Ali will marry her fiancé, Vaughn Rasberry, an assistant professor at Stanford University, this summer, after dating for a year and a half. Although Ali wants to keep some details a surprise until the wedding, we can reveal that her dress is by Amsale. But she does tell us all about her romantic engagement (and unique ring), planning for a wedding and a baby, plus all the special touches to make their day unforgettable. You seriously won’t believe how calm and cool she is about the whole thing.
Planning a wedding is one thing, but doing it with a baby on board is quite another. Actress, model and singer Tatyana Ali, known for playing Ashley Banks on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, is doing just that, with a little help from our friend, wedding planner Michael Russo.
How has the fact that you’re expecting changed your planning process?
“For me, I’m not interested in hiding the fact that I’m pregnant—I want to celebrate it. We’re both walking down the aisle! Initially, when I found out I was expecting, I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, this throws a wrench in the plans—this is going to make things more difficult and make things harder.’ But no, not at all. It’s made things very clear cut. There’s a stress level that I can’t afford to go to and it’s made things go more smoothly because they have to.”
When did you get engaged, and how did your fiancé propose?
“We got engaged this year on January 2. We were in northern California and went on a hike in a beautiful redwood park early in the morning. The trail opened up to this meadow, and it ended up just being us on this beautiful plateau. That’s when he proposed—it amazing! I was totally surprised. I thought we were going for a hike and a picnic. It was really emotional. After he proposed and I said ‘yes,’ we were caught in the moment for a while, then he said, ‘You didn’t even look at the ring!’ I finally looked down at it when we were on our way back.”
Can you give us the details on your engagement ring?
“[Vaughn] picked the ring all by himself. For different reasons, I don’t really like diamonds. I love them on other people, but I didn’t want a diamond ring. So in one way, I thought that would make it easy, but it actually made it a little harder to find an engagement ring that had no diamonds on it—not even a diamond crown. It’s an antique, part rose gold and part yellow gold. It’s really special. When my sisters and my girlfriends saw it, they all said the same thing, ‘Oh my god, it looks like you!’ He found it after a long search and did a really wonderful job. And he was able to go to a conflict-free jeweler, even though it was an antique ring.”
We heard you recently chose the perfect wedding dress! How was the dress shopping experience?
“I decided to came to New York City with my mom and we did it together. It was more exciting and more fun than I imagined it would be. It went really smoothly. I had a strong reaction to the one that’s now my dress. I want to keep it a surprise, but I can tell you that I actually cried when I saw myself in it, so I knew. I walked out and I just gasped and felt overwhelmed. My mom cried too! It was really, really special. Dress shopping was surprisingly easy because I have a bump, so it either works or it doesn’t work—it cancels a lot of things out.”
What’s the style and feel of your wedding?
“We decided to have a morning wedding. It feels kind of old-fashioned—in a good way!—to do it in the morning, even though we’re not marrying in a church. I really like it because with the pregnancy, it’ll be really good for me. And we’re kind of party people, so we’re definitely going to be dancing.”
Are you having a large wedding?
“We’re having about 100 people. Vaughn has a pretty big family and so do I, so we’re both bringing a crowd. We’re really helping each other out trying to figure out the list and keep the numbers down. It’s hard to do! That’s probably the planning piece that we keep going back to over and over again, and I’m going to keep going back to it every day until the invitations go out in June. It’s the hardest part because it’s so important. You want everybody you love to be there and have a great time!”
Are you incorporating any unique, personal touches into your wedding?
“My dad is from Trinidad and his favorite food is Caribbean food, so we’re bringing that into our event. We’re going to try to incorporate a bit of that old-world Caribbean feel. We’re working on making the food that we know and love into something special. And the Caribbean influence will go into other parts of the wedding as well, like our music. We’ll play music that we love now, but then also music that we and our families both grew up with.”
How has your collaboration with planner Michael Russo been?
“It’s been absolutely incredible. We’re having so much fun doing it. Even in the short amount of planning time we’ve had, we’re totally on the same page. He just knows my style and he can anticipate everything—I hadn’t even told him what I wanted my colors or flowers to be, but he totally anticipated it. I was like, ‘That’s it! How did you know?’ He has such great taste, which makes it so fun.”
Have you decided on any honeymoon plans?
“I think we’re going to wait a little while and do that later. We both love to travel and we know there’s lots of travel in our future anyway. And there’s going to be a lot going on for us very soon!”
Congratulations to Tatyana and Vaughn!