TARA JUERGENS & DAVID DOLLINGER
October 21, 2017. Coachella, California
It took 650 hours of hand stitching and 2,500 hours of embroidering by a team of couturiers to complete the custom Ralph & Russo bridal gown Tara Juergens wore on her wedding day—an incredible experience that began with a classic dinner date.
David Dollinger was on his first date through Kelleher International when he was matched with Tara. While there was a mutual attraction, David’s busy travel schedule led to the two parting ways for the summer. They did, however, circle back around for a second date of tennis, biking and dinner in Santa Monica. At one point, David asked Tara what she was looking for. When she spun the question back around, he replied with, “I’m looking for everything.”
For Tara, the couple’s connection held a special significance. “Before we met, I traveled to Jerusalem and placed a note in the Western Wall asking God to bless me with a beautiful family,” she recalls. “David has a family and was open to creating a family.” It didn’t take long for her to realize her prayers had been answered.
A little over a year later, the couple was in Las Vegas celebrating Tara’s birthday, which she had requested be held at a nightclub. Since she doesn’t typically opt for the clubbing scene, David used the occasion as an opportunity to plan an over-the-top surprise at XS Nightclub at the Wynn, and flew her family out for the party. He also arranged for the jumbotron to display “Happy Birthday Tara” throughout the evening. When the clock struck midnight, marking the official start of her birthday, the screen suddenly changed to read, “Will You Marry Me?” The rest of the night included an eight-carat cushion-cut diamond engagement ring by Stephen Silver, a parade of Dom Pérignon champagne sparklers, and the newly engaged pair flying everyone to Cabo for a two-day celebration.
When it came time to plan the wedding, David and Tara agreed that they wanted a great deal of the focus to be on their guests. “We wanted our guests to have an intimate experience where they felt connected with us,” Tara explains. “I also wanted it to be timeless, romantic and magical.” After meeting with several top wedding planners, the couple enlisted the help of Sharon Sacks. “David chose Sharon because he said she was the only one who could pull off the wedding of our dreams,” Tara adds. “She came up with some amazing ideas, and really tailored our wedding to welcome our guests and give them the experience David and I were looking for.”
The wedding weekend was held in the peaceful desert setting of a private California estate, where 210 guests gathered from around the world. Prior to the big day, the couple hosted a Friday night white party which mimicked the décor and ambiance of L’Opéra in Saint-Tropez. The bride-to-be donned a pink illusion gown by Reem Acra, and the festivities carried on until 2:00 a.m.
When everyone reconvened the following afternoon for a sunset ceremony, David’s three children walked down the aisle to the music of a full symphony, followed by the bride. “I loved the walk down the aisle and looking into David’s eyes,” Tara reflects. “The aisle was mirrored, so it felt like I was walking on water. It was the most magical day I could have ever dreamed of in my whole life.”
As a wedding surprise for his bride, David had three different gifts in store. The first was a fourteen-carat wedding ring by Lorraine Schwartz, made from fourteen individual one-carat diamonds. In lieu of a gift registry, Tara requested that everyone make a donation to a charity near and dear to her heart: Stand Up To Cancer. So, for his second gift, David matched the funds raised by their guests with a personal grant from the Dollinger Family Foundation.
After a wedding reception that featured a sumptuous five-course dinner, dancing and a live performance by John Legend, it was time for Tara’s third and final wedding gift—a 1:00 a.m. performance by Ludacris during the afterparty. “I wanted to have Ludacris there,” says David. “Tara is a huge fan.”
The afterparty was an energetic poolside spectacle of fire dancers, performers dressed in LED lights, and aerialists. It was only a matter of time before David’s eleven-year-old son jumped into the pool, followed by the newlyweds. “This wedding started out as a black-tie affair, and by 3:00 a.m. turned into a Vegas pool party,” David laughs. “There were fifty people in the pool in their tuxes, and everyone got kicked out after 4:30 a.m.”
Of course, the only way to follow up such an epic celebration is with an unforgettable honeymoon. Combining Tara’s love of animals and David’s wish to visit places he has never traveled to before, the couple decided to take a private plane on a country-hopping adventure to Dubai, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zambia.
> Written by Lauren Malamala