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An Autumnal Woodland Wedding in Yosemite

by Staff

Actors Caitlin McGee and Patrick Woodall met as understudies for a play at Manhattan Theatre Club in 2014. “We were just friends, until we both coincidentally moved from New York City to LA around the same time in 2016,” says Caitlin, whom you may recognize as the star of ABC sitcom Home Economics. “After meeting up at a bar in Silver Lake and having several bourbons, we got up the courage to smooch—and have been smooching ever since.”

Six years after they met, and in the thick of COVID, the theatrical duo got engaged. “In July 2020, when the world was still in sweatpants only, our best friend made up a fake assignment for a real art appreciation class,” they recall. “This got Caitlin unsuspectingly to the beach in Santa Monica in a dress to have her picture taken, while Patrick snuck up behind her with her favorite lobster rolls and a ring. For many Angelenos, the pier is a tourist spot. But for two New Yorkers, it was a memorable first date playing air hockey and dipping their toes in the Pacific.”

Caitlin and Patrick only ever lived in major cities since meeting, but for their wedding, they decided to go into the wild: Yosemite National Park, to be specific. “Yosemite makes us feel small in the very best way,” they share. “Everything there is older and grander than you, and reminds you that your life is precious and everything in it should be squeezed for all the joy you can get out of it.” It was enough reason to hold their wedding there; well that, plus their absolute love of s’mores. “We really wanted it to feel like all-camp dance at the end of summer camp,” Caitlin and Patrick say of their vision for the big day. “A lot of our friends and family were meeting for the first time, and it was really important for us that they have wonderful things to see and do and eat. And s’mores. S’mores were a big part of the vision, really.”

Planning began with a series of spreadsheets, but the couple quickly realized they needed to call in a pro. “We’re very grateful to have found our planner, Emily Gaikowski of Heartthrob Weddings and Events, who stepped in to pitch a shutout for the last few innings. She brought creative vision to the weekend that we were too burnt out to provide, and executed on stuff we would’ve missed.”

The aesthetic was specific. “We wanted something like a California sunset from an old photo, something that felt dreamy and distinct,” the couple says. But at the end of the day, it was all about the people. “We included as much of our community into the welcome dinner, ceremony, and reception as possible. Friends and family sang and played us down the aisle, spoke for us, read passages and poems, emceed the reception, and even pronounced us man and wife. A dear friend and gifted potter created the centerpiece vase at our sweetheart table. We’re surrounded by enormously talented people we love, and we really exploited them as much as possible,” the couple laughs. 

Read on to see all the naturally chic details of the couple’s October 10, 2021 wedding, planned by Heartthrob Weddings and Events and photographed by Paula Bartosiewicz of Paula B Photography.

Selecting their venue—Evergreen Lodge in Groveland, California—was definitely the easiest part of planning, the couple shares. “Not a ton of big decisions snap into place all at once, but when we visited Evergreen after a day at Yosemite with our dear friends, stood in the grove of trees where the ceremony would be, and saw people making s’mores around a fire pit, we were done looking.” 

Their 105 guests arrived in town to on-brand welcome bags: canvas Yosemite totes filled with wildflower seeds, bug repellent wipes, bottles of Open Water, and trail mix. 

As an actress, Caitlin has a go-to beauty team she’s worked with for years. “Thea Samuels and Stephanie Rives know my skin and hair well, so I trusted them completely,” Caitlin says. She requested a classic yet glowy look. ”They absolutely nailed it. I felt like the most beautiful version of me, not a woman I didn’t recognize.” Her top beauty tip? “In my experience a great primer is the real secret to long lasting makeup,” Caitlin says. “Thea used the Dior matte primer.”

Alexandra Grecco’s Laurel gown “was the first dress I tried on and still felt like myself,” Caitlin remembers. “A lot of the other gowns were gorgeous, but it felt like the dress was wearing me, not the other way around.” The silk crepe dress had a square scoop neckline, beaded train, and illusion back. Even more difficult than finding the dress, though, was finding the shoes. “I wanted a comfortable block heel that wasn’t too high because we got married in a grassy grove in the woods; but something that still elevated the look,” the bride shares. “I bought and returned so many shoes—and finally landed on Alexadre Birman’s Clarita knotted sandal in white leather.”

Her wildflower-inspired bouquet was a work of art in itself. “After the wedding I had my bouquet pressed by One Fine Day Floral. It’s a keepsake I will treasure forever.”

Caitlin’s accessories were the icing on the very pretty cake. “I wanted all gold and vintage and earthy [jewelry] to go with the soft palette of our wedding. I wore a vintage opal ring that was my grandmother’s, a Mejuri signet ring and earring cuff, and Anthropologie gold earrings that looked like vines.” She continues: “After I fell in love with those branch-like gold earrings, I wanted a hairstyle to emphasize them and not compete. A classic wave with half tucked behind my ear was the best to achieve that look and still made me feel glamorous.” Her stylist clipped in a few extensions to add volume. 

