Megan Richardson and Gretchen Tiernan were on opposing teams when they first met—playing college basketball for Cal State University, Fullerton and University of the Pacific, respectively—but they were destined to be teammates in life. It began casually. “It was one of those, ‘Hey, tell your friend I said what’s up!’ moments,” the couple shares. “Very quickly, it was something that we would move mountains to make happen. We dated for two years before we officially got together. We were living eight hours apart and on completely different schedules.” Suddenly, Gretchen’s career brought her to Los Angeles, where Megan was finishing college, and everything fell into place.
The two became partners not just in life, but in business. They co-founded Sand Spa, and the enterprise became the foundation for a perfect proposal in September 2018. “I surprised Megan by recruiting our PR team,” Gretchen remembers. “We planned an elaborate but very fake magazine interview and photoshoot. We put together the longest, most detailed email chain, knowing Megan would Google everything and everyone involved.” All the way to the photoshoot, Megan insisted on practicing the interview questions. They began shooting at Will Rogers State Beach. “As we were taking pictures, our PR team slipped different jackets on and off of us,” Gretchen says. “At the right moment, my jacket said ‘Marry Me?’ and hers, ‘Hell Yes.’ The photographer kept Megan engaged while I took a step back and then she said, ‘Okay, now look at Gretchen.’ It was the perfect surprise.”
They were married three years later, almost to the day. “Longest engagement ever, but very, very worth it,” the couple says. Their September 17, 2021 nuptials exuded Hollywood glamour and a modern, chic aesthetic that perfectly aligned with their vision, thanks to planners Abby Ulf and Caroline Garcia of Abby and Caroline Events. “We sent them our mood board. When they sent us their design deck, we were immediately sold on everything they came back with,” Gretchen says. “It was a pretty seamless plug and play. They made planning a wedding fun and enjoyable. They are exceptionally creative, detailed-oriented, and most importantly deeply caring.”
Read on to see all the glam details of their big day, as planned by Abby and Caroline Events and photographed by John & Joseph.
One tenet the couple lives by is “doing the most”—and so of course they applied it to wedding planning. Their vision for the big day? “Black tie meets Met Gala,” they share. “A modern, chic, romantic vibe. We wanted our guests to have a real, tangible experience. We wanted our wedding to embrace our ‘doing the most’ lifestyle.”
The color scheme was “chic and crisp,” black and white with pops of gold. Setting the tone from the get-go, a black-enveloped invitation suite featured ultra modern calligraphy by Emily Snyder and stamps with yellow butterflies, a meaningful symbol to the brides.
“Toni Maticevski makes art to wear,” Gretchen says. “He combines a structural element that gives to being very form-fitted, but where the magic happens is when you move around. I was drawn to his work because he is part artist, part romantic.”
Her two-piece look from the designer consisted of pants and a top with a beautiful train. “It represented exactly who I was,” recalls the bride. “It was an outfit that I felt inspires and drives modern women’s fashion. It wasn’t traditional, nor was it stuffy. It felt like a sculpture that I got to bring to life.”
Likewise, Megan brought the Hollywood glamour. “I wanted to stay true to my style but amplified,” she says. “I wanted to feel equally fabulous and powerful.” Finishing off her beauty look, she spritzed on her go-to perfume, Le Labo’s Another 13.
Both brides worked with a stylist, Samantha Levis of The Bold and Bridal. “We chose not to see what each other was wearing until our first look on our wedding day, so it was really crucial to have someone like Samantha involved in this entire process,” they share. “We wanted our entire bridal stories and ensembles to blend together perfectly but still stand powerfully on their own.”
Adds Megan: “Both of our looks were totally ‘doing the most’—the way we live our life—but with perfect restraint, individually having their own moment but working together. Samantha knew my oyster-colored gown with great detail and embellishments would be the perfect complement to Gretchen’s look that was solid ivory but equally dramatic in structure and shape. We each held our own and melted together so beautifully.”
For their venue, the duo chose something classic: the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills. “We’ve always felt connected to and inspired by Beverly Hills,” they say. “We’ve shared some of our best memories as a couple at the Four Seasons, and now the best day of our lives. When we first started looking at venues, it needed to be a place we knew but was not completely known to us—timeless glamour with a playful twist.”
“The selling point was Wetherly Gardens,” they say. “With green, lush, palm tree-lined walls, it was the perfect backdrop for all of our ceremony moments.” Abundant florals bloomed behind the last row of chairs (and were repurposed as stage decor at the reception): garden roses, sweet pea and dahlias from small-batch California farms, and Italian ruscus. “Our flowers were fresh and organic varieties designed in a clean and contemporary black-tie style.”
Both brides’ bouquets were monobotanical, made of extra-long-stemmed Playa Blanca roses. The floral was a favorite. “Over 1,000 stems of white Playa Blanca roses imported from Holland and Ecuadorian farms were used for our wedding,” the couple shares.
