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BRIDAL FASHION WEEK!

Monique Lhuillier, Fall 2015

Last week was bridal market for the Fall 2015 lines, and it did not disappoint. The big trends were barely-there straps, crop tops and cut ups (perhaps inspired by Kim Kardashian?), skirts with major slits, skirts that look like wedding cakes, illusion detailing, dramatic backs (completely bare or bedazzled) and long sleeves. My favorite look of the season was from Monique Lhuillier, it is now possible for you to buy a copy of Amal Alamuddin’s gown that she wore to marry George Clooney and there was lots of buzz around the Frozen wedding dress:

Alfred Angelo for Disney’s Fairy Tale weddings collection

At first, I got all judgmental and snarky on that one. It’s not Halloween, it’s a wedding! Nobody has any business wearing a Disney princess costume on their Big Day. And then I immediately felt like a real jerk. When it comes to weddings, everyone has an opinion and no one is afraid to voice it… But the only opinions that really matter are that of the bride and groom. And if she wants to dress like she’s just emerged from her favorite cartoon, or if he wants to rappel down a rope to the ceremonygreat. It’s your day. DO IT.

Amal Alamuddin, photo via Annie Leibovitz

And besides, every bride wants a fairytale moment with her dress; each girl just defines what makes them feel like a princess differently. I love the red carpet style, my mom loves ball gowns big enough to hide the entire bridal party under, my dad’s into the nun look and Tony has officially tapped out and checked out.

You can see all of the lines here!

BIRTHDAY WEDDING WEEKEND

{Pre-birthday partying at the Hart of Dixie wrap party}

I think it’s safe to say this was Tony’s best birthday ever; the big School of Rock news was the most epic gift of all time. Because we’d had to sit on it for a while before it was finally announced a few days prior his actual birthday (October 12), we’d been celebrating long and hard by the time the weekend rolled around. We’d planned to keep the party going Friday night and meet up with friends, but we were so tired that the idea of being social (or showering) was too much. I think it’s the same kind of happy exhaustion we’ll feel after our wedding, where the love and joy and excitement is just so overwhelming that you have to hit pause for a minute to take it in.

{Hiking off Mulholland Drive}

So, we kicked off the weekend with a sunset hike with our dogs at a spot I love just off Mulholland Drive, where it’s rarely crowded and you can see the ocean, and sometimes movie stars. It was so nice to finally have some time alone together, to process this insane news. We’ve both had so many close calls with our careers, it’s crazy wrapping our heads around the fact that this is a real job that is really happening. We toasted dreams coming true with giant take-out containers of Zankou Chicken and fell asleep on the sofa watching a Homeland marathon. It was perfect.

{Best view from the hike}

Saturday morning, I took a cake decorating class at Charm City Cakes West with one of my favorite girls around, Christie. She’s an incredible chef (see: Pardon My Crumbs), and we’ve been dying to take classes there. We decided to do it this past weekend, so I could kill two birds with one stone and leave with a birthday cake for Tony.

{Is this not the manliest birthday cake you’ve ever seen?}

It ended up being the perfect choice, because this Saturday’s class was on Art Deco/Great Gatsby-style cakes. We had an Old Hollywood/Art Deco-themed engagement party, so I love the style. But the real reason this class ended up being my favorite was because we got to use their edible spray paint machine to give the cake that edible sheen. It is my life’s goal to figure out how to register for one of those, so I can spray all of my food so it shimmers before I eat it. It was that fun. (Full disclosure: My cake had the same splotchy-bad-spray-tan look as my legs in high school. The awesome teacher, Rachel, fixed it for me. Thank you, Rachel!)

{Using the spray tan machine for cakes with Rachel}

{Fondant smashing}

Using the fondant-smashing machine (technical term?) was a close-second at the top of the fun scale. Christie knows me and my addictions well, and bought us two large Cake In A Jar’s to eat while we decorated the cakes we’d eat later.

{My happiness}

{Me and Christie, before those cakes were devoured}

While I believe in birthday months, Tony hates birthdays and never wants a big to-do made over him. We were planning to fly solo and eat at his favorite restaurant in town, Bludso’s BBQ, but at the last minute a few friends joined us (I think because Tony was worried we’d eat the cake by ourselves otherwise). It was a low-key night and we laughed the entire time with barbecue sauce dripping down our faces - as close to Tony’s fantasy birthday as you can get.

