When two Dancing With the Stars pros come together in holy matrimony, the one wedding day non-negotiable is, simply, that the entertainment itself must be top-notch. “We had the best day,” bride Emma Slater tells The Knot in an exclusive interview. “Everybody says that, but nobody can prepare you for the experience of getting married.”
Slater and fellow pro Sasha Farber married before 180 guests on March 26, in Los Angeles. “I’m from England, Sasha’s from Australia,” she says. “Any family members who could make it, we completely welcomed with open arms. We realize it’s a long journey, so it left us a lot of room for our L.A. friends.”
Those celeb friends, Dancing With the Stars cast members and former dance mates included, contributed to the over-the-top reception entertainment. It also helped that the couple selected wedding planner Mikie Russo, a seasoned pro who’s already planned weddings for Robert and Kym Herjavec, as well as Witney Carson and Carson McAllister. “Entertainment was important to us. We wanted to look out at our guest tables and see our friends and family really happy,” Slater muses. “And I think Mikie really shares that philosophy. He wants it super fun. Those minor things, mishaps that would happen? You would never know about because he would fix it. He was sensational.”
One particular standout moment, the couple says, was when former NSYNC member Joey Fatone took over the band at the reception. ”We have a lot of big personalities in our guest list and Joey is a really good friend of ours. We went on tour with him for a few years and we’re really close with him,” she adds. “He sang ‘Mustang Sally’ and he sang ‘Bye Bye Bye.’ Then he sang a Backstreet song, which he was not happy about. Everybody loved it. The band was really happy, and then Alfonso [Ribeiro] came up next and he was singing ‘Billie Jean.’ And then Derek [Hough] stood up and started singing. We really had the best entertainment.”
Along with a guest focus, the couple wanted to serve a mouthwatering food spread that honored both the bride and groom’s heritages. “There’s a big difference between Russian weddings and English weddings, and even American weddings,” Slater notes. “We wanted good food. Food is what everybody talks about it at a wedding, and we’re foodies ourselves… We wanted European-style cold meats, cold seafood towers. We had a lot of seafood, a lot of shrimp, a lot of oysters. Ahi tuna. So we really wanted good food.”
The final must-have was a no-brainer. “The dancing was really important to us. Obviously being dancers,” she says. And while the night was eventful and memorable—“Our venue put out dry ice for our first dance, but it made the dance floor so slippery that one of our groomsmen fell over!”—the intimate moments stood out the most to the pair.
“My favorite moment was hands-down when we did the big reveal,” Farber tells The Knot of their first look. “It was my first time seeing Emma in the dress and it was perfect.” She adds, “The rest of the day can be so busy, but if you have that moment right before, you can do anything.” Get all the details about the couple’s wedding day below.
The First Look
The couple opted for a first look at the Houdini Estate, a property that is sentimental to the pair, who live nearby and walk by the locale every morning with their dog, Ruby. “My advice is to do your photographs before the ceremony. If you can get your ceremony to go straight into the reception, I would definitely recommend that,” says Slater. “Do the first look. We did ours and Sasha turned around and he saw me for the first time in my dress. It ended up being one of my favorite moments of the day for sure. It was one of those moments when we cried, we laughed, we prayed, we talked.”
The Wedding Planner
Farber and Slater’s wedding was a big reunion for Russo and many of his former clients, including DWTS pros Carson and Herjavec, as well as Fresh Prince actor Ribeiro, who is married to one of the bride’s best friends. All the previously-mentioned couples have married within the past few years.
“They were very clear from the beginning that they wanted a whimsical feeling… for the wedding to be very fun and ‘them’ as a couple,” Russo of Michael Russo Events tells The Knot. “They wanted to keep the day organic and free-flowing.”
The pair married at the Bella Blanca in North Hollywood. “We wanted a Russian-style wedding,” Slater says. “We ended up having a beautiful outdoor venue.”
“I really wanted a crazy colored bouquet, and I got that,” the bride says. “My bouquet was all different colors with the fuchsias, the burgundies, and the creams and purples. All my other flowers were white.” Petals LA helped design the space with luxurious white arrangements.
