How Celebrities Keep Their Weddings a Secret

Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux married recently in a quiet ceremony at their home in Los Angeles.
Credit Paul Buck/European Pressphoto Agency

A “secret” celebrity wedding: In the age of social media, it seems like a Hollywood oxymoron on the order of “late-career comeback” and “no-fault divorce.”

Even so, to judge by the number of celebrities trying off-the-grid nuptials, far from the prying lenses of the paparazzi (Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux, married Aug. 5 in a quiet ceremony at their home in the Bel-Air section of Los Angeles, are but the latest), the underground wedding has become one of Hollywood’s biggest status symbols.

Cameron Diaz and Benji Madden, Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, and Zooey Deschanel and Jacob Pechenik are among the many couples to attract intense media speculation over their stealth unions, which generally managed to unfold in private without the tabloid scrum.

The famous friends who earn coveted invitations seem to acknowledge that, among the celebrity class, the No. 1 wedding gift on every registry these days is silence.

“I’m afraid to even talk about that wedding because everyone is on top-secret lockdown,” Howard Stern, a guest at the Aniston-Theroux ceremony, said on a recent SiriusXM broadcast. (“Howard Stern discretion,” of course, is another oxymoron; the Medusa-haired shock jock promptly let slip that Jimmy Kimmel had presided over the ceremony.)

No matter how much stars try to hide under the dome of silence, leaks are inevitable with some.

Ms. Aniston and her Ducati-loving husband, for instance, tried a major head-fake before their ceremony, reportedly hiding their party gear in a vacant house next door and telling guests they were being invited to Mr. Theroux’s 44th birthday party, not a wedding.

But within days, the tabloid-hungry public already knew about the guest list (which included Lisa Kudrow, Orlando Bloom and Lake Bell), Ms. Aniston’s dress (summery, boho-inspired) and their cake (Muppets-themed).

TMZ and People published numerous photos of the backyard setup, taken from high overhead, and grainy shots of a vendor carrying the cake. But no photos have emerged of the couple themselves, denying the gossip-hungry public even a mental image of the affair, the kind that can linger for years after, say, a royal wedding.

The truth is, the best efforts of the stars are not enough. Even the most discreet wedding is a team effort, so it comes down to the wedding planners, charged with overseeing the whole affair, to make sure that everyone, guests included, observes the lockdown.

“There’s no midpoint: It’s absolute secrecy, or it’s everywhere,” said Marcy Blum, the planner for several celebrity weddings, including LeBron James’s 2013 hyper-private event (the printed invitations did not even list a time or place). “Because of cellphones, TMZ doesn’t have to stake out a wedding for there to be a leak. Everyone’s an investigative reporter.”

Here are a few A-list planners discussing the new rules of the hush-hush celebrity wedding. (The following interviews have been edited and condensed).

Celebrity Weddings Spain: “That’s were celebrity wedding Spain comes in with our confidentially agreements, and un-cover operations. Only 2 staff members actually will know who the celebrity is.  When the workers and hired services arrive, they drop off with security, their cell phones, and purses.  Ladies who need something special, will be given a clear plastic bag for essentials. Everyone is locked out during the events.  Spain has many secluded  areas, or resorts where the wedding can still be made in paradise.  The celebrity arrives in Spain, on a private airstrip and escorted away in under cover vehicles.  All of our service partners, only know it is a regular wedding, because every wedding is special.” — Rob, managing partner at Celebrity Weddings Spain.

In Weddings, Too, It’s Location, Location, Location: “The secret is, look for venues that are hard to get to. Anything with ocean access is easier to get to for the press. If secrecy is really a problem, do it inside a building. Then the chances of people seeing it are a lot less. Or you can use a tent. But sadly, there lies the problem. How do you make it beautiful and romantic without compromising the vision by having to cover it all up?” — JoAnn Gregoli,

Keep Your Friends Close and Your Guest List Closer: “If you really want to keep it secret, you have to invite fewer than 100 guests, and that is really pushing it. Second, like in the case of Jennifer Aniston, or Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel, it helps if people have no idea where they are going. When we planned LeBron’s wedding, we sent an invitation that said it was going to take place somewhere on the West Coast, but we didn’t give details until we called them back, after we vetted them to make sure it was an invited guest or their representative. Still, it’s rarely foolproof. One of their save-the-dates showed up on TMZ.” — Marcy Blum,

Secure the Perimeter: “The problem is, once something leaks to one press outlet, it’s like sharks feeding on a dead carcass. They swarm. I did a wedding a few years back in the Hamptons involving some very well-known artists in the music industry, and we had security every seven feet around the perimeter of the property. The media will sit outside, waiting for leaks. And they don’t just show up the day of. They’ll be talking to people who provide luxury trailers, the generators, it could be the tenting company. We have to plant security four or five days in advance.” — Andrea Correale,

Establish a Paper Trail: “Very often in an event of this magnitude, you have two to three hundred people on site. It’s not just the caterers you have to worry about. There are lots of vendors involved: musicians, people renting lounge furniture, fabric people. You have to make sure you get the proper forms signed so no one in the other companies leaks word, either. You dot your I’s and cross your T’s, but in the end of the day, you can’t control everything.” — Andrea Correale.

