I’ve been sharing my wedding prep with GO readers since the moment I got engaged. I’ve written about everything from the body-dysmorphic demons that haunted me for months before my wedding, to how hilarious it is that everyone assumed I would be the bridezilla out of the two of us, and everything in-between.
And guess what? After months of prepping and primping and priming and anticipating and arguing over the most minute of details, it finally happened. My wife and I had our wedding.
Was the planning process all love doves and rainbow-colored butterflies soaring through the pale blue sky? Most definitely not. Weddings, I’ve learned, will pull any issue that’s secretly lingering beneath the surface of your skin right up to the surface. It’s not unlike a facial with painful extractions. And while it might be difficult to endure in the process, the end result is life-changing.
Since I dragged you all through the pre-matrimony process with me, it only feels right that I drag you through the actual day too! Starting with waking up at…
7am: The Lido Key Resort, Sarasota, FL
I’m not going to lie. I didn’t wake up the morning after our rehearsal dinner (a gloriously boozy sunset cruise) feeling as fresh as a bridal virgin, whatever that means. I was, uh, slightly hungover (okay, super hungover) on the morning of my wedding. The boozy sunset cruise led to an epic dance party in my hotel suite with my bridal party until about 1am. I didn’t knock back any shots or go too hard, so I should’ve been fine, except my brilliant makeup artist Vanessa Silvana, her assistant Jessica Manzano, and hairstylist Taylor Ross arrived armed with blow-dryers, brushes, and bronzers galore at 7am—eek!
Of course, Meghan and I had to be insanely extra and have ten goddamn brides-bitches each (of all genders) that required glamorous beauty services, which we all know takes time. Luckily, within an hour, the bridal adrenaline kicked in, and I felt amazing. So amazing that I decided to call up L Spa and order a round of B-12 injections to be delivered my hotel suite and subjected my entire bridal party to being pin-pricked in the hip by a needle as they had their gorgeous faces painted.
Owen Gould, my best friend since high school (also a brides-bitch) did my hair, lucky for me.
Lucky for me, because Owen is an insanely gifted celebrity stylist and genius artist photographer. We had rehearsed the look weeks prior (which is essential!) so I felt very calm about it all. We had settled on a look that was a mixture between my higher-power Lana Del Rey and Veronica Lake with the volume of Brigitte Bardot.
For makeup (which had been rehearsed months before—again, essential!) Vanessa executed exactly what I requested: an old Hollywood, heavy-glam look with lots of lashes with my signature winged liquid liner. I did not want to look in any way bohemian or “undone” as I feel that look is way overdone in the bridal world.
I tried hard not to drink much since I wanted to ~feel~ each moment of the day authentically and soberly, though I did have a few splashes of my new favorite daytime drink: a dash of Champagne mixed with organic raw Kombucha. It’s the modern girl’s mimosa. Detox and retox at once, babe.
2pm: The Siesta Key Trolley, Sarasota, FL
Still in pin curls and my peach-colored vintage nightgown (gifted by my fabulous antique-dealing Auntie Marie), my bridal bitches and I hopped on the adorable Siesta Key Trolley and made our way to my parents’ house where the wedding was taking place.
Isn’t my crew the cutest? The boys were already in their brides-boi outfits, which were dusky pink suits from ASOS accessorized to their own liking, because like, I’m not a total nightmare. Oh, and the suits were AMAZING and extremely affordable. I highly recommend the ASOS brand for men’s suits.
Of course, we got into the Champagne on the 15-minute ride to my parents’ house, because, well, it simply wouldn’t be this crew if we hadn’t…
(The Champagne moment was organized by my stunning maid-of-dishonor Ruba, who I’ve been incessantly writing about on the internet for a decade now.)
2:30pm: My Parents’ House, Sarasota, FL
I decided to get married at my parents’ house in Sarasota, not only because first off it’s stunning and has a very 1970s Beverly Hills Hotel vibe (which was the wedding theme) but also because I knew that getting married there meant total creative freedom! I come from a family of awe-inspiring talent, and the last thing I wanted was some imagination-free vendor telling me, “No, Zara, you can’t have a real unicorn and a real mermaid at your wedding.”
We were ushered into my gorgeous mother’s bedroom where we had approximately an hour and a half to shimmy into our wedding day outfits, weep tears of joy, and dance around to Lana Del Rey, who we played the ENTIRE day as per my request. (Bridezilla moment? Perhaps.)
Luka Blue Moon, my son, was there and kept me calm the entire day and also fiercely guarded my dress. (More on the dress later.)