{My favorite pic from Tony’s birthday. Photo credit: Jon DeWalt}

Sunday (Tony’s actual birthday) also happened to be the wedding day of one of our best friends, Ben, so we got up early for Tony to open his present before driving to Santa Ynez. There’s no way to top the gift of being cast as the lead in the straight-to-series School of Rock TV show, so the closest I could come was a tent. That may not sound like much, but there’s meaning behind it. Tony loves camping. His favorite childhood memories usually involve being out in the wilderness somewhere with his dad. I, on the other hand, have only ever gone camping once. I was around 9 or 10, and when we pulled up to the campsite, legend has it I rolled down the window and asked the park ranger where the room service menu was. And, in those pre-iPad days, my brother and I almost killed the car battery, leaving the car running so we could watch Gremlins on the TV. I like vacations that include robes, spas and the ability to drink champagne by a pool. So, the greater gift is that we’ll now become “camping people.”

It made the birthday celebration even more special, being able to escape to Santa Ynez for a quick getaway. We stayed in Solvang, an adorable little town made famous by the movie Sideways and known for its danishes. Per the usual, we ate our way through the trip. Here we are at the wedding:

Ben’s wedding was gorgeous. He’s my old roommate, and we lived together at a time when both of us were going through a really difficult period in our lives. He was there for me, and is one of the funniest people with the biggest hearts I know, not to mention most supportive - he came to nearly all of my Sunday Company shows at The Groundlings, and never missed a new sketch. (Sidenote: If you are having a bad day, just ask Ben to do the dance from Footloose. It’s pure magic.) He was also living with me when I met Tony.

So, it was beautiful and emotional and just so wonderful to watch him get married, and see how far we’ve both come in our lives. You can also tell how much fun we had at the wedding by the fact that I’ve already shown you nearly all of the pictures we took. We were too busy shoveling barbecue and banana-chocolate chip-peanut butter cupcakes in our faces, and dancing.

{Are these not THE cutest welcome bags?? I am obsessed.}

We ended the night in bed, sweaty from three hours on the dance floor, eating all of the treats out of the perfectly-executed welcome bags while we watched Tony’s new favorite show, Fat Cops. (It’s basically the show Cops, but featuring cops who are fat. Genius.) Birthdays don’t get any better than that.

'SCHOOL OF ROCK' TV SHOW CASTS ITS STAR: MY FIANCÉ (!!!)

{Photo courtesy of USA Today}

This morning, it was announced that Tony was cast as Dewey Finn in the School of Rock TV series (playing the part Jack Black made so iconic in the movie)!!!!!! It’s picked up to 13 episodes, airing on Nickelodeon in early 2015 - Paramount Studios, Richard Linklater and Scott Rudin are behind it. It’s an understatement to say that today has been (next to the day we got engaged, and also the day I secretly adopted a puppy while Tony was in Vegas at a bachelor party) the best day ever. My fiancé - the funniest, sweetest, most talented, loving, selfless and hardest working person I know (more details on why I love him here) - watched all his dreams come true.


For people in “the industry” (or, at least for our friends in “the industry”), you haven’t really made it until you’re on Deadline. So, I cried when I saw this:


And this:


And this and this and this and this. But, the best part of the day was all of the calls, texts, emails, Facebook messages, tweets and Instagrams from everyone we love/have ever met. We found out that he’d booked the part a little while ago, and had to keep the news under wraps until Nickelodeon and Paramount made their official announcement; so, while we have been so secretly and quietly thrilled, I think it really sunk in for Tony today that the job was real, and actually his. The most joyful part of this whole thing has been all of the people celebrating with us.

{Tony gets to WORK HERE}

I love when good things happen to good people in this town, where nothing is fair and there are no guarantees - you can move to Hollywood and land a huge role in a huge movie the day you arrive, or you can work your entire life and never make it. It’s frustrating and awful and hopeful and exhilarating all at once, because you never know if today is going to be the day your life changes. So, it’s so rewarding and helps me keep the faith when good people get the good jobs (or any job. Any job at all. Getting a job here is really hard.) And I may be biased, but there is no one more “good” than Tony. He earned that part.

{He even grew his hair to look like this, and is willing to keep it that way for work. That’s dedication.}

Tony was a janitor the first few years he lived in L.A., after graduating from the Virginia Military Institute. A JANITOR. He’s worked a million odd jobs to support his dream, and remained optimistic the entire time - ironically, he booked School of Rock on his eighth anniversary of living in Los Angeles. EIGHT YEARS. I’ve known him for nearly four of those years, and I have never once seen him lose motivation, or become jaded and pessimistic. He just kept his head down and worked, and believed it would eventually happen. He worked his way into The Groundlings Main Company. I’ve seen him do countless free shows and bit parts because he just loves what he does so much, and every single one of them was happy and fulfilling because he got to make people laugh. I’m so excited he’s been given this beautiful opportunity to do that on a bigger scale, stepping into the shoes of his hero in a role that stems from one of his favorite movies of all time.

