Inside RHOP Star Candiace Dillard’s Romantic, ‘Incredible’ D.C. Wedding: ‘It Was Like a Dream’

Candiace Dillard really didn’t want to cry. And then she saw Chris Bassett’s eyes across the room.

The Real Housewives of Potomac star was doing her best to control her emotions on Saturday as she prepared to wed Bassett in front of 260 friends and family at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, D.C. But as strong as she was, nothing prepared her for the moment she started walking down the aisle and locked eyes with her soon-to-be husband.

“When they opened the doors, I only saw him,” Dillard tells PEOPLE exclusively. “I was connected to Chris’ eyes. And he was crying, so I was weeping. There’s an ugly cry moment where I had to stop and scrunch up my face. To be walking towards the man who is going to be your husband? That was such a powerful and incredible feeling.”

“That is what I will always remember, looking in his eyes,” she continues. “It felt so comfortable and so right and so ‘This is where I’m supposed to be.’ And I was so overwhelmed by that feeling, and the look of the room, and seeing all the people around us. It was like a dream.”

Dillard and Bassett’s nuptials were a long time coming for the pair, who met while working at a restaurant together in D.C. and dated for nearly two years before he proposed in May 2017.

Their wedding planning was captured for the RHOP cameras, and while some of the tougher moments made for compelling TV, the final affair was smooth sailing.

“Everything was perfect — we were just blown away by it all,” Dillard says of the affair, which was designed by Strawberry Milk Events on her theme of “cosmopolitan sophistication with a touch of southern class.”

For the ceremony, the grand Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium was decked out with a mirrored walkway, boxes of white roses, floating chandeliers and a custom-made gold mirror arbor, flanked with cascading flowers by Edge Floral Event Design.

“They just showed out,” she says. “They got my vision perfectly. As far as the look and the aesthetic of the venue, I wouldn’t have done anything differently.”

Cocktail hour and a reception followed, with a feast of hors d’oeuvres and a seated dinner from Spilled Milk Catering that included lamb chops, a summer watermelon salad, short ribs and a sea bass with dill — an option that referenced their wedding hashtag.

As for the raspberry almond wedding cake? That was from ButterCream Bakeshop.

“The food was friggin’ amazing,” Dillard, a former Miss United States, recalls. “Delicious. The presentation was art deco, a little victorian — it matched all the themes I wanted in the wedding. And the cake was so, so good. We got nothing but great feedback from our guests on the food. So mission accomplished.”

Music from We the Fix and DJ Tryfe kept the guests moving. “We definitely danced the night away,” Dillard says. “I had a good sweat going on so I know I danced. My feet are still in shambles, so my body is telling me I had a good time.”

There were speeches throughout the night too, including ones from her dad and stepdad (who both walked her down the aisle) and one from Dillard’s mom. Bassett’s two best men, his brother his best friend, also gave speeches. “I wish we had maybe an extra hour at the reception, because all the speeches were amazing. I didn’t want them to stop,” Dillard says.

But of course, it was all about Dillard’s dress — or, in this case, dresses. Both were custom designed by New York designer Karen Sabag, who worked closely with Dillard over an eight-month period to craft the perfect look.

For the ceremony and reception, Dillard wore a flowing ballgown, its imprinted pearl cream silk organza draped over a fitted corset and continuing onto a skirt of 70 yards. Soft and dramatic at the same time, the gown was finished with two French bows on the shoulders, beaded (by hand) with 80 yards of Swarovski crystals. A clean, long cathedral vail — pinned into her soft curls — finished the look, with a blusher till the floor.

“That dress was everything I wanted it to be and then some,” Dillard says. “I knew I wanted a ballgown and I tried on several, but they just weren’t doing it. But Karen made it happen. It had the perfect drop-waist bodice, because when you’re a short girl wearing a ballgown, you have to be careful about it cutting you off on the wrong lines. And it was so light. It looked heavy, but I was really able to dance and jump around and move in it. I loved it.”  

A a second dress — a halter with cold shoulder sleeves and a mini poof skirt in a metallic flower sequence fabric — made its debut at the afterparty.

RELATED VIDEO: The Real Housewives of Potomac Go Makeup-Free for PEOPLE

Now that the wedding is behind them, Dillard and Bassett — a restaurateur and father of three — have a honeymoon to plan. They’ve got some time, the two not planning on heading out on the getaway until January, when they can get some good vacation time scheduled.

“We’re thinking either Greece or Dubai, though we’ve also gotten some good suggestions in the Amalfi coast and Thailand,” Dillard explains. “What’s important for us in a honeymoon destination is that we’re able to immerse ourselves in a culture. Not just the food and the libations, but also being around the people and watching how those countries live. So all those places check those boxes.”

And in the meantime, they’ll be reminiscing about their big day for years to come.

“It feels so crazy,” Dillard says. “As soon as Chris and I walked back down the aisle together, the first thing I said to him was, ‘Can we do it again?’ And that’s how I feel about it now. I’ll remember it forever.”

The Real Housewives of Potomac airs Sundays (8 p.m. ET) on Bravo.


PEOPLE.com

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Melania Joins Trump Amid Cheating Scandals as Family Leaves D.C. Ahead of March for Our Lives

As half a million students head to Washington, D.C. on Saturday for the March for Our Lives rally, President Donald Trump skipped town to spend the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago golf resort in Florida.

The 71-year-old former Celebrity Apprentice host was photographed alongside wife Melania Trump and their 12-year-old son Baron Trump disembarking Air Force One at Palm Beach International Airport late Friday evening.

Their family trip also comes as Donald is embroiled in allegations that he had affairs with two women, porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal, while married to Melania in 2006. The White House has denied both affairs.

