Hilary Swank married her partner Philip Schneider in a gorgeous woodland wedding in August 2018. The couple got engaged two years ago during a holiday in Colorado - witnessed only by Hilary's beloved dogs - but kept their betrothal private. "I'm on cloud nine," the actress told HELLO! in an exclusive interview. "I'm enjoying the afterglow of a moment with all my loved ones around me. A lot of the time our fantasies are often better than how things actually turn out. But I have to say this exceeded all my expectations." The Hollywood A-lister, who won two Best Actress Oscars for her game-changing performances in 1999's Boys Don't Cry and then five years later in Million Dollar Baby, married her fiancé, social venture entrepreneur Philip, at the Santa Lucia Preserve in Carmel, California on Saturday 18 August.
Hilary's beautiful dress Photos courtesy of Hilary Swank and Philip Schneider/AUGUST
The nuptials were held two years after they had first met, having been brought together by mutual friends for a blind date, which, she says, started with brunch and didn’t end until after dinner late that night. The bride looked incredible in an exquisite Elie Saab Couture wedding dress, which comprised of 82ft of chantilly lace, 26ft of silk chiffon and 19ft of silk organza. The gown had taken seven people 150 hours to create, 70 of which were spent on the embroidery alone. "I wanted it to be timeless, ethereal and romantic," the star said of her dress. "I've known Mr Saab over a couple of decades now from going to red carpet events and we have a great relationship – it was an honour for him to be part of such a special day. Because it's couture the dress was actually quite comfortable as it was made for my body and fitted like a glove. I felt like a queen."
Speaking of her partner's reaction when he saw her, Hilary revealed: "I had kept the dress secret so he didn't know what to expect but his reaction was beautiful – he gasped." The reception was then held in a 100-year-old barn decorated with hundreds of globe string lights, where guests were treated to a wedding feast of Monterey Bay salmon and a gluten-free, vegan chocolate cake washed down with Perrier-Jouët champagne. When asked about the outdoor ceremony, Hilary explained: "Both Philip and I are nature lovers and whenever we get the opportunity to be outdoors, that's where we like to spend it. So we knew we wanted to get married outside, that it had to be close to home in Los Angeles and private. The second we saw this magical redwood grove in the middle of a 20,000-acre preserve, we knew it had the exact feeling we were trying to evoke."
She added: "Absolutely - trees weather a storm, they're flexible and deep-rooted. And they were a family of trees. The tree we got married beside was an 800-year-old female tree with all her children around her, supporting her, which is what happens when a tree gets old… So we thought it was really symbolic to have all our tribe, our village around us like these trees and know that there will be times when we need support, or to reach out and get that from our people, too."
"We both welled up," she said of the service. "I already had my tissue because my dad had already started off the tears. But we were both emotional." She continued: "Being with my dad, but also when you walk down the aisle and see your soulmate waiting for you and all your loved ones who have made the journey and effort to be there… Everyone was quiet. We didn’t have any phones at the ceremony so people were really in the moment. And then two friends, Karen and Willa Griffin, sang and my nephew Brandon played the guitar. Then Philip's best friend Misha Collins read a poem he'd written for us. It was just magic, and very moving."
The most important thing of her big day was marrying the man of her dreams. She shared: "Marrying the man of my dreams. But also being surrounded by our loved ones – and I get overwhelmed with emotion just thinking about it – because life really is precious. After going through what I did with my dad, [I know that] all we have is our health, and being with one another, so having everyone there that we love was spectacular." The couple said their vows in front of family and friends, including Mariska Hargitay.
Like this story? Sign up to our newsletter to get other stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.