Real Wedding: Los Angeles, California
Few modern brides can evoke a sense of grace and polished elegance that hints at a past era. For Dani Wassel, she was destined to go classically retro on her wedding day at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. "My personal aesthetic has always had a vintage feel to it, in terms of my everyday dress and style,” she says. It seemed only natural for Dani and Mark Shapiro, both professionals in the entertainment industry, to marry in a place that epitomizes old Hollywood glamour—Los Angeles, California. "We love L.A so much and have become such a part of it, we couldn't imagine our wedding anywhere else!" she says.
The cosmopolitan couple had a distinct vision of their ideal wedding venue. “We wanted a clean, contemporary space with an urban feel, but of course, we had to take advantage of the natural beauty of Southern California,” Dani says. The Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles was perfect. “There is an amazing juxtaposition between the modern, architectural lines of the building and the lush, green surroundings of the Santa Monica Mountains," Dani says. The bride called upon Michelle Buckley of Mint Julep to arrange all of