Reese's Perfect Day
In a laid-back, at-home wedding mixing classic elegance with country chic, a joyful Reese Witherspoon says 'I do' to Jim Toth
As guests eagerly waited for Reese Witherspoon to make her grand entrance in the garden of her Ojai, Calif., ranch on March 26, all eyes were on two little scene-stealers: the bride’s 11-year-old daughter Ava and 7-year-old son Deacon. Young ringbearer Deacon proudly marched down the aisle in a three-piece Rag & Bone suit similar to that of his stepdad-to-be, Jim Toth, while maid of honor Ava followed, wearing a Monique Lhuillier dress complementing her mother’s own custom Lhuillier gown. Along with two of Witherspoon’s young nieces as flower girls, Ava and Deacon were the only members of the wedding party (there were no bridesmaids or groomsmen). Says a guest: “They were super excited to be a part of their mom’s day.”
Then, as a bluegrass band switched from “Tennessee Waltz”-a nod to the bride’s Nashville roots-to the traditional Wagner bridal march, a beaming Witherspoon, on the arm of her father, John, made her way down the aisle and joined Toth under a rose-covered arch. Underneath their feet was a bed of fresh-cut lavender, whose scent filled the air. Before the couple exchanged traditional vows in the 20-minute late-afternoon ceremony, Rev. Jimmy Bartz, the rector at their Episcopal church in L.A., spoke about their life together. “It was always Reese and Jim and Ava and Deacon,” says another guest. “The kids were included in everything. It was very sweet.”
A little bit country, a little bit Hollywood glamour and every bit romantic, Witherspoon’s elegant but relaxed wedding was the family affair of the Oscar-winning mom’s dreams. Wearing her custom-designed Lhuillier blush-hued gown with a Chantilly lace corset bodice and full tulle A-line skirt, Witherspoon “wowed,” says a guest. “She took your breath away.” The gown was adorned with a double-face silk satin ribbon with cascading silk flowers to match Ava’s dress. Witherspoon wore her signature blonde locks simply straight under her dramatic cathedral-length veil as she exchanged rings with Toth, hers a pave diamond band designed by the William Goldberg company. The couple, says another guest, “didn’t seem nervous at all, only excited.” The crowd cheered as Toth and Witherspoon, who won her Academy Award portraying June Carter Cash in 2005’s [Walk the Line], walked out to a tune made famous by the Carter Family: “Keep on the Sunny Side of Life.”
It was a happily-ever-after moment for Witherspoon, 35, who first fell for Hollywood talent agent Toth, 40, a year and a half ago. (She was divorced from actor Ryan Phillippe, 36, Ava and Deacon’s father, in 2007.) Although Witherspoon has kept her relationship with Toth private, her friends feel she “found a great guy,” says one, in Toth, a never-married-before Pennsylvania native who worked his way up from the mailroom to co-run the motion picture talent division at industry powerhouse CAA. “There was so much love for him in that room,” says a wedding guest. “The moment Jim walked in, everyone went wild and started cheering.” Ava and Deacon, adds the guest, “obviously adore him.”
After the ceremony, their approximately 120 guests-including A-list friends such as Matthew McConaughey and Gwyneth Paltrow moved on to a country-chic celebration created by event planner Yifat Oren, which was “down-to-earth and beautiful-not flashy, just in exquisite taste,” says a guest. Guests mingled under a tent hung with chandeliers made from reclaimed wood and hundreds of mason jars with twinkling candles inside. Centerpieces made of wildflowers, English garden roses, lavender, sweet peas, cotton, rosemary and Queen Anne’s lace sat in vintage flea-market glassware and aged terracotta pots on dark wood farm tables decorated with cream-colored runners. “It had a romantic and warm feeling,” says another guest. Witherspoon’s 7-acre Libbey Ranch, built in the 1920s-where the actress keeps horses, goats, pigs and chickens and often spends downtime with Toth and her kids-provided both the backdrop and inspiration for the special night, with its “timeless California architecture, rustic materials and beautiful gardens,” says a pal.
Following the sunset cocktail hour-featuring drinks made with Ojai’s famous citrus fruit-Witherspoon gave guests another “wow” moment: She arrived at the reception in a party-ready second Lhuillier ensemble, a white silk minidress with a corseted lace bodice, a hand-cut organza party skirt and a jewel-encrusted belt. She and Toth then gave the only speech of the evening, thanking their guests for being a part of their day. “She said they were so happy to be surrounded by their closest family and friends,” says a guest.
Witherspoon (who next stars in the drama Water for Elephants) and Toth personally chose the night’s farm-inspired menu from renowned L.A. Mediterranean restaurant Lucques, with entrees including herb-roasted lamb with artichokes and mustard grilled chicken. The printed menus were topped with an adorable animal drawing and the couple’s initials. Touted on the menu as “Just you wait!,” the desserts included a four-tiered white buttercream wedding cake with a lemon filling and a chocolate groom’s cake-plus a s’mores station to keep things playful. Guests left with favors that were burlap sacks filled with Ojai honey and warm pecan-current scones from the local Knead Baking Company.
In keeping with the theme of rustic romance, the band the Americans played a mix of rural blues, country and rockabilly before turning things over to a deejay later in the night. For their first dance, Witherspoon and her agent husband chose Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love” and spent much of the evening happily on their feet. “It was all a lot of fun,” says one guest. “It was joyous!” As day turned to night, the newlyweds-who served a late-night snack of pizza and grilled cheese sandwiches around 11 p.m., before the party wound down around midnight-never stopped beaming. “Reese and Jim danced for hours,” says a guest. Adds another: “It was such a relaxing, beautiful, soulful night. It was their kind of day.”