But, a lot of people in this town earn and deserve things, and still don’t get them; it makes no sense to me why all of my best friends aren’t starring on TV shows. If they were, I bet far fewer would be canceled and far more would be fun to watch. We know how lucky we are, that Tony’s hard work actually led to his dream job. (I mean, he wanted to name his corporation Gratitude Inc. at first - but, after worrying that would seem condescending, he settled on Shredator Inc.) I am so proud of him, and so thankful and excited to be celebrating with all of you!

THE NEIMAN MARCUS CHRISTMAS BOOK 2014 IS HERE!

{Our living room, Christmas 2013}

I LOVE Christmas. It’s a particularly happy time for me because I got engaged over the holidays, and I’ll always associate the season with that joy. But, I’m also the type of person who thinks it is perfectly acceptable to listen to Mariah Carey’s greatest holiday hits year-round. I’m one of those people most rational humans hate, who order iced peppermint lattes in July to feel Christmas-y and think that October is a great time to start holiday shopping and decorating. If you can wear white after Labor Day, you can also keep you tree up until February. It’s gross, I know. Sorry, not sorry.

{This was sitting in my email this morning, like an e-present under the tree}

One of my favorite signs the happiest season of all is right around the corner showed up in my inbox this morning… The Neiman Marcus Christmas Book!

{According to Neiman Marcus, this is one of the gifts you should consider sending a loved one this year!}

I love this book for a variety of reasons, 1% because just looking at it is wish fulfillment, but mostly because the other 99% is pure ridiculousness. I imagine their target audience is a deranged housewife, who just got home from her 2nd spin class of the morning and is hopped up on coffee and Klonopin, ready to shop. That’s the only person I can realistically envision purchasing some of these items, like The House of Creed Bespoke Fragrance Journey for $475,000.

Another item of note: They don’t call it the holiday book. They call it the Christmas book. In fact, the 2014 Christmas Book. They acknowledge what year it is in their title, and still refuse to be P.C. Ain’t no Hanukkah gifts in here! Only presents for people who love Jesus and Santa!

{Santa Baby, just fill my stocking with $50,000 sheets for me!}

With the wedding in mind, some of the more reasonable items will likely end up on our registry… But if Tony has anything to say about it, you can definitely expect to see one of their hottest recommendations on our registry, His & Hers Vilebrequin Quadskis! Neiman Marcus had us at “Together time just got a whole lot more adventurous—and fashionable!” What better way to spend our free time as newlyweds than riding this jet ski meets ATV, which converts “from water cruiser to land lover in just under five seconds” and travels at speeds up to 45MPH with its BMW engine. I mean, they basically guarantee that if we buy these, we won’t ever get divorced - “If it’s true that the couple that plays together stays together, then the owners of these straight-from-the-future vessels are in it for the long term.” With free shipping included in their $50,000 price tag, it’s a steal!

You can view the “fantasy gifts” here and the entire book here. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!

BEST GIFT EVER

{The only pic from our engagement party of me with (almost all of) my bridesmaids… Just missing Michelle!}

For our engagement party, my gorgeous, hilarious, brilliant bestie bridesmaids surprised Tony and I by writing a poem for us, ABOUT us! It was not only one of the highlights of the party, but one of the highlights of my life. Here is what my girls had to say:

{My besties, practicing their surprise poem before their big performance}

There once was a girl named Anne.
She came from a terrific fam.
She was blonde and petite
And totally sweet
But no one would describe her as tan!!!

{Me, in high school. I thought it would look natural to use self-tanner on JUST my legs}

So Annie hailed from north Cali
Davis, in fact, not the valley
They build tunnels for toads
To keep them safe from the roads
The amphibians spared, quite the tally 

{True. Davis was once mocked on THE DAILY SHOW for the mini-city built for the toad residents}

Annie imagined a man in her head
One who’d bring her a latte in bed
Make her laugh day and night
And love her with all his might
And one who could certainly shred

{My beloved SHREDator}

Enter the fella named Tony
Virginie is where he calls homey
He can jump rope for days
His hair’s just a phase
And he’ll laugh every time you say “boney”

{Tony, at home in Virginia, visiting the Virginia Military Institute, where he went to prison… I mean college}

Now these lovers are total goofballs
Share a mutual talent of pratfalls
At The Groundlings they met
It was total kismet
A handsome couple! Can I get some cat calls?!!

