Exclusive: See Samira Wiley and Lauren Morelli's Incredible Wedding Photos
Samira Wiley and Lauren Morelli
"There must be a confetti shortage in the world," says Lauren Morelli about the early spring day when she and actress Samira Wiley tied the knot and rained more than a dozen pounds of Technicolor paper on their guests. It was a fitting way for such a joyful couple to celebrate their prismatic love.
The pair met in 2012 when they were both working on the Emmy-winning Netflix female-prison dramedy Orange Is the New Black, for which Lauren is a writer and producer and Samira played an inmate. (She's now appearing in Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale.) During the show's first season, Lauren wrote an episode that involved Samira's character, and when they met to discuss it, their connection was instant. Lauren was married at the time, so the pair kept it professional. Still, they couldn't deny the sparks. "I tried to be around her as much as I could," Samira says. "And when I found out she was married, I assumed it was to a woman. I was very wrong on that."
The two became fast friends, a bond that helped as Lauren started to question her sexuality. "Samira became the person I felt safe talking to," Lauren says. "I was so confused, and it was such a scary time that I think our romance came out of me leaning on her when it felt like my life was falling apart." Even once they officially became a couple, two years later in 2014—surprising not many of their OITNB coworkers—they didn't put rings on right away.
Samira was sure she wanted to marry Lauren, but they both decided that Lauren would be the one to propose when she was ready. That's not to say that Samira didn't drop some serious hints. "I'd finish doing the dishes, and Lauren would come in to thank me, and I'd say, 'I'm just trying to get chose,'" Samira says. "That was my way of saying, 'Choose me! Choose me! I want you to marry me.'" So right before a weekend getaway to Palm Springs, Lauren dropped down on one knee and presented Samira with a diamond ring.
Returning to Palm Springs for their big day was a no-brainer. With help from their planner, Beth Helmstetter, they picked as the venue Colony 29, an event space with residences along its sprawling garden and foothills that would allow them to plan an intimate weekend-long celebration. Once they decided on a confetti wedding cake, the theme—just like bits of tissue paper twirling toward the ground—landed on various parts of the day, from their vibrant invites to the flower-flecked dinner tables.
The March 25, 2017, wedding was a mix of traditional and non. The brides passed on having a bridal party and arranged their ceremony in the round, so that everyone would feel like a part of the day. They walked along a spiral aisle arm in arm sans bouquets, saying hello and high-fiving guests as fellow Orange cast member Danielle Brooks sang Sara Bareilles's "I Choose You," which Lauren had played during their proposal. Samira's Baptist-minister parents officiated, just as Samira had always imagined it. Their I do's ended with a shower of colorful streamers.
Afterward, their 94 guests took to the bar for a round of Champagne Jell-O shots topped with edible confetti-inspired glitter. Next came a family-style feast. Soon the dancing began, which the newlyweds kicked off by inviting everyone onto the floor while—what else?!—a confetti cannon blasted good vibes into the air.
A Palm Springs Oasis
The bougainvillea-draped venue, Colony 29 in Palm Springs, was home base for the brides and their families, while also hosting the weekend's events, from the ceremony and reception to the next day brunch.
The First Look
The brides, both wearing custom designs by Christian Siriano, focused on each other during their first look. Even though Samira didn't want to see Lauren's outfit before the wedding, she broke her own rule during their final fittings at the designer's studio. "It was just the two of us and I felt like I couldn't leave without seeing her," Samira says. "But it's so different with the makeup and the hair on the actual day you're going to get married. It was also good to see each other before the wedding because we were able to figure out how to walk side by side [down the aisle]. We hadn't thought about that!"
In the Moment
"I'm such a crier, and I didn't cry," says Lauren of their first look. "There's this thing that happens when things are crazy. If it's a red carpet or it's our wedding—as soon as I look at her, everything is okay."
Before sporting their new bands, Lauren wore a diamond engagement ring (later replaced with a ring of rainbow sapphires), and Samira rocked a diamond solitaire.
