Befitting a classic love story, it was “love at first sight” when Bonnie Buckley and Houston Curtis met while both were working on the KTLA studio lot in Hollywood. Their storybook nuptials began with a surprise proposal, in which Houston whisked Bonnie away to a romantic trip to San Francisco.
Setting their engagement, and a packed social calendar, in motion, Bonnie and her mother, Barbara, enjoyed the experience of planning the couple’s grand-scale wedding together. The location required little thought, as Bonnie had dreamed of getting married at The Beverly Hills Hotel ever since she was eight years old, when she stayed there with her family back in 1978 and became enamored with the palatial hotel and its surrounding beauty. Houston and Bonnie agreed that the illustrious landmark hotel would be the perfect backdrop for the traditional and elegant, yet spectacular one-of-a-kind wedding that they wished to create.
The sixteen-month engagement included a flurry of activities with the couple’s huge circle of family and close friends, including various bridal showers that spanned the country and a bridal tea. In honor of her bridesmaids, Bonnie hosted a luncheon at The Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. She thoughtfully presented each woman several gifts, including a white robe with their name embroidered in forest green, white gloves and green satin purses, slippers and a large glass bowl inscribed with the lovely quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, which read: “A friend will be reckoned the Masterpiece of Nature.”
After the whirlwind of wedding parties, the big day finally arrived. Bonnie and Houston were married in an afternoon ceremony at Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills. The event was witnessed by 350 guests, including seventeen bridesmaids, eleven flower girls, sixteen groomsmen, one usher, five junior ushers, and three ring bearers.
The bridesmaids wore forest green dresses, white gloves and carried matching satin purses. The darling flower girls wore pink and white rose headpiece wreaths and long white dresses adorned with delicate pink roses. The youngest flower girl, only six months of age, wore a tiny replica of the other flower girls’ dress, and was carried down the aisle by her father who was also a groomsman. Bonnie wore a custom designed Reem Acra creation and carried a cascading bouquet down the aisle, just as her mother, mother-in-law and two aunts had carried in their own weddings. Bonnie also was honored to carry her maternal grandmother’s prayer book, which her mother had also carried as a bride.
Dear friends and family were invited to participate in the Catholic ceremony, which was filled with love, family and commitment. Special prayers were said for loved ones who had passed, including Houston’s maternal grandmother. The ceremony itself was dedicated, in loving memory, to Bonnie’s beloved uncle Michael Buckley. Bonnie and Houston exited the church to a flurry of rose petals and doves flying overhead. The couple boarded a beautiful horse-drawn carriage that drove them, with a police escort, to The Beverly Hills Hotel for the reception. En route, the newlyweds sipped champagne and savored those precious few moments of time alone as husband and wife. Bonnie regards it fondly as one of the most sentimental moments of the day, and describes it as “a true storybook moment!” “I felt like a princess!” she recalls. At the same time, the wedding attendants toured around Beverly Hills in the Beverly Hills trolleys and drank champagne (and apple juice for the underage!) as they traveled to the reception.
Once they reached the fabulous hotel, the guests enjoyed a cocktail hour complete with entertainment by The Voodoo Lounge, butlerpassed hors d’oeuvres and signature “Curtis Coladas” as well as a variety of martinis from an ice sculptured martini bar.
The guests stepped into a fairy tale as they entered the Crystal Ballroom, which had been embellished with flowers and shimmering lights. As a surprise for Bonnie, her mother and the florist draped the entire staircase with stunning pink and white roses, some in heartshaped clusters, and greenery that cascaded down the hand rail, something that Bonnie had wished for but did not know was being planned. Candlelight glowed from hurricanes and votives on each guest table, and work-of-art ice sculptures by world-renowned sculptor Jacques Tokar (a surprise from Bonnie’s dad) provided even more eye candy for the party. As described by the couple’s dear friend Rija Kline: “As you walked down the winding staircase, you were enveloped by the sweet aroma of roses and blown away by the stunning arrangements. From the moment you entered the hotel you felt the magic.”
The colors of pink and green, which are Bonnie’s favorites, were chosen for the event palette, and were used in every detail, from the florals to the wedding cake and even pink and green M&M’s. The vibrant colors permeated every table, with centerpieces that included Hawaiian dendrobium orchids, vendella roses, ivory hydrangea, pink peek-a-boo roses and other roses in ivory, blush and seafoam green. As a thoughtful touch, each female guest found a single white gardenia at her place setting.
The elaborate dinner menu was an East Coast meets Midwest theme, in honor of the bride’s Massachusetts hometown and the groom’s Southern Illinois hometown. With the combination of Maine lobster and seared filet mignon, everyone was happy! The bride, a self-proclaimed sugar addict, was very excited over the six-tiered, four-flavor wedding cake, which was topped and draped with pink and white roses and greenery.
A warm spirit was felt throughout the reception, with a combination of toasts and speeches given by family and friends, including a delightful one given by Bonnie’s eighty-year-old paternal grandmother, Marye Buckley. Furthering the fun was an impromptu twenty-minute dialogue by Norm Crosby, “roasting” the bride and groom. A very special prayer and blessing was give to the couple by their very dear friend Ralph Waite, who left his filming in New York and flew in for the wedding day.
In addition to being entertained by The Rick Cowlings Orchestra, the wedding guests had the added treat of hearing the groom, who is a musician at heart, perform with his father. An especially sentimental moment came when Houston took the stage, spoke of his love for his wife, and then surprised the crowd by performing a special song that he had written for the wedding, entitled “You Complete Me, Bonnie.”
A Viennese Dessert Table and two chocolate fountains surely had a hand in keeping the reception going until three a.m. Guests had many choices of treats to dip in the chocolate flowing from the fountains: pink and green M&M’s, strawberries and other fruits, Oreo’s and more. By night’s end, several of the flower girls were covered in chocolate! After the late night, the sugar-fueled partiers continued on in Suite 100 of the hotel, where guests retreated to enjoy coffee, cigars, champagne and more wedding cake. After the celebration came to a reluctant close, the guests left with several edible mementos, including boxed mini white wedding cakes and a gold box filled with chocolates from a favorite candy store in Bonnie’s hometown, which both were emblazoned with the couple’s monogram.
The festivities resumed on Sunday morning, when Bonnie’s parents hosted a post-wedding brunch in the Sunset Room at The Beverly Hills Hotel, so that all the guests could bid the newlyweds farewell and “bon voyage!” Though the grand celebration weekend had come to an end, clearly Bonnie and Houston’s charming fairy tale is just beginning.