The Couple's Three Dogs Stole the Show at Their Stylish Black-and-White Wedding in California
Though Ted Torous had a plan for his first date with Katie Hagey at a restaurant in San Francisco's Mission District in January 2017, it didn't quite work out: "They regrettably didn't take reservations, and who knew they would be so overcrowded on a Tuesday in January? So we ended up having beers at a nearby hole in the wall," shares the couple. Ted did, however, make a strong first impression when he insisted on confirming their second date before the first one ended. Two years later, he proposed during an early morning walk on the beach with Katie and the couple's three dogs, presenting her with an antique European-cut diamond ring from the 1890s. "Our house, which we love, was built in the same decade and has survived to tell the tale, so it is a special time period for us," says Katie.
The duo looked close to home when sourcing their wedding venue, choosing Meadowood Resort in St. Helena, California; the bride and her family have made over two decades of memories there, at the pool and on the croquet lawn. Lauren Geissler of Downey Street Events helped the couple pull together the outdoor ceremony and tented reception for 236 guests on October 26, 2019, coordinating a stylish color palette of black, white, and gray with emerald accents, incorporating several sweet touches in memory of Katie's mother. They also made sure that the couple's three dogs had key roles, too. "It's also worth underscoring that she managed to secure enough generator power to light up a city block given an anticipated—and realized!—power outage on the day of the wedding," says Katie. "The power went out and we were blissfully unaware, probably for the first time in our lives. We only realized once the band stopped, folks went home, and Meadowood offered us headlamps to make our way back to our room."
The couple also contributed their own ideas, working with their planner on the overall aesthetic—"We were inspired to create some truly original and artful moments throughout the design process," they say—and paying careful attention to the centerpieces and seating chart at their reception. "Our other favorite parts were choosing the tablescapes—in a pre-COVID-19 world, we loved hosting dinner parties and wanted the wedding to feel as intimate!—and creating the seating arrangements," says the couple, "bringing old friends and new friends together that we thought would get along famously."
A simple black-and-white color scheme inspired the paper suite from Yonder Design, but the selection of mixed materials and textures—including a custom, marble-inspired pattern (which the couple also printed on their dance floor), leather, cork, acrylic, and wallpaper—made the set feel anything but basic. A gold monogram incorporated the couple's initials and reappeared throughout the day-of signage.
After a solo trip that helped her narrow down her favorite wedding dress styles and silhouettes, Katie invited her father and cousins to join her. A long-sleeved, beaded chevron Naeem Khan gown became an immediate contender. "I thought it was stunning! I loved long sleeves for a late October wedding, the angular beading, and the overskirt that substituted for a veil—I was adamant about not wearing a veil!" says Katie. "Decisions were quick, and we were off to dinner!"
Katie asked her bridesmaids to wear "anything black that they felt great in," she says. "We're in our 30s and not in the business of asking our closest friends to match each other. All seven looked smashing!" Ted's groomsmen chose their own blue suits to match Ted's tie, but wore matching bronze Theory ties for a cohesive touch.
The couple's three dogs donned their own wedding attire: "Our male dogs wore handmade tuxedo collars courtesy of my aunt—long a creative seamstress—and Brooke Shields, our female dog, wore a flower collar courtesy of our incredible florist," says Katie. "Our beloved rescue dogs walked us down the aisle and despite their finery, very much acted like dogs: Rusty rolled around in the grass and went up and down the aisle escorting each member in turn of the bridal party; Brooke Shields the St. Bernard was drooling in excitement per usual."
An abstract gray-and-white wallpaper that Katie and Ted used for their invitations also served as the cover for their ceremony programs, setting the tone for the event's palette.
On the Bench
Willow trees surrounding the pond at Meadowood Resort created a natural enclave for the outdoor ceremony, and Katie and Ted opted to show off the natural landscape instead of bringing in dramatic floral installations. "We chose a mix of natural arched wooden chairs and benches, which were accented with black pashmina scarves draped over them for guests to use to stay warm and take home as a keepsake from the wedding," says Katie.
After Ted and his parents, the couple's officiant, and the bridal party walked down the aisle to "Landslide," Katie's father, Russ, and the couple's dog Rusty escorted the bride to the ceremony as a trio of musicians from West Coast Music performed "When You Say Nothing at All."
