The Code Black actress and the Glee actor met seven years ago on the set of Never Back Down 2, where Jillian Murray and Dean Geyer admit to falling for each other within the first week of filming. “We contacted the casting director when we got engaged to thank her for introducing us,” the bride reveals with a smile. “She later sent us the video of the chemistry-read audition… it’s pretty special to have video footage of our actual first meeting.”
Even for celebrities, weddings can sometimes exceed the spending limit very quickly. “It was surprising to see how fast it all snowballs and the budget more than triples!” admits Jillian, who worked with an event planner to create the fairy tale she envisioned for the day. The couple opted for an outdoor celebration in wine country – their favorite place to visit and relax. While scouting venues, Jillian walked onto the grounds of a recently opened private estate and instantly felt at ease, knowing it was the one. “It was a magical place,” she confirms.
Though the bride and groom had hired seasoned professionals, Jillian couldn’t help but be involved in the details. For example: “I called the National Weather Center – because I’m crazy – and made sure to find out the temperatures for our wedding date on an hourly basis for the last ten years,” she laughs.
Despite Jillian working feverishly to prepare for weather changes on the special day, Mother Nature had its own plan. Hurricane Irma was headed to Florida, and the bride’s mother, sister, and a few other relatives were left wondering how they could ever make it in time for the festivities. “All flights were grounded,” Jillian explains. “I even tried hiring a private jet and helicopter to fly them to another state, all to no avail.” As any determined mother would do, Jillian’s mom put forth her full effort. She placed the family in the car, and drove for 18 hours, through four states, to make sure they didn’t miss one minute of the celebration.
The beautiful tree-lined driveway offered a gorgeous space for the ceremony and a breathtaking arch of white florals complemented the lush green surroundings. “Everything tied together flawlessly,” illustrates Jillian. “It was exactly as I had dreamed.”
Lyric, Jillian’s Chinese crested dog, served as the adorable ring bearer, drawing grins from guests as he trotted down the aisle, preceding his best friend. A string quartet began to play “Tale As Old As Time” from Beauty and the Beast as the bride appeared in a stunning strapless custom gown with intricate beading and appliqués. She carried a romantic bouquet of alabaster roses, tulips, ranunculuses, freesia, and helleborus blooms. “I really wanted peonies, but they were impossible to get in September, so my florist was able to put my mind at ease and recreate the same look with different flowers,” admits Jillian. “I ended up loving [the arrangement] just as much!”
A portrait of the bride’s late father was placed on a special chair in the front row. “He passed away over 10 years ago and having that photo next to me felt like he was sitting there with us,” Jillian confides. The service, infused with Christian traditions, was filled with tender moments and personalized vows. “It gave us a chance to really dig deep with our promises,” shares the groom. Family and friends watched in joy as the new Mr. & Mrs. exited to the uplifting song “Love on Top” by Beyoncé.
For the reception, the bride was determined to create a space that felt elegant: “I used the phrase ‘nature meets glam,’” explains Jillian of the concept. “One difficult part of having a wedding in the middle of nowhere is that you have to bring in everything.” A huge, wooden tent-like structure was created, paired with stunning chandeliers suspended over each guest table for added glamour. Long garlands of greenery decorated tables, in addition to centerpieces of white hydrangeas, gardenias, and roses.
Over 1,000 candles provided a romantic ambience while subtly releasing the couple’s signature scent. “Having a specific scent to connect a special memory is a great idea because you can revisit it every time you light the candle or smell that certain flower,” describes Jillian of the sense often overlooked.
After a delectable dinner that included fresh local fare, the newlyweds offered attendees slices of cake from three different confections. “We are sugar addicts,” confesses the bride. Butterscotch pudding, strawberry shortcake, brownie batter, cookie dough, and s’mores were some of the delicious flavors. As favors, Jillian and Dean boxed their favorite chocolate chip cookies from a bakeshop in New York. “We wanted our guests to try some of our favorites snacks,” Jillian says.
Though the location was naturally lovely but initially empty, the bride wouldn’t have had it any other way. “Being able to look up at the stars while having dinner felt like I was in heaven,” she remembers. “And during the speeches, it would get really quiet and we could hear the sounds of hundreds of crickets. It was such a blissful moment.”
As the dance floor began to fill, Dean surprised his bride with a special serenade. “Being a musician, I feel especially vulnerable when performing, and hopefully she could see how much I meant every lyric,” he expresses.
As the couple reflects on their big day, the groom confides: “Jill thought through everything in such depth… our wedding had so many great features. It was the best day of my life.”