Wedding planner to the stars Preston Bailey finally got the wedding of his dreams when, just after midnight on Valentine’s Day, he tied the knot in an over-the-top ceremony with Theo Bleckmann.
Bailey, 63, whose list of glamorous clients includes Oprah Winfrey, Donald Trump and Catherine Zeta-Jones, pulled out all the stops for his own nuptials with his partner of seven years. On the top floor of the Empire State Building, in a ceremony officiated by dear friend Joan Rivers – who got ordained online for the occasion – the couple married in a dazzling King Kong-themed extravaganza.
“We love the imagery of the films but King Kong has a tragic ending,” says Bailey. “We wanted to create a happy ending.”
Upon reaching the top of the skyscraper, guests were greeted by a King Kong statue covered in flowers. Attendees including Martha Stewart and NeNe Leakes (Bailey is planning the Real Housewives of Atlanta star’s upcoming nuptials to ex-husband Gregg) were then led toward the ceremony down a flower-festooned hallway that had been set up like an art gallery, featuring personal photos of their own weddings.
“As we were planning, it felt like, ‘me, me, me, me,’ ” says Bleckmann, 47, of that touch. “So we thought, how can we extend the feeling of love and make it inclusive for everyone?”
To make sure guests unaccustomed to staying up all night would have the energy to party ’til dawn, Bleckmann says, “We’re giving them as much coffee and chocolate as possible!” And plenty of champagne, of course.
Once guests were seated, Rivers made her way down the aisle and then a curtain parted to reveal Bleckmann singing “You Make Me Feel So Young.” Next came Bailey’s entrance.
As guests turned around to see him, there appeared a 12-ft.-tall sculpture of a bridal gown that had been custom created by designer and guest Reem Acra. What looked to be Bailey dressed as a “bride” was in fact a body double – as evidenced when Bailey himself emerged from inside the sculpture, wearing a custom Reem Acra tuxedo.
“It was important to us to create very strong memorable moments that mean something,” says Bailey. Immediately after the ceremony, punctuated by the Jewish tradition of breaking a wine glass (Rivers’s idea), the after-party kicked off to the sounds of Starlight Orchestras.
“Sitting down for the boring dinner never appealed to me,” says Bailey. “So Theo and I thought, Let’s have a midnight wedding. And then we’ll have this hot, fabulous after party and celebrate until 6 o’clock tomorrow morning.”
As guests departed, they were gifted with a mini-bottle of Chandon sparkling wine and a chocolate heart in honor of Valentine’s Day, packaged to perfection by Martha Stewart and her staff.
“It’s really great to have Martha here,” says Bailey. Did her presence add to the pressure that every detail had to be just so? “The answer,” says Bailey, “is 100 percent yes.”