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!”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
“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 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