{A pic from the photo shoot with the incomparable Robyn Von Swank for our TONANNIE show at Groundlings}

Whoo! Hooo!

I’m sure we all know it was fate
They committed after only one date
So totally uncanny
The start of TONANNIE
But, just know it’s her fault if they’re late!

{Me, always. Sorry, loved ones!!!!}

Next Tony asked Murry for Anne’s hand
An Eagle Scout and total gentleman
I bet you can guess
She absolutely said yes
True love, my o my, ain’t it grand!!

{The first picture we took after getting engaged}

While TONANNIE dreams of a life that they’ll share
August 1 of next year you’re aware
In Lake Tahoe they’ll swoon
Underneath the blue moon
Now if Tony will just cut his hair!

{Tony’s current hair. Photo, again, by the incomparable Robyn Von Swank}

So let’s raise all of our glassys
To this party, am I right? Super classy!
And toast to this pairing
Send them our love and our caring
Then party down, and get sassy!

{Such a happy night.}

Cheers!!

THANK YOU, ladies!! I love you all so much and am so lucky and grateful to have you by my side over the next year, and especially next August 1!

BRIDESMAIDS

{My beautiful bridesmaids}

I recently wrote a Hello Giggles piece on the 10 Friends Every Girl Needs In Her Life, and that got me thinking it was time to write about my bridesmaids, the 6 Friends I Need In My Life. I’m very lucky that I love the family I was born into, and I’m doubly lucky to have the family I chose, too. These are the girls I’m so fortunate to know and love, who will be standing next to me next August 1 (and spray-painting pine cones, weighing the pros and cons of blush vs. ivory and talking me down from yet another meltdown every day until then):


KATIEROSE, my co-Maid of Honor: Like Tony, I met Katierose writing and performing together in The Groundlings Sunday Company and like with Tony, I found a platonic soulmate in her. If you asked anyone in our circle who their best friend is, most would tell you “Katierose” - she’s a seasoned Maid of Honor and, when she gets married one day, will probably have 37 bridesmaids for fear of leaving anyone out. She is hilarious, loyal and puts the needs of everyone she knows above her own; every night, she’s out supporting someone at their show, or taking care of their dog, or home-making the most personal, perfect gift. She’s the person you want to call when you have good news, because no one will be happier for you, or celebrate you harder. She’s the reason I got my first paid writing job in Hollywood (we’re writing a TV pilot together), and remembers to check in after every meeting and audition. Katierose can make the most mundane night feel epic and unforgettable, and finds the funny and the joy in any situation (see: our wedding-scouting trip to Ojai). Tell her your astrological sign and birth date, and she’ll tell you exactly who you are and what your future holds. Every day, she actively does something to improve herself, or get a step closer to her goals, and that’s the type of person you want in your life. She and her boyfriend Matt spent Thanksgiving with my family a few years ago, and she cried with me when I lost my grandpa. Katierose is an optimistic, loving person who believes in and easily finds the good in everyone, and I think that’s why people are drawn to her - a few hours with her will make you feel like the best version of yourself.

{Me, Jax & her perfect baby}

{I don’t know what we’re clutching, or why my mom permed my bangs}

{Prom}

JACQUELYN, my co-Maid of Honor (because she hates the word “Matron” the way most girls hate the word “moist”): Jacquelyn is the closest to a sister I will ever have; she is family, and my oldest friend. We’ve known each other since we were two, and grew up down the street from each other. Our parents happen to be best friends too, and my dad officiated her wedding (and I was lucky enough to be co-MOH with her sister!) Jax has always been as gorgeous as she is loyal; even though she looked like a baby Cindy Crawford, when I had to wear an eye patch as a kid, she wore one in solidarity. When I’d only answer to the name “Dorothy,” she jumped on the bandwagon and went by “Toto.” Her dad gave us our first jobs - catching water bugs at 5 cents/bug, until we had enough to go see Little Rascals (then we quit). We’ve been there for each other through the hardest and happiest times life has thrown at us. Having her show up, and hearing her perfect little baby coo through my grandpa’s funeral, got me through it. The week she got married, I shared her hotel room every night until the wedding, and it was one of the best, most cherished weeks of my life, getting one last bender of sleepovers like when we were kids. She has a wicked sense of humor and the best laugh, and even though we live far from each other and don’t get to see each other as much as I’d like, we always pick up right where we left off like no time has passed, the way family does.

