One day a couple weeks ago I received an email from my favorite store, Cache, that they were looking for our “Best Red Carpet Style” because they were sending someone to the Emmy’s! I had so many pictures of me in Cache dresses throughout the years that I chose one and submitted it. A week later I received an email notifying me that I was a finalist. I was so excited but nervous as I wasn’t used to asking for online votes and my littlest sister’s wedding fell on the same weekend of the Emmys.
When voting began I first sat back and watched how other finalists competed to get votes. I noticed a couple finalists doing very well in garnering votes, so I first marketed with family and close friends. I decided to utilize my public Facebook page in the last 24 hours of the contest so I didn’t inundate my timeline with constant posts begging readers to vote. Thankfully I won by 200 or so votes and was slated to go the Emmy’s in a week in a half.
Cache was very kind to include a $500 gift card in my prize package so I can purchase a Cache gown to wear to the Emmys. I met with the store manager, Danielle, in Sacramento, who helped me select a few potential gowns. My husband really like a silver one strap gown, but the dress was a size 4 and I am slightly more a size 2. There was a pretty one strap black gown with a sapphire blue cascading the side of the dress, but it seemed too ‘prom-ish’ to me. The other choice was an elegant one shoulder black dress with a great see-through style towards the bottom of the dress. I loved it but I wasn’t ‘in love’ with it. Their selection was small since it wasn’t prom season so I asked if they can pull a gown I saw online. It was a gem-encrusted Jiovani gown that was marked down to $499 (from over $700). Danielle called everywhere and found it in New York. They arranged to have it priority-shipped to the Sacramento store so I can view it.
A couple days later I received notification that the dress had arrived. I met with another store manager, Carissa, who was just as excited as me to see this dress as they hadn’t carried it in their store before. When I tried it on it fit like a glove and I felt amazing in it. Many onlookers outside in the mall area came into the store and exclaimed their love for the dress. I was almost sure it was the one but I held an online poll just in case and it was obvious, #3 was the winner!
I decided to wear pretty Enzo shoes to match the dress (they were my wedding shoes) along with dangly heart diamond earrings from my mother. I packed all the things needed for me and my husband’s one-day-vacay since the upcoming weekend was busy with rehearsal dinners, wedding, Emmys and not to mention work and three kids in tow. Her wedding on Saturday, September 21st, was beautiful. She had an awesome, “Love Story” video and walked down the aisle in a large, elegant dress.
After arriving home at midnight from my sister’s wedding I set my alarm clock for 6:00am to prepare for our 7:55am flight. My best friend, Borina, was already settled in the guest room to babysit the boys the following day. I briefed her on my updated “Casler Boys Survival Guide” complete with House Rules, Daily Routine and Directory (in alphabetical order) from Allergies -> Potty Time. She and my sister Christine worked together to watch the boys so David and I can have a worry-free 24 hours together (thank you!)
After just 4 hours of sleep I was woken up from a text at 5:30am from Ground Link Transportation stating they will be at our house at 6:00am. This past week I was inundated with work and emails that I overlooked the email confirming a town car driving us to the airport. So I woke David up to hurriedly get ready for this unexpected advance in our schedule. Promptly at 6:00am our driver arrived to take us to the airport. It was a worry-free arrival (except for my hairspray canister that was almost confiscated in my carry-on baggage). I picked up a couple magazines (People and Fortune) and headed onto the airplane, where I listened to music and read during the short hour flight to LAX.
Upon arriving a Hungarian female driver met us. She was very tall (6’1), blonde and friendly. We talked about celebrities – who she’s driven around – and who was friendly, non-talkative or rude. I don’t like spreading talk of other people but I was surprised to hear that one of my favorite females who is known for her fitness, philanthropy and acting wasn’t too popular with her work colleagues. When we arrived at The Biltmore Hotel we had a little bit of time before check-in at 11am, so we walked over to “The Porch” restaurant where a line of people cornered the building. Since it was just my husband and I, we walked in without wait and was able to be seated and served promptly. He ordered his usual French Toast, Eggs, Sausage and potatoes breakfast (he typically over-orders and eats a ton). I had my usual egg white veggie omelet (which they had to re-make because they put cheese the first time) with some potatoes. I had two large glasses of ice tea (no sugar, lots of lemon), which made me want to use the bathroom every 30 minutes afterwards.
While walking back to the hotel we stopped by Target to purchase a few incidentals including water, trail mix and the boy’s toothpaste (I remembered they ran out). Back at the beautiful Biltmore Hotel, which reminded me of Old Hollywood, we were given our room key – which was a large suite on the 10th floor. As soon as we arrived I coordinated with Tricia, the Cache manager in LA, to meet with her at 2:30pm. The time was 12pm so I knew I needed to get a quick nap in if I were to survive the rest of the day’s festivities.