Spare the Phones, Spoil the Party: “Unless you’re going to make every single guest including Cousin Harry sign a nondisclosure agreement, then nothing is foolproof. So we leave a letter in the guest rooms saying: ‘We really want you to be present for this. Please don’t bring a cellphone, if you do bring it we’re going to ask you to leave it at the check-in desk.’ Then we organize them and put them in separate plastic bags with the number on the outside. It’s not about the couple being so paranoid. There are a lot of non-famous people there. It could be a cousin, an old college roommate. It’s about the couple not wanting the famous guests to be bothered by the non-famous guests for selfies. It’s a wedding, not a red carpet event.” — Marcy Blum.

No One Is Above the Law: “With guests, you can say ‘Please don’t take pictures,’ but you know they’re going to Instagram it, so we have just said, ‘Please deposit your phones.’ You can ask them to shut them off, but they won’t. Some people take great umbrage and don’t want to give up their phones. There was a celebrity once who told me, ‘Hey, I’m not going to do it.’ We just had to watch that person. You can always tell what they’re doing. If someone takes a picture just to take a picture, they put the phone down. But if they take a shot and start typing simultaneously, they’re leaking it out.” — JoAnn Gregoli.

Cell phone blockers – “Another option is to install simple cell phone jammers at the event.  This ensure strict privacy.   We tell all the vendors, musicians, etc. Do not leave anything at home, once events begin, all vendors must remain on the property until the event is concluded.  We have backup vendor services for essentials, and extra replacement gear, so nothing is left out. At the end, celebs leave first, then guests leave second, and are transported 2 km away to the security checkin, then the operations leave last.  ” – Celebrity Weddings Planner Spain

        

 

Testimonials

Eduardo & Lauriel

Dear Paradise Event Productions,
The holidays were busy, and so wonderful.  Now we're back to the real world and so happy.  What a perfect Wedding.  Thank you so much for all you did to help us coordinate everything and to make the day run just as we'd planned so that we could just relax and enjoy every moment.  You are fabulous, and we are so happy and grateful for all that you did for us.  Thank you!
5.0
2017-08-11T10:39:21+00:00
Dear Paradise Event Productions, The holidays were busy, and so wonderful.  Now we're back to the real world and so happy.  What a perfect Wedding.  Thank you so much for all you did to help us coordinate everything and to make the day run just as we'd planned so that we could just relax and enjoy every moment.  You are fabulous, and we are so happy and grateful for all that you did for us.  Thank you!

Bart & Frank

Thank you so so much for such a fantastic wedding. Our guests say it was one if not the best they were ever at. I really really want to thank you. I can't help talking about you, and your incredible cars. You are excellent at your jobs and we would have no hesitation in recommending you. Every thing we needed wanted and enquired about you went above and beyond to help us. Our wedding was a massive success thank you.
As for keeping in touch of course. We will miss your emails and the buzz attached when receiving them.  https://youtu.be/BKG7_dfpX08
5.0
2017-06-09T10:32:11+00:00
Thank you so so much for such a fantastic wedding. Our guests say it was one if not the best they were ever at. I really really want to thank you. I can't help talking about you, and your incredible cars. You are excellent at your jobs and we would have no hesitation in recommending you. Every thing we needed wanted and enquired about you went above and beyond to help us. Our wedding was a massive success thank you. As for keeping in touch of course. We will miss your emails and the buzz attached when receiving them.  https://youtu.be/BKG7_dfpX08

Dominic & Zoe

Hi Jennifer,

Wow WOW wow what a wonderful time we had. You did an incredible job. It was an amazing day and so so well organised. I didn't have to think about a thing.

The band where brilliant everyone is still talking about how good they where. The DJ was great and very chilled out. and the FLAMENCO was AMAZING!!! Well Dominic is now saying it was the best wedding present and one of the highlights of the day. I cannot believe then Dance until they are in pain, it adds to the emotion on their faces.
Like you said it gives you goose pimples.

