Pretty in pink
December 10, 2003
“I didn’t think there was going to be that much pink,” said Jake Savona, a Vail firefighter and usher for the wedding. “Wow! That was a lot of pink. It was a little overwhelming.”
The colors of the wedding – pale pink and white – were described by others as elegantly woven throughout the Lodge at Rancho Mirage, a RockResorts hotel near Palm Springs, Calif. Vail Resorts owns the luxury hotel company.
“I was blown away by all the flowers,” Savona said. “The setting was extravagant. It was the most extravagant wedding I’ll ever go to in my entire life.”
More than 30,000 roses from Ecuador were brought to the hotel and used for the wedding, placed along the sides of the aisles, on the tables, around the cake and some were scattered along the floors. The carpet leading to the altar was filled with rose petals, surrounded by plenty of candlelight, said Kelly Ladyga, spokeswoman for Vail Resorts who also attended the wedding.
“They even had pink sports drinks. There was a candy factory with scoops of jelly beans all pink and white,” said Mark Mobley another of the contingent of Vail firefighters who came to the wedding. Signature drinks included Ryanritas and Tristaritas, Ryan’s Firestorm and Trista’s – you guessed it – Pink Passion.
But if pink wasn’t exactly the favored color of some firefighters, they still had a blast at the wedding, which was filmed for tonight’s blow-out ABC special “Ryan and Trista’s Wedding,” airing at 8 to 10 p.m. The nationwide audience is expected to top 13 million viewers.
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Ceremony of secrets
For months, there was plenty of speculation about when and where the wedding would take place. Late last spring, rumors spread that the blessed event would be in Vail during the summer.
But hundreds of people who knew the truth were sworn to secrecy, Ladyga said.
“About last spring, they were talking about setting a date and a location,” Ladyga said. “They had decided against a cold wedding because Trista wanted it to be outside.”
Nearly $1 million was lavished on the wedding, which was attended by 300 guests – including 11 Vail firefighters and the families of the bride, the former Trista Rehn, who lives in Wildridge with Sutter and starred with him in “The Bachelorette,” and the groom, Ladyga said.
The gala event at Palm Springs’ leading resort was closed to the public for four days to accommodate the ABC television production.
“The hotel was on lockout for four days,” Ladyga said. “The staff had it on the books as private event under the name “Ann and Brad Waffle wedding.’ It was an inside joke for the production company.”
More than 500 employees were involved, serving not only the wedding party and family but also the TV crew of several hundred, Ladyga said.
“This is the biggest thing to hit this area in a long time,” said Herbert Spiegel, managing director of The Lodge at Rancho Mirage and vice president of RockResorts. “Even though it was under wraps, people were gossiping for weeks about what was going on up here, and the phones are flying off the hook for wedding information and bookings.”
The wedding party arrived in California last Thursday, taking a bus from the airport in Los Angeles to the lodge in the desert, a two-hour ride.
The rehearsal dinner Friday was created with a Colorado theme, using place cards with mountain destinations and native foods. The cake was designed as a chocolate mountain meant to resemble Vail, Ladyga said.
Under the sun
The day of the wedding, the women left early to primp, getting their hair and make-up just right for the ceremony ahead.
The guys played basketball.
In the late afternoon, the couple was treated to a wedding ceremony under the hotel’s famed gazebo overlooking the Coachella Valley, Ladyga said.
“It was a beautiful and sincere ceremony – despite all the helicopters from above,” Ladyga said. “The two flower girls were adorable. They were pulling the ring bearer in an antique fire engine. He was no more than a year old.”
As one of the ushers, Savona walked bridesmaids down the stairs and partly down the aisle.
“We let them go, then peeled off to the double doors to let Trista out,” Savona said. “We had to walk down this big aisle, and the production guys were yelling over at us to stand in different places. I was on my tippy-toes, wondering, “Should I open the doors now or not?’
“We had to go all the way around the building to the producers, and there were five of us just running to our seats because we thought we’d miss the wedding.”
The wedding party, though, “had fun, drank, ate and hung out,” Ladyga said.
The security at the hotel was pretty tight, she said. But six helicopters full of the dreaded paparazzi were flying above the hotel.
“It was annoying,” said Reggie Blacke, another Vail firefighter and guest at the wedding.
Some of the wedding party said they couldn’t help but be distracted by the helicopters overhead, looking up at them instead of the betrothed pair.
As soon as the wedding was over, the helicopters left. When the reception began, the cameras turned off.
The party begins
“It’s the last wedding I’ll go to in a long time,” Mobley said. “But I had a ball. The off-camera entertainment was definitely filled with good times.”
Mobley went to the wedding with his wife, who “took everything tacked down,” and said he was pleased that he was able to spend some off-duty quality time with his co-workers.
“I don’t get a chance to spend any time with these guys because we’re always working,” Mobley said. “And weddings are always a pain in the kazoo, but I had a ball.”
Some of the younger, more rowdy crowd stayed late in the evening, eventually crawling into their hotel rooms after 3 a.m.
“It was the most fun I’d had in a long, long time,” Savona said.
Blacke said he performed some dance moves, and asked if anyone heard about other dance techniques.
“Yeah, I did a little dancing,” Blacke said. “They knew what Vail Fire was about when we got out there.”
“The Vail folks definitely got things rocking on the dance floor,” Ladyga said.
Vail Fire Chief John Gulick said he was disappointed he missed the wedding, but “job responsibility” required that he stay behind.
“I couldn’t go,” Gulick said. “It was part of strategic generosity that I didn’t go, because we had 11 out of 16 people who went. We could have chartered a private jet for the price it cost them to go.”
He said he was sorry he missed it. “The guys all rented tuxedoes, and they don’t get to dress up that often and go to fancy affairs like that. I’m just glad everyone returned home safely,” Gulick said
He also said he will be glad to see Sutter back on the team with the new year after an extended leave of absence.
“Ryan will be back working in January,” Gulick said. “Even though it’s been six months or so, it’ll be like he never left. He’s on the schedule. He’ll be ready to go in January.”
Christine Ina Casillas can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.