BUSINESS owner Treva Harris had more than $100,000 to spend on her fairy-tale dream wedding but quickly discovered that she needed more than cash.
Enter Chestnut Hill-based party planner Ebony Edwards, who took over six months in and turned Harris' fledgling Cinderella theme into a jaw-dropping, over-the-top wedding fantasy. As Harris' 200 guests entered the grounds of Fairmount Park's Waterworks, in 2011, they passed a 6-foot-high scroll with the words, "Once upon a time, Treva met her fairytale Prince Reginald . . . "
The festivities began with a videotape of the Cinderella story, with Treva and groom, Reginald Harris, playing the roles of Cinderella and Prince Charming. Next, trumpets blared as Treva made a real-life grand entrance in a white horse-drawn carriage.
As the bride and groom performed their first dance to Patti LaBelle's "You Are My Friend," fireworks exploded over the Schuylkill. Edwards, who prides herself on injecting the "wow factor" into all her events, had fog machines set up for the bride and groom's reception entrance and over-sized king and queen chairs where they relaxed in royal style.
"She really did go above and beyond," said Treva, who owns Child Prodigy Educational Center. "I think she was just as excited as I was about the wedding."
Next up for Edwards, the president of LFG Events (eventsbylfg.com), is tomorrow night's girlfriend party, Soiree in the City, at Suite 79, 1050 Hancock St., in Northern Liberties.
I've been to plenty of after-work girlfriend parties. All you really need is some wine and maybe some cheese. Not Edwards. She's got to go all out. At this party, she'll have stilt walkers, fan dancers and a fire blower.
"That's how my parties are," laughed Edwards, 37.
The daughter of two science teachers, Edwards grew up in West Mount Airy dreaming more about being in the spotlight than peering through a microscope. After graduating from Bodine High School in 1995, she eventually wound up at Temple University, where she graduated with a degree in communications.
"I wanted to be a TV-show host," Edwards recalled. "I wanted to be on the "Today" show with Matt [Lauer] and Al [Roker] and Katie Couric."
But traveling to small markets to try to break into the competitive TV industry wasn't feasible for Edwards, who by then was a single mother.
She wound up working in constituent services for then-state Sen. Allyson Schwartz, but still itched to be in front of the camera, so she spent a year working on a TV pilot for a teen dance show called "Dancing in the Streets."
The show never got picked up, so she worked a series of part-time jobs and spent time at Aetna, all the while throwing an occasional party or maybe helping out at a wedding.
In 2005, she organized her own wedding, a glamourous Hollywood-style affair with 10 bridesmaids. After the festivities wound down, Edwards found herself wondering what to do with her $3,500 princess wedding gown from Bridals by Danielle, in Center City, and had a revelation: She would wear it to little-girl birthday parties she hosted.
Before long, Little Fairy Godmothers Princess Fantasy Place & Boutique, in Glenside, had become a popular place for kids' parties. Pint-sized wannabe princesses would get their hair styled and have fairy dust sprinkled in it. They'd paint their nails and get VIP princess bracelets.
"We had ponies," said Veronica Bowden, who relies on Edwards to throw her two daughters' parties. "They did the glittery, sparkly nail polish. She had colorful hairpieces for the girls to put on. They made their own lip glosses."
At Bowden's daughter's latest party, the theme was a Dr. Seuss brunch, which meant eggs tinted with green food coloring and a three-dimensional cake that played off the popular kiddie book, "One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish."
Bowden, director of Hope Church School, on Old York Road, also hires Edwards to organize her company's holiday parties, which means lavish Christmas-oriented candy buffets and red velvet cupcakes.
"She really takes your theme and just runs with it," Bowden said.
These days, Edwards, who closed the Glenside location in 2011, plans more MTV-style Sweet 16 parties than anything else, which can be pretty lucrative, since parents aren't blinking at $6,000 and $10,000 budgets. When teenagers come in without any ideas, Edwards hooks them up by saying, "You are Hollywood."
Budding Francophile? They get a Parisian theme.
Mardi gras fan? A march with a string band.
The limit is your imagination - or maybe Edwards'.
If you go: Soiree in the City is open to the public. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. RSVPs are encouraged. Location: Suite 79, 1050 Hancock St. in Northern Liberties. Time: 6 until 9 p.m. tomorrow. For more information, log on to phillysoiree2013.com.
On Twitter: @JeniceArmstrong