I love weddings: the over the top dresses, the pre-ceremony jitters, the toasts (and roasts!), the free-flowing drinks, the crazy dancing, and the very public and exciting declaration of love and commitment. Earlier this month I went to a wedding that had it all – my friend, Sunny Ozell, was marrying Sir Patrick Stewart in Lake Tahoe. John and I headed out with our close friends, Jason and Alexis, and met up with some other soon-to-be great friends for a weekend of festivities that included ridiculous amounts of nachos, brutal games of Celebrity, swimming in the glorious water, and absurd amounts of time debating whether or not we should all just up and move to California already.
We shared our cabin in the woods with some extremely talented culinary geniuses. Betsy Devine, the wonder woman behind Salvatore Brooklyn Ricotta showed off her prowess in the kitchen — and her prowess in dressing – I wish you could have seen what she was wearing. Too good. Nekisia Davis, the mastermind behind Early Bird Granola, was wowing us at every turn with her wit, general awesomeness and mad queso-making skills. I can’t stop thinking about that stuff, but who the hell makes queso when they’re not on vacation? I don’t think I can bring myself to do it just for two of us at home, but next time I’m away it will be the first thing I share with loved ones. Danny Amend, the chef at Marco’s (formerly of Franny’s) engaged us in conversation and made food with an attention and love that was inspiring, and the results were of course delicious. As if that wasn’t enough food love, the esteemed food writer Melissa Clark of the New York Times was staying a mere couple towns over with her husband and daughter, Dahlia, who acted as flower girl extraordinaire.
The wedding took place in one of the most beautiful spots I’ve ever been, The Thunderbird Lodge, on the Nevada side of Tahoe. After the gold rush, George Whittell, Jr., bought 29 miles of lake front property for $6 an acre and the only property built on the land is his home, where the wedding took place. We watched the ceremony at what felt like the edge of the world – the sun was shining, the lake was twinkling and Aperol fizzes were in-hand. We were ready for a performance and that’s exactly what we got. Sunny walked down the aisle to “How Could I Love You More” by Arkestra One, chosen for her by another talented friend, Lori Hon, who makes her living creating fantastically cool playlists. After the extraordinary entrance of the bride in her Temperly gown, followed by the world’s cutest nephew as ring-bearer, her best friend, Jillan LaVinka stepped forward to give her reading. I assumed we were in for some common quotes about love, patience and kindness but I was dead wrong. Hidden between the pages of her Bible was the most original, funny and loving speech cobbling together song verses as disparate as “ She was a fast machine she kept her motor clean” with “And you can hear it in my accent when I talk, I’m an Englishman in New York” to ” You, you make loving fun, and I don’t have to tell you that you’re the only one” only to end with “She shook me all night long”. I’m not used to wedding speeches making me laugh till I cry but that was clearly a theme at this wedding because next up was Kate James of Second City fame, ready to enlighten us on what love is all about. I imagine it can be a blessing or a curse to have a seriously funny comedian give your toast at your wedding but this one was all blessing. Watch the video where she shares with us all the misconceptions surrounding love. I’m pretty sure that the most desired favor to take home in your luggage (besides the Maggie Bracelets and The Graces, which we were honored to have included in the festivities) had to have been a hard copy of her toast to be hijacked and used at all future weddings.
The post-speech merriment inevitably led to insane dancing – Harper Blynn made a surprise appearance and we danced like maniacs until Sunny got on the mic and sang “My Heart Belongs to Daddy”. Genius. The party moved to the lakefront gazebo where I begged Ben to woo us all with one of my favorite songs, Lovely Day. For weeks John and I had become obsessed with the idea that Sunny’s friends would serenade her with this most perfect of love songs. Once we discovered Ben’s exquisite voice at the bachelorette party a few weeks prior we decided he was the voice we’d been waiting for — it wasn’t super hard to convince him – I’d sing on command if I had that voice like that too. I’ll remember that scene for the rest of my life – looking out on that spectacular lake, surrounded by new and old friends and listening to one of my favorite songs being sung by one of my favorite voices made me happy to be alive. And, in my book that’s what weddings are all about — being alive and celebrating the whole of what that means.
All photos: John von Pamer
Video: Freja Mitchell