When we ask newlyweds to think back on what they wanted most for their big day — and we’ve interviewed hundreds of them over the years — the most common response is “For it not to feel like a wedding!” But in a monsoon of flower crowns and macaron towers, how do you see beyond the usual tropes and actually pull off a non-cookie-cutter affair? For the answer, we decided to interrogate the cool couples whose weddings we would actually want to steal — right down to the tiger-shaped cake toppers. Though we’re living in a moment in which group celebrations are either being called off or adapting to extreme social distancing, in many ways these pre-quarantine parties are just the escape we need right now.
Here, we spoke with two stand-up comedians. Together, Megan Gailey and C.J. Toledano host the sports podcast The Greatest and write for Will Smith’s quarantine series Will From Home. Gailey has performed on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, while Toledano has written for it. After they met on the Chicago comedy scene and C.J. proposed in front of a Reggie Miller mural in Megan’s hometown of Indianapolis, they got married last December in Palm Springs.
Megan: We met in Chicago at an open mic, doing stand-up. We were friends for eight years before we started dating. He proposed in 2018, and by then we were both living in L.A.
C.J.: I’d never been great at hiding things. I knew her family was really important to her, so I sort of thought, What is going to be the next time that we’ll be with her family? That was Thanksgiving in her hometown, Indianapolis. They had just put up a Reggie Miller mural downtown, and Reggie Miller was our thing, our biggest common thing, even from when we were friends.
Megan: I love Reggie Miller so much.
C.J.: I proposed in front of the mural, and when we came back to the house my family was there too — I flew them in so our families could meet. We just had a big party afterwards.
Megan: It was a really fun night. I got so drunk, I puked in the bed. The ring is a cushion-cut diamond in rose gold. My mom was overbearing in the best way, and she sent C.J. 30 photos of different rings after she and I went to try things on.
C.J.: We met in the Midwest, my family was out East — I grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania — and we wanted the wedding to be like a vacation for everyone coming. And we loved Palm Springs.
Megan: I really wanted a New Year’s wedding, but that went out the window when we found out how difficult it would be. I wanted a wintertime date, and for winter Palm Springs was really nice. In December, it was 75 degrees. I thought that would be fun for our East Coast guests. Our planner, Ashley Port, sent us a bunch of venues, and when we visited the Avalon Hotel it was one of my favorites. It was so beautiful, I cried. She said, “This is where the first dance will be,” and I saw it and it felt right.
C.J.: It had a Rat Pack, “Bob Hope came here and wrote,” old-celebrities-in-the-’60s-taking-a-vacation-from-L.A.-for-the-weekend vibe.
Megan: The mountains, the palm trees, and the grounds of the Avalon were beautiful, so we just brought in giant rosebush planters that looked like they may or may not have always been there. They framed the spot where we got married. The colors were shades of pink with metallics, then pops of bright orange — the types of roses were Juliet, Pink Floyd, and Free Spirit. Dinner was in a blank, beautiful garden, so we brought in lights and long tables, and then Ashley and the florist, Vaso Bello, went to town with low centerpieces of candles and flowers.
C.J.: I was born in the late 1980s, and the three things I really loved growing up were The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Michael Jordan, and Saturday Night Live. One of my favorite things in Fresh Prince is when he goes to prep school. Everyone had to wear blazers normally, but Will wore his inside out with a red, floral print. Floral blazers have been coming back in the last few years, so I asked around, hit up suit tailors, and found a place in West Hollywood, Balani Custom, who could do it.
Megan: I thought I was going to want something A-line, simple and flowy. But at the appointments, everyone kept saying, “You’ve got a hot bod, don’t hide it in some A-line. You got it, let’s do it.” When I tried on the Vera Wang I got at Saks, I just loved the feel of it. It was trumpet-style and form-fitting, with a beautiful bodice. I had them add buttons all the way down the back because I loved that look. The dress was so simple that I wanted a Barbie veil with a lot of volume. They made it, and I was like, “No, more volume.” They finally understood that I wanted almost an ’80s veil that would just shoot out. That’s what it ended up being. I loved it so much.
C.J.: The day of, I got ready in our hotel room, and she in her parents’ room. I was with my groomsmen, who wore classic navy suits with floral ties. We had seven groomsmen, and seven bridesmaids.
Megan: I told them, “Anything pink.” It could be long, it could be short, or it could have a pattern. I gave them free rein within the pink universe. We did a first look, and I was obviously so happy to see C.J. look so handsome, but his hair was fucked up. I could see that from the back. I was walking up like, “His hair’s fucked up.” We got to have a funny, sweet moment with each other, and take pictures around the Avalon property. The woman who did my makeup, Phoebe Ogan, fixed his hair.
C.J.: Our friend, Kara Klenk, officiated. She’s a comedian, her husband’s a comedian, and they’re our good friends. All of our guests were comedians. It felt like a comedy show, and a celebration of our love and our friendships with all these people in Chicago and New York and L.A. It was a celebration to be able to gather in this one place.
