In a way, David Tutera and Joey Toth made history with their wedding. On April 1, the grooms became the first same-sex couple to wed under the United Methodist religion in the Hollywood United Methodist Church–a Byzantine-style house of worship, illuminated by massive iron candelabras and a sea of candles.
Four years ago, both men were single and well aware that “love is love”—a phrase that eventually emerged as their wedding theme and message. Their inner circle agreed. “My very close friend Abby and Joey’s sister, Maja, suggested we meet,” Tutera tells The Knot exclusively. “At the time, I was living in California and Joey was living in Arizona.” The couple dated for three years before Tutera proposed during a trip to Hawaii in 2016.
For the next 12 months, the future grooms mapped out their wedding weekend, and Tutera—a reputable celebrity event designer who’s worked with stars like Shannen Doherty and Mark Ballas—was finally planning his own nuptials to the love of his life.
“Our happiness is not valued in success or materialistic items,” he muses. “But [our love is built upon] our time together, communication and respect.” Tutera jokes, “In L.A., that’s near impossible to find.”
The couple opted for a traditional processional with a sentimental twist. Toth, first escorted down the aisle by his mother and father, then stopped to witness Tutera and 3-year-old daughter Cielo follow down that same path. The three then joined hands and continued down the aisle until they reached Reverend Kathy Cooper-Ledesma at the altar.
“Best feeling ever,” Toth notes to The Knot. “When the doors opened for us to walk down the aisle, there were no nerves… Just an overwhelming feeling of love and joy took over.”
Both grooms wore 1920s-inspired European pieces tailored by celebrity seamstress Mercel Naber-Sweiss of Focus On the Bride. Tutera previously teased to The Knot that his daughter, adorable in a custom dress by Joan Calabrese with shoes by Zigi New York, would have a “big role” in the ceremony. The couple’s nearly 300 loved ones all received black and gold invites designed by David Tutera’s line for Invitations by Dawn, which read: “Cielo Tutera invites you to her two daddies’ wedding.” She certainly made her presence known.
“As anyone with a three-and-a-half year old knows, sometimes what we plan and what they plan are totally different,” says Toth. The little one patiently sat with family during the ceremony, but adorably disrupted the vow portion of the wedding. “Cielo decided that during our vows, we needed gum. So she walked up to the altar to ask in her loudest voice if we needed it.”
The audience roared in response. Besides that incident, there was a bigger snafu that impacted the couple’s wedding week. “We had no fashion until two days prior to our wedding!” Tutera tells The Knot. “The original person we trusted completely messed up. After [the stylist] delayed our fittings yet again, I got worried. I called in a friend to walk into our closets and to redesign fashion from our clothes. She created perfection.” The couple had seven groomsmaids, all of whom wore coordinating pewter and black pieces by David Tutera for Gather & Gown and accessories by David Tutera Embellish.
Impeccably-dressed guests showed up to the black-tie wedding and reception at the Millennium Biltmore Los Angeles for an evening of luxury and love. “I felt so connected every moment to all of our 280 guests,” Tutera tells The Knot. “I truly was so surprised by what I experienced. We were so present for everything.”
There were, however, two outstanding moments for the celebrity planner. “The first is dancing together as a family,” he says. “Me, Joey and Cielo held onto each another for our first dance as a married family. It was truly a magical moment.” The second involved an actual choir.
“The gospel choir opened up and moved into place on the dance floor in their white robes,” Tutera recalls. “We had billowing smoke floating down to create a romantic setting.” The newlyweds then made their way to the black-and-white custom dance floor, where they shared a dance to “Rise Up” by Audra Day. DJ Lux of Premiere Events Group played some of the couple’s favorite hits along with the couple’s live band, Warren Priske’s Old Hollywood Vintage Jazz Bands.
For the decor, Tutera enlisted the help of GLAM Specialty Rentals and Premiere Party Rents to pull together the mirrored dining tables, and the mismatched chairs that decorated the ballroom floor in white and gold. Roses weren’t only red at the wedding reception. The grooms ended up purchasing 20,000 white and cream roses from Passion Roses that were strategically placed throughout the venue for an added element of luxury.
Butterfly Floral & Event Design also worked its expertise, and filled 10 urns with a massive explosion of florals cascading from within. Interestingly enough, the wedding party went with paper bouquets and boutonnieres, crated from Tutera’s line with Sizzix.
Luna Party Rentals helped the couple create a custom black-and-white dance floor as well as Gatsby-inspired specialty bars, while Hanna’s Candles helped the grooms create a custom signature wedding scent entitled “Amore,” that featured notes of lavender and bergamot with a subtle hint of musk. The black vessels for the candles were elegantly inscribed with “Love Is Love” in gold, as was the couple’s six-tier wedding cake by A Sweet Designed.
The same Granada Hills-based bakery created other desserts served at the couple’s wedding including chocolate-dipped strawberries topped by gold glitter, coconut and pecan chocolate cake pops and an over-the-top spice cake that was rolled in 24-carat gold. The meal was equally decadent.
The pair served frisée and arugula salad accompanied by shaved fennel, apple, black berries, strawberries, Manchego and a truffle vinaigrette dressing. The main course included a delicious variety of options including a butter poached Maine lobster, a grilled rosemary beef filet, and a truffle risotto.
Accompanying the meal was champagne and wine by One Hope Vineyards, and vodka, tequila and whisky bars stationed throughout the ballroom. Guests left the luxurious night with custom coasters from Tutera’s “Old Hollywood Collection” by Thirstystone.
“I could never have done anything without my husband,” Tutera concludes of the night. “And without the joy and smiles and laughter from our daughter Cielo.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article read that the grooms were the first same-sex couple to wed under the United Methodist religion. They were the first same-sex couple to marry inside the Hollywood United Methodist Church under the United Methodist religion.