As for the groom? “I wore a custom three-piece suit from Indochino; it was green herringbone with broad navy checks, and a navy tie,” Patrick shares. His accessories fit the vibe: “I wore a tie bar with evergreen trees etched into it that Caitlin gave me for the day, and a brown belt and shoes with socks that had s’mores on them.”

To look at each other in wedding attire and have it really sink in was surreal.

“We knew it would be a wonderful but jam-packed weekend, so we wanted to create as many moments as we could between the chaos that were just ours,” the couple shares. “The first look was always something we wanted to do—that anticipatory giddiness of seeing each other all gussied up. We knew each other as friends before anything ever happened romantically, so to look at each other in wedding attire and have it really sink in was surreal.”

Tucked away in the woods, their ceremony space featured an asymmetrical floral arch at the altar, created by Jake at Cobra Lily Floral Design. “We had an aisle runner, which helped with a bit of mud; and a vintage rug from eBay at the altar that now sits in our living room.”

Caitlin entered the ceremony alongside both of her parents, while two friends played and sang an acoustic version of “God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys. The couple didn’t have a traditional wedding party, but two special attendants preceded the bride. “Our wonderful friends John and Joey were our ‘flower boys.’” the couple says. “They wore simple suits and gave crucial flourish to the moment. They were perfect.”

The couple wrote their own vows and selected special and unique readings for the ceremony. “Our friends who introduced us to Yosemite read ‘Where the Sidewalk Ends’ by Shel Silverstein; another friend read an excerpt from Fleabag by Phoebe Waller Bridge; and one more friend, Anna Greenfield, read a passage she wrote for the occasion because we made her. She’s a writer and brilliant and wrote beautifully and pointedly and made us blush.” 

After “I do,” the newlyweds recessed out “She’s A Rainbow” by The Rolling Stones. They went off the the side and opened a special present. “A friend of ours packed a box for us to open after the ceremony and before the reception,” the couple recalls. “Inside was a Polaroid to take our first picture together, shot glasses and whiskey, snacks to sustain us until dinner, and mints. It was so thoughtful, and great to have a moment for just the two of us during all of the wonderful chaos of a wedding.”

Meanwhile, guests headed to the bar for cocktail hour. On the signature drink menu: a Smoky McGee (a mezcal Paloma) and a WoodOle’ Fashioned (a bourbon Old Fashioned).

“The venue had huge, beautiful farmhouse tables, so we didn’t need to overdress them,” the couple says of their reception decor. “We did these lovely tie-dyed napkins and our florist made really amazing, natural centerpieces that had super interesting silhouettes. Caitlin bought gauze table runners off of Etsy that complemented the mismatched vintage glassware.”

“Instead of a photo booth, we created a Polaroid station complete with fun and silly props courtesy of the groom’s mom. We commissioned the backdrop from a wonderful tie-dye artist our planner introduced us to.” Pro tip: “We used a photo guest book and provided enough film for people to take a picture for themselves and leave one for us as well, which was a gas for us to flip through at the end of the weekend.”

The floral arch from their ceremony was repurposed as a backdrop for the sweetheart table during dinner. After a meal of chicken piccata and grilled salmon, they opted against a cake. Instead the couple offered an extensive dessert bar with treats like lemon bars, mini eclairs, apple pie, Yosemite Bliss Bars, and Key lime pies shipped in from Florida.

We danced around, got dusty in our fancy clothes, laughed, cried, and just celebrated the first moments of being husband and wife.

“Our favorite moment was actually our photographer Paula’s idea,” the couple says. “We took all of our family and friend group photos before the ceremony so we could have a sunset shoot just the two of us. Paula found this perfect little spot that looked right at the sunset. We danced around, got dusty in our fancy clothes, laughed, cried, and just celebrated the first moments of being husband and wife.”

Upon returning to the reception, Caitlin and Patrick had their official first dance, to “Like Real People Do” by Hozier. 

As the party got going, Caitlin changed into her second look by Odylyne the Ceremony. “I also wore silver platform Gucci heels that I got from The RealReal and Mejuri large pearl earrings and chain bracelets. I continue to wear those every day!”

“We ended the reception on two songs, one chosen by each of us,” the couple says. “‘Wagon Wheel’ by Old Crow Medicine Show so we could two-step—Patrick is from Texas—and then ‘Kill the Lights’ by Alex Newell to get everyone dancing and excited for the afterparty.”

For all their hard work planning, the day turned out exactly as they’d hoped. They advise other couples to soak it all in. “Once the day arrives, you’re at the top of the roller coaster hill,” they say. “Stop worrying, managing, controlling stuff. Just put your hands up and enjoy the ride from there.”

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