An enchanted forest re-created in a hotel garden personifies romance

To meet the man of her dreams, Wendy West didn't even have to leave her house. A mutual friend thought this former Los Angeles schoolteacher would hit it off with Andy Stein, a furniture manufacturer from Memphis, so a phone date was scheduled. After three weeks and about 200 hours of long-distance talking, the two finally met in person. Eleven months later, Andy proposed.

Caught up in their whirlwind romance, the couple wanted a short engagement. They called in wedding planner Randie Pellegrini. "She was amazing. We made the decisions but she brought us all of the choices," says the bride. Wendy and Andy exchanged vows in a garden at the Beverly Hills Hotel on March 26, 2005. The enchanted-forest theme came to life when guests entered a tent filled with trees, chandeliers and handmade butterflies. The bride, escorted by her parents, walked down the aisle in a Swarovski crystal–adorned strapless gown. "The dress had so many buttons that it took an hour to get into it," Wendy laughs. For "something blue," she had her name and the wedding date embroidered in blue thread inside her dress.

At the reception, guests feasted on lobster ravioli and filet mignon, followed by a dessert trio of strawberry mousse, vanilla crème brûlée and chocolate molten-lava cake. Other highlights included hand-rolled cigars and a bar made out of ice, but what guests really loved was an artist who painted a portrait of the reception as it was happening. "People kept walking by to check out his progress," Wendy recalls. Both the painting and the wedding were everything the bride had hoped for. "It was the wedding of my dreams."

Learn From Wendy and Andy

Transform your reception space: Wendy and Andy had special furniture brought in to create a loungy feel and hired a lighting specialist to help set the mood for their party. As an added touch, their names and bouquets of flowers were projected in lights on the dance floor.
Entertain your guests: Along with an artist who painted a portrait of the reception as it happened, the couple brought in a magician to visit the tables and perform tricks for guests throughout the night.
Say a sweet goodbye: As guests left the reception site, they were handed surprise treats for the road—pieces of wedding cake and warm Krispy Kreme doughnuts packaged in small boxes for easy transport home. —Anita K. Henry

The newlyweds posed for a sweet picture; Wendy's bouquet of roses and calla lilies made a perfect prop.

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