After years of being known for crafting engagement rings for celebrities like Madonna, Demi Moore and Ellen DeGeneres — not to mention being the official jewelry designer for ABC’s The Bachelor franchise — Neil Lane is taking the plunge with Fairmont Hotels & Resorts to create bespoke weddings.
Available at properties across North and Central America, Fairmont Weddings, by Neil Lane will come with a consultation with a Fairmont wedding planner, who will personalize nuptials inspired by one of Lane’s six signature styles: romantic, lavish, modern, elegant, rustic and vintage. The first 10 couples to book will get to consult directly with Lane himself.
The package also will include a curated collection of Lane’s wedding-day jewelry, a dinner with the hotel’s executive chef to customize a four-course menu and a cake, a cocktail-making session to concoct a unique wedding libation, and many more perks.
We sat down with the Brooklyn native to talk about romance, travel and where he finds inspiration for his jewelry and fine art.
Why did you partner with Fairmont to create weddings?
I’ve traveled my whole life. I’ve lived in so many different cities. I felt like I could add something to the equation.
If you get a ring, you have to get married. You have to have a honeymoon. [Fairmont has] 80 hotels internationally. I had been toying with the idea, even years ago. I just never gave it the attention it needed.
What excites you most about the package?
One of my skill sets, even on TV, is bringing out what that particular person’s dream is — their ring dream. I think with the Fairmont, we could do that. Ask [couples]: What do you really think about? How does your grandmother come into this? Do you have any childhood memories, something that we could bring in?
I’m excited to make a memorable wedding for someone that will last a lifetime. I’m involved with the ring, and that’s amazing. And then when they have a baby and have an anniversary, I’m involved in the anniversary present, and now I’ll be involved in their wedding. I’ll be part of their lives.
I’ve been in Hollywood for 30 years, and it’s become generational. I’m now selling rings to the children of the couples I sold to 30 years ago. That makes you feel good.
Which are your favorite Fairmont hotels?
I’m a New Yorker, so I love The Plaza, that is such a historical reference. For history and vintage, I really love Fairmont Banff Springs in the Rockies, the castle. It’s really fairy tale like and has a great location. The first one I really loved is Fairmont San Francisco. That’s where I stayed when I first came to L.A. years ago. It was magical.
What do you look for in a hotel?
It depends on where I’m going, what I’m doing, if it’s an interview, if it’s business, if it’s pleasure. I’m going tomorrow to the desert, in Palm Springs. I love it there. What I look for for myself is a getaway place: a very small amount of rooms, where there’s no concierge, there’s no room service. That’s what I like for my quick getaways.
If I go to New York and I’m working, I like a hotel that gives you everything, like The Plaza would do, soup to nuts: room service, clothes, shoe polish, because a lot of times I’ll be doing interviews.
How has the pandemic shaped the future of weddings?
It’s on an uptick. I think people are now realizing they want to commit. The ones who haven’t made it living in close quarters, they weren’t going to make it anyway. It’s like they know. But the people who’ve come through it, I think they want to commit. I think they want to celebrate here and now.
It’s all kinds of weddings, though. They are going to be different. It’s not like the old norm. There will be micro weddings, macro weddings, ballroom weddings. The whole industry has been flipped, and I think Fairmont is ready to handle that — even if it’s a 10-person wedding. They are so good about it.
There was a hotel in San Diego, Fairmont Grand Del Mar, they did a cool backyard wedding. The couple were on the lawn with their vows and all the guests were on their [individual room] balconies in dressed in their tux or pretty clothes. They toasted the couple with champagne —all the same champagne — they had the food delivered to the room — all the same food. And so I think that was cool.
How did you spend the pandemic?
I holed up in my studio and I was probably the most creative in decades, more of my fine art. I stayed in the house; I didn’t really go out. In L.A., it’s a little bit different, you can walk in the streets, as opposed to in the cities where it’s crowded, so luckily, I could walk in the area and get fresh air. I did a lot of Zoom calls. I didn’t know how to do them at first — I had to make sure the background on my Zoom calls was attractive.
The first few months were bliss, and then the reality of it [hit] — people were discombobulating, businesses were shut down. I don’t think it was easy for anyone.
Tell us more about your fine art.
Before I ever thought about being a designer of jewels and all that, I was an artist — I still am an artist. I exhibited when I was a kid in the Brooklyn Museum, and then I found the world of antiques and jewels and I was enamored by that.
At night I do my artwork and the day I do my jewels work. During COVID, I’ve been exploring my childhood, my relationship with my dad and mom in pictorial, collages and color. I use a lot of metallics in my work, which people think represent my glitter and glamour world. It does in some ways, but sometimes I use sparkle to balance the pain in someone’s life.
What are your favorite travel destinations?
What I like to do when I travel is get on a plane and visit museums. Last time I got on a plane, I went to Arkansas and went to see the Crystal Bridges Museum. That was amazing.
If I go with the family, maybe Hawaii. But for a singular thing, I go to the desert. I sort of commune with nature there. I am simple in many ways.
What do you always pack when you travel?
I probably bring a hot water kettle and my own green tea bags. Even during the pandemic, I did travel. We did a filming for The Bachelorette in Palm Springs, and then I did travel to Pennsylvania to do the last Bachelor. I packed my breakfasts. I took oatmeal — quick-cooking oatmeal—stevia, nuts, cinnamon. And I get a banana from the hotel and make oatmeal. If I have a good breakfast, I’m set.
Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
Everywhere. I probably have 97 million images on my iPhone — I have to keep on getting storage and deleting and deleting. I get inspired by everything, but probably nature the most, or museums or graphics. I am able to dissect an image and see only the part I want to see and use that.
At the Fairmont hotel in San Francisco, when I went there, they had these beautiful sconces in the room. I think I sketched them. And they may have come out somewhere in a necklace that I did or a design in a ring. I think everywhere I go, I’m inspired.
I love looking at old books, old jewelry books, historical books, romantic wedding books — I love looking at that to see the dresses, the venues, the jewels, especially the royal jewels.
What’s your idea of romance?
When I was little, I saw an old movie on TV called One Touch of Venus. There was an actress, Ava Gardner. She was a statue, a beautiful statue. This guy would pass the statue all the time and say, “Hi, how are you, Venus?” One day she spoke to him. And he romanced her. I thought as a little kid, “That was so romantic, the statute came to life.” And she was gorgeous. She came down from the pedestal with this flowing gown, and it was just this regular dude.
I find beauty in many, many things. I’m so looking forward to going to desert to lay in the sun, which I haven’t done in two years. I know people say, “What do you mean goings to the desert, you live in Southern California.” It’s just different. When you drive to Palm Springs, it’s two hours, just long enough, and when you get closer to it, you start to see mountains. And it’s very romantic. You start thinking about the West in the 19th century. It’s just romantic — the idea of cowboys, and horses and ranches. And then you get to this flat oasis with palm trees and as you come off the highway, it’s so intense heat. I just love that.