Tuesday, March 21, 2017

“A specialty cocktail served in an ostrich eggshell”

I have been to a few upscale weddings in my day. You know. The kind where you really can’t help running the numbers in your head, followed by making at least one discreet cost comparison with someone sitting at your table. And I will say that I really enjoyed myself at those upscale weddings. What’s not to like about beautiful venue, great food, fun band, open bar, and – if you’re lucky – the chance to take home a centerpiece?

But I have yet to be served “a specialty cocktail served in an ostrich shell.” The closest I came was being offered a Moscow Mule in a copper mug, which I took a pass on, opting instead for a Kir Royale.

Then again, I wasn’t on the guest list for the $3 million dollar shindig that celebrated the nuptials of Alix Carl. Her parents had actually intended to put on a more modest event, somewhere in the $1M range. That’s strikes me as a reasonable budget. (As if!) But $1M or $3M, it really doesn’t matter. That’s a big budget event with a lot of details to manage. So Joan and Bernard Carl hired a wedding planner, and brand unto herself, Mindy Weiss.

Well, $1M wedding ain’t what it used to be, and Mindy apparently assumed that she had a blank check, while the Carls assumed that they would have some control over costs.

Live and learn, I guess.

And what you learn is that 3,500 white roses “individually studded into the lawn” of the Carls’ Southampton estate, where part one of the movable feast took place don’t come cheap. At Southampton:

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. (Source: WaPo – may need a subscription to access)

Cigar bar. Brownie station. No big deal. But a cocktail served in an ostrich eggshell? Who dreams up this stuff?

While she may not have “authored” the splosh concoction herself, that would be Mindy Weiss, Hollywood wedding-planner extraordinaire. Weiss has worked with the likes of “Sofia Vergara, Ellen DeGeneres, Gwen Stefani, the Kardashians and ABC’s “The Bachelor.””

Mindy’s also into favors. Because the 250 guests wouldn’t want to come home empty handed. No Jordan almonds in a net bag for her weddings. She spent:

$4,300 for totes, $5,000 for T-shirts, $1,000 for hangover Tylenol pouches.

Okay. When you’re spending $3M, or even $1M, for a wedding, what’s $10K on party favors. But it’s only $40 per guest, so the guests who were doing their running mental calcs of costs may well have felt slighted, wondering why the Carls had stinted on gifteens for them. I spent $2K to attend this wedding and all I got was this crappy tee-shirt. Still, who needs this stuff? I can guarantee that, while the hangover pouches might have come in handy, most of those totes and T-shirts ended up at Goodwill.

It wasn’t just Weiss who was going all-in.

The mother of the bride commissioned monogrammed napkins for each place setting, as well as a custom fabric for the tables and the flower girl’s dress.

Probably not as cra as it sounds, given that the Carls own D. Porthault, the luxury linens purveyor. Still: custom fabric? Sheesh!

Part II of the wedding was at the Carls’ Loire Valley chateau. To make up for the lack of specialty cocktails in ostrich eggshells, this part featured hot air ballooning.

This wedding made the news at the time – the double dos were featured in Brides Magazine – because it was so pricey and fancy. It’s in the news now because Weiss is suing the Carls for unpaid fees ($340K) plus $1.4M in damages. And she’s hanging on to the wedding video until they pay up.

For folks who were sufficiently enough successful financially that they could afford to throw a $1M wedding, the Carls were a bit on the naive side when it came to the business side of things. They were the ultimate “owners”. So why weren’t they managing the wedding planner better? A question I’m sure they’ve asked themselves plenty of times..

It’s something of a they-said/she-said sort of deal.

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,” Carl says. He says he expected to spend in the neighborhood of $1 million and was waiting to see her proposal before discussing final numbers. (The event ended up costing more, although he would not disclose the final tally.)

The bottom line on the bottom line was that it wasn’t until 6 weeks before the wedding that the Carls saw the $3M proposal. Talk about poor business practice. Talk about feeling cornered…

The father of the bride was stunned and refused to pay some charges that he considered to be wildly inflated. Because Weiss had waited so long to submit her plan, he says, it was too late to hire other vendors.“In mid-May, this wedding was very close to being almost canceled,” he says.

“At one point, I told Joan I was prepared to write a very big check to the kids as a wedding present, cancel the wedding and sue Mindy. I was done. I was really done.”

Bet that would have gone over well, all the way around.

Anyway, here we have it: Mindy Weiss suing the Carls. And the Carls really do want to get their mitts on that wedding video.

But Mindy Weiss and the Carls sure sounds like a marriage made in hell, doesn’t it?

Plan on the next Carl kid wedding not being planned by Mindy Weiss.

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