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Why We Love Michael Russo

With the weddings of Kevin Jonas, Joey Fantone and Beverley Mitchell (remember the tabloid field day in Italy where Jessica Biel was a bridesmaid?) under his belt, it's no wonder Michael is the rising star on the events scene. And he shares his best planning advice with us.

Photo: Anthony Vasquez Photography and courtesy of Michael Russo Events

Watch our exclusive video interview with Michael! >

Go With Your Gut

"When I first sit down with my brides and grooms," Michael says, "I tell them to close their eyes and tell me in one or two words what they envision their wedding to be." He says that initial mental image is what you'll be happiest with as an outcome. If you see warm candlelight, it's best to opt for a more traditional and ornate design theme. If you see bright colors, maybe experiment with unique materials and concepts. But of course, you can always have multiple design ideas within a wedding. "You can still do something traditional in the beginning and then have a really wild after-party!" he says. As long as you follow your instincts, you'll be pleased with the results.

Love the Hydrangea

No over-the-top motif is complete without an abundance of our favorite filler, the hydrangea. "Because it's a large flower, you can make so many things with it," Michael says. Perfect for huppahs, ceremony arches, and sculpted centerpieces, hydrangeas create volume and add glamour to any motif. "It takes up a lot of space and looks really opulent if you use 14 or so in a vase," he notes. For added versatility, he adds, "You can dye them or find them in the most beautiful colors."

Streamline Your Logistics

For a stress-free wedding, Michael highly recommends keeping all your events in one place -- from the ceremony to the cocktail hour to the reception. "Working in hotels is a dream," he says. "It's just so much easier for you as the bride and groom, and for the guest. Everything is in one spot." Unless you're particularly attached to a religious organization, he suggests utilizing the hotel to its fullest, so you can focus on the details at hand. By simplifying your schedule and locations, everything has a greater chance of running more smoothly.

Switch Up the Schedule

Although planning a wedding is a fresh idea in your mind as a bride, it might not be as fresh to your guests who attend several of these a year. "Throw them off a little bit," Michael says. "Switch it up and do your cocktail hour first before going into your ceremony." Even if you're looking to have a very classic wedding, small changes in the event timeline can be a welcome surprise to your friends and family.

Keep the Bridal Party Simple

You're most likely already struggling with your mom, your aunt, and every other highly opinionated female in your life, so Michael advises keeping your bridal party to a minimum. "The biggest mistake I see brides make all the time is picking large bridal parties," he says. Although it's important to include those closest to you in your ceremony, Michael says it's best to limit it to just four bridesmaids. "When you bring too many girls into a bridal party, you're bringing a lot of different personalities together. A lot of that drama is so unnecessary." Find ways to honor your other friends and family by recognizing them in the program or planning a fun dance with them during the reception.

-- Susan Waits