Exclusive: Ballerina Sara Mearns and Choreographer Joshua Bergasse’s Intimate Beach Wedding in North Carolina

The New York City Ballet principal dancer wed her longtime partner this past weekend in North Carolina

Bride and groom main image

Photo by Perry Vaile Photography

This past weekend, New York City Ballet principal dancer Sara Mearns traded her pointe shoes and tutu for stilettos and a custom tulle gown as she tied the knot with television and Broadway director and choreographer Joshua Bergasse. In November of 2012, Josh was working as the choreographer for the NBC television show Smash, and was looking for the perfect lead for an elaborate musical dream sequence. Executive producer Scott Wittman was a huge fan of Sara’s and insisted that Josh cast her in the role. “Josh and I had never met and he was worried I’d be a diva, so he asked to interview me first,” she recalls. The sequence ended up being scratched from the storyline, but after that interview, Josh was smitten. A few months later, the pair started dating, and five years later, Josh got down on one knee. “I’d planned to propose during a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner, but the restaurant was packed and we were squeezed in with as many diners as they could fit,” Josh recalls with a laugh. “So I ate as slowly as I could and waited for everyone to leave so we’d have a little privacy when I proposed!”

The sequence ended up being scratched from the storyline, but after that interview, Josh was smitten. A few months later, the pair started dating, and five years later, Josh got down on one knee.

Although to Sara and Josh the stages of New York City are their home, they headed south to Sunset Beach in North Carolina to say “I do.” “Sara used to vacation in Sunset Beach with her family as a child, so the venue was really sentimental,” Josh describes. Their careers in Broadway and the ballet heavily influenced the wedding celebration, with swan motifs as a nod to Sara’s role as the swan in Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. So keep reading to see how Sara Mearns and Josh Bergasse brought touches of the Big Apple (and a few surprises!) to North Carolina for their big day, as photographed by Perry Vaile Photography.

Bride solo shot
Photo by Perry Vaile Photography
Bride's shoes
Photo by Perry Vaile Photography
Bride solo shot
Photo by Perry Vaile Photography

Sara turned to a New York City Ballet’s costume director, Mark Happel, to create her custom wedding gown. “We went to try on dresses so I could figure out what I wanted, and then Marc and I designed two looks, one for the ceremony and one for the reception,” she describes. The bride’s ceremony gown featured layers of pink tulle, hand-embroidered with beads and pearls, and the tea-length skirt was perfect for showing off her matching pink pumps by the SJP Collection.

Bride with family
Photo by Perry Vaile Photography
Bride with family
Photo by Perry Vaile Photography

Happel also dressed the wedding party, creating custom purple ensembles for each person they asked to stand alongside the bride and groom. New York City Ballet dancer Christian Tworzyanksi acted as the "best person to the bride," while Gretchen Smith was a bridesmaid.

Bride and groom during ceremony
Photo by Perry Vaile Photography
Groom crying
Photo by Perry Vaile Photography
Bride and groom kissing
Photo by Perry Vaile Photography

Scott Wittman (the Tony and Grammy-winning director, lyricist, and writer who had first introduced the bride and groom to each other) walked Sara halfway down the aisle before she met Josh at the driftwood altar accented with arrangements of palms and colorful roses. Harvey Weiss officiated the ceremony, during which Sara slipped off her shoes to exchange vows with Josh.

Bride and groom breaking glass
Photo by Perry Vaile Photography
Bride and groom recessional
Photo by Perry Vaile Photography
Bride and groom recessional
Photo by Perry Vaile Photography
Bride and groom on beach
Photo by Perry Vaile Photography

Josh and Sara chose to break a glass together after the ceremony, then recessed to the dramatic sounds of the Game of Thrones theme song.

Bride and groom dancing
Photo by Perry Vaile Photography

Guests headed to cocktail hour while Sara, Josh, and their photographer headed down to the water for sunset portraits. Of course, the pair couldn’t resist a dramatic dip in the sand!

Bride and groom cutting cake
Photo by Perry Vaile Photography

The bride swapped her tulle gown for a draped gold mini for the reception, and slipped into black Cole Haan sandals. “We ate shrimp and grits, Southern-style ham, and mac and cheese,” says Sara of the locally inspired menu. After, the couple cut into their purple marble wedding cake, finished with swan-like feathers around each tier.

Bride and groom at reception
Photo by Perry Vaile Photography
Bride dancing
Photo by Perry Vaile Photography
Bride and groom getaway golf cart
Photo by Perry Vaile Photography

“I’ve known our wedding planners, John and Libby of LDesigns, LLC, since I was three,” says the bride. “They know me so well, so I didn’t even have to tell them what I wanted!” The planning team made sure to fill the celebration with a few surprises for the happy couple, including a top hat toss for the grand exit as a tribute to the groom’s Broadway career.

So how did these two creatives make their wedding dreams a reality? “Compromise is key,” says Josh. “Share ideas, responsibilities, and costs!”

Wedding Team

Wedding Planner & Floral Design: LDesigns, LLC

Venue: Sea Trails Resort

Bride's Shoes: SJP Collection, Cole Haan

Bride's Jewelry: Robert Sorrell, Jamie Wolf Jewelry

Hair & Makeup: Karla Elie

Bride's Dress & Bridesmaids' Dresses: Marc Happel

Groom's Attire: Martin Greenfield

Wedding Bands: David Yurman

Paper Products: Cait Maloney Creative

Catering: Sea Trail Resort

Cake: Patty Bakes

Ceremony Music: Classical Charleston

Reception Music: The Root Doctors

Rentals: Simply Shells Rentals, Ambient Media

Ice Sculpture: Ice Man Ski

Favors: Sugarfina, Firefly Spirits, Cole Haan, So Danca, Tiger Balm

Photo Booth: The Snap Bar

Photography: Perry Vaile Photography

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