The Perfect Winter Wedding
Genevieve Cortese & Jared Padalecki
Photography Kirsten Shultz
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Thanks to Sturges (and the weather), high hopes became reality. With 150 guests, this wedding was a medium-sized affair for Sturges. But Sturges has planned everything from giant weddings to casual little elopement parties, and she’s worked on events with some big stars with even bigger egos. But not this couple.
Working with her “amazing staff” and other Sun Valley experts, Sturges coordinated everything from invitations and menus designed by Butterfly Design’s Michelle Juliet Castle, to details on place settings and transportation. The cake was from Cristina’s in Ketchum. Music was provided by the James Gang band. Kirsten Shultz, the consummately professional photographer, created her usual exquisite images.
Winter weddings are a smart idea, Sturges said, because rentals are more available and arrangements are easier. She and Cortese chose The Valley Club, the picturesque mid-Valley golf and country club. The ceremony was in a clear tent on The Valley Club’s terrace while a second tent held the band and “cigar smokers.” Sturges, whose mother owns the fashionable home-furnishings store, Bellissimo, in Sun Valley, has been around interiors her entire life, she said, so she had no trouble picking the elegant table settings and linens for the couple. “They were so happy and I tried to make it low stress and easy for them,” she said.
But the final and crucial detail was a “big surprise” for the couple, Sturges said.
And a happy one. Cortese had wanted a white wedding, but December had been unseasonably dry. Toward the holidays, a Pacific storm lined up and the bride was hopeful.
“Being from Sun Valley, I was really hoping the snow reports were true,” Cortese said. “I was doing my best snow dance to the gods. It was clear the entire week and even on the morning of our wedding day, and then—Bam!—right around 4:30 the snow began to fall. So we consider it good luck and a blessing! It was definitely a white wedding.”
Since she and the groom are “HUGE foodies,” they were also well-pleased with the plated dinners of steak or halibut prepared by The Valley Club’s chef, Mike Diem. “We’ve lived all over and travelled the world. The service and attention at The Valley Club is unbeatable,” she said, and the food was “fantastic.”
The wedding party included guests from all over the country, “a third local, a third Texan and a third from all our walks of life, including L.A. and New York City,” the bride said.
The gown and bridesmaids dresses were designed by Monique Lhuillier. The gown featured the designer’s hallmark lacework with a skirt that “looked like snow billowed out from the bottom,” the bride said. The bridesmaids wore draped navy blue dresses.
The couple was married by the bride’s grandfather, Ron VandenBerghe, from California, and a special song was written and played for them by musician Brian Buckley of the Brian Buckley Band.
Padalecki proved more traditional than Cortese: “He wanted our pictures taken after we were married. It was really important to him to NOT see me in my dress,” Cortese said.
And Padalecki had already scored considerable points with her family by calling her stepfather and her two brothers to ask for her hand. The two were in New York, her mother said, and Padalecki suggested a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a place they had frequented. There, in front of their favorite painting, “Joan of Arc,” painted in 1879 by French realist Jules Bastien-Lepage, he proposed. “We knew it was happening and were just waiting for the call,” Batt recalled.
And thus, Cortese in her lacy gown and Padalecki with his inimitable dimples, met to get married in Sun Valley. She was walked down the aisle by her stepfather Jeffrey Batt, and her brother, John Cortese. Outside, a steady snow was falling.
The couple has homes in Los Angeles and Vancouver, where his series is filmed. It seems they are surrounded by gorgeous mountains at all times. Once the Sun Valley wedding was complete, they finished preparations for an even more mountainous honeymoon: trading their bridal finery for hiking boots and sunscreen for a 10-day trek to Machu Picchu in Peru. Looking into the past at those awesome ruins, the future seemed awfully bright to this young couple, poised to take on the world.
All photos are property of Kirsten Shultz and may not be copied, reproduced or distributed in any manner not pre-approved by the photographer.