How ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Brings Dream Weddings to the Small Screen (PHOTOS)

Grey's Anatomy

How ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Brings Dream Weddings to the Small Screen (PHOTOS)

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How ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Brings Dream Weddings to the Small Screen (PHOTOS)

The production team at Grey’s Anatomy — including set decorator Nicole Cramer, former set decorator Karen Bruck, and costume designer Mimi Melgaard — knows how to put on a helluva wedding, especially 13 seasons into the ABC drama.

“I'm not a wedding planner, but we always joke that I could be after how many weddings we’ve done,” Nicole tells Cosmopolitan.

“Everyone’s always shocked when they find out we’ve put a wedding together in 10 days,” Mimi adds. “We’re kind of used to it.”

Read on for the behind-the-scenes secrets the women shared, and tune in as Grey’s Anatomy Season 13 airs on Thursdays at 8 p.m ET on ABC.

How ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Brings Dream Weddings to the Small Screen (PHOTOS)
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Cristina and Burke’s wedding

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Cristina and Burke’s wedding

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Karen says she got the instruction that this would be “Shonda’s dream wedding” — “That kinda freaked me out. I said, ‘Oh my god, how am I going to live up to that?’” — but notes it wasn’t Cristina’s dream wedding.

“We had to make it a little over the top so it was definitely not Cristina’s personality. Nothing about it was her personality,” she says.

“I’m sure that there are brides who can relate to that in real life — being dressed up and propped up and having to walk through and have a wedding with 200 people, and you only want to talk to four.”

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Cristina and Burke’s wedding

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Cristina and Burke’s wedding

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The dress got its own stunt double for the scene in which Meredith rips it off her.

“We took the zipper out and inserted a piece of silk fabric that was attached by Velcro and she cut into that, and that piece of silk was easily replaceable for each take we needed to shoot,” Mimi says.

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Izzie and Alex’s wedding

Izzie and Alex’s wedding

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Izzie ended up with the nuptials of her dreams after Meredith donated her wedding to her, a wedding Izzie had planned herself amid her cancer treatment.

“Her wedding was the fairytale wedding — over the top, with candles, romantic, Nicole says.

“That was Shonda’s notes: that Izzie was living vicariously through Meredith by planning the best, most beautiful wedding she could.”

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Izzie and Alex’s wedding

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Izzie and Alex’s wedding

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“Shonda and I wanted her to feel like a princess — you know, it’s a princess wedding, she could be dying,” Mimi says of the Kenneth Pool for Amsale dress.

“So it’s a big, beautiful dress with sparkles.”

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Cristina and Owen’s wedding

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Cristina and Owen’s wedding

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After the Burke fiasco, Cristina had more say over her second wedding, opting for “a home wedding, sweet and sophisticated,” as Nicole describes it.

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Cristina and Owen’s wedding

Cristina and Owen’s wedding

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“She already had a wedding that was so unlike her, so I wanted this one to feel like her,” Mimi says. “Shonda and Sandra Oh both loved it.”

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Callie and Arizona’s wedding

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Callie and Arizona’s wedding

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The team wanted to make sure Calzona wore different styles “so it doesn’t look like two big, white dresses,” Mimi says.

They chose a traditional wedding dress for Callie — “because she’s from a more traditional family, her family’s Catholic” — and an off-white dress of torn chiffon for Arizona — “because Callie was in white, and that color with Jessica’s skin just worked perfectly.”

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Callie and Arizona’s wedding

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Callie and Arizona’s wedding

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Though Calzona ultimately broke up long after the wedding — which was filmed at Descanso Gardens — they live on in matrimonial bliss in Shondaland headquarters.

“We found somebody local in Los Angeles to make the little cake topper to match Callie and Arizona and their dresses,” Nicole reveals.

“Shonda actually has that cake topper in her office now.”

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Bailey and Ben’s wedding

Bailey and Ben’s wedding

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“Bailey is that perfect mix of a soft, feminine person who has a strong job … So I wanted a really feminine dress for her,” Mimi says of this wedding, filmed at Calamigos Ranch with a budget of around $40,000.

“We started with a dress and altered it a lot — I added the bling around the sweetheart neckline. I added the belt … Chandra [Wilson] looks so good in things that hug her figure, which is amazing, that I just went for it.”

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Bailey and Ben’s wedding

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Bailey and Ben’s wedding

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But Bailey’s wedding dress wasn’t the only one Mimi needed to find.

“That was an interesting episode because it went into Richard dancing with his wife, Adele, who’d just died,” she says.

“We had to get a dress for her, too. We tried to get something that felt vintage-y since their wedding was supposed to be decades ago.”

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April and Matthew’s wedding

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April and Matthew’s wedding

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Shonda & Co. wanted a barn wedding to reflect April’s upbringing on a farm, so the team settled on Windy Hill Ranch at El Campeon Farms and decked it out with huge chandeliers, twinkle lights, and cutesy signs. (“We were like, ‘April would do this, for sure.”)

All told, the wedding cost $20k, even without a reception. Still, it was a breeze, Nicole says.

“Of all the weddings, this one was probably the least stressful because the venue was pretty already,” she explains. “Of course, what you’re seeing out the barn doors, the mountain and the lake, are a green screen.”

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April and Matthew’s wedding

April and Matthew’s wedding

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While searching the web for inspiration, Mimi found a dress with which she fell in love, one designed by Peter Langner in Rome.

“We sent [Sarah Drew’s] measurements, and Peter made it with very few changes. The process is usually four or five months for real brides, and he did it lickety-split.”

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Richard and Catherine’s wedding

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Richard and Catherine’s wedding

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Mimi reveals she and the show’s “wonderful full-time seamstress” created Catherine’s dress in-house.

Hopefully that seamstress was one of the crew members who ate the three-tier wedding cake by Cake and Art in Los Angeles after filming finished — Nicole can’t remember if it even made it into the episode!

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Richard and Catherine’s wedding

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Richard and Catherine’s wedding

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Nicole reveals this wedding has special significance for the team: “The reception took place at Meredith and Derek’s house, which we called the ‘The Dream House.’ It was the last time we ever filmed on that set.”

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Amelia and Owen’s wedding

Amelia and Owen’s wedding

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“[Caterina Scorsone] was secretly pregnant, so I had to choose a loose silhouette, because nobody [from the show] knew she was pregnant besides Shonda and me,” Mimi reveals.

“Amelia is so strong, but she has broken parts, so we tried on a lot of dresses to find something that wasn’t too girly, wasn’t too precious, but that was also beautiful and honored the day for her.”

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Amelia and Owen’s wedding

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Amelia and Owen’s wedding

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Mimi also says she had to make two other versions of the same dresses — one for the rainy scenes of the Season 12 finale and one for the Season 13 premiere when Caterina’s pregnancy was much further along.

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The production team at Grey’s Anatomy — including set decorator Nicole Cramer, former set decorator Karen Bruck, and costume designer Mimi Melgaard — knows how to put on a helluva wedding, especially 13 seasons into the ABC drama.

“I'm not a wedding planner, but we always joke that I could be after how many weddings we’ve done,” Nicole tells Cosmopolitan.

“Everyone’s always shocked when they find out we’ve put a wedding together in 10 days,” Mimi adds. “We’re kind of used to it.”

Read on for the behind-the-scenes secrets the women shared, and tune in as Grey’s Anatomy Season 13 airs on Thursdays at 8 p.m ET on ABC.