A year and a half later, the two were getting engaged. “We don’t know why waited that long!” Hilary admits. The setting was Colorado, where they were on vacation, and it was 2016. “We stumbled upon a beautiful sanctuary deep in the mountains,” Hilary remembers. “It had a stunning waterfall that cascades down to rustic cabins built in the 1800s surrounded by beautiful pines and big skies. One evening, Philip dropped to his knee in front of the waterfall and proposed—he sweetly made sure my dogs were nearby so they could bear witness!”
– Miscellaneous Hilary’s wedding with Philip Schneider
Hilary and Philip both love nature, and they knew from the beginning of the planning process that they wanted to marry close to their home in California so the bride’s father could walk her down the aisle. (He received a lung transplant three years ago, and as a result, can’t fly.) The redwoods would serve as the perfect setting. “We found exactly what we were looking for at the Santa Lucia Preserve in Carmel, California,” says Hilary. “It’s a stunning private community surrounded by 20,000 acres of conservancy and an intimate redwood grove populated with trees that are over 800 years old.”
Hilary’s ethereal Elie Saab Couture wedding dress looked like it was made for this magical location. The gown—which was comprised of 25 meters of Chantilly lace, eight meters of silk chiffon, and six meters of organza silk—took 150 hours to create, of which 70 hours were focused exclusively on embroidery. Seven people were dedicated to making the dress, including three seamstresses, two petites mains, one patternmaker, and the head of the atelier. “I’ve loved Elie Saab for years and was thrilled to have him design my dress,” Hilary says. “I wanted something romantic that felt as timeless as the redwood grove where we were to be married, and he delivered—designing something that far surpassed my greatest expectations. It was everything I imagined and more.”
The couple wed beneath a family of 800-year-old trees. A dear friend of the bride’s, Dr. Reverend Michael Beckwith, whom she has known since she was in her teens and who presides over Agape in Los Angeles, performed the service, which commenced with Hilary walking down the aisle to Ludovico Einaudi’s “Two Sunsets” (a song she and Philip both love), escorted by her father. Philip stood flanked by Hilary’s best friend and maid of honor, Mariska Hargitay, and Philip’s best man, his father, Phil. Friends Karen and Willa Giffin angelically sang “When You Say Nothing at All” arranged by Phil Giffin with guitar accompaniment by Hilary’s nephew, Brandon Swank. Philip’s best friend, actor Misha Collins, did a moving reading of a poem he wrote for the couple. “Philip and I and our guests experienced an incredibly soulful, stirring homily and blessing by Reverend Beckwith,” says Hilary. They then shared personal vows, exchanged their rings, and recessed down the aisle with the Monterey String Quartet playing Sigur Rós’s “Hoppípolla” in the background.
“It was timeless. There is just no other way to describe it,” says Hilary. “I was overwhelmed with such gratitude and thanks to be marrying the man of my dreams and to see all the people we love together in the middle of such a profound setting. It was truly a dream come true.”
The reception, which was meticulously planned by Allison Weddings, took place in a beautiful, rustic barn that’s over 100 years old, and was illuminated with hundreds of globe string lights. The table settings were a study in understated elegance, decorated with candlesticks and low floral arrangements by florist Christine Cater. The aesthetic was intimate and warm but, above all else, about community.
Once seated, guests dined on spinach and kale salads followed by sustainable Monterey Bay salmon with tzatziki sauce, roasted beef tenderloin with chimichurri sauce, and vegan grilled cauliflower steak with pesto sauce, as well as a selection of sides like creamy Anson Mills polenta and orzo pasta served family style. During dinner, heartwarming and humor-filled speeches were punctuated by cheers. “We all toasted with my favorite Champagne, Perrier-Jouët, starting with a vintage 2008 and then moving on to a 2011,” Hilary notes.
For dessert, there was a decadent gluten-free and vegan cake created by Marcella Pezet that Hilary had discovered on a recent trip to Mexico City. “A brilliant combination of FedEx and creative planning by Marcella delivered our perfect chocolate cake just in time for our wedding,” she laughs.
Afterwards, the newlyweds had a big surprise: They changed looks and reemerged on the dance floor to perform a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers–style tap dance choreographed to Moby’s “In My Heart.” “I doubt we completely pulled off the modern-day version of Fred and Ginger, but we had fun, and our family and friends seemed to enjoy it. We prepared for it with the stellar and unparalleled Chloe Arnold and shocked ourselves and our guests by not stepping on each other’s toes!”
A once-in-a-lifetime performance calls for an epic costume, so for wardrobe, Hilary reached out to none other than Maria Grazia Chiuri of Dior. “I’ve admired her forever and had the wonderful opportunity to meet [with her] a few months before [the wedding], and shared with her the idea to see if she wanted to help,” says the bride. “She designed an exquisite dance dress that perfectly reflected the look I was after. She also custom-made a Dior suit for my ‘Fred Astaire.’ He looked so dapper.”
Hilary was also thrilled to find out that her friend, Christian Louboutin, was up to the task of designing both her wedding and tap shoes. “They were the absolute perfect complement to the custom dresses—and having him create something so thoughtful for our special day made it even more special,” she adds. “To top it off, Christian surprised me by also designing Philip’s formal shoes and tap shoes—which Philip didn’t reveal to me until right before the ceremony and our dance!”
After their routine, the dancing continued all night with the help of The Big Butter Jazz Band. “Lead singer Chloe Feoranzo was sensational,” says Hilary. “She sounded like she was channeling a singer from the jazz era. They were so good! Their essence helped create the perfect ambiance.”
Dancing went late, but an after-party was never part of the plan. “Everyone was having so much fun and didn’t want the party to end, so we actually had to start dancing to wireless headphones into the wee hours of the next day, so the distant neighbors wouldn’t be kept up by the sound system,” Hilary adds. “We ended the night riding back to our rooms on bicycles decorated Burning Man–style with LED lights and streamers by our friend’s children. It was the perfect custom creation to punctuate a perfect custom evening.”