Formal Affair features cakes, gowns and wedding planner to the stars

Formal Affair features cakes, gowns and wedding planner to the stars

February 20th, 2012 by Steve Hardy in News

Celebrity wedding planner David Tutera laughs as he is asked a question by Connie Sanders at the Formal Affair event Sunday at the Chattanooga Convention Center. She is planning an event for her upcoming 50th wedding anniversary. The event was sponsored by the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.


  1. Don't run out and buy a bunch of things for your wedding as soon as you get engaged. Give yourself time to plan
  2. Carefully choose friends and family for wedding advice. Soliciting help from everyone is exhausting.
  3. Decide how many people to invite, and research how much each vendor will cost before you hire anyone. If you do your homework, you can make a budget with confidence.
  4. Theme weddings can be great if you feel passionate about your theme, but don't feel obligated to try one. Also, make sure that your themed wedding doesn't veer too far into child's birthday territory.

Daniel Underwood and Kelly Everitt had an understanding. Though they weren't yet engaged, the two were saving up for a wedding, and Underwood's dream of a new truck would have to be put on the back burner.

Which is why, when he came home one day in a vehicle Everitt didn't recognize, she let him have it -- until he coaxed her into opening the glove box, where he'd hidden her engagement ring.

Then he returned the truck to its rightful owner, his friend.

Though the couple isn't getting married until late next year, on Sunday they visited the fourth annual Formal Affair, a gathering of gownmakers, florists, photographers and more than 120 other wedding vendors sponsored by the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

However, amid the flood of fiancees, maids of honor and families were several attendees who weren't involved in any way in wedding planning. Some weren't even in a relationship. They were there to see special guest David Tutera of WE tv's "My Fair Wedding."

Tutera, known as the wedding planner to the stars, encouraged couples to let their weddings tell their stories and to not be afraid to try something unconventional to keep wedding-weary guests on their toes.

He answered questions and helped guests think of ways to personalize their weddings, from one couple's mutual interest in science to a fiance's military background.

On a Halloween-themed wedding, he answered grimly, "We'll talk."

He answered questions about bickering relatives [take the high road and invite them], burgers at the reception [if they're the groom's favorite food, why not?] destination weddings [loves them], and the groom's job in planning [help out, but leave the fashion decisions to the ladies].

He further advised brides-to-be, "If your wedding planner doesn't listen in the first hour of your first meeting, that is not the right wedding planner."

Times Free Press President Jason Taylor said Tutera was the overwhelming favorite attraction at Formal Affair among brides-to-be.

Lyndsi Sebastian, with the Times Free Press marketing department, said more than 2,000 people attended.

Tutera and chef Jay Qualls from TLC's "Next Great Baker" also were on hand to pick a Cake Ace, the convention's bakery contest.

Said Tutera, "It's very easy for cake artists to create beautiful cakes on the outside. I'm looking for cakes that taste really great."

The winning cake, from Sifted Bakery in Cleveland, Tenn. -- a devil's food confection with vanilla Italian butter cream frosting -- was both.

It was fashioned to resemble a mounted deer's head, with an arrow made of sugar piercing a heart resting in its antlers.

Sifted Bakery co-owner Candace Lewis said, "We don't take the safe route. That's what makes it good."

Her partner Tammy Jensen agreed. "I could stack three-tiered cakes all day long, but it wouldn't satisfy me."

A photo of the winning cake is on Sifted Bakery's Facebook page.