Among the many industries put on hold during the age of COVID-19 lockdowns is wedding season. Our refrigerators are covered with “Save the Date” invites that surpassed their expirations. Social media is flooded with photos of couples, unable to celebrate with a dream ceremony, choosing a more private, backyard-style setting in the meantime. Quarantine, after all, can’t delay love. That’s where the three stars of Say I Do come in.
Interior designer Jeremiah Brent, fashion designer Thai Nguyen, and chef Gabriele Bertaccini know a thing or two about throwing a wedding, no matter the restrictions. On Netflix’s Say I Do (now available to stream), they surprised eight deserving couples—who, for various reasons, couldn’t have their big days—with luxurious dream weddings from scratch.
Life looks a lot different for people now as opposed to a year ago when this trio of creative gurus filmed their show, but they have some ideas about how engaged couples stuck in quarantine can still pull off memorable weddings.
“Do what makes you happy”
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“Having a wedding is such a special day, especially [because] it’s for your life. It’s not just any day,” says Nguygen, who’s designed for the likes of Jennifer Lopez and Katy Perry. “A wedding gown, it’s not just a gown. It’s a symbol of your love story. I want to see your dress; I want to see the venue, even though it’s in your backyard; I want to see the food; I want everything that represents you, represents your families, represents where you come from.”
All of us face unprecedented levels of stress during the pandemic. Ultimately, Nguyen advises that we all take care of ourselves and do whatever makes us happy—especially under the anxiety of planning a quarantine wedding. “Sometimes a small, intimate wedding in the backyard could be a memory of a lifetime,” he says. “So, really stick to who you are. Do what makes you happy, especially during this time… Everybody wants to have a wedding, but every time they plan a wedding or they come for a dress, they always want to say, ‘I want it nice, timeless, classy, but I want to make it mine.'”
“The ultimate luxury is personalization”
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For Brent, whose Jeremiah Brent Design firm operates out of New York and Los Angeles, “the ultimate luxury is personalization.”
“I don’t think it necessarily has anything to do with what you spend or where [the wedding is] at,” he says. “I think it’s all about, can you tell the story? Can you share the experiences that have gotten you there?”
On Say I Do, Brent is used to finding wedding venues and executing the concept for the space in less than a week’s time. In quarantine, he says there are creative ways for bringing people together to celebrate a couple’s love. “Is it Zoomed? Are you having people take videos and send them in and cutting a video together?” he throws out. “I know friends who normally have this fun get-together every year. This year, they cut out pictures of everybody and made them into posters. All your friends are still there, and they took a video. There are things that you can do to make it personal and special, if you have to do it and you want to do it now.”
“Keep it simple and keep it truthful to your story”
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When it comes to the meal, take it from the man who had to find a way to make diabetic-friendly soul food in Say I Do‘s premiere episode.
“When it comes to food, I always say, keep it simple and keep it truthful to your story,” Bertaccini advises. “I actually had a couple of friends that got married during this time and they did a backyard wedding, and it was extremely intimate. In fact, it was just the family because they were quarantined together. The love that was there was palpable because it was true. It was pure. The food that was served was actually food the family has grown up with. It wasn’t anything fancy. It was something comfortable and safe and it told the story.”
That also defines Bertaccini’s aesthetic. Born in Florence, Italy, he came to America and started his own series of award-winning underground dining events, Culinary Mischief, to bring an Italian food experience to the masses. It’s true of his costars, too, he explains. “Thai does it with the design. Of course, Jeremiah does it with his amazing interior design and art that he creates in events and in people’s homes. I do it with food. We are trying to tell a story and the story has to come from the heart. And, really, love is simple. It’s nothing fancy. Food should present itself like that. It should talk about who you are, where you come from.”