Megan: C.J. and I have both hosted live Twitter shows — I hosted one for the NFL, and he hosted one for the NBA — and one of her opening lines was, “Most people aren’t lucky enough to know one Twitter show host, and we know two.” And then we wrote our own vows.
C.J.: We wrote our own vows, and they were really kind of like stand-up bits.
Megan: I thought C.J. was the better writer out of the two of us, so I was like, “He needs to be the headliner. He needs to go second and I’ll open the show.” Mine actually ended up being a lot more sincere with jokes in there. Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in her documentary, about her husband, “Falling in love with you is the single greatest thing I’ve ever done.” That just resonated with me. I felt like I’ve lived a really cool and exciting life, but none of that compared to finding C.J. and him being my partner. I started at that point and built it out from there. Then C.J. went full funny, blasted with moments of sweetness. But his were definitely funnier than mine.
C.J.: I wrote the traditional vows, then added a twist on them. For instance, “I will always do my best to protect you, even if that means getting murdered first.” I accidentally faced the crowd for my vows, and someone said, “Face Megan. Your vows are to her.”
Megan: The hotel had a lawn on the furthest edge of the property, with a really pretty, iconic Palm Springs cabana and two palm trees. We got married on that lawn, then we all walked a hundred feet to the pool, which was shut down for events. That was where the cocktail hour was.
C.J.: Golden hour with the pink-and-purple skies, the mountains, and a gazebo. It was just perfect. We had two signature, tropical cocktails — hers was “The Fun Slut,” and mine was “Two-Day Rental,” because I worked at Blockbuster for five years and it was my favorite job to date.
Megan: I had a custom Blockbuster cake made for him the night before at the rehearsal dinner. My drink name was such because, before I was with C.J., I was a funny slut. That was why everybody was so happy to be at this wedding — they could not have seen it happening with the way I was living my life. The drink was a watermelon-vodka-mint smash.
C.J.: I think it was the tenth funny thing we had done by that point, so everyone was like, “We’re pretty used to it.”
Megan: We had really good fried chicken sliders, grilled cheese with a little tomato soup, and a ceviche that was really amazing. Then we had a Greek spread with hummus, feta, tzatziki, and fresh vegetables. I was over charcuterie at that point.
C.J.: It was catered by the hotel. Then dinner was a salad and a steak. I think there was pasta as well. Megan would know this. I definitely fit a lot of the male stereotypes in the planning of the wedding.
Megan: The salad was just a really fresh, green salad that had asparagus, Parmesan, and arugula — very Californian. The main course was sea bass and short ribs. The sides were mashed potatoes, pasta, and Brussels sprouts. We were seated in the courtyard, and as the salad course was happening, my dad spoke to kickoff the evening. Dinner was long, which I loved. It was at least an hour of family-style courses, with people getting up and mingling and laughing.
C.J.: Toward the end of dinner, my brother spoke, and so did our friend Liza Treyger. My brother is kind of introverted, and everyone knew the pressure of having to do a speech for comedians. But he killed it, and had jokes and everything. I was like, “Who helped you with this!” He still hasn’t revealed that.
Megan: Liza was one of my bridesmaids, and she closed out the evening. She had a Netflix special, so she had to go last.
C.J.: She’s always been kind of raunchy — just no filter. She was so funny. After that, there was an area right near dinner, kind of a clubhouse, where they’d set up a dance floor. We walked in there and had our first dance.
Megan: We chose Kacey Musgraves’s “Rainbow.” We’d actually gone to see her with Kara, our officiant, and her husband, and it was such a beautiful night, and we were like, “Yeah, let’s do it.” The band, AMFM, was so fucking good.
C.J.: We debated a live band or DJ because I was like, “Can a live band play ‘Sicko Mode’ by Travis Scott?” That was my argument. But we found this band, and it was really important to us that they could play Bruno Mars — it was in their demo reel. They crushed it. They were all Filippino, and I’m Filippino too, and we love Bruno Mars.
Megan: They played “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey — it was a week and a half before Christmas — and the place acted like the Beatles came out. Everyone lost their minds.
C.J.: We did the cake-cutting and, to this day, I’m still getting yelled at. I threw cake at her face because I thought that was the tradition. I guess it wasn’t.
Megan: By that point, I think C.J. and I were maybe a little bit drunker than you would want a bride and groom to be. There’s a really fun photo of me flipping everyone off, with cake smeared across my face.
C.J.: I think it was a light flick, if I can remember. But after looking at the pictures, she definitely had every right to yell at me.
Megan: Late-night food came out — we brought in Del Taco, a taco chain out here, with chicken soft tacos and these cheesecake egg rolls. They were insane. C.J. and I were dancing so much that we didn’t even see them. The whole hotel just hosted people for the wedding, so the sound didn’t worry us too much. My maid of honor came back out at one point in leopard pajamas, and just started twerking. Then there was a giant hot tub — like a hot tub the size of a pool.
C.J.: I definitely jumped in with all my clothes on. I was just running around in my boxers.
Megan: I tried to get in the hot tub in Spanx, which my kind friends would not let me do.