At 1:30pm I woke up and started getting ready. An hour seems like a short time to prepare but I’m re-known for how fast I get ready. At home I can get out the house in five minutes. When I did pageants I could put my hair up for my evening gown in 7 minutes. So in “Maria Time”, one hour was a lot of time. I curled my hair first and decided to style my hair down instead of up as I didn’t want to be too ‘fancy’. I then applied my false lashes, moisturizer, primer and foundation. I often advise others to be savvy with makeup and invest in good quality foundation and powder to match your skin, but to purchase cheaper lipstick and eyeshadow colors so you have a lot of variety. I was finished at 2:25pm, just in time for my husband to help me put on my beautiful gem-encrusted, Cache dress.
We went downstairs and met with Tricia and another Cache employee to take some pictures. They were very sweet and excited for our experience. The town car already arrived. It was 3pm and Red Carpet arrivals began at 2:30pm. The show starts promptly at 5pm so we were right on schedule.
While the Nokia Theater was only a mile away from the hotel, it took us nearly an hour to get there due to the traffic and security checkpoints. David looked so handsome in his tuxedo with his Team Rubicon pin proudly placed on his left collar. He is often asked if he is in actor so I knew we would have a good chance of getting into the “celebrity side” of the red carpet.
When we arrived we stepped out and there were maybe five security gates. There was a crowd of people going through 3 of them and then hardly any going through the right gates (which was designated for presenters/awardees/celebrities). I walked straight to the right gate (like I owned it), showed the security my purse and we were in!
First person I saw when I walked through was Carrie Underwood. She was standing directly in front of me with a beautiful Navy blue dress. She truly looked like a Barbie Doll. I could hear the crowd on the other side of the rope on the bleachers screaming “Carrie!” Many of the attendees on the other side of the rope were limited in space and trying to take lots of pictures. My husband and I wanted to take pictures but it would’ve totally given the “I’m not a celebrity” vibe off. So we walked slowly, often stopping and looking around. We walked shoulder-to-shoulder with Christina Hendricks, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Lisa Rinna, Shemar Moore, Tina Fey, Carson Daly (who looked at me in the eye and kindly smiled) and many more.
I don’t watch much TV so my husband later laughed at my total ignorance of who I was often standing or walking next to. I told him before the Emmy awards that if I saw anyone from the cast of “Downton Abbey” that I would be happy as that was the only show I was truly familiar with. I saw Michelle Dockery who plays Lady Mary on the show and felt a tickle of enthusiasm. She had very pale skin, was very reticent (much like her character) and obviously beautiful. In fact, everyone was beautiful BUT I will have to say that they are much more “perfect-looking” in magazines. Up close I was surprised to see a lot of wrinkles (a beautiful result of aging) as well as damaged skin and caked-on make up. There is nothing wrong with all these seemingly imperfections as they are all beautiful. It made me see them as human – just like you and I – who look completely normal with some crow’s feet, age spots and dry hair.
There were areas for interviews of course. I saw Nancy O’Dell first, who I have seen before when I attended an ALS charity event for Augie’s Quest at IHRSA (a big fitness convention). Then I saw Maria Menounos, who looked beautiful. I’ve always admired her career and have read her book. She is stunning in person and has a great body (and a great butt!) Of course, what is an awards show without Ryan Seacrest…they were all placed a few feet higher on the right conducting interviews with all the awardees. It was great to see and experience.
We had a kind couple take our picture. The husband was a writer for “The Colbert Report” which took a couple Emmy’s that evening – so it was fun to watch him go on stage alongside Steven Colbert when he accepted their awards! I saw another woman who had the black Cache dress I was considering wearing, so when I saw her I was thankful I didn’t wear it! Everyone seemed excited about the event and for my husband and I, while we felt like a fish out of water, we soaked up the moment and felt like while we’re not ‘celebrities’, we had fans also! (even if they are just three little boys at home, lol)
All the celebrities shuffled in line to take pictures for photographers – which at that point, we moved on towards the end of the red carpet. I managed to take a couple pictures (again without being too obvious) as they exited their photo opp.
We entered the building, and went up a couple escalators to our seats. Everyone wore formal gowns and black ties or tuxedos. On the loud speaker a female announcer would slowly and patiently say the funniest things like, “Everyone, please, go to your seats. You wouldn’t want to miss the show would you?” then, “Seriously, let’s all sit down now.”
