Wedding Planner Michael Russo Dishes on Warm-weather Nuptial Necessities

wedding planner
Michael Russo Events (Courtesy Michael Russo Events)

June is an idyllic time for a wedding on Long Island — it’s not too hot, not too cool, and there’s always a buzz of excitement in the air as the summer season kickoff nears.

For couples putting last-minute touches on their upcoming nuptials or those who are planning ahead for 2024, Michael Russo’s full-service event planning company can provide insight into the latest trends and ideas. Russo, the founder of Michael Russo Events, which operates in New York, California, and Florida, offers dos and don’ts.

He has worked with Kevin Jonas, Joey Fatone, Kathy Griffin and Shaquille O’Neal, and is known for his keen eye for detail, sophistication and passion, so he’s the perfect person to chat with about Long Island weddings. 

wedding planner
Mike Russo (Courtesy Michael Russo Events)

Wedding Planner Michael Russo Dishes on Warm-weather Nuptial Necessities

Have you always had a passion for weddings and event planning? From an early age, I have had a sincere enthusiasm for weddings. I find it impossible not to be moved by such a joyful and lovely time in someone’s life. For me, wedding and event planning is a source of joy as I have the opportunity to help organize and create a memorable occasion for a family. My goal is to assist them in designing a day that mirrors their identity as a couple or family event. The approach is always unique since it is based on the couple’s and clients’ requirements.

Any summer wedding trends you are loving? I’m really enjoying the summer’s trend of incorporating natural botanicals, organic greenery, and natural elements like wicker chargers into table settings. You can experiment with different metals and colored glassware to pair with beautiful flatware and customize your tablescapes with matching accessories such as menus, table numbers and seating cards.

What is your biggest wedding pet peeve? My biggest pet peeve that bothers me the most when it comes to weddings and events is when guests do not RSVP on time or unexpectedly bring additional guests at the last minute. 

What makes Long Island a great wedding spot? Long Island is a highly diverse location for hosting weddings, offering a wide range of options including expansive castles, estates, vineyards, waterfront and beachside venues. Whether you prefer an intimate setting or a grand celebration, Long Island has many options to suit your needs. Whether you’re seeking an ornate location or a catering venue, the possibilities are virtually limitless.

Can you tell us about some memorable wedding highlights from events you have planned? There have been numerous memorable moments throughout my career in planning events and weddings, but the ones that hold the most significance are when couples pay tribute to their loved ones, whether they are present or have passed away. It can be challenging to strike a balance between honoring their memory and creating a beautiful moment, but finding a joyful way to do so always triumphs. As an example, during my own wedding, my husband’s father, a renowned chef, had already passed away. To include him in our celebration, we featured a dessert recipe from one of his cookbooks and we acknowledged it on the dessert description as “courtesy of our dad.”

What’s the biggest mistake you see couples make when wedding planning? One of the most common errors I observe when people plan their wedding or event is a lack of communication. Effective communication is essential for success. It’s uncommon for all major key players and decision-makers involved in planning the event to be fully aligned. To avoid this, my three recommended steps are to identify the key players, establish a theme/design direction and overall ambiance, and, lastly, establish a budget.

What do you think is always worth splurging on? At a wedding, there are numerous items to spend extravagantly on and it ultimately depends on personal choice. I recommend spending lavishly on anything that is extraordinary and catches people’s attention visually. People love to be entertained, amazed and entirely involved in enjoyable and interactive activities. Some examples of such activities are deluxe photo booths and active stations, such as a food truck or donut-making stations. If I had to suggest an overall splurge, it would be on the after-party, as the day passes by so quickly and you would undoubtedly want to extend the celebrations and make the most out of it.

What is something couples can easily save on? Couples can cut costs in the area of printed materials by utilizing various online outlets, among which minted.com is my personal favorite. On this platform, one can discover an extensive range of stationery items, including save-the-dates, invitation suites, table numbers, and thank-you cards. The luxurious and exceptional quality of paper stock they offer is truly endless.

On that note, what are your thoughts on print vs e-invites? What are most people doing these days? Generally speaking, I’m not particularly fond of using e-invites. Nonetheless, there are certain occasions where it may be suitable due to time constraints. Printed stationery is an excellent means of establishing the ambiance of an event, from the colors to the paper stock. The initial impression can reveal a lot about the event’s nature. For a wedding or an event, I would recommend creating an online website so that your guests can easily access the most up-to-date information.

Is Covid still impacting wedding planning? Based on my personal experience, it seems that Covid is no longer significantly affecting events in general, although this can vary from one event to another.

It being Pride Month, are there any unique ideas for gay weddings you could share? Personally, I don’t label a wedding between two individuals of the same gender as a “gay wedding.” To me, it’s simply a wedding. However, during Pride Month, I recommend adding rainbow elements to the celebration without being overly clichéd or predictable. For instance, instead of traditional fireworks, consider incorporating a rainbow smoke show with cannons releasing smoke in bright and vibrant colors. This would create an impressive visual impact, particularly for outdoor weddings.