After eight years hosting NBC’s Late Night, Conan O’Brien has learned a few things about putting on a show. So when the 38-year-old wed ad exec Liza Powel, 31, in her hometown of Seattle Jan. 12, it seemed fitting that the service featured some talk show staples. In his opening monologue, O’Brien’s former Harvard classmate Rev. Paul O’Brien (no relation) riffed on Seattle’s caffeine obsession and handed out coffee cups. Then it was on to audience participation, with Father O’Brien asking the 200-plus guests—who included Friends’ Lisa Kudrow and former Late Night sidekick Andy Richter—at St. James Cathedral to offer the words that best described the bride and groom. “For Liza, people said things like ‘strong,’ ‘loyal,’ ‘intelligent,’ ” says Powel relative Louise Clark. “And for Conan, they said ‘compassionate,’ ‘caring,’ ‘funny.’ ”
After the Catholic service, the couple—who met in March 2000 when O’Brien hired Powel’s ad agency to create a commercial for a furniture store he had been teasing on Late Night—headed for the reception at Seattle’s Union Station.
As torrential rains fell outside, the newlyweds—he in a tuxedo, she in a Vera Wang gown—cheered on Powel’s father, Jake, who cranked out a few jazz guitar numbers. Later O’Brien grabbed an electric guitar and did some jamming of his own. “He did a heck of a job impressing his father-in-law,” says one guest. “But he probably shouldn’t give up his night job.”