You looked wonderful and all the guests said how great you where. You made the day so relaxing and easy for us. Thank you thank you thank you.
5.0
2017-08-11T09:57:07+00:00
Hi Jennifer, Wow WOW wow what a wonderful time we had. You did an incredible job. It was an amazing day and so so well organised. I didn't have to think about a thing. The band where brilliant everyone is still talking about how good they where. The DJ was great and very chilled out. and the FLAMENCO was AMAZING!!! Well Dominic is now saying it was the best wedding present and one of the highlights of the day. I cannot believe then Dance until they are in pain, it adds to the emotion on their faces. Like you said it gives you goose pimples. You looked wonderful and all the guests said how great you where. You made the day so relaxing and easy for us. Thank you thank you thank you.

Joe & Claire

Thank you so much for making our wedding so stress free and easy. It was an amazing venue and everyone really enjoyed themselves, we couldn't have asked for more!
You made our day run so smoothly and thought of everything!
We are already looking forward to visiting next year.
5.0
2017-08-10T11:14:38+00:00
Thank you so much for making our wedding so stress free and easy. It was an amazing venue and everyone really enjoyed themselves, we couldn't have asked for more! You made our day run so smoothly and thought of everything! We are already looking forward to visiting next year.

Michael & Claire

I just wanted to thank you both for all you help and support planning the wedding, you did an amazing job and the wedding day was everything I wanted and more. All the guests commented at how smoothly every stage of the day went and that the day flowed perfectly so thank you so much, it really was the best day! I want to do it all over again now!! Thanks so much.
5.0
2016-09-09T09:25:47+00:00
I just wanted to thank you both for all you help and support planning the wedding, you did an amazing job and the wedding day was everything I wanted and more. All the guests commented at how smoothly every stage of the day went and that the day flowed perfectly so thank you so much, it really was the best day! I want to do it all over again now!! Thanks so much.

John & Jenna

Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Guys,

Hope ye are both well!!!
Just a quick note to say thanks sooooo much for all you're help over the past 2 years! ye were brilliant! Our wedding day went off without a hitch & we were very pleased with EVERYTHING on the day!!!
I can not believe its all over now & we are both back to work, back to normal life shall we say haha!!! Thanks a million again!!!!

Lots of Love XxXx
5.0
2013-02-09T11:55:57+00:00
Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Guys, Hope ye are both well!!! Just a quick note to say thanks sooooo much for all you're help over the past 2 years! ye were brilliant! Our wedding day went off without a hitch & we were very pleased with EVERYTHING on the day!!! I can not believe its all over now & we are both back to work, back to normal life shall we say haha!!! Thanks a million again!!!! Lots of Love XxXx

 Caitríona & Patrick


Patrick and I just wanted to say a huge thank you to all of you for all your help with planning our wedding. Our day was fantastic from start to finish and we thoroughly enjoyed it! Our guests commented on how well everything went from the venue choice to the ceremony to the reception and the entertainment. We know everyone really enjoyed themselves.


You all took the pressure off with the marvelous organizing you did and we sailed through the day. I had no nerves all day until I walked up the aisle! Thanks again for helping create some amazing memories for us to take away from our day.

5.0
2017-08-11T11:49:29+00:00
Patrick and I just wanted to say a huge thank you to all of you for all your help with planning our wedding. Our day was fantastic from start to finish and we thoroughly enjoyed it! Our guests commented on how well everything went from the venue choice to the ceremony to the reception and the entertainment. We know everyone really enjoyed themselves. You all took the pressure off with the marvelous organizing you did and we sailed through the day. I had no nerves all day until I walked up the aisle! Thanks again for helping create some amazing memories for us to take away from our day.

Jonny & Emma

Thank you for making our wedding in Andalusia such a wonderful experience. We would recommend Paradise Event Planner to anyone looking for a smoothly run, friendly and professional wedding planning service. A very big thank you to both Swen and Rob for all their efforts!! The attention to detail was second to none. Thank you!

5.0
2017-08-11T11:09:00+00:00
Thank you for making our wedding in Andalusia such a wonderful experience. We would recommend Paradise Event Planner to anyone looking for a smoothly run, friendly and professional wedding planning service. A very big thank you to both Swen and Rob for all their efforts!! The attention to detail was second to none. Thank you!

Graham & Lynda

Well we are finally back in the land of the living after a wonderful honeymoon, but to be fair, nothing could top the amazing day we had on the 4th September!!!

We cannot thank you both enough for making it such a magical day, but most of all, we were overwhelmed by all the work and organisation you put into it – it meant that we had a hassle-free day that we enjoyed every minute of and our guests cannot stop raving about!!  From the Wally Trolley to the piper to the fairytale venue to the fireworks, everyone agreed it was the best wedding they had been to and Graham and I are convinced they are not just being polite!