Earlier in the day, the first lady chose to leave the White House on Friday without her husband — again. Though the official White House schedule stated that the first couple planned to depart the White House together aboard Marine One to Joint Base Andrews, Mrs. Trump opted to depart Washington, D.C. solo following her speech honoring “women of courage” at an event on Friday, CNN reported.

When asked about the change of plans, a rep for the first lady simply told PEOPLE: “Mrs. Trump is here at Mar-a-Lago.”

Meanwhile, the president shared a photo of himself arriving at the Maryland military facility alone on Instagram.

The father of five is expected to remain at Mar-a-Lago for the weekend. The first lady is scheduled to stay for at least a week while Barron is on his spring break vacation.

RELATED VIDEO: PEOPLE Writer Natasha Stoynoff Breaks Silence, Accuses Donald Trump of Sexual Attack

On Thursday, CNN aired a headline-making sit-down with McDougal, in which she apologized to the first lady for the alleged 10-month sexual relationship. “What can you say except, I’m sorry? I’m sorry. I wouldn’t want it done to me, I’m sorry,” McDougal, 46, said as she fought back tears. “I know it’s the wrong thing to do.”

McDougal has filed suit against American Media, Inc., the company that owns The National Enquirer, to get out of an agreement blocking her from speaking about her alleged affair with the now-president. Daniels has also sued Trump to end her 2016 nondisclosure agreement on her own alleged relationship with the former businessman.

A source close to Melania recently told PEOPLE that the first lady is “furious” over the nonstop controversies engulfing the White House and her husband’s presidency. “What’s happening is exactly what she didn’t want to happen,” the source said. “They’ve literally become like the Kardashians: scandals, divorces, headlines.”

RELATED: What to Expect at Saturday’s March for Our Lives as Students Rally Against Gun Violence Nationwide

Meanwhile, Saturday’s March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. will see students calling for legislation “to effectively address the gun violence issues that are rampant in our country.”

The event was planned by Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students Jaclyn CorinCameron KaskyDavid HoggEmma Gonzalez and Alex Wind within days of the Feb. 14 mass shooting at the Parkland, Florida school, which left 17 of their classmates dead.

Already the event has expanded to include more than 800 “sibling marches” in cities around the world.

RELATED: See Donald Trump’s Less-Than-Brave Moments After Boasting He’d Run Into Parkland School Without Gun

President Trump — who had claimed he would have rushed into the Florida school shooting, even if he wasn’t armed — was reminded of that fact by comedian and talk show host Stephen Colbert on Friday.

Hey @realdonaldtrump I thought you said you’d run TOWARD the kids, not away from them!,” Colbert tweeted, linking out to an article about the president’s Mar-a-Lago getaway.


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How carriers will keep D.C. online during Trump’s inaugurationWireless providers are working overtime to ensure D.C. stays connected during Trump’s inauguration. The Mall in Washington looked a little Dickensian ahead of Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony. Instead, wireless carriers facing what could be more than one million attendees for Friday’s festivities — in addition to a large crowd for Saturday’s National Women’s March protest — are deploying outsized equipment to supercharge their networks and ensure everyone stays online throughout the weekend.



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Bill Murray Is Cordially Invited To Washington, D.C., For A Groundhog Day Party

How hard could it be to get Bill Murray to show up to at an annual Groundhog Day celebration in the nation’s capital? Aaron DeNu says that, even with short notice, “I think we have a chance.”

DeNu launched D.C.’s now-annual tribute to the soothsaying animal two years ago. He’s hoping this year’s event will entice Murray, who starred in the classic, and profound, “Groundhog Day,” to attend.

“I think one in 100,” he tells HuffPost, putting the odds that high because Murray is out promoting a new film — “The Monuments Men” — for which he’s been undertaking some unorthodox publicity stunts, and because an exhibition relating to the movie will be opening at the Smithsonian on Feb. 7, a mere five days after the big day itself.

DeNu has convinced a handful of local businesses to donate goods and services which would make Murray’s visit more appealing: a quirky boutique hotel has offered to put him up and a bookstore/restaurant frequented by the president has offered to feed him.

In 2011 when DeNu launched the event, he originally had a more feral star in mind: a live groundhog, which he planned to call Potomac Phil. DeNu thought he’d tell people that Potomac Phil is a brother of Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil; that the two are both genetically blessed weather-rodents.

That plan eventually petered out. DeNu contacted various groups he thought might have a spare to lend out, and learned that groundhogs may be common, but this time of year they are also mostly hibernating. A stuffed groundhog, purchased from a D.C. vintage store — yet also said to be able to see its shadow, and thus to adjudge the sort of winter Washington will enjoy — has stood in a live animal’s place.

Regarding this endeavor, while DeNu doesn’t mark his chances of luring Murray as especially promising, “I’m going to keep at it,” he says. “As Bill Murray’s best friend said, ‘Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!‘”

The attempts, thus far, have mainly entailed looking for the 1-800 number on which Murray is said to check messages. GQ reported in 2010 that the actor will return calls for propositions he finds “interesting.”

Easy enough, except this time the problem is that DeNu doesn’t know, specifically, what 1-800 number to call.

“So, I’ve been on a quest to find that number,” he says. “Along the way, I’ve left some awkward messages on different 1-800 numbers that I believed to be his. I spoke into the AT&T toll free line for 30 minutes searching different names. Using search criteria such as names of characters Bill Murray has portrayed in film. And I’ve reached out to an accountant in New York that is rumored to be in contact with him. I try every day, but it seems like I’m having the same day over and over again.”

Still, it could be so easy for Murray to help DeNu make things right. “Bill can email me at DupontFestival@gmail.com,” he says, “and if he can be in Dupont Circle Park on Sunday, Feb. 2 at 7:30 a.m. it would be beautiful.”
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