When the show began the director would say, “Everyone clap” (and we would) – Neil Patrick Harris walked out and had a great series of jokes. I was surprised how multi-talented he was with singing, dancing, acting and hosting. During commercial breaks they would show us video of fun clips from past Emmy award shows. The live performances by Elton John and Carrie Underwood was nice and it was fun to see all the presenters LIVE. I sat there, in awe, at how animated all of them were. You can tell they were all very good at their craft, absolute professionals who can pull off a small sketch or an impromptu speech. I sensed a strong energy of community amongst them. Watching them was like watching a group of fraternity/sorority students in college. As an ‘outsider’ you can sense a strong understanding and respect for each other’s talent and you admire it.
When Jane Lynch paid tribute to her castmate on Glee, Cory Monteith, you can sense the loss, especially of someone so young who struggled with fame, depression and drugs. When she said, “…he was not perfect, which many of us here tonight can relate to…” I can sense a resonation within the room. After all, fame doesn’t make you happier, it seems like it magnifies both good and bad aspects of oneself.
Other high points of the night include the funny onstage entrance of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler (when they crawled up and even rolled in their evening gown) while going to the microphone. I really, really enjoyed the onstage dance production during the “Best Choreography” award, which was given to Derek Hough (who ran by me on the red carpet) for Dancing with the Stars. I loved the funny acceptance speeches and everyone running to their seats when the director announces, “we are live in 5-4-3-2-…everyone clap”.
My husband and I left 20 minutes early to beat the crowd (I typically hate crowds) and go eat something as I was starving. I decided to make a quick change at our hotel because I didn’t want to be over-dressed and comfortable while dining. Earlier this week we were considering purchasing tickets to some Emmy after-parties, and while the prices were steep 2k+ each, I knew we would most definitely be a fish out of water since we were not part of the entertainment industry at all.
So besides wanting to pay off our car, I chose the more rational option of dining at “Sur”, a restaurant in West Hollywood owned by Lisa Vanderpump and is featured on her show. I didn’t see her or any of the castmates there (I wasn’t expecting to) but I really enjoyed the ambiance. It was a very sexy environment and while the servers were not the ones you see on TV, no doubt they were all buff and beautiful. We ordered a shrimp and crab cake for appetizer. My husband had a lobster bisque and Prime Rib for his entrée. I had their special, which was sea bass and salad. I found it delicious since I’m fond of beets and brussel sprouts, which was included in the spinach salad. For dessert we had a very small portion of their Dulce de Leche crepe. They have an adjoining lounge area, where a waitress was kind to take our picture. We order a couple glasses of their house red wine (cabernet, which I have to say, I disliked) before leaving back to our hotel.
The following morning I awoke at 7am, half an hour past my usual call-time with the boys. When I opened the pretty, fancy curtains to let the sunlight in, I felt like Cinderella (do you remember that part in the movie?) I would tell my husband later on that I felt like Cinderella getting ready for the ball and feeling like a princess.
When I was younger, like most girls, I would envision my life like a fairytale, after all, being the eldest daughter of 4 children often made me feel like a maid, rather than a sister. Most of my old diaries detailed my constant cleaning and cooking for my family. I was reminded of this memory when I had a conversation with my cousin, Catherine, who flew in from D.C. to attend my sister, Angel’s wedding on Saturday. As we watched her dance with my father, I felt a sadness in my heart because the song she chose, “In my Life” by the Beatles, was the song I chose for my father/daughter dance at my wedding. My father wasn’t at my wedding because my mother was admitted to the hospital that morning for an infection. I remember crying up until two hours before our wedding because my parents wouldn’t be present. In reflection of that moment I told Catherine, “Sometimes I feel a little “jipped” in my family…” and she responded, “I feel like I’ve heard that before?” She then explained to her fiancée that growing up when she came to visit for the summers I often acted like the ‘little mommy’, cleaning and cooking because my mother had several health issues. Watching her suffer made me passionate about taking care of my health and helping others do the same.
I remember waking at 5am to wake my mom, iron her clothes and make her breakfast and lunch before work, cleaning rooms, doing dishes, caring for our family dog and scrubbing the floors at midnight when I was 11 thinking that if I don’t do it, no one else will – and I knew my mother needed help because she was often sick. In old diaries I hoped and envisioned my early efforts would lead me to a “Cinderella moment” one day and yesterday I truly felt it.
So thank you everyone for that moment. Thank you to Cache for creating and financing this amazing trip the Emmys. Thank you to Jennie and Yvette at Cache for planning this extraordinary event for a very ordinary couple. Thank you to my babysitters, Borina and Christine and thank you, most of all, to those who voted for us.