Megan fell in love at first sight with her Naeem Khan gown when she saw it at Saks’ bridal salon. “The gown lent itself to a bit of the Gatsby era, with chevron beading pattern and sparse, tasteful feathers—which was fun to play into, given our venue had a flare of old Hollywood glam,” she says.
But, everything clicked into place when she heard the gown’s name. “As I was walking back to the changing room, the bridal associate told me the dress name was ‘Lafayette,’” she remembers. “My eyes immediately teared up and I without a doubt knew it was the one. My late grandma, Beverly, who I was extremely close with, was from the Lafayette area in Louisiana. I knew this was her way of being with me on my wedding day. I never imagined having this kind of moment with a dress. I didn’t just feel like I was wearing it; I felt like I was transformed in it.”
Gretchen’s beauty look was “rich, radiant, classic, and clean,” she says. “I wanted a look that I could describe through tones. I really like browns and golds because they look good on my skin. I most importantly wanted to look like myself. I wanted my glam to be soft and fresh.” For hair, she jokes, “I had to let go and let God. Trace Watkins is a magic maker and I just really trust what he sees. I wanted to live in every moment of this day and focus on being present, so I just let him do his thing and I loved it.”
When the brides are co-owners of a nail salon and spa, you know the manicures will be on point. Even so, it took countless trials to get the right shade. “Since we work in the nail industry, I was overly obsessed with finding the perfect color for the wedding,” Megan says. “I tried so many different variations of nudes and light pinks. I kept my almond shape with some length on them. I ended up finding the perfect light pink dipping powder from I Gel Beauty, Cozy Cashmere, and paired it with Super White from Chisel Nail Art. It created the perfect bridal ombre nail design.”
Gretchen also visited Polish by Sand Spa before the big day. She opted for a gel manicure in Funny Bunny with platinum sticker embellishments. Both accessorized with pieces from Happy Jewelers; Megan’s stunning engagement ring came from the jeweler as well. “We have worked with them for a while and they always treat us like family,” she says.
A nod to their engagement story, the brides donned matching leather jackets emblazoned with their calligraphed “MG” monogram.
“Instead of having bridesmaids, we opted for using the term ‘Friends of Honor,’” the couple shares. “We had our closest girl and guy friends walk down the aisle in pairs before we sent our moms down the aisle. Then, our dads each walked us individually down the aisle.” Gretchen and her father walked out first, to “Ultralight Beam” by Kanye West.
“Since my dress had so much going on, I didn’t really want to add anything over the top,” Megan says. “Olivia from A Stitch in Time in Brentwood made me the perfect veil that gave that little extra pop of bridal but didn’t take away from my dress.” When it was finally time, Megan processed in with her father to “The Bones (Acoustic)” by Maren Morris.
We wanted the ceremony to have some traditional aspects with our own twist on it.
“We wanted the ceremony to have some traditional aspects with our own twist on it,” the couple says. “We had one of our best friends, Sheera Goren, officiate and our friend and mentor Angela Manuel Davis deliver a blessing.”
They also wrote their own vows, which were heartfelt and eloquent with a touch of humor. From Megan’s: “Let us always remember we are not meant to be perfect, we are meant to be whole. We will have long hard days, but we will never have them alone. Where you are is where I belong.” From Gretchen’s: “I’m here with all the versions of you I’ve met over 10 years of vacations, date nights, and business plans. And even if the point of life isn’t just to be happy, I am, down to the bones.”
“We released 15 dozen live butterflies after we said ‘I do,’” Megan remembers. “We love the symbolism of butterflies. We joke that my wife, Gretchen, is the butterfly whisperer because they seem to land on her daily.” Surrounded by fluttering wings, the newlyweds recessed out to “Shining” by DJ Khaled featuring Beyoncé and Jay-Z.
Every moment of the day was unique to the couple and made a chic splash—in at least one case, literally. Synchronized swimmers from Aqualillies danced in the fountain as guests moved from ceremony to reception. “No details were left unturned,” the couple says. “We truly did the most!”
With that philosophy in mind, though, they used their budget wisely. “I think a challenging aspect that most brides can relate to is deciding what to spend your money on, and what to pass on,” the couple says. “For us, it took a lot of thought on where we wanted to allocate funds. We wanted all the things, but realistically you have to go with what is going to make the most impact on your guests’ experience. Our planners were extremely helpful—they got the absolute most out of our budget.”
We were 100 percent true to ourselves and didn’t let anyone tell us how to feel about wedding planning.
After the ceremony, the newlyweds took in the L.A. skyline. “It is okay to do things your way,” Gretchen advises other couples. “We were 100-percent true to ourselves and didn’t let anyone tell us how to feel about wedding planning. We weren’t married to wedding trends. Whatever you choose or don’t, do it for you and your partner.”
