The Away Team
Planning a destination wedding? Here are five experts who can help.
Why Her: Those in the know (including the creative director of The Knot) have enlisted this travel maven—who’s fluent in French and Spanish and can hold her own in Swahili—for their own faraway nuptials.
Most Awe-Inspiring Event: A six-day, gold-themed Balinese bash with 200 fire and kecak dancers in full costume.
Favorite Venues: I love coordinating weddings at private estates and villas, such as Jamaica’s Good Hope Plantation (goodhopejamaica.com).
Where to Find Her: Destination Bride, 518/392-7766; destinationbride.com
Why Her: From whimsical, custom-designed invitations, napkins, and programs to the flower arrangements she designs herself, Rago executes every detail to the nth degree.
Signature Touch: I like to have butlers in oven mitts pass out freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, presented on sheet pans, to revelers celebrating throughout the reception.
Most Dramatic Place for a Welcome Cocktail: Poolside on the whitewashed terrace of the Belvedere hotel (belvederehotel.com), on the Greek island of Mykonos.
Where to Find Her: Michelle Rago, 646/381-9098; michelleragoltd.com
Why Her: This Greek goddess of planning—with the requisite Athens satellite office—is every bit as fabulous as her jet-setting clients, one of whom is Robert Downey Jr.
Up-and-Coming Destination: Turkey. I’m currently planning a rustic Aegean–inspired celebration at the Esma Sultan Palace (themarmarahotels.com).
Cultural Tie-In: During one fiesta in Mexico, we made tamarind margaritas for the cocktail hour and gave away Mexican wedding cookies as favors.
Where to Find Her: Sofia Crokos Events, 212/929-1076;sofiacrokos.com
Why Her: Thanks to her designer’s eye, Helmstetter’s bohemian, yet sophisticated events have attracted a hip, creative clientele, including The Office’s Jenna Fischer.
French Twist: For a French-inspired wedding in Maui, we served tropical-flavored macarons (pineapple; coconut) as a nod to both locations.
Favorite Moment: After a ceremony in Oaxaca, Mexico, children and townspeople followed the newlyweds down the street, cheering, carrying candles, and dancing around them.
Where to Find Her: Beth Helmstetter Events,818/238-7070; bethhelmstetter.com
Why Her: An expert in all things Caribbean and Mexico, Soloway is known for events that pair organic, beachy elements with a clean, contemporary aesthetic.
Wow-Worthy Entrance: At a wedding in Jamaica, we had an African dance troupe entertain guests at the start of the reception and introduce the bride and groom in the most exuberant way.
Great Group Activity: An outdoor movie night, complete with a projector, pillows and blankets, popcorn, and cocktails.
Where to Find Her: Luxe Destination Weddings, 888/589-3933;luxedestinationweddings.com