The brides walked themselves down the aisle in Sophia Webster shoes—Samira in silver sandals and Lauren in white satin pumps that read "Wifey for Lifey" on the soles.
Samira's nieces and nephews—whose on-palette ensembles were a happy coincidence—took over the dance floor when "Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)" played.
Ceremony in the Round
Guests—some beneath colorful parasols—sat in a spiral, surrounding the pair as they exchanged traditional and self-penned promises. "Samira's vows were the funniest thing I'd ever heard," says Lauren. "She started with, 'Hey girl. How you doing? Your feet hurt? Me, too.' I was doubled over laughing.""I always knew that I wanted my parents to marry me," says Samira. "One thing they showed during the ceremony was that we weren't only committing ourselves to each other, but that all of the people in attendance were there to do their part, too. I don't remember the exact words they used, but when they were asking, 'Will you do this,' we said, 'I will,' and everyone in attendance was asked the same question and said, 'We will.'"
Sealed with a Kiss
After they made it official, the couple danced down the aisle to Montell Jordan's "This is How We Do It."
Dressed to Impress
Friend and designer Christian Siriano outfitted the couple in custom looks. "They wanted it to be a real fashion moment," he says of Samira's silk-faille top and fitted skirt, which she changed into postvows, and Lauren's jumpsuit. "I knew I wanted the skirt to be princessy, and I knew I wanted it to be two pieces," Samira says of her fairytale ceremony ensemble."He immediately sketched something right in front of my eyes!"
Lauren's silk-crepe jumpsuit was transformed, too: The crystal beaded collar and cape came off postceremony.
Hers and Hers Drinks
Guests sipped spicy blood-orange margaritas (Samira's fave) and old-fashioneds (Lauren's drink of choice).
An array of bright drinking vessels rented from Casa de Perrin doubled as décor along the bar.
Actress Danielle Brooks "swung by" for cocktail hour.
Taking a Shot
Guests celebrated confetti Champagne Jello-O shots during cocktail hour.
The newlyweds were all smiles while stealing a few minutes together before entering the reception.
Geometric Escort Cards
Hanging hexagonal escort cards guided guests to their seats.
A Vibrant Table Setting
Citrus-y shades of ranunculus, poppies, sweet peas, garden roses, and camellias dotted long tables.
A Salad to Start
A citrus- and radish-topped salad kicked off the meal, which was catered by The Food Matters.
A Moment with Mom
Lauren's mom gave well wishes to the couple during dinner, which was a family-style meal of porchetta, prawns, roasted veggies, and a farro salad.
Felt flags waved above at dinner.
The First Dance
For their first dance, the pair invited everyone to get down with them to "Uptown Funk," by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars.
Feeling the Love
Dinnertime was filled with toasts from the couple's friends and family. "Samira asked three of her guy friends to give a toast together and to be totally honest we were a little nervous about it, like, are they going to be able to pull this off?" Lauren says. "And then they just gave the most thoughtful, kind tribute to Samira and also talked about their chosen family and welcoming me to that, which was really lovely."
In total, 13 pounds of confetti showered guests throughout the night.
Location, Colony 29
Event design and production, Beth Helmstetter Events
Catering, The Food Matters
Flowers, Holly Flora
Couple’s Photographer, Abby and Lauren Ross Weddings
Stationery, Maude Press
Calligraphy, Calligraphy Katrina
Brides' attire, Christian Siriano
Brides' shoes, Sophia Webster
Brides' rings, Lana Neiman
Lauren's hair, Melissa Schaefers
Samira's hair, Jade Perry
Lauren's makeup, Kristina Frisch
Samira's makeup, Gina Ghiglieri
Lighting, draping, and dance floor, Barker Décor Service
Bar, 200 Proof
Confetti cannon, Chris Austin Productions
Rental management and restrooms, The Korman Group, 818-606-0049
Restrooms and waste removal, Burrtec Desert Waste & Recycling
Parasols, Bella Umbrella
Welcome bags, Bohemia