Weddings June 9, 2010

The Perfect Winter Wedding

Genevieve Cortese & Jared Padalecki


The fan’s online comment said it all: “genevieve is a beautiful woman and Jared Padalecki is a god!!!”

That bit of blogged adulation is the sort of thing Genevieve Cortese and her husband have grown accustomed to. Last February, when they were ushered into wedded life in a fantasy Sun Valley winter wedding, the beloved young TV stars wondered if some of their more devout fans would crash the party.

Genevieve Cortese grew up in Sun Valley before she headed off to New York City for college and a career on the stage and screen. She starred in the popular ABC series “Wildfire,” before joining the cast of the network’s “Flash Forward.” Jared Padalecki, if not a god, is at least a very tall (six-foot-four-or-more) superstar, who finished high school in San Antonio and immediately became one of those handsome young men who attract hordes of young female viewers to shows like “Gilmore Girls,” where he played a recurring role. Today, he has a starring role as Sam Winchester on the CW’s “Supernatural.”

Cortese got the acting bug early, said her mother Camille Batt, who raised her four children in the Valley. “I had just finished getting all the kids into car seats one morning when Gen, then seven years old, announced, ‘Mom, you know we have to move. We have to move to Hollywood, because I am an ACTOR!’” She was always performing, her mother said.

Her senior year, Cortese decided to go to a boarding school in California with her brother, a decision she immediately regretted. But her mom laid down the law: “I’ve paid—you’re staying,” Batt said.

From there, Cortese enrolled in New York University and was accepted into the famed Tisch School of Arts. Her mom insisted on a double major for her daughter (Cortese chose English and acting). Batt didn’t want to finance the expensive education, “so my daughter could be a waitress.” (She need not have worried.)

The guest book included photos from the couple’s engagement; Table names boasted Genevieve’s favorite Baldy runs; Stickers, matches and late night snacks were just some of the small details that gave this wedding its magical Sun Valley feel.


Padalecki started taking acting lessons at age 12, won some national attention before he even finished high school, then won a recurring role on “Gilmore Girls,” the same year he graduated.

I was doing my best snow dance to the gods. It was clear the entire week and even on the morning of our wedding day, and then—Bam!—right around 4:30 the snow began to fall.
-Genevieve Cortese

When they were planning their wedding, the couple made one big choice: a Sun Valley winter wedding. Most stylish Valley weddings are in the summer, allowing for various mountaintop rituals and barefoot bridesmaids. But a winter wedding is indoors, with snow (hopefully) falling silently outside as candles and crystals refract warm glowing light inside. A winter wedding in Sun Valley is, in a word, classic.

Having worked since they were kids, you can forgive them if they opted to skip the sometimes agonizing process of planning the endless details of their wedding. The couple called on a family friend to do it for them. It was a good choice. Cortese chose the colors—silver, light blue and navy—and event planner Taylor Sturges (Taylor’D Events) took it from there.



All photos are property of Kirsten Shultz and may not be copied, reproduced or distributed in any manner not pre-approved by the photographer.

Thanks to Sturges (and the weather), high hopes became reality. With 150 guests, this wedding was a medium-sized affair for Sturges. But Sturges has planned everything from giant weddings to casual little elopement parties, and she’s worked on events with some big stars with even bigger egos. But not this couple.

 Sturges kept the programs clean and white with monograms and a simple snowflake; Cortese’s bridesmaids follow as she reveals her stunning Bagdley Mischka heels; Something new—Cortese’s Monique Lhuillier dress; The newlyweds’ first dance; Padelecki keeps his bride warm.

Working with her “amazing staff” and other Sun Valley experts, Sturges coordinated everything from invitations and menus designed by Butterfly Design’s Michelle Juliet Castle, to details on place settings and transportation. The cake was from Cristina’s in Ketchum. Music was provided by the James Gang band. Kirsten Shultz, the consummately professional photographer, created her usual exquisite images.

Winter weddings are a smart idea, Sturges said, because rentals are more available and arrangements are easier. She and Cortese chose The Valley Club, the picturesque mid-Valley golf and country club. The ceremony was in a clear tent on The Valley Club’s terrace while a second tent held the band and “cigar smokers.” Sturges, whose mother owns the fashionable home-furnishings store, Bellissimo, in Sun Valley, has been around interiors her entire life, she said, so she had no trouble picking the elegant table settings and linens for the couple. “They were so happy and I tried to make it low stress and easy for them,” she said.

But the final and crucial detail was a “big surprise” for the couple, Sturges said.

And a happy one. Cortese had wanted a white wedding, but December had been unseasonably dry. Toward the holidays, a Pacific storm lined up and the bride was hopeful.

“Being from Sun Valley, I was really hoping the snow reports were true,” Cortese said. “I was doing my best snow dance to the gods. It was clear the entire week and even on the morning of our wedding day, and then—Bam!—right around 4:30 the snow began to fall. So we consider it good luck and a blessing! It was definitely a white wedding.”

Since she and the groom are “HUGE foodies,” they were also well-pleased with the plated dinners of steak or halibut prepared by The Valley Club’s chef, Mike Diem. “We’ve lived all over and travelled the world. The service and attention at The Valley Club is unbeatable,” she said, and the food was “fantastic.”

Groom and groomsmen pose in the scenic Valley landscape.

The wedding party included guests from all over the country, “a third local, a third Texan and a third from all our walks of life, including L.A. and New York City,” the bride said.

The gown and bridesmaids dresses were designed by Monique Lhuillier. The gown featured the designer’s hallmark lacework with a skirt that “looked like snow billowed out from the bottom,” the bride said. The bridesmaids wore draped navy blue dresses.
The couple was married by the bride’s grandfather, Ron VandenBerghe, from California, and a special song was written and played for them by musician Brian Buckley of the Brian Buckley Band.

Padalecki proved more traditional than Cortese: “He wanted our pictures taken after we were married. It was really important to him to NOT see me in my dress,” Cortese said.

And Padalecki had already scored considerable points with her family by calling her stepfather and her two brothers to ask for her hand. The two were in New York, her mother said, and Padalecki suggested a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a place they had frequented. There, in front of their favorite painting, “Joan of Arc,” painted in 1879 by French realist Jules Bastien-Lepage, he proposed. “We knew it was happening and were just waiting for the call,” Batt recalled.

And thus, Cortese in her lacy gown and Padalecki with his inimitable dimples, met to get married in Sun Valley. She was walked down the aisle by her stepfather Jeffrey Batt, and her brother, John Cortese. Outside, a steady snow was falling.

The couple has homes in Los Angeles and Vancouver, where his series is filmed. It seems they are surrounded by gorgeous mountains at all times. Once the Sun Valley wedding was complete, they finished preparations for an even more mountainous honeymoon: trading their bridal finery for hiking boots and sunscreen for a 10-day trek to Machu Picchu in Peru. Looking into the past at those awesome ruins, the future seemed awfully bright to this young couple, poised to take on the world.


All photos are property of Kirsten Shultz and may not be copied, reproduced or distributed in any manner not pre-approved by the photographer.

This article appears in the Issue of Sun Valley Magazine.