The couple’s vision for the sleek reception ballroom design was multilayered. “We started with a clean slate by carpeting the ballroom in a neutral ivory,” they share. “A beautiful but subtle white-and-black marble dance floor was the focal point. We lined the front of the stage with greenery and florals to tie in the ceremony and cocktail spaces.” A mixture of round and rectangular tables were lined with chic black linens, and a statement 16-foot bar with marble shelving was set behind the sweetheart table. “The florals on the tables were white in clear glass vessels, accented with black taper candles,” they note.
“We finished off the look with a classic black Chiavari chair, black rim chargers, gold flatware, and—our favorite—a champagne coupe,” the couple says. “Our dinner menus were set atop the black velvet napkins with beautiful and artful calligraphy with a modern twist.”
On the menu? “We served a farmer’s market peach, burrata, and arugula salad to start, followed by the guest’s choice of salmon or red wine-braised short rib,” the couple says. There were also a trio of signature cocktails: The GM with tequila and jalapeño, the mezcal and mango Pandemic Proof, and the Virginia Rose (a combination of their middle names) with vodka, rosemary, and lime. “We also drank Don Julio 1942 tequila all night and had a bar cart of tequila and watermelon shooters brought out to the dance floor later in the evening,” they add.
“We still can’t get over walking into the ballroom and being completely shocked,” Gretchen shares of seeing the decor for the first time. “I honestly thought we were at the wrong venue. Abby and Caroline nailed the aesthetic we were going for.”
After the surprising room reveal, it was time for their own reveal as newlyweds. As 150 guests looked on, Gretchen and Megan kicked off the reception in epic fashion. “We entered the ballroom with an escort of four Aqualillies performers wearing gold beaded leotards and carrying black parasols,” they remember. “We followed them to the dance floor where they did a four-minute performance to ‘Lift Off’ by Jay-Z and Kayne West, followed by all of our guests being invited to the dance floor.”
The brides’ dual father-daughter dance was to a fitting song, John Mayer’s “Daughters.”
“Kimberly Bailey of The Butter End created an edgy, contemporary, and stylish cake design,” the couple says. “The cake was covered with ripped wafer paper in subtle gray tones, and accented with 23-karat gold leaf.” Inside? Almond cake with toasted-almond buttercream and pumpkin-spice cake with cream-cheese frosting.
The party was underway—but the brides had more surprises in store, including an outfit change and grand re-entrance into the reception. For Megan, the party dress was Jenny Packham. “We had postponed our original wedding date and were in the middle of the pandemic when our stylist, Samantha, sent me this insane mini dress on sale at Net-a-Porter. They had one size left and it was mine. It was the perfect dress to transition into late night; the sequins and the feathers were a balance of playful and glamorous.”
She made a game-time decision on her hair. “I originally was planning on pulling my hair into a fun pony when I changed into my mini dress, but Trace Watkins, our fabulous hair and makeup artist, decided to keep it down and ‘zhoosh’ it up,” Megan remembers. “I felt like I had Beyonce hair and it kept it fun for party time.”
Gretchen went shorter too, in Galia Lahav. “It was a beautiful mini dress and fit like a glove—partly because I wasn’t going to let that baby move,” she says. “It was short and tight and everything I would normally not throw on, but I went for it.” Dubbed Jill, the dress was made from woven yarn and silk and covered with iridescent embellished sequins and feathers. “Jill wasn’t out here playing, and neither was I. I loved every moment of it,” she says.
Newly outfitted, the brides stepped through erupting cold fireworks—each in a dazzling pair of Jimmy Choos—accompanied by bottle boys carrying bottles of their favorite tequila, 1942.
“We wanted to play off the fact that many of our guests hadn’t been in front of a live band in years,” the couple shares. “We hired TC and the Traffic Jamm band from De Bois Entertainment and they were phenomenal. We asked for all upbeat, fun music that would get people on the dance floor. Since we placed a huge emphasis on entertainment, we decided to blend in a DJ with the band. Bands take breaks and this was the perfect way to keep the energy high and our guests dancing.”
They also brought in a special guest. “Our friend and owner of Vox DJs, KC Campbell, emceed our entire wedding. He orchestrated the dynamic of the band and DJ perfectly and got guests super engaged in every moment. “It was so fun having him interacting with everyone on the dance floor while the DJ did his thing on the stage.”
But arguably the best entertainment became one of Megan’s favorite memories. “My wife got me on stage to rap an Eminem song,” she says. “I felt like a pop star… until I saw the videos.”
“We had a late-night In-N-Out truck serving cheeseburgers and double-doubles on the dance floor,” the brides remember—one last surprise to make the wedding their own.
Finally, after all the excitement, they were ready for some relaxation. They headed south for a honeymoon in Cabo. “We stayed at the Montage. It is a gorgeous property with incredible hospitality—perfect for a zen honeymoon experience.”