And the bride wore Rivini! “I knew I wanted sleeves and I wanted a vintage look with buttons down the back. I also wanted a V-plunge neckline,” Slater explains. “I knew what I wanted but it took a while to get to that point.” Thankfully, she worked with the Rivini team on a custom gown that would make her feel comfortable-yet-sexy on her wedding day.
“We sat down with Rita Vinieris, and one of her employees, James Brown, sketched it all out for me.” The brand also designed the bride’s second dress, which was an easier option for the dance floor antics.
The Groom’s Look
Farber was specific about the aesthetic he wanted with his custom tuxedo, so he was fortunate enough to work with Onik Design, who handmade his wedding day attire from start to finish.
The First Dance
“We wanted something crazy for our first dance, so we did a medley of three songs,” Slater tells us. The first tune was “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran, who’s friendly with the spouses. While they wanted the Grammy winner to perform live at their nuptials, he had another commitment that same night. Instead, Sheeran prerecorded a message for the couple.
“Sasha surprised me,” she trails. “We’ve met him before and he’s super sweet. He filmed us a video to say congratulations to wish us well in the marriage as well. I had no idea that he recorded that.”
“The stationery was the best! I’m so attached to it,” says Slater. Houston-based calligraphy and stationery company Nib and Pixel hand-painted the designs seen throughout the couple’s wedding. “I sent her a picture of me and Sasha, and she actually drew that picture in watercolor and that was the picture for our invites… It’s super multicolored because that’s what I wanted. There’s an English rose in there. There’s the Australian flower in there as well. In the picture, the dog wasn’t in there, and I asked her to add Ruby. She did all the place cards, invitations, menus for the bar, and the thank you cards for our wedding.”
The couple tasked Eli’s Band to set the melodious mood throughout the day. “They’re Russian and they’re phenomenal,” says Slater. “They were absolutely amazing. Actually, Eli [Buzaglo] sang a Hebrew song before the ceremony. It was sensational for our guests, right before we got married… We wanted people to see Sasha’s culture as well as my own. And really have a new experience. A lot of people commented on that.”
The couple’s colorful confection was designed and crafted by Delicious Arts. The cake itself, like the colors, included pops of flavors, including chocolate, vanilla bean, carrot cake, almond cake and banana cake.
“A lot of people focused on the drinks. We wanted an open bar,” says Slater. “We bought an ice sculpture that was a massive hit that Mikie sketched out. He put out his and hers cocktails. He got menus printed for us. It was a massive hit. That’s what we really wanted.” Russo concocted three specialty cocktails for the couple, including a rosé Piscine Sidecar, as well as a Casamigos grapefruit-flavored cocktail. Finally, he named a vodka drink the “Forever Farbers.”
Along with family and friends, dozens of stars joined the newlyweds to fete the occasion. They included Slater’s Mirrorball-winning partner Rashad Jennings, as well as recently-married couple Julianne Hough and Brooks Laich. Other guests included WWE Diva Nikki Bella, Nick and Vanessa Lachey, as well as Alfonso Ribeiro and Angela Unkrich. Currently engaged couple Drew Scott and fiancee Linda Phan mingled with former pop star Joey Fatone and other guests.
“We invited all of our Dancing With the Stars folks. All the people we tour with, and there’s wardrobe and makeup, plus producers behind the scenes. So we really invited everybody,” she says of the ABC cast and their extended industry peers. The pair gifted their wedding party with Gigi New York handbags and wallets.
“We were friends for two years before we even got together as a couple,” says Slater. “We met at such a young age, I was 20 when I met him. We spent the last almost decade together. It’s like we grew up together… I remember the first car we got. It was really crappy. It leaked. After that, a one bedroom apartment that was full of the previous tenant’s stuff. Going through all of this together, and being welcomed into his family… he’s got a great, big Russian family that I love… It’s been such a beautiful adventure.”
“I love everything about Emma,” Farber concludes. “Just the way that we are together. Her morals, the way she treats me, the way she smiles, the sway she looks at me… If I was to design my wife, it would be Emma.”
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