The flower girls were decked out in the cutest tulle and lace dresses from ‘Lil ChocoPink and face jewels from gypsy shrine (I styled them). Meghan and I bought them both dark-pink-glitter Dr. Martens boots. It was very important to us that the girls (who are Meghan’s nieces and now my nieces) wore Dr. Martens to the wedding as nothing in this world sets a girl up for a lifetime of bad-assery more than Dr. Martens boots, you know?
(My shoes are the fabulous peacock blue feathery rhinestone platforms in the middle, which are by the brand Sugar Thrillz sold exclusively at Dolls Kill.)
Eduardo, my soul-sister and ride-or-die, helped me strap my epic shoes up because that’s what friends are for, darling. How amazing are his high-shine platform oxford shoes? (They’re by Chinese Laundry.)
Now it was time to put on my wedding GOWN, baby! My cousin Molly, Eduardo, and maid-of-dishonor Ruba helped hoist me into my beautiful Hayley Paige “Reagan Gown.”
Side Note: My brides-bitches wore Show Me Your Mumu bridesmaid dresses in the pattern “Wedding Bells Floral.” They had the choice between three styles of dress or the short romper. I hugely recommend this brand if you’re going for a ’70s chic look. I’m personally terrified of traditional “Bridesmaids dresses” and find them to be hideous, but these were amazing! And super flattering! And not basic! And they will all wear them again! I bought them each a purple flower crown by the same brand. They looked like they stepped out of a Lana Del Rey video, so mission accomplished.
My dress (which you can’t tell in this picture) is the most stunning color you’ve ever seen. It was a “sand-washed orchid caviar bridal ball” gown complete with an “illusion jewel neckline” with a “sweetheart lining” and “full floral skirt with layered ivory organza.” It glittered, and it felt like me in a dress. I wasn’t about to wear white, by the way. Because I’m no virgin. That ship has sailed.
After teetering about in my amazing shoes, taking some massive deep breaths, and a receiving a giant hug from my chic mother (who wore Alice Temperley as all good Brits should)…
It was time…
4pm: The Ceremony, The Garden
My beautiful babe Meghan walked down the aisle first, with her amazing father as her best friend Liset Alea sang the song “Home” by Talking Heads while local talent Ben from the band Babyl played the keyboards. Liset is an extremely respected singer-songwriter based in Europe and an insane talent. It was an honor to have them perform.
Doesn’t Meghan look beyond sexy and gorgeous in her custom pantsuit and flow-y cape created exclusively for her by powerhouse fashion designer (and one of our best friends) Courtney Adams? She wanted to look like a Greek God. And she did.
Also, doesn’t her dad look cute in his fabulous blue suit? All the men in her family wore blue suits.
Our bridal parties, including my dog Luka, traipsed down the aisle to the sweet sounds of Liset… until the music shifted.
I paused nervously waiting for “Radio” by Lana Del Rey to play in the background. I had dreamed of walking down the aisle to this song for years!
Except it didn’t play.
“Zara, we need to go down the aisle… now! People are waiting!” my dad sweetly whispered to me.
“The song isn’t playing!” I wailed back like a child. “I can’t walk down to NO music!”
After some mild panic and a bunch of people shuffling around, Lana’s soothing voice came blaring through the speakers. It wasn’t the song I had requested, but it ended up being better. “Lust For Life” played instead, which is an epic song and one of my favorites ever.
(Meghan was so moved, she got the lyrics tattooed on her arm during our honeymoon.)
How cute does my dad look in his pinstriped suit and pale pink tie from Hugo Boss? And how beautiful does my wildflower bouquet look created by my Auntie Judy who is an actual artist? We hired zero florists at my wedding. Literally, everything was created by my family and friends!
“It’s just us now,” Meghan whispered to me right as the ceremony began, which instantly relaxed me and helped me plug into the moment. So many brides I talk to say they weren’t present at their wedding, and I probably would’ve been off in the bridal clouds had Meghan not grounded me with her words and energy. She is absolutely my person.
Our wedding was so gay that Stacy Lentz, the co-owner of The Stonewall Inn, officiated our wedding. She told a story about Meghan and I arguing over an Indigo Girls song, and everybody laughed, and then everybody cried. To really be even gayer (if that’s possible) we had three of our closest friends recite an Andrea Gibson poem called “Fight For Love” which describes our relationship perfectly.
After heartfelt blazingly honest vows that we had written ourselves, WE KISSED! Note that I’m practically mauling Meghan, and she’s being the polite Catholic, delicately kissing me. It’s all about balance, I suppose.
