InStyle Wedding: Tips from Lisa Gorjestani

Tips from Lisa Gorjestani

Vary the Palette from Table to Table

“So many couples think they need to pick one hue for their wedding,” says Gorjestani, “but if you like several, why not use all of them?” At this Mexican-themed outdoor reception, each banquet-length table glowed in a single tint — green, orange, yellow or red.

Make a Simple Yet Eye-Popping Design Statement

Gorjestani used a mix of fruits and vegetables for the centerpieces to achieve a concentration of color. Here, she worked with groupings of roses, oranges, peppers and gerbera daisies. “To make the overall look cohesive,” she says, “keep the chairs, glassware and dinnerware identical throughout.”

Opt for a Discreet “Something Blue”

Even if you’re an unconventional bride, you can observe this tradition in an understated way. “Before helping the bride put on her dress and veil,” says the planner, who hires a stylist to press the garments and the bridesmaids’ frocks before the women walk down the aisle, “the stylist ties a small pale blue bow and sews it into the bodice of the bride’s gown. It’s her signature touch and a nice surprise on such a poignant day.”
InStyle Wedding

Embellish the Ceremony Space with Unexpected Touches

When the exchange of vows takes place outdoors, the back row of chairs is usually the first thing guests see. To dress up the seats, Gorjestani hangs a bucket of flowers or envelopes filled with fragrant petals, autumn leaves or fresh herbs from each. “Afterward, I use the floral arrangements to decorate the bar at the reception.”

Create a Comfortable Outdoor Lounge

One of Gorjestani’s favorite moves involves bringing indoor furnishings outside to set up cozy alfresco seating areas. “These spaces encourage a relaxed atmosphere by enticing guests to make themselves feel at home,” she says. No matter how formal the party, Gorjestani aims to “make sure the event never feels stiff or boring.” So at virtually all of the weddings she plans, Gorjestani either rents sofas and ottomans or, when possible, incorporates furniture from another part of the hotel or resort to avoid an added expense on the newlyweds’ bill.
InStyle Weddings
Instyle Weddings

Show Your Attendants You Care with a Personal Touch

A crisp linen handkerchief for each bridesmaid embroidered with her initials not only acts as a pretty, unstructured bouquet wrap, but also comes in handy if your maids need to dab their eyes during the ceremony. And, adds Gorjestani, “the handkerchief makes a nice keepsake.” She likes the linen hemstitched styles at Monogram Market ($33/each, with initials; 310-395-7373).

Rein in Wide-Open Spaces

When a client’s budget allows, Gorjestani brings in vintage urns, columns or doors to mark the aisle and establish a pathway to the reception area. For a Moroccan-inspired celebration at Rosenthal vineyard in Malibu, the planner positioned a filigreed iron gate in such a way that guests were prompted to walk through it to get to their tables. Along the way, they picked up their escort cards, which Gorjestani hung from the gate’s openwork frame (left). She has also used urns of various sizes filled with flowers to flank the start of the aisle and give the bridal party a place to begin the processional. “I choose items mainly for their aesthetic appeal,” explains Gorjestani, “but they become much more integrated into the design when they serve a purpose.”
Instyle Weddings
Instyle Weddings

Entertain Your Youngest Guests

If children are part of your celebration, Gorjestani recommends taking steps to ensure that they have fun. For starters, she selects a kid-friendly menu and presents it on a low buffet to make self-service simple. At musician Justyn Wilson’s wedding, the planner offered chicken tenders, macaroni and cheese, french fries and salad. Kids’ place settings included crayons, coloring books and toys all tucked into a mini galvanized bucket. Gorjestani also seated the little ones at their own table and hired babysitters. “Parents are thrilled when they hear a sitter is there,” she says. “They can keep an eye on their kids but still enjoy the party.”

Skip the Childhood Slide Show

Though meant to get the cocktail hour humming, projecting images of your youth on the big screen can mean party gridlock. Instead, suspend a clothesline at eye level in a comfortable spot and fasten pictures of yourselves to it “to make them available to guests throughout the reception,” says Gorjestani.
Instyle Weddings
Instyle Weddings

Consider a Surprising Ceremony Setting

A trip down an outdoor aisle now culminates in scenes far more varied and clever than the once-standard arch entwined with flowers. “There’s only so much you can do with them, and they’re a bit passe,” Gorjestani says. Instead, she’s fond of using Mother Nature’s other gifts, as in the two soaring trees the party pro brought in for a ceremony on the spacious lawn at the Four Seasons resort in Santa Barbara (left). “We positioned them so their branches formed a natural canopy that perfectly framed the bride and groom,” she says. “It was simplicity itself.”

Serve Food and Drinks that Celebrate your Heritage

There’s no reason to opt for chicken or beef when you can represent your roots by devising a meal that’s derived from your culture. At Mississippi-born actress Shea Curry’s wedding, Gorjestani served mint juleps in chilled silver-plated cups (shown), followed by a grits souffle and Jack Daniels–marinated beef. As a nod to the groom, a native of Nantucket, Mass., seafood was on offer too.
Instyle Weddings
Lisa Gorjestani

Lisa Gorjestani

In addition to overseeing soirees for stars such as Halle Berry and Dustin Hoffman, Lisa Gorjestani works her magic—she has earned a reputation for showstopping tabletop design—with soon-to-be brides and grooms. “One of the first things couples say to me is, ‘We want our wedding to be different,'” the planner explains. “So I try to go beyond my clients’ dreams. I always want to surpass their expectations.”

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