Jared Harris may not have had the happiest ending on Mad Men, but in real life, the actor is set to ride off into the sunset with fiancee Allegra Riggio. The 51-year-old star proposed to Riggio in June with a custom-made ring by Erica Courtney, featuring a heart-shaped diamond in a rose gold setting. Here, the bride-to-be shares exclusively with Us Weekly the story of how she and Harris met and fell in love.
Today is my bridal shower. My dear friend Neelou Malekpour is hosting, and I'm so lucky to have her, as she produces amazing one-of-a-kind experiences for GoMoment.com, so she really knows what she's doing. The Hollywood home I share with my fiance is filled with gift bags, balloons, champagne, hors d'oeuvres, activities, love, romance, music, an avalanche of girlfriends baring bridal goodies of lingerie, words of advice, and tales of "Do you remember whens?" This is the first event leading up to marrying the man I love, Jared Harris, who you probably know as Lane Pryce from Mad Men. This is the start of a slew of celebrations that will culminate in our wedding in just three weeks' time. I still can't believe we got here.
Our story...Jared and I met at Bar Lubitsch in April 2009. At the time, neither of us could have predicted this day would come. He was suffering through the final throes of a particularly nasty divorce, and I was at my lowest, most miserable moment. I had moved to L.A. for love, and it was not going as planned. That evening I was desperate for a laugh. Jared had the same thought, and we ended up making the same decision to peel ourselves off our respective couches to see a mutual friend visiting from NYC do stand-up.
At the end of the show, all the people who had come out to support our comedian pal met up and continued having a laugh well into the night. I can't begin to express how good it was to laugh, and how sad I felt for not being able to enjoy that feeling in my crumbling relationship. Much champagne was enjoyed, friends were made, and that's when Jared and I met. When I went home that night, I reflected on all the nice people who were there, and how good it felt to be out. I decided to have the same experience the next night.
On Thursdays in the back room of Bar Lubitsch, there is a free comedy show hosted by Josh Weinstein and Josh Haness aptly called "The Josh & Josh Show." Our friend from NYC was performing again. My girlfriend Valerie and I snagged a table and noticed Jared at the bar. Remembering him from the night before, we invited him to sit with us. Another mercifully fun night of comedy ensued, and we learned more about each other. Jared seemed to be a very pleasant guy who was going through his own personal hell. All I talked about that evening was how my relationship was in shambles and how frustrating it was to feel trapped and alone after I'd moved from NYC to be with the guy. Thank goodness for the comedy show, because our explanations of our situations were most miserable and depressing.
After exchanging phone numbers at the end of the night, I went to the home I shared with my boyfriend and struggled on in that relationship for another four months. I'd text Jared every month to make sure he hadn't drifted further into the abyss, and we'd exchange some pleasantries here and there, but we never made plans. Which was fine, as I hadn't planned on dating him; I thought maybe we could be "misery friends" and cheer each other up once in a while.
I finally had the strength to leave the person I moved to L.A. for in August 2009. I cried every day and was completely heartbroken. Everything seemed incredibly bleak, and I hated being stuck in L.A. It was so bad that even my friends were worried about me, which made me feel worse. I'm not the type of person to act that way, but bad relationships can happen even to the best of us.
I really needed a ridiculous karaoke night to scream out my frustrations. Remembering Jared was interested in karaoke, too -- I hadn't contacted him in months, and was wondering how my "misery friend" was doing -- I texted him to see if he'd be interested in joining. That Sunday night, he picked me up and we went to karaoke. That night had everything. It had singing, dancing, laughter -- I even slapped some guy who wouldn't stop harassing me. Hilarity ensued for sure.
Jared and I started planning fun outings to cheer us up, as we both were still mired in misery. We went to comedy shows to laugh, concerts to dance and act like we could sing, then karaoke to be reminded of how poorly we actually do sing... We even went to Magic Mountain to ride roller coasters. We just kept doing things that were bound to entertain, and slowly we stopped being miserable. Eventually, we just wanted to do everything together. Then, against all rhyme or reason and all the odds, our heavily damaged hearts began to heal. Laughter, as they say, truly is the best medicine. We fell in love and swore never to speak of marriage, as our last relationships ruined the thought of it.
Flash forward four years, and I have a sparkly rock on my ring finger and am surrounded by a gaggle of good friends at my bridal shower. Stranger things have happened, I'm sure, but if you knew us during the "misery friends" stage, you would never have seen this coming. If I had said to you, "I'm having a custom ring made by Erica Courtney and a custom gown by Monique Lhuillier, and am getting married in Miami Beach on the Lady Windridge yacht, with an after-party at the Eden Roc," you would have said, "YEAH RIGHT, ALLEGRA...," and we would have laughed and laughed and laughed some more, because that did not at all seem like my path.
When people from New York warn you about moving to L.A., they always say: 1) You'll never make real friends, and 2) You'll never meet someone to love you. I can confirm these cynical notions are false, as my life since meeting Jared has been nothing short of wonderful, and love-filled. Life is good, and gets better.