In the summer of 2015, Stephanie Roach received a text message from a friend she had grown up with in Los Angeles. “She told me about this wonderful guy who was the same age as me and said that his parents reminded her of mine," she recalls. "I was heading out of town on vacation, but he wanted to have a phone call which I thought—in this modern age of texting—was particularly sweet!” When Stephanie returned from vacation, she and John Weiss went on a date at Raoul's in Soho. "It was very romantic and then we were off to the races," she says. "By our fourth date I think we realized that we were really compatible and had so much fun together.”
Fast forward to Los Angeles in December 2017. Given Stephanie’s intimate ties to art—she's the director at The FLAG Art Foundation—John spearheaded an intricately planned proposal with assistance from two of the couple’s friends, artist Awol Erizku and floral designer Sarah Lineberger (coincidentally, the same duo behind Beyoncé’s exalted pregnancy shoot). Stephanie had been told that they were going for a proper studio visit, however, she soon found John down on one knee amid a stunning floral backdrop (reminiscent of Beyoncé’s).
Eight months later on a perfectly balmy August evening, #theweisses were back in L.A. to seal the deal. “While the idea of a destination wedding was exciting, we realized that some of the people who were really important to us might not be able to make it,” says the bride. “LA is my hometown and we’ve shared special memories there so we thought it would be a meaningful city in which to get married. I’ve always loved the lush gardens, quintessential California look, and the romantic setting of Hotel Bel-Air, all of which resonated with John and made it an ideal setting for the special day.”
The bride’s Vera Wang dress was actually the first wedding dress she tried on. “I adored the layers of exquisite, different Chantilly laces and how I felt in it," she says. "I shopped and shopped, and still couldn’t get it out of my mind!” During the ceremony, Stephanie wore a long-sleeve lace bolero under the dress and removed it for the reception. For her "something old,” she had a satin bow (made from the lining of her mom’s veil) discreetly sewn to the inside of her dress. A custom veil and Jimmy Choo shoes (complete with custom plates with the wedding date and couple’s initials) rounded out her timeless look.
The groom chose a Ralph Lauren Purple Label tuxedo and Ralph Lauren velvet loafers, accenting his shirt with silver knot studs from Tiffany & Co. and monogrammed, gold cufflinks from Firestone & Parson (a gift from his uncle). While some couples don’t see each other on the big day until their “first look,” Stephanie and John chose to wake up early to go for a light, scenic run together. Their “first look” took place on a path outside their suite, followed by shots taken on another part of the property with her father’s vintage, white Porsche Speedster for some old-fashioned, quintessentially “California” fun.
Lou Lou Safran, the goddaughter of Stephanie’s mom, served as the most graceful flower girl. Her dress, borrowed from her mom Natalia, was a vintage Chanel number made with gossamer netting and lace. As she walked down the aisle, Lou Lou scattered rose petals from the silver wedding basket that had been used at Stephanie’s parents’ wedding.
One of the lovely art-related components of the big day was the wedding program, which featured illustrations by Nick Sanchez.
“One of the few moments when I got really emotional was during the ketubah signing when the rabbi had us look at each other and explained the significance of the veil and veiling of the woman in Jewish tradition," Stephanie recalls. "That moment was so poignant because it was the crystallizing exchange of us saying that we were actually doing this." Afterward, she queued up to walk down the aisle with her parents, as she had always envisioned.
“The flowers and chuppah were a big focus for my mom and me,” Stephanie says. “She has always had a love of flowers, so I called on her—and Nancy Kaye from Mark’s Garden—to realize our vision! We wanted our chuppah to feel lush and otherworldly, as though it was an organic part of the garden—but tailored and not overdone. It was adorned with white and cream roses, garden roses, spray roses, hydrangea as well as a variety of green textural accents.”
One of the most touching moments—for both the couple and the guests—occurred during the ceremony when the rabbi requested a special blessing from everyone present. She had Stephanie and John face outward in the direction of the crowd to connect and take it all in. “I think it’s rare for a couple to actually engage [with the guests] during the ceremony and I distinctly remember seeing different people’s faces, which made it so special,” says the bride.
On a funny note, the ceremony was held next to the swan lake on property and at the exact moment when the rabbi mentioned their mutual appreciation of each other’s senses of humor, the swans squawked with perfect timing!
Newlyweds! Their recessional song was La Bamba—a nod to their favorite childhood song.
For the general color scheme, the couple went for an “elegant European classic” look, considered and natural with an intentional formal garden feel of flowers in a palette of whites and creams with green textural accents and touches of gold. The centerpieces utilized white garden roses, ranunculus, anemones and hydrangeas. On some of the tables, a garland ran down the center to create interest and maintain consistency and symmetry with dynamic movement, while white linens, Bernardaud china, and a single white rose were placed at each setting. “Many of the aesthetic choices we made were classic, and then there were riffs!” explains Stephanie. For the menus, she turned to Stephanie Fishwick, who brilliantly incorporated key components of the décor—the whites and greens of the flowers and swans —to capture the essence of the milieu. “Her sophisticated and playful creative interpretation truly elevated the settings,” she says.
Their first dance was the Elvis version of “Can’t Help Falling In Love.” “The rest of the night was filled with wonderful speeches and so much dancing! I felt so much positive energy,” she says.
In keeping with the evening’s aesthetic, the couple chose a four-tier, tailored white lemon sponge cake with a strand of greenery and white flowers. Because they both have a huge sweet tooth, they complemented the cake with a Viennese dessert station. “Our hope was that the experience looked like a gorgeous night starscape with gorgeous flowers,” Stephanie says. “We cut the cake, John and I gave a speech, and then at 10 p.m., we had a gospel choir perform hits like 'Ain’t No Mountain High Enough' and 'Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow' as a surprise to our guests. It was a great way to keep the energy high as guests continued to dance the night away!”
Ceremony and Reception Venue: Hotel Bel-Air || Wedding Planner: Jowy Productions || Officiant: Rabbi Laura Geller || Bride's Dress: Vera Wang || Veil: Vera Wang || Jewelry: Harry Winston || Shoes: Jimmy Choo || Hair: Nancy Rodriguez || Makeup: Liza Zaretsky || Groom's Attire: Ralph Lauren || Flower Girl Attire: Vintage Chanel || Engagement Ring: Custom || Wedding Bands: Cartier || Florist: Mark's Garden || Invitations and Programs: The Printery || Illustrations: Nicolas V. Sanchez || Menus: Stephanie Fishwick || Music: West Coast Music || Rentals: La Tavola || Videography: BlueCat || Photography: Heather Kincaid