek and clean, but when it's your wedding day, we're believers in the tradition that the the bride should be the only one in white. We would have still kept her in a modest color, just something a few more shades away from white.”
Letter Grade: A-
Woodson, owner and creative director of La-tea-da's Special Event Catering in Charlotte, North Carolina, executes more than 100 weddings a year throughout the Southeast and has worked with clients such as Oscar de la Renta, Nascar driver Ryan Newman, and chef Art Smith.

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