5pm: Pre-cocktail hour photos, in front of the house
Our photographer Tara Tomlinson was a total rockstar and captured everything perfectly. She also has the patience of a goddess because we are a rowdy, Champagne-craving crowd that is very difficult to wrangle. We chose her because her portfolio was breathtaking, and she had worked with a lot of LGBTQ couples. We weren’t interested in being someone’s token queer couple used “diversify” their portfolio, truthfully.
6pm: Cocktail Party, Courtyard
Did you think I was joking about the unicorn and the mermaid? I was absolutely not. My fabulous sister and brother-in-law own a company called Epic Equine Experiences and arranged for the unicorn, which was ridden by a *real* six-year-old fairy who I adore. I hired Mermaid Jenniferlina, a professional Mermaid in Sarasota. She modeled in the raw bar at the cocktail party and then lounged by the pool.
At one point, the unicorn-riding fairy and the Mermaid Jenniferlina and I had a serious moment poolside and came up with the solution for world peace.
We also had a beautiful woman sauntering around in an iron skirt teeming with full Champagne glasses. I liked to refer to her as the Champagne Queen (though we know that title is usually mine, but I’ll share the crown for the night ’cause I’m like, super sweet).
It was quite a fabulous circus! Before dinner, Beneva Fruitville (legendary Sarasota Drag Queen and dear friend) announced us in!
Beneva had a very 1980s Zandra Rhodes look, which I loved, and she did a terrific job! Shout-out to Brian Craft for booking her!
~7pm, hell I don’t know: Dinner, The Conservatory
Our new friend, the beautiful Gena Cristiani who is an artist, multi-generational juggler/performing star, LGBTQ activist, and co-owner of Center Ring Cakes hand-painted us ~custom~ mermaid wine glasses and a mermaid inspired painting of Meghan and I, which were waiting for us at our table. (I’m obsessed with mermaids, can you tell?) She added Lana lyrics to the painting, which made me cry diamond tears.
The linens on all the tables were seafoam and coral. I was very strict about not wanting any soft colors—no blushes or whites or ivories. I wanted Beverly Hills Hotel, bright, retro-chic colors that popped. We only had magenta-colored roses with green pom-poms.
There is nothing demure about my relationship with Meghan, so why the hell pretend for a day and screw around with blush tones? I wanted this whole ordeal to be authentic above anything.
Our tables were also not numbered but named, using all female musicians that have influenced us! There was Lady Gaga, Lana, Mariah, Whitney, Stevie, Florence, and more!
The food, on the other hand, was epic. My brother-in-law Tommy Klauber (a renowned chef) created the most innovative menu possible. We created names for each food station, like “Summer in Ibiza,” “Vegan Utopia,” and “Winter On The Gulf Coast.” The biggest hit was the paella and the luxurious mac and cheese. I didn’t do formal seated courses because we had far too much variety, and I didn’t want to tame the wild energy! I wanted to embrace the wild energy.
Our cake was beyond. It was hand-painted by Gena and baked by her mother-in-law (Center Ring Cakes) using all REAL ingredients. It was adorned with a mermaid painting and lyrics to all of our favorite songs!
~9pm? (literally have no clue): Speeches and Dancing, Courtyard and Conservatory
Ruba, clad in her fierce Mumu Romper, made everyone laugh hysterically during her speech/roast of me. I love being roasted, don’t you? (Note my goddess mother in the background who literally creative-directed the entire night.)
And Liset made everyone cry with her vulnerable, candid speech. I love crying almost as much as I love being roasted, truthfully.
My dad and I did our “father/daughter” dance to Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind,” our song as proud, native New Yorkers. I made all the native New Yorkers join us halfway through to avoid people noticing that I was tripping all over my dress.
Meghan and her dad had a beautiful dance to “Angel Flying Too Close To The Ground.” They are far better dancers than my father and I.
Meghan and I had our first dance to Liset singing “Halo” which turned into a full-blast concert with everyone yelling and singing and jumping up and down and crying. It was intense, spiritual, and the best live show I’ve ever seen. I definitely almost fell on my dress numerous times (it took hours to figure out how to bustle that thing!) but that’s OK!
Because when you fall you can always get back up.
Even when you’re a bride, baby.
One of my favorite details of the entire night was this beautiful circle swing made of tree-branches and rope! It took the artist (a friend of Meghan’s) an entire day to design!
As we ate our cake, Meghan surprised me with the best gift ever! A badass leather jacket with my new initials on it: ZD. (FYI, I’m still ZB in my career.)
The rest of the night was dancing, toasts, crying, and amazing conversations. I am so happy I felt THERE the whole time.
For the record: I definitely ended up in full wedding dress at a bar with all the wild youngins’ in downtown Sarasota which definitely led to us running around the beach blissed out on love at 4am!
It was well, everything.