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Wondrous Weddings


There is perhaps no day more personal, more fraught with emotion, more precious in memory than one’s wedding day. For many the perfect wedding may involve travel to a destination, the very venue imbuing the day with a sense of romance and adventure.

But travel to a special location entails a myriad of details to be addressed, both for the wedding party and guests. Into this void steps high-end events planner, Tara Consolati of Lenox MA, whose goal it is to make her clients’ weddings singular, sumptuous and seamless.

“They should feel that everything is intentional and that they are well-cared-for,” said Consolati. “We don’t want moms or dads running around wondering when the hors d’oeuvres will be served. The priority is that the couples and their guests will have a great experience.”

That experience begins with a consultation some 12 to 15 months before the big day.

“When I talk to couples, I want to know their top three priorities,” she said. “Sometimes, it is all about the food or maybe it’s the vibe, or the musical entertainment. After we discuss priorities, their next homework is to show me images of things that inspire them. Rather than Instagram or Pinterest images of other weddings, do they have favorite fabric or work of art? I want to see what speaks to them. I want to see all those things, to make sense of it and to put it together like a puzzle. My favorite part of all this is when they walk into the space and it’s their ‘wow’ moment. Of course, they approve things as we go along, but they only see the parts. When they see it all together, that’s my moment.”

Such attention to detail comes with a big price tag. “My couples have budgets that start at $100,000 and I’m like, ‘How am I going to do it for this amount?’ I’ve done a couple of weddings at more than a million. I’m now working with a corporate group for one this year that wanted the Rolling Stones. We said we could do it, but it would have been $7 million and they didn’t want to spend that. Fortunately my older daughter says that’s ridiculous and wants to elope.”

There are huge variables in what one can get for one’s money. Consolati said $100,000 would buy a tent wedding at Tanglewood with an average expenditure of about $1,200 per guest. For a wedding on an estate such as Wheatleigh or Blantyre, that sum would rise to $2,000 to $3,000 per guest. Those venues cost more, she said, because the food is more expensive and the event takes over the whole premises.

“It’s more and more challenging to do a wedding for $100,000 in the Berkshires,” she said. “Couples see all these beautiful images of events on Pinterest or Instagram and will come and say, ‘I want lanterns down the pathway,’ and I say, ‘Okay, that will be $70,000.’ They are shocked, but there is a lot more to it than some lights. Where is the power coming from? If you want a silent generator, what is that going to cost?”

No problem is too big for the planner to overcome—providing the client’s budget allows. “A lot of planners and designers are known for a certain niche,” she said. “If I am known for anything, it is for having no one style. I make every event unique to the couple’s own style. It’s boring to do the same thing over and over again.”

Consolati’s personal attention even extends to the guests of the bridal couple who typically start arriving on Friday night. “I have been offering a concierge service since 2015 and, because all of my weddings are destination events, I am now starting to work with a travel company that can assist them in making travel arrangements.”

Most of the guests at these lavish affairs are traveling from afar and are unfamiliar with all the Berkshires have to offer. “With the concierge service, at the base level, we put together hotel blocks—all planners do that—but then we can draft a letter that looks like it is coming from the couple that says, ‘Here is what should know about Berkshires.’ It lists all the things to do and services such as nail salons and where to get your hair blown out. Sometimes couples even plan field trips for their guests.”

With the venue secured, the details ironed out and the guests assembled, the wedding can well and truly begin. Following Friday night’s festivities, “Saturday is long,” she confided. “It starts at the crack of dawn with hair and makeup and goes on until one to two in morning for the afterparty. Then, Sunday there is a farewell brunch before everyone departs.”

It is a sequence Consolati repeats 10 to 12 times a year. “Last year, I did eighteen weddings and a lot of pop-up events because of Covid. This year I have lost count. But we are not a wedding mill. I have grown a good team of professionals.”

As a destination planner, she can take her services anywhere. “I can plan anywhere,” she said. “The biggest challenge is figuring out the region—is there good infrastructure, transportation and hotels? Is it close to an airport? Over the years, I have grown a good network of people from around the world. It’s usually a matter of calling one or two people to find someone close to the area. It’s nice to work close to home and we have beautiful venues here but I dream of someone wanting a wedding in Italy … ”