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Lila Lazarus the proud winner of the 2013 Emmy Award.

2013 Emmy Award
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Here comes the birthday girl – make that bride

Wedding
Hello, the caller said, and she gave her name — and then she laughed.

“It’s the first time I’ve said that,” said Lila Fernandez, who until Saturday night was Lila Lazarus. “I haven’t had a chance to use the phone.”

She’s been online a lot, posting pictures. Then there was that whole business with a mutant storm knocking out the power the entire weekend of the wedding. And her husband drove off Monday morning on a business trip.

So she’s been busy, and things are always hectic when you get married … especially when you don’t tell anyone that’s what you’re doing until the ceremony starts.

“I’m the mother of the bride,” Evelyn Orbach told her when Lazarus suddenly appeared at her own birthday party in a wedding dress. “I should have known.”

Spontaneity being the order of the evening, Lazarus offered her arm, and Orbach took it and walked her down the aisle. As mother delivered daughter to groom, Ms. Fernandez reports, “The crowd went crazy.”

Ed Fernandez and the former Ms. Lazarus have been engaged since the 2012 North American International Auto Show preview party.

That means they’ve been evading the when-are-you-guys-getting-married question for a year and a half, partly to be coy and partly because they had no earthly idea.

Golden opportunity

Lila Lazarus was a reporter and anchor at multiple slots on the local TV dial. These days she runs a production company, serves as the spokeswoman for a hospital system, teaches yoga, makes speeches, water skis and rides her Harley. All Fernandez does is oversee seven stations, including WXYZ (Channel 7).

They toyed with marrying on a trip to Belize over Memorial Day, but the law there says you have to be in the country for five days first and it turns out your arrival day doesn’t count.

At a benefit for the Belle Isle Conservancy before the 2012 Detroit Grand Prix, they asked Gov. Rick Snyder if he’d do the honors. “Like, tonight,” she said. He declined, on the grounds that he didn’t know how and he wasn’t sure he was allowed to, which it turns out he isn’t.

Fast-forward to mid-June, when they invited 150 dear hearts to Lila’s Blanco Birthday Bash. That’s blanco as in everyone-wear-white, and birthday as in 50 on Aug. 3.

After RSVPs came in from a bunch of his relatives in Grand Rapids and her brother in Jerusalem, inspiration struck. “We’d been looking for that magic moment,” she says, and here it was — bearing down on them like a runaway bridal train.

Keeping their secret

Wedding

She bought her dress last week. Ditto the rings. When a friend offered to bring a birthday cake, she asked, “Do you mind bringing two?”

The judge was the husband of a friend she ran into at a Tigers game. He brought the number of people who knew the scoop to maybe a dozen, including Fernandez’ three daughters, the seamstress who snuck in Saturday night to make sure the dress fit, and the hero of the evening, David McKnight from Emerald City Designs.

McKnight is the florist and event planner who came up with generators and fallback plans Friday when the storm knocked out power and shredded the tents at their lakefront house in Oakland County. Guests were all but unaware, just as they didn’t know anything was in the works for the first 2 ½ hours of the party.

Then Lazarus snuck off to a neighbor’s house to put on her gown, grabbing her friend and hairdresser Yiannis Karimalis on the way.

“I got the dress on in two minutes,” she says. Meantime, a gospel choir was leading the guests to a chuppah on the water behind the neighbor’s house. About the time people figured out this was more than a birthday, Fernandez puttered to shore in a ski boat.

Vows broke out, followed by abundant joy and tears. “We‘d been saying all along the perfect moment would show up,“ she says, and in fact, it did.

Then Monday came, dragging the real world behind it, and the new husband motored off to a station in Indianapolis.

Ms. Fernandez sent him off with a kiss and a smile. “This is the longest I’ve been apart from you,” she said, “since we got married.“