This must be what Cinderella felt like – at least the part up until she fell in love. No one, to my knowledge, fell in love at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
Thanks to some very good Washington, DC reporter friends, I was able to check off this big item from my bucket list and I still can’t believe it happened at all. The WHCD, or #NerdProm as it is now known is one of those events I have watched on television for years. As a journalist, news junkie and pop culture addict, it’s basically my Oscar night. Where else would Bradley Cooper be rubbing shoulders with Wolf Blitzer?
The WHCD has gotten some critical press itself lately. And some of it is valid. But at the end of the day, for me, it’s the best of my worlds. A room full of the best journalists around mixed with Washington insiders and A, B and C-list celebrities. In one word, heaven.
Prepping for this dinner is no joke. As you can see by the invite, it’s a black-tie affair. So I rented a dress from RentTheRunway, which thankfully fit, and had it delivered up to DC. Dress in hand, now it was time to focus on hair and makeup.
It’s quite funny when you sit around with your best friend and get your nails done. We joked about how we should fly up our other good friend to do our hair and makeup. The idea of going to a salon and paying A LOT of money to a stranger seemed dumb. We should have thought about this earlier. But hey, that’s how we roll. So what started as a joke, turned into reality. At 3:45 p.m. on Friday, we booked a flight for Brush Savvy to join us in DC. She had to be on a 5:30 p.m. flight. And she made it! YOLO!
So now that we literally had our very own Fairy God Mother, we just had to focus on the fun.
We spent the day getting ready:
But before the main event, there were some mini-events. Because one party is just not enough.
Let’s talk about the first party we walk into…the CBS/National Journal/Atlantic Media Pre-Reception. This glorious tent (to protect was from the miserable DC weather) was complete with multiple bar locations, a photo booth and celebrities!
- The first people I see are Bob Schieffer – Madeline Albright – Tea Leoni – Tim Daly. I love all these people but really just wanted to say hi to Bob. And I did. We had a nice talk about the Poynter Institute in Tampa. And his retirement. HOLY CRAP – that happened.
- Found at this moment that Tea Leoni and Tim Daly are dating. They are an adorable and sexy couple. How cute that a casting director put them as husband and wife on the tv screen!?
- Madeline Albright was adorable and I could think about how she was in a great episode of Gilmore Girls!
- There was a woman I kept starring at, trying to place her. I felt like she was West Wing related, but for the life of me, I couldn’t confirm. Therefore, I said nothing. AND DAMMIT – she was. And was was adorable. I’m sorry, Melissa Fitzgerald. I feel like we missed out on a major moment. Also – she does some amazing work now for military veterans, and I feel like we could have really bonded over that as well.
- We had some fun in the photo booth:
- Ran into many politicians and reporters including:
Sen. Claire McCaskill
Rep. Steny Hoyer
I also recommend traveling with a personal stylist. It’s worth the investment to ensure that you are always flawless in your red carpet look:
From here, it was time for the red carpet. I have never seen a real-live red carpet in action. I mean, not like this. Media outlets were LIVE and celebrities were everywhere and each network had its own wrangler trying to get celebrities to walk up to their microphones and it was just insane. And truth be told, I loved it. I could have stayed in this room all night long. The energy was amazing and you couldn’t turn your head without seeing someone important.
- The first people I saw, Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir. I am a GIANT figure skating fan and these two are now the reigning queens of the sports. Plus, Johnny and I both were rocking handbands – so we had to be friends.
- Ran into Al Roker and Tamron hall from the Today Show. Didn’t get to really talk to Al, but Tamron is hysterical. We all bonded over how great our boobs looked in our dresses.
- We saw Donald Trump, but I wasn’t interested in a photo.
- Saw Lucy Liu, tiny thing!
- Sway Calloway – he was so great, and his girlfriend or wife or date, was a pleasure to talk to. And had an amazing dress.
Once the red carpet wrapped up, we went down to grab our seats for the main event. But first, security. You know it’s a crazy night ahead when you are behind Newt Gingrich and his wife, and next to George Stephanopoulos and his wonderfully funny wife, Ali Wentworth.
We get through security with no issue and we are in. I cannot believe this is real life. We immediately walk into the ballroom and pretty much walk straight into Bradley Cooper, basically tripping on his foot. So that happened. I managed to get a picture with Michael Kelly – also known as Doug Stamper from House of Cards. We found our table and tried to figure out the lay of the land. The ballroom is just PACKED with people. It’s unreal how many people they can pack into this room. The program has a great seating chart- along with a complete list of guests and their table numbers. Which, frankly, makes life easy for nerds like me to seek out celebrities.
Just as we were getting up to go walk the floor, it was time for the color guard and the national anthem. It was kind of mind-blowing to be in a room singing the national anthem with the president. I mean – I almost started to cry, until I remembered about all my eye makeup. Here are the highlights:
- We had a great table with a real mix of people. On my left, a girl from The Bachelor (I have no idea who she was). On my right, a woman who turned out to be one of those amazing people you feel like you instantly know and ended up having an amazing night with. She took me on a walk of the floor and OMG did we meet people! First, up to the podium – you know, with the President and First Lady. Then to meet Ann Compton – who is just simply amazing and stunning and I couldn’t even speak. Then, we politily asked Wolf Blitzer to get out of the way so I could get a picture with Jane Fonda. I kind of nerded out of her – pretty sure i scared her about raving about The Newsroom and her soon-to-be-released Netflix project with Lilly Tomlin. Listen Jane, I’M A FAN. Then I turned around from that and Martha Stewart was waving to me. Then I saw the following people…all in a blur:
- Jim Acosta
- Ann Compton
- Katie Couric
- Laverne Cox
- The guys from Modern Family
- Sen. Debbie Stabenow (saw her in the bathroom and we bonded over good old Lansing days)
- Michelle Monaghan
- Nancy Pelosi
- Jim Avila – whom I used to watch in Chicago!!
- Major Garrett
- Darby Stanchfield
- Jane Seymour
- Russell Wilson
- Alfe Woodard
- Jeff Zucker
I feel like there are so many others – but it’s all a blur. The president was amazing. Michelle Obama is simply stunning in person. And the night ended with us in an elevator with Gayle King.
So in the end, the most amazing night ever. Memories that will last a lifetime. But the moral of the story is, you just never know what’s going to happen. Life is an amazing gift and you need to LIVE IT. So…YOLO.