From the Heart
The Honorable Kathleen Cardone, a family friend, led Katie and Ted through a ceremony that included personal readings from friends and family members and culminated in vows the bride and groom wrote themselves.
There in Spirit
Katie and Ted honored Katie's late mother, Mary Beth, by leaving the chair next to Katie's father empty—and draped with Mary Beth's signature denim jacket. "After escorting just about everyone down the aisle, Rusty—the dog!—plopped himself right in front of the chair we had reserved for my mom and sat rapt, focused on the ceremony," says Katie. "Good dog!"
The New Mr. and Mrs.
As the newlyweds left the ceremony, they escorted their friends and family down a scenic path to to the cocktail hour, where servers were waiting with trays of Aperol sours. "We wanted to be really thoughtful that every transition was clearly ushered, was met with carrots—meaning, you get a drink in your hand as you walk from ceremony to cocktails," says Katie. "One of our favorite parts was stepping through the full schedule and making sure we optimized for transitions."
Eat, Drink, and Be Merry
Comfortable white chairs and sofas, overhead string lights, and a floral-heavy black bar created an elegant spot for al fresco cocktails. Signature drinks included a Spanish gin and tonic, Meadowood Manhattans, and turmeric shrub mules; servers passed trays of gazpacho, tuna tartare, and braised short ribs.
Setting the Bar
Two-tone acrylic menus on the bar mimicked the font, color scheme, and monogram from the invitations.
Making an Entrance
An "interactive sculpture" offered a dramatic entrance to the reception tent. "Carlos from The Vessel Rental Co. custom fabricated beautiful black metal frames based on our sketches, and then fit them with smoky lucite escort board panels," says Katie. "This Humble Abode adorned the frame with crawling greenery and florals. As the sun set and golden light, greenery and guests moved through the panels; their shifting shadows created an illusion that felt like a modern art installation."
A Study in Contrast
The couple wanted "a clean, modern tent that felt more like a hip urban restaurant," they say, so they requested black stained wood beams to cover the structure and draped the walls with linen. "Remembering that Katie's mother had a fondness for cane in furniture, we picked a combination of black framed cane chairs," says the couple.
In Black and White
Low centerpieces called back to the bright white and fresh green tones of the bridal party florals, while black-and-white leather table numbers added a crisp accent.
Simple and Chic
Gleaming black plates set on gray marbled chargers coordinated with black flatware. White menus and pale gray napkins were tied with hexagon-shaped acrylic place cards.
A cylindrical cake from Jasmine Rae Cakes included two flavors—chocolate with espresso buttercream, vanilla meringue, and salted caramel; and lemon with raspberries and lavender buttercream. "It was stunning," says Katie, "but it barely survived! Ted's brother nearly knocked it over when he was giving his toast, and when we were cutting the cake, we almost knocked it off the rollers."
On the Dance Floor
For their first dance, the couple chose "Walking in Memphis" by Marc Cohn—a song they played on repeat during their first road trip. Their band, Impulse, from West Coast Music, kept guests on the dance floor all evening. "Our incredible band played straight sets without pausing for a break. They stole the event—we were a sweaty mess," says Katie. "Both Ted and I met folks in the respective restrooms who said, 'I was waiting to for the band to break to go to the restroom; they just keep playing, so I had to make a break for it!'"
Photography, Erin and Courtney De Jauregui
Venue and Catering, Meadowood Napa Valley
Event Planning and Design, Lauren Geissler, Downey Street Events
Flowers, This Humble Abode
Stationery, Yonder Design
Cake, Jasmine Rae Cakes
Music, West Coast Music
Rentals, The Ark; Barker Decor; Casa De Perrin; Found Rental Co.; Hensley Event Resources; La Tavola Fine Linen; Standard Party Rentals; Theoni Collection
Custom Tent Build, Hensley Event Resources
Iron Geometric Installation, The Vessel Rental Co.
Bride's Gown, Naeem Khan
Bride's Accessories, Balmain shoes; Dior jewelry
Hair and Makeup, Sherrie Long
Groom's Attire, Armani suit; Eton shirt; Isaia tie; Santoni shoes; Rolex watch
Men's Ties, Theory
Lighting, Got Light
Transportation, Pure Luxury Transportation
Favors, Glassy Baby votives; Model Bakery english muffins
Garment styling, The Wedding Detailor
Guest book, Claire Magnolia
Rings, Lang Antiques