What could pos­si­bly go wrong with a mil­lion-dol­lar wed­ding?

Check out the mil­lion-dol­lar law­suit

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Style & Seen - By Rox­anne Roberts

The Wash­ing­ton Post

Wash­ing­ton A-lis­ters Joan and Bernard Carl wanted a beau­ti­ful wed­ding for their old­est child. And for the most part, they got it.

The lav­ish June 2015 cel­e­bra­tion for 250 guests in the gar­den of their Southamp­ton es­tate was gor­geous. The bride wore Os­car de la Renta. There were 3,500 white roses in­di­vid­u­ally stud­ded into the lawn, a five­course din­ner be­neath mas­sive chan­de­liers of green­ery and a seven-tier wed­ding cake.

The mother of the bride com­mis­sioned mono­grammed nap­kins for each place set­ting and a cus­tom fab­ric for the ta­bles and the flower girl’s dress. There was a beach­front re­hearsal din­ner. The re­cep­tion in­cluded a spe­cialty cock­tail served in an os­trich eggshell; the af­ter par­ties of­fered a Cal­va­dos and cigar bar, plus hot choco­late and brownie sta­tions.

A week later, the cou­ple ex­changed vows in a small can­dle­light cer­e­mony in the 16th­cen­tury chapel at the fam­ily chateau in the Loire Val­ley, fol­lowed by hot-air bal­loon­ing the next morn­ing. Both cer­e­monies were fea­tured in Brides mag­a­zine last year with the head­line: “This Cou­ple’s Multi-Day Wed­ding in the Hamp­tons and in France Will Blow You Away.”

But be­hind the scenes, there was drama. So much drama that the wed­ding nearly got called off.

Plan­ning a wed­ding can make any­one crazy. Adults go their en­tire lives not car­ing about ta­ble linens, and sud­denly they’re fight­ing about whether nap­kins should be white or ecru. Costs spi­ral out of con­trol be­cause you sim­ply must have that food truck for mid­night dough­nuts. But when a wed­ding bud­get tops seven fig­ures, ex­pec­ta­tions and emo­tions can run ex­cep­tion­ally high.

So maybe it’s not sur­pris­ing that a le­gal bat­tle is brew­ing be­tween Los An­ge­les-based celebrity event plan­ner Mindy Weiss and the Carls. Ms. Weiss, who de­signed the Southamp­ton cer­e­mony — which the Carls ac­knowl­edge cost up­ward of a mil­lion dol­lars — is su­ing the cou­ple for more than $340,000 in unpaid fees and ex­penses, plus $1.4 mil­lion in dam­ages. The Carls claim that Ms. Weiss went on an unau­tho­rized spend­ing spree on their dime and is hold­ing the bridal video hostage un­less they pay her in­flated bill.

“I think there are peo­ple who prey on peo­ple’s love for their chil­dren. They prey on their van­ity. They try to take ad­van­tage of it,” says Bernard Carl. “I think that’s a re­ally sor­did part of life that, if you have the good for­tune of hav­ing some af­flu­ence, you have to live with. But it doesn’t make it pleas­ant.”

Ms. Weiss did not re­turn calls seek­ing com­ment. But in the law­suit filed last month in U.S. District Court for the East­ern District of New York, she con­tends that she worked “fever­ishly” to plan the wed­ding and cov­ered more than $267,000 in ex­penses out of her own pocket — with the Carls’ per­mis­sion, via what she calls a “Ven­dor Ad­vance Con­tract.”

The Carls con­tend that Ms. Weiss was hired to con­sult and rec­om­mend other ven­dors but was never au­tho­rized to en­ter into con­tracts on their be­half. Yet they say she did just that, hir­ing fa­vored L.A. friends at out­ra­geous prices in­stead of New York-based com­pa­nies as they re­quested.

In ret­ro­spect, it was prob­a­bly a bad fit from the start. Ms. Weiss, “Party Plan­ner to the Stars,” is best known for extravagant, over-the-top wed­dings for celebrity clients such as Sofia Ver­gara, Ellen DeGeneres, Gwen Ste­fani, the Kar­dashi­ans and ABC’s “The Bach­e­lor.” The Carls, who have homes in Kalo­rama, the Hamp­tons, Lon­don and France, move in elite so­cial cir­cles but keep a rel­a­tively low pro­file. They are hor­ri­fied that the pri­vate fam­ily cel­e­bra­tion and sub­se­quent law­suit, first re­ported in Lon­don’s Daily Mail, have be­come tabloid fod­der.

“It is clear to me that we didn’t do our home­work on Mindy, that her very Hol­ly­wood aes­thetic was just a re­ally poor match with our ob­jec­tives and im­age for this event,” says Mr. Carl dur­ing an in­ter­view in the li­brary of his Kalo­rama home. “And we didn’t sense that early enough. That was our mis­take.”

The Carls — he’s an in­vestor and lawyer and co-owns D. Porthault, the French lux­ury linens com­pany, with his wife — hired Ms. Weiss in May 2014 to plan the wed­ding of their older daugh­ter, Alex. They had in­ter­viewed a num­ber of elite plan­ners and sought ad­vice from their long­time friend and florist, Jeff Leatham, who says he sug­gested Ms. Weiss “with­out hes­i­ta­tion. She’s one of the best in the in­dus­try.” Af­ter she in­ter­viewed with the bride-to-be, the Carls tapped her and paid half of her $50,000 con­sult­ing fee.

Ini­tially, ev­ery­one was ex­cited — it was, af­ter all, the first wed­ding of the Carls’ three chil­dren. The cou­ple say they told Ms. Weiss they were will­ing to spend up to mil­lion dol­lars but didn’t want a “glitzy” event. They say they asked re­peat­edly for a de­tailed pro­posal, but Ms. Weiss kept put­ting them off. They be­came con­cerned but stayed quiet be­cause they didn’t want to up­set the bride-to-be.

That proved to be a huge mis­cal­cu­la­tion — by the spring of 2015, the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Ms. Weiss and the Carls had de­volved into fin­ger-point­ing, angry emails and de­mands for money.

Things came to a head when, af­ter nearly 10 months of plan­ning and just six weeks be­fore the wed­ding, Ms. Weiss fi­nally pro­vided a bud­get that came in at $3 mil­lion. The fa­ther of the bride was stunned and re­fused to pay some charges that he con­sid­ered to be wildly in­flated.

In the law­suit, Weiss con­tends that the Carls “ex­pressed an in­ter­est in an extravagant af­fair, never men­tion­ing the word ‘bud­get.’” That as­ser­tion is “ab­so­lutely, un­equiv­o­cally, to­tally un­true,” says Mr. Carl.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.