Erin Wasson and Barth Tassy Combined Their Texas and French Riviera Roots With a “Ranch Tropez” Wedding in Austin
“I’m not your average bear,” quips supermodel and jewelry designer Erin Wasson as she candidly recalls her first encounter with now-husband, Barth Tassy. “We actually met at a gay bar!”
Erin, who has always been equal parts charm and steel, was single and not even ready to mingle when she met the French restauranteur two years ago in Venice, California. Their exchange seemed straight from a romantic comedy. “He was so gentlemanly and sophisticated that it was almost disarming. I blurted out, ‘You’re not from around here,’ ” Erin says. Though Barth, who moved to Los Angeles four years ago by way of Marseilles, gave her his number on the spot, the statuesque beauty never rang her tall, dark, and handsome suitor. “Three weeks later, I ran into him outside of a coffee shop in Venice and he cheekily said, ‘I’m that guy you never called back.’ ”
When a dinner date finally happened, the pair felt an immediate familiarity. “It’s supposed to be easy,” she says, pausing briefly. “Well, it’s supposed to be easy and complicated, but I think at the beginning it’s just supposed to be easy.”
An effortless courtship led to a surprise engagement on Erin’s birthday last January, on an unseasonably rainy day in Tulum. Barth presented Erin with what seemed to be his private Moleskine diary with the words “Ma Vie” inscribed on the cover. In fact, the pages were glued together, and a surprise cutout ensconced his grandmother’s ring. “It was a family heirloom that his father had proposed to his mother with, but it also looked like something I would design. It felt like an extension of me,” says Erin. Even though she is a hard-core jewelry aficionado and designer of her own line, Wasson Fine, Erin surprisingly had not been manifesting a specific engagement ring in her head. “I’m not that girl that’s like, ‘Honey, this is the ring that I want one day.’ ”
She’s also not the kind of girl who was going to opt for a classic wedding, either. To represent the couple’s respective Texas and French Riviera roots, they planned a hybrid wedding bash in Austin, Texas, that the bride playfully deemed “Ranch Tropez.” Though the memorable weekend was meant to be a laid-back amuse-bouche to a second, more traditional wedding later this month in St.-Tropez, no attention to detail was spared. “We wanted to represent each other and our heritage,” Erin affirms. “Texas is a part of my roots, the South of France is part of Barth’s, so we were like, you know what, ‘Ranch Tropez!’ Let’s do a little bit of barbecue, a little bit of rose, and find a way to do two different weddings that feel small and intimate.”
As one might expect of a woman who continues to straddle high fashion, downtown grit, and cowboy cool, Erin opted to forgo a traditional wedding planner and take the bull by the horns along with her best friend and Austin resident David Mendoza (whom she also asked to officiate the ceremony). “It was a real joint, hands-on effort. David and I share the same brain and trust one another. We’re both visionaries!” says the bride, who choose a ruffled Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood frock, her own Wasson Fine earrings, and custom Lucchese boots for the big day. “I don’t want to go too far with the Western theme because it’s not about that. But, I can’t not. I can’t not!”
As 80 of the couple’s closest friends and family arrived outside the storied and delightfully ramshackle former site of the Word of Life Baptist Church, they beat the 102-degree heat with carved wood fans, sips of Whispering Angel, and locally sourced bites from caterer Barbara Frisbie. While DJ Lisa Butch set the vibe right, spinning lo-fi southern soul vinyl, the relaxed bride and groom did a pre-wedding mingle.
Furthering Erin’s unapologetic, break-the-rules ethos, renowned Dallas jazz musician Shelley Carrol played tenor sax to summon guests into the raw sanctuary adorned with deconstructed flowers and warmly lit by a stock of Byredo Altar candles. While some sat in ununiform rows and others stood by in clusters, the space only subtly resembled a place of worship. Still, spirituality and romance seemed to seep from the concrete walls as the veiled bride, wrapped in a strand of fresh baby’s breath, approached the simple altar to the hum of Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon.” “You are the gold that fills my cracks,” Erin declared in her vows, after select friends gave heartfelt messages. It was a decidedly quiet, unfussy, and straight-to-the-heart ceremony that conveyed the bona fide, no-bullshit personality of the couple themselves.
An all-knowing full moon and custom “Word of Life” neon sign—which the couple commissioned from local artist Evan Voyles to pay homage to the spirit of the property—guided guests into an open field after the ceremony. A family-style dinner was served in a cluster of pointed burlap tents furbished with flower arrangements from Growing Studio, while place settings were playfully dotted with “Ranch Tropez” lighters and “Don’t Mess with Texas” keychains.
While the previous night’s rehearsal dinner took a nod from the groom’s French roots with mussels and a hibachi-style steak frites, the wedding night’s menu fully pledged allegiance to the Lone Star State with down-home barbecue from the famed 70-year old Lockhart, Texas, mainstay Smitty’s Marketplace. “The wedding was all the things that I love about being raised in Texas,” Erin explains. “It was really important to us that everything told the same story with complete authenticity, from the rich history of the space and the community, to the food coming from the same small organic farm.”
As DJ Osamu Nishimura began to up the ante with old-school tracks, it became clear that this wasn’t going to be a wedding where one is glued to their seat for endless courses and exhaustive speeches. This was a joyous party where coastal French folk, Southern boot-scooters, big city slickers, and SoCal beach bums were more-than-eager to find a common, mezcal-laced, not-too-cool-for-school ground on the dance floor nearly the entire night.
The temperature, failing to drop well past midnight, kept things hot and heavy as nearly all the guests ventured down the street to the historic juke joint Sahara Lounge for a rousing all-night after-party fueled by a live 10-piece African band. Yet, even as the sun began to rise, the festivities were far from over, as guests gathered the next day at the historic 3-acre Barton Springs pool before bidding au revoir.
Though it’s said that everything is bigger in Texas, the intimate, closely knit crowd (no fifth cousins twice removed, or family pediatricians, in sight) is what made the weekend an extraordinary and memorable affair. Erin was adamant about not mixing business with pleasure. “I don’t mean this in a bad way, but this was not a fashion wedding,” says Erin. In 2010, she designed a Neil Young–inspired T-shirt with a personal mantra that read “Keep It Neil.” And in 2018, this bride did just that.
By Andrew Bevan