{Ali is far left, I am far right, Jax is the turtle}

{High school graduation. Don’t worry, Jax graduated, she just went to a private school for athletes}

{Me, Julia & Ali at our engagement party}

ALISON: Ali has been one of my best friends since our pre-pre-school days, and was the first friend I celebrated my engagement with (she and her now-fiancé drove all the way to Tahoe on her birthday, she was so excited and such a good friend)! We also grew up down the street from each other, and have performed countless tap routines in regrettable costumes together. She loves Tahoe the way I do, and is part of the crew of families who spent summers at the Big House, where Tony and I are getting married. Ali is a brilliant doctor who was working science flashcards at the same age the rest of us were still mistaking sequins for candy and eating them (that wasn’t just me, right?) Ali is as fun as she is smart, and a party happens wherever she goes (she’s the one who organized the W hotel pool pre-party for all the out-of-town guests before our engagement party.) She’s the best at bringing people together; her Bunko nights were legendary when we were kids, and she’s always the one to organize drinks with old friends when we’re home for the holidays. She’s one of the most supportive people in my life; I’m pretty sure she watched every episode of The Single Life before I did. Ali is one of those beautiful people who has never met a stranger; she’s the best wingwoman and partner-in-crime, because she can work a room like no one I’ve ever seen and leave a party with 12 new besties. And I dare you to challenge her to a game of Name That Tune.

{Awkward prom photo with her perfect new baby}

BARBARA: Barbara is the closest Tony has to a sister, and became family to him when he first moved to L.A. and they started an improv team together. As soon as I came on the scene, she treated me like family, too. Barbara is a classically trained actress who also happens to be classically beautiful, and her inability to do anything without a fierce, passionate, 110% dedication to whatever she does extends to her friendships, as well as her comedy (see: this video she shot with Tony 2 weeks before giving birth, and the fact that the day I asked her to be a bridesmaid, she started a Pinterest board for my wedding to help me plan.) She loves weddings as much as I do, but possesses organizational and decision-making skills where I do not, so her countless hours of listening, advice and pros/cons lists have been invaluable. Her daughter Matisse recently asked me to be best friends, and it was one of the highlights of my life (as was watching Tony teach Matisse the iconic Dirty Dancing dance, doing the lift over and over and over again). Going over to Barbara’s house for dinner and playing with her kids, and remembering that is what life is about, is one of the things that makes living in this competitive, cutthroat city bearable. She’s the type of mother and friend I aspire to be.

MICHELLE: Michelle and I were bestie-roommates in college, and now just besties in life (sadly, we have to be grown-ups and live with the boys we’re marrying now). We have been known to shut down restaurants, gossiping for so long the valet brings our keys to the table because he’s going home. In college, our favorite pastimes included drinking wine on the floor, watching Love Actually on repeat and walking to our favorite Mexican restaurant for guacamole and margaritas after (okay, sometimes before) our finals. Today, those are still our favorite pastimes. We met in a TV class at USC’s film school, and bonded over our mutual love for, and belief we would one day marry, John Krasinski (things worked out for the best for all of us, though. Perhaps best of all for Emily Blunt.). One of our proudest accomplishments was spending the week after our college graduation in Tahoe, where we wore the same sweats for 5 days and survived solely on cookie dough, wine and wedding magazines. Michelle can liken any life experience to an episode of Friends (and can recite dialogue from any episode with Rainman-like ability). Just try her. She’s one of the hardest-working people I know and, because of that, is now a fancy, internationally jetsetting Hollywood executive making the next generation’s version of Friends. She loves weddings with the same rabid ferocity as I do; in college, we always dreamed about being engaged at the same time and planning our weddings together and, like in the romantic comedies we love so much, that dream came true - I can’t wait to stand next to her as a bridesmaid in January.

{Prom}

{Perhaps the only brunette photo in existence of Julia?}

{The engagement package Julia made me}

{Julia’s baby shower}

{Julia and our good friend Kristen at TONANNIE}

JULIA: Julia and I were cheerleaders together, and she is one of the most bubbly, silly, loyal, genuine, funny, selfless and supportive people I know. She’s driven hours up to L.A. for every TONANNIE show at The Groundlings (even when she was 8 months pregnant and technically on bedrest). When I got engaged, an engagement celebration package arrived on my doorstep almost immediately. We hated high school with the same passion and my dad’s office happened to be across the street from school, so every Friday he’d get us burritos and Jamba Juice, and we’d escape our torturous teenage existence and fantasize about her marrying Rob, her high school boyfriend. (They are a real-life Disney fairy tale; after winning homecoming king/queen and prom king/queen every year, they did get married! And had the most perfect daughter! And they’re all blonde, and live by the beach!) Julia’s knowledge of and love for pie knows no bounds, and she can talk about it the way Bubba can talk about shrimp and I can talk about weddings. Next to my mom, she is the most proud of and excited for even the smallest of my career accomplishments and has such enthusiastic belief in me, talking to her can pull me out of my most melodramatic slumps. Like her love story with Rob, Julia is the type of friend you usually only see in movies, but I get to have her in real life!

