WASHINGTON • Wealthy socialites Joan and Bernard Carl wanted a beautiful wedding for their daughter, Alex. And for the most part, they got it.
The lavish June 2015 celebration for 250 guests in the garden of their Southampton estate in New York was gorgeous. The bride wore Oscar de la Renta. The reception included a speciality cocktail served in an ostrich eggshell; the after-parties offered an apple brandy and cigar bar, plus hot chocolate and brownie stations.
A week later, the couple exchanged vows in a small candlelight ceremony in the 16th-century chapel at the family chateau in the Loire Valley, followed by hot-air ballooning the next morning.
Both ceremonies were featured in Brides magazine last year with the headline: "This Couple's Multi-Day Wedding in the Hamptons and in France Will Blow You Away."
But behind the scenes, there was drama. So much drama that the wedding nearly got called off.
A legal battle is brewing between Los Angeles-based celebrity event planner Mindy Weiss and the Carls.
Ms Weiss, who designed the Southampton ceremony - which the Carls acknowledge cost upwards of a million dollars - is suing the couple for more than US$340,000 (S$476,000) in unpaid fees and expenses, plus US$1.4 million in damages. The Carls claim Ms Weiss went on an unauthorised spending spree on their dime and is holding the bridal video hostage unless they pay her inflated bill.
Initially, everyone was excited - it was, after all, the first wedding of the Carls' three children. The couple say they told Ms Weiss they were willing to spend up to US$1 million but didn't want a "glitzy" event.
But by the spring of 2015, the relationship between Ms Weiss and the Carls had devolved into finger-pointing, angry e-mails and demands for money. Aside from what he considers excessive charges, Bernard says he also has a lot of issues with the service Ms Weiss provided.
Things came to a head when, after nearly 10 months of planning and just six weeks before the wedding, Ms Weiss finally provided a budget that came in at US$3 million. The father of the bride was stunned and refused to pay some charges that he considered to be wildly inflated.
In the lawsuit, Ms Weiss contends that the Carls "expressed an interest in an extravagant affair, never mentioning the word 'budget'".
The Carls admit that they never would have allowed a business deal to continue for months with the same misgivings.
But it was their first wedding, and emotions got the better of them.
What should have happened, according to industry experts, is that the Carls should have fired Ms Weiss as soon it was clear they were a bad fit - or Ms Weiss should have quit.
Alas, no one pulled that trigger because no one wanted to upset the bride. And now: a messy and public lawsuit.