Super Bowl winner Golden Tate says marrying Elise Pollard was the ultimate touchdown. After a 15-month engagement, the couple finally exchanged vows before 250 guests in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, on March 11.
“I love the passion Elise brings,” the Detroit Lions player, 28, tells The Knot in an exclusive interview. “People can feel her energy a mile away and it makes those who are shy more comfortable immediately. She’s smart, beautiful, kind, and she makes me a better person. The smartest thing I ever did was marry this amazing woman.”
At first, it was tricky locking down a prime wedding date and location. “With Golden in the NFL, we literally had to plan our wedding date around the season,” Pollard recalls. “That lead us to the February and March time frame. We couldn’t risk planning anything during playoffs or up until the Super Bowl, because we didn’t know how it could affect our guests, groomsmen, and of course, the groom.”
A year before the nuptials, the pair went on a venue hunt up and down California, but they were frustrated with the options. “We wanted to at least overlook the ocean,” she says, “but we weren’t going to pay prices for freezing cold weather… so the only thing to do was head South.”
The couple spontaneously booked a flight to Cabo, where they met with multiple planners. They instantly connected with Amy Abbott and Lauren Lemke, who took the pair to the San Jose Del Cabo. “It was our dream spot,” notes Pollard, who wanted the wedding week to be fun and festive for their beloved guests and family members. “We brought down 28 bags and shipped 13 boxes.”
Guests were greeted with a welcome bag stamped with the bride and groom’s official logo. It was filled with custom playing cards and water bottles from The Knot Shop, as well as prosecco, Casamigos Tequila Blanco, and individual packs of pain relievers and other hygienic goodies. “We wanted to give our guests gifts they would actually use,” the bride explains. “We’re not trinket people… So we tried to think outside box and buy the right gifts.”
The celebration kicked off Thursday morning with a golf tournament for Tate’s groomsmen and pals, followed by a massive yacht party that night welcoming the 180 people who took off work and flew down early for the occasion.
“Our guests literally booked their flights around this party,” the bride says. On Friday, the pair hosted a rehearsal brunch for their wedding party and family members, which was followed by a pool and beach party. There was an open bar and welcome lunch, and all types of games including customized Jenga, beer pong, beach volleyball, and more.
One of the elements that was a huge hit during the wedding week was “Tate Trivia” (created by Jennifer Haddad for Vivian Elle), which tested guests about facts related to the couple. “We placed these all around the hotel, at the restaurants, at the yacht party, and more,” Pollard recalls. “It was such a fun and unique way of the bridal party to share special stories they had with the bride and groom.” Vivian Elle also designed the couple’s invitations.
Saturday was the day of the wedding. “Our planners worked their butts off for six [separate wedding] events,” Pollard, 29, continues. “Amy runs events in a way that make the guests’ jaws drop to the floor.” Abbott’s commitment to a smooth wedding week was especially evident when it came to basics necessities. “She went to Costco six times for us,” the bride reveals.
In the months leading up to the nuptials, it helped that the future newlyweds had a solid support system at home. “My mom was an angel to us,” expresses Pollard. “From late nights working on custom touches to program edits, to customizing our menus and coming up with clever Tate-themed drink names… She literally did it all, and she did it all with patience and grace.”
Hence why the bride wore her mother’s perfectly-preserved, 36-year-old wedding gown. Pollard had tailor Olga Szwed alter the gown and remove the original sleeves and train. The wardrobe stylist added a modest slit to reveal a sliver of leg, and removed the front pleats to convert the gown into two separate pieces.
“It was so special to wear something that meaningful on our wedding week,” Pollard recalls. “The gown symbolized the 36 years of devotion, love and respect in the example we want our marriage to be like.” Her father, Mike Pollard, walked her down the aisle to an acoustic version of Beyonce’s “Halo” by Live Strings.
The groom was supported by 11 groomsmen, including Detroit Lions teammate Reggie Bush, Seattle Seahawks player Jermaine Kearse, and former Chicago Bears quarterback Jimmy Clausen. The party stood tall in classic black tuxedos by Jos. A. Bank, while the groom’s tux was customized by the company.
“I had several fittings with Jos. A. Bank starting in Birmingham, Michigan, about six months out from our big day,” Tate explains. “The final choice was a navy tux, with a round lapel, a black and white polka dot bow tie, black and white socks, and black and white pocket square.” The Detroit Lions player concludes, “They went above and beyond.”
Two weeks before the wedding, Pollard’s grandfather passed away. To honor her grandparents on both sides, the bride took pieces from her late grandmother Winifred Nokes’ 68-year-old wedding gown to bring meaning to both the ceremony and reception.
It was important for Tate and Pollard to have a religious ceremony. “We love God, we love people, and we love our friends,” the bride says. “We wanted our guests to feel God’s love through us and through each other. We intentionally wanted our wedding week to be undeniably obvious [to friends and family] that our marriage will be centered on Jesus. Everywhere you looked—from weekend itineraries to towels and special menus, to signs and posters—had special verses that were meaningful.”
The couple flew out Pastor Chad Veach of City Church. “We’ve known Chad and [his wife] Julia for about five years,” Pollard says. “They have loved, guided and counseled us for years, and they’re a couple we truly look up to… Chad lead a ceremony that was real, raw and relatable—and most importantly, centered on Jesus. We understood the commitment in the vows we were taking.”
The bride and groom each wrote part of the vows to one another, and read the traditional vows during the ceremony. Finally, they had their guests partake in the moment to uphold the sanctity of marriage and keep the two accountable. After being pronounced husband and wife, Pollard thought to herself: “How did I get so lucky?” Then her second thought was, “Thank you, Lord, for my better half.”
Following the ceremony, guests enjoyed a cocktail hour and appetizers “We wanted to feed our guests at all times,” the couple shares. “A note to any future couples planning a wedding: Don’t start speeches until your guests have food and drinks in front of them! That was a big deal to us—to take care of our guests in that way.” The pair used customized coasters and napkins all from The Knot Shop, which were actually presented at every wedding party. Their cake was layered with different flavors—one carrot, one white cake, and finally, Funfetti to round it out.
“Elise was having so much fun that I had to actually drag her off the dance floor to cut the cake,” Tate says. “She also let me smush some cake on her face without hesitation, and I was shocked.”
The couple shared their first dance to a medley of songs, ranging from “Yours” by Russell Dickerson to “Everything” by Michael Buble. They ended the night with “Marry You” by Bruno Mars. “I planned to swing her around a lot in this, but we were really close and basically just hugging in this song,” Tate tells us. “It was all surreal that it was happening.”
At the end of the night, guests enjoyed vodka popsicles—“People were freaking out over those!” Tate says—and the afterparty attendees enjoyed handmade burgers, fries, and the ultimate late-night snack: Mac and cheese. In retrospect, after an eventful weekend, the newlyweds conclude with some key advice for couples currently planning their weddings.
“I would say… on the big day, find time to slow everything down,” Tate tells The Knot. “Take 10 minutes throughout the night to appreciate each other, because at the end of the day everyone is there to celebrate you.”