All of these women come from different parts of my life, and all of them have shaped the person I am. I am so lucky to have their love, support and friendship and, as a way of showing my thanks, I hereby publicly and solemnly swear not to make them wear hideous bridesmaid dresses. I love you ladies!

THE 5 STAGES OF GRIEF & WEDDING PLANNING

{My happy place, and also the cover art for my to-be-written-when-all-my-time-isn’t-sucked-up-by-wedding-planning book, THE 5 STAGES OF GRIEF & WEDDING PLANNING}

Not to be melodramatic, but coming to terms with the cost of a wedding is not entirely unlike the Kübler-Ross model for the 5 Stages of Loss and Grief: 1) Denial and isolation - There is no way flowers/a dress/frosting costs that much! If I just buy it and don’t tell anyone how much it costs, we’ll figure out how to budget around it later. 2) Anger - WHY DOES EVERYTHING COST SO MUCH?! MY BUDGET IS REASONABLE! I HATE THE INDUSTRY WEDDINGS HAVE BECOME! I’M JUST GOING TO ELOPE AND SPEND THE MONEY ON A DOG RESCUE RANCH WHERE I’LL LIVE OUT MY DAYS AS AN OLD MARRIED HERMIT. 3) Bargaining - I can make this work. If we serve no food or alcohol and cut the guest list to 7 people, I can afford that dress and those flowers. This can work. All is not lost. 4) Depression - I don’t love weddings anymore. All is lost. 5) Acceptance - I want to marry Tony and have a fun party to celebrate that commitment, without going into debt. It’s going to be great no matter what, because we’re getting married. Find something that works with the budget and move on.

I preface my story about our catering tasting with this because, next to wrapping my head around the price of a wedding gown, the cost of wedding catering was the next financial journey for me. Like any feverishly obsessed bride, I trolled Style Me Pretty for vendors with the fervor of a CIA agent on HOMELAND searching for terrorists. I put together a list of caterers Martha Stewart would be impressed by, all in the Lake Tahoe and greater Bay Area, and started with my top pick.

{Sub Nicholas Brody for Style Me Pretty}

I’m not going to tell you their name, because they were lovely, kind people. I will say, they appear on Style Me Pretty all the time; clearly, plenty of non-famous “normals” contract them to cater their weddings. (A lot of famous people contract them, too. There’s a reason I loved them. I have the tastes of a modern-day Marie Antoinette.) But I was clinging to the fact that they also cater to average pedestrians like myself! If those schmucks can afford them, it’s not unreasonable that I might be able to, too!

They quoted me $700/guest.


Denial and isolation. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance. Don’t worry, Dad, they will not be catering my wedding!


I’ve come to the realization that most people whose weddings are published had a budget that could have alternatively afforded them a small private island, a jet and/or several mansions. But, more importantly, I’ve also realized you don’t have to spend like the #richkidsofinstagram to have a beautiful, happy wedding. It’s possible. I went to one of the most perfect weddings of all time last weekend, planned by a bride who has her head screwed on much straighter than I do.

{I mean, really. How can it NOT be the best day of my life when I’m getting married in a place that looks like this?}

After a lot more research, I found D’Lish Catering, a local Lake Tahoe vendor. The chef and owner, Lee, used to be executive chef/partner at one of our favorite restaurants in Tahoe, Sunnyside. Marsy, the director of operations, is friendly, detailed, responsive and professional. While they have the most d’lish menus, they’re excited to adapt family recipes and re-create dishes from the couple’s favorite restaurants. And, just to really seal the deal, they happen to have a burrito bar at their catering office (if I wasn’t trying to squeeze into a wedding gown in less than a year, my diet would solely consist of burritos, sushi and frosting.)

