The star gave PEOPLE the exclusive look inside her big day

By Sarah Kinonen
Updated October 07, 2015 01:37 PM
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Marriage is an adventure. You never know what life’s going to throw at you and your significant other during your lifelong journey. You’ve heard all of the inspirational mantras surrounding the sacred bond between two people in love. But for actress Melinda Clarke, a.k.a Marissa Cooper’s mom from The O.C., the star literally signed up for the ride of a lifetime when she said “I do” to her professional river rafting husband, Adam Farmer.

Now, a month after getting hitched, the CSI: Immortality star is spilling all the exciting, intricate details — from the gorgeous off-white organza gown she wore down the sandy aisle to the wedge flip-flops (yes, flip-flops!) she wore under her dress — about her September nuptials to People.


Simply Perfect Images/Alan Merrigan

The star, 46, and her new husband, 38, tied the knot on the sandy shore of Dana Point, California, in September. But long before saying “I do” under the arbor made of wooden paddles (an ode to Farmer’s life on the water), the couple came together in one of the most spontaneous (and surprising!) scenarios.

“We met when he was on a river rafting trip,” Clarke told People. “We were friends for a few years and we really connected through nature and his love of nature.”

Fast forward to the future, when the two decided to tie the knot — and decided to do it all on their own. The couple channeled their shared love of the outdoors and their “go with the flow” (pun intended) personalities during the wedding planning process, says Clarke.

“We didn’t have a wedding coordinator,” she said. “My husband and I planned every little detail by ourselves– we basically said it’s a beach fiesta, and we did gourmet taco trucks, feet in the sand and made it very casual.”

Melinda Clarke Wedding


Simply Perfect Images/Alan Merrigan

Clarke says that she wanted the ceremony to be so casual that she envisioned walking down the aisle in an airy, no-frills dress. “At one point I was going to just go Cindy Crawford, [in a] simple white dress,” she said. But that instantly changed once she saw her dress — which was also the first dress she tried on.

“I was trying to do non-traditional dresses, and then at one point I said, ‘Well, at the very least I need to go to some real bridal boutiques,'” she told People. “I had at least half a dozen appointments at all the places around L.A., and just on a whim I took my daughter, who’s 15, to the Glamour Closet, and they had all of these sample dresses. It was the first dress I tried on, and I bought it. And I canceled all of my appointments because it was just perfect.”

The star accessorized her gown, an ethereal off-white organza design with a sweetheart neckline and intricate buttons up the back, with a pair of dazzling sky-high flip-flop wedges. (Wait, what?)

“Because we were on the sand, and I kept thinking of how my husband, who is 6-ft.-4-in., I figured I’d go barefoot,” she said. “But a few weeks before [the wedding], I had just finished shooting the CSI finale — we actresses have to wear so many high heels over the years and it’s so painful on the feet. So a lot of times, the costume designers give us these big wedge flip flops, so on camera we’re still tall, but they’re super comfortable. So, seriously, at the last minute, I wore these super-tall, high wedge Bebe flip-flops!”

Melinda Clarke Wedding


Simply Perfect Images/Alan Merrigan

And to keep with the ceremony’s laid-back vibe, Clarke enlisted her glam squad — makeup artist Lynn Barber and hair stylist Jeffrey Rubis — to create the perfect bohemian bridal beauty look that’s very much her own and nothing like the characters she’s played on TV over the years.

“I just wanted [my hair and makeup] to be super casual, bohemian, ethereal,” Clarke told People. “One of the things that I’ve realized as I’ve gotten a little bit older is I’m really kind of a hippie at heart. I’m not like, Julie Cooper from Newport Beach — that’s a character. I’m not Lady Heather [from CSI], certainly. I’m this hippie beach girl from California, so I wanted [my hair and makeup] to be romantic and beautiful but not over the top.”

Barber, whom Clarke says taught her how to expertly apply her makeup when they met on the set of a TV show in 1994, worked with the star to create a fresh-faced look with a pop of pink on her lips.

As for the star’s hair, Rubis, who’s also the owner of Jeffrey Alan Salon in Palm Desert, opted to keep Clarke’s locks long and down with a few little plaits braided in on the side of her hair for a added bit of texture. Topping it off? A traditional veil, which posed its own set of challenges.

“We thought it was a good idea at the time, but it ended up being kind of windy,” she said. “So during the ceremony, my daughter was holding this long thing in her arms, throughout the entire ceremony, so it didn’t wrap around my face.”

Melinda Clarke Wedding


Simply Perfect Images/Alan Merrigan

So, what’s next for the happy couple? Enjoying married life, Clarke says. “I’m just really, really excited to start this chapter in my life,” she said. “He makes me mushy. That’s what I said in my vows, he makes me mushy.”

And as for the honeymoon? If you guessed they’d celebrate their marriage on a river raft, well, you’re right.

“We don’t have any definite plans, because we wanted two things: We wanted to relax, and we wanted to have the excitement of river rafting,” she told People. “And it’s rainy season in Costa Rica right now, so there’s nothing set, but it’s either going to be something like Fiji and Costa Rica. But it’s all based on schedules — my daughter’s schedule and work schedules — so we might do it next year during spring break and all that.”

She added: “Or we might do it in a week, we’ll see.”

When it comes to wedding planner, are you more like Melinda, who goes with the flow, or are you a down-to-the-detail planner? Share below!

–Sarah Kinonen

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