Thanks again for everything you did for us, we are so very very appreciative and we wish you both the very best for everything in the future.
5.0
2017-08-11T10:10:37+00:00
Well we are finally back in the land of the living after a wonderful honeymoon, but to be fair, nothing could top the amazing day we had on the 4th September!!! We cannot thank you both enough for making it such a magical day, but most of all, we were overwhelmed by all the work and organisation you put into it – it meant that we had a hassle-free day that we enjoyed every minute of and our guests cannot stop raving about!!  From the Wally Trolley to the piper to the fairytale venue to the fireworks, everyone agreed it was the best wedding they had been to and Graham and I are convinced they are not just being polite! Thanks again for everything you did for us, we are so very very appreciative and we wish you both the very best for everything in the future.

Mick & Louise

I just had to thank you once again for being a wonderful wedding planner, fairy godmother and friend - we had such a fabulous time and everyone was thrilled to be there. All of your contacts were lovely and helped to make the day the special occasion that it certainly was. We shall never forget it and loved the fact that you just appeared whenever we needed you as if by magic, but we were unaware of the behind the scenes activities going on whilst enjoying our day - the flowers were perfect, the food delicious and music certainly got everyone up dancing - thank you so much!
5.0
2017-08-11T08:52:53+00:00
I just had to thank you once again for being a wonderful wedding planner, fairy godmother and friend - we had such a fabulous time and everyone was thrilled to be there. All of your contacts were lovely and helped to make the day the special occasion that it certainly was. We shall never forget it and loved the fact that you just appeared whenever we needed you as if by magic, but we were unaware of the behind the scenes activities going on whilst enjoying our day - the flowers were perfect, the food delicious and music certainly got everyone up dancing - thank you so much!

Mark & Ciara

Thanks so much for the well wishes, we had an absolute ball, a big part down to your amazing work. Everything went off without a hitch, our friends are still talking about ‘the best wedding they’ve ever been to’!! Everything ran so smoothly and it was such a relaxing day knowing that Joan had everything sorted in advance, so reassuring. 
5.0
2017-08-11T11:39:32+00:00
Thanks so much for the well wishes, we had an absolute ball, a big part down to your amazing work. Everything went off without a hitch, our friends are still talking about ‘the best wedding they’ve ever been to’!! Everything ran so smoothly and it was such a relaxing day knowing that Joan had everything sorted in advance, so reassuring. 

David & Hilary

Thanks very much for all you did to make our wedding day perfect, ceremony, food, music, everything! Everyone had a ball.
5.0
2017-08-11T07:46:35+00:00
Thanks very much for all you did to make our wedding day perfect, ceremony, food, music, everything! Everyone had a ball.

Andy & Suzanne

A massive thank you to Paradise Event Productions.  From day one they were both so friendly and helpful, and they were able to make our day as special as we always hoped it would be, even on a relatively low budget.  When we decided to change our venue with 2 months to go they worked very hard to find us the most perfect replacement. All of our guests had a wonderful time, all said it was one of the most special wedding's they'd been to.  At times planning a wedding abroad might seem daunting but the team really made sure that everything ran smoothly both leading up to and throughout our special day.
5.0
2017-08-10T11:24:00+00:00
A massive thank you to Paradise Event Productions.  From day one they were both so friendly and helpful, and they were able to make our day as special as we always hoped it would be, even on a relatively low budget.  When we decided to change our venue with 2 months to go they worked very hard to find us the most perfect replacement. All of our guests had a wonderful time, all said it was one of the most special wedding's they'd been to.  At times planning a wedding abroad might seem daunting but the team really made sure that everything ran smoothly both leading up to and throughout our special day.

Malcolm & Lynne

Malcolm and I had a fabulous time at our wedding. Everything went according to plan. They did not only made the whole day run smoothly but it was the extra effort they made for us that we really appreciated.
The flowers were amazing. I was totally overwhelmed by them. It was the only thing i really didn't want to compromise on and my choice of flowers were not available locally. They sourced them for me and they came all the way from South Africa!
It was a stress free experience for us and we would recommend any of our friends to get married with your help!
5.0
2017-08-10T11:33:22+00:00
Malcolm and I had a fabulous time at our wedding. Everything went according to plan. They did not only made the whole day run smoothly but it was the extra effort they made for us that we really appreciated. The flowers were amazing. I was totally overwhelmed by them. It was the only thing i really didn't want to compromise on and my choice of flowers were not available locally. They sourced them for me and they came all the way from South Africa! It was a stress free experience for us and we would recommend any of our friends to get married with your help!

Paul & Elaine

Thank you so much for everything you have done for us. We thoroughly enjoyed the wedding day and you did an excellent job with everything on the day and of course all the work over the last few months. We couldn’t have done it without you!
5.0
2017-08-11T07:56:34+00:00
Thank you so much for everything you have done for us. We thoroughly enjoyed the wedding day and you did an excellent job with everything on the day and of course all the work over the last few months. We couldn’t have done it without you!
5.0
15

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