{Ready to TASTE}

Marsy provided us with a proposal that fit our budget, and we planned our tasting for Labor Day weekend. Because we’re getting married on my turf, we wanted to incorporate some Virginia delicacies to honor where Tony is from, and generally do an upscale take on comfort food… Because if you’re going to spend that much, it might as well be on stuff people love to eat, and not go fancy just for the sake of fancy. We sent a list of our favorite family recipes and restaurant dishes for Lee to adapt. However, at the last minute, Tony had to work and so my faithful Maid of Honor Katierose stepped up to the plate to help decide on the menu. It was some of the best food I have ever had in my life.


{Brie & cherry tartlets}

{Mini fried green tomatoes with homemade pimento cheese & tomato relish}

{Lobster corn dogs}

{Virginia ham biscuits with honey butter}

{Watermelon, tomato, avocado, crispy bacon, feta & herb vinagrette salad}

{Spice rubbed tri tip with zinfandel demiglace & horseradish cream}

{Katierose taking the tri tip in}

{Truffle macaroni & cheese}

{Yukon gold potato gratin}

{Crispy brussel sprout leaves with pomegranate-balsamic glaze & candied pecans}

{Corn fritters}

{Corn pudding}

{Pan-seared mahi mahi with coconut-panko crust & pineapple beurre blanc}

At this point, we had to take a break from tasting to go outside and stretch.

{Katierose & my mom}

And pose.

Back to eating.

{Fried chicken}

{Sliders on Choux buns with white cheddar and aoli. AND sweet potato fries.}

I’d like to say we didn’t eat for a week, but that’s not true. D’Lish generously let us take leftovers home, and we had them for dinner less than 2 hours later. And the pastry chef was out of town, so Tony didn’t completely miss out - he and I are going back up to Tahoe soon to taste treats for the dessert bar and late-night snacks!

{Or maybe Katierose will come back and continue the food streak with me. Because it was SUCH A FUN WEEKEND. Sorry, Tone!}

So, things worked out for the best (as they tend to). I’m thrilled, and feel so lucky, that D’Lish will be catering our wedding and I can’t wait to shovel all (okay, some - I have that budget to think about!) of the above dishes into my face again when I’m cinched into my big white dress and the wedding diet is officially over.

STEPH & STEVE’S WEDDING

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{The happy newlyweds}

Tony’s stepsister Steph got married to her sweet love Steve this past weekend, and Tony and I had the best time of all time. The ceremony was at a ranch in Swan Valley, Idaho they happened upon through Priceline (Steph gave a hilarious shout-out in her Wedding Welcome Itinerary to William Shatner for dealing them such a sweet hand of fate), and it became such a special place to them, Steve proposed there. The ceremony and reception were at the ranch, and the after-party was at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar in nearby Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It was perfect.
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{Pre-ceremony posing}

I’d been lucky enough to get to perform in the BAD COMPANY show at The Groundlings the night before we left and, true to form, waited to pack (and finish work) until after we got home from that around midnight, so I was running on 2 hours of sleep and roughly 9 coffees by the time we rolled into Idaho Falls Friday afternoon. Tony anticipated this, and prepared a playlist of “happy music” to get us to Swan Valley, which primarily consisted of Taylor Swift and Christmas music. This was our rental car:
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It was one of the most fun, beautiful drives of my life.
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{The Barn accommodations at the ranch}

We descended up the Hansen Guest Ranch, which had been joyfully taken over by Steph and Steve’s families. This place is incredible. This was the view from our porch (porch!!!):
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These were my best friends for the weekend, Annabelle and Callie, who live on the ranch full-time:
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{I don’t think she’s enjoying this as much as I am.}

I was challenged to be a real outdoorswoman, “roughing it” by sharing a bathroom and going without television. There weren’t even keys to lock our doors, this place was so remote! There were also bikes available to ride around the property, but I never got that adventurous because I haven’t ridden a bike since I was 10 (unless Soul Cycle counts). And I got super nervous when I saw this sign posted at the entrance to the hike:
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And I got even more nervous when we heard gunshots while hiking and crazy nervous when we encountered two hunters on the trail, shooting their rifles from the trail like it was no big deal. (#merica.) And I made Tony give me a piggyback ride through the water part of the hike. So I guess, in retrospect, I wasn’t as outdoorsy as I thought. It was still awesome.
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And I would show you a picture of the cheesy grits I shoveled into my face every morning, but I always forgot to take a picture because I was too busy eating. The owners of the ranch made the best breakfasts I’ve ever had - I got up at 8am every day to eat, which is saying a lot (I’m a monster before 11am and at least two coffees). I even got out the door without smearing my face in make-up, for fear of the grits running out before I got there! I’m also pretty sure they make their french toast out of cinnamon rolls; in any case, we drizzled frosting over it. But I digress.
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{Tony, Steve the Groom & Tony’s brother Nick}

Friday evening was the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, Saturday was the wedding and Sunday was a rafting trip in Jackson Hole. Steph and Steve wanted a small, immediate-family only wedding, and so we were among the lucky 14 (including kiddos) guests who got to be a part of their intimate weekend. This made the wedding so incredibly special, because it was focused solely on what a wedding should really be about: the love between the couple and the two families coming together to celebrate this new family they’re creating.
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{Family rafting trip}

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{Tony giving the Tetons a run for their money}

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{More rafting}

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{Seriously. How magnificent is this rafting trip?!}

The wedding wasn’t about using the most sought-after wedding photographer, or splurging on a couture gown, or inviting everyone you’ve ever met to witness your lavish party. In short, it was about the marriage and the love, not the industry that weddings have become. Everyone there had a special role in making the wedding happen: Steph’s mom made her gorgeous, one-of-a-kind dress. Tony’s dad officiated the ceremony. Steph and Steve wrote their own vows (which made Tony weep like a baby. I’m talking full sobs and body shakes from my manly man). Steph’s sister-in-law Nikki gave her a mani-pedi while I did her hair for the wedding. Instead of shelling out thousands on a photographer, they bought a really nice camera they’ll be able to use on their honeymoon and hired an incredibly talented local action-sports photographer off Craigslist, and Tony and I put together a shot list for the wedding photos. Steph’s brother-in-law videotaped the ceremony. And Steph and Steve, both hugely talented musicians, designed their own playlists for the ceremony and reception. The only non-family elements were the caterer and florist.
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{Me & Tony’s nephew Beckett, becoming good friends after I let him eat my wedding cake}

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{Tony & Beckett, playing in the sunset}

This made the wedding even more beautiful and special, because we all got to be a part of their day; I was overwhelmed by how happy and honored I felt, that Steph wanted me to do her hair, which will be in her wedding photos for the rest of her life. She never uttered the words “It has to be perfect,” and nothing was chosen in hopes of landing on Style Me Pretty or to be Pinterest-worthy; she chose the things she liked and moved on to the next thing on the list (I think it’s safe to say Steph never had nightmares about the wrong color flatware being delivered). She was utterly unflappable; when her niece decided she didn’t want to be a flower girl, Steph laughed it off and her nephew threw the rose petals instead. Every decision she made as a bride was based on what would make her, Steve and their families happiest, and because of that, it was one of the most unique, perfect, Style Me Pretty and Pinterest-worthy weddings I have ever been lucky enough to attend.
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{The after-party in Jackson Hole}

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{Dancing to a real-live country band}

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{Celebratory cigars}

And because this was the tone Steph and Steve set, the weekend was a non-stop blast. We all piled into the van for the best fried chicken I’ve ever had at the rehearsal dinner, got muddy on hikes and became avid (amateur) wildlife paparazzi:
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{Buffalo}

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{Tony testing my new iPhone lens while photographing buffalo}


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{ One of about 6 bald eagles we saw while rafting the Snake River}
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{A baby snake crawled under our car while we were taking pictures of the buffalo}
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{Moose on our hike!}

And the food was insane. We snuck away for the world-famous Rainey Creek square ice cream a few hours before the ceremony. We tried homemade huckleberry donut holes from the bakery down the road (which was run out of the owner’s home). And Tony had the best barbecue he’s ever tasted at Big Hole BBQ:
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{Tony, after eating a full rack of ribs, an order of pulled pork AND a side of mac & cheese. He passed out as soon as we got home.}

And, perhaps most importantly, Steph and Steve got to actually enjoy their own wedding. They didn’t spend the night allotting 87 seconds per guest to be able to greet and thank each person for coming; they sat down with their family for dinner, danced and played with their nephews and niece. They didn’t have a wedding planner barking at them that they were behind schedule; they had me barking at them to climb up on a fence post and kiss for a photo op. They got to go dancing at a real-live cowboy bar with a real-live band, and all of their guests fit in one car, so the ride was as fun as the after-party.
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{Steph & Steve, following instructions to climb a fence post for a photo op}

Our destination wedding weekend getaway was not only relaxing and rejuvenating; it was also a much-needed reminder of what a wedding is really about. As a bride who has recently been caught googling “cost to ship anemones from South Africa” at 3am, it was a lovely slap across the face to stop obsessing over the things that, at the end of the day, don’t matter. Steph was the most beautiful, happy, in-love bride and her wedding was gorgeous, relaxed, fun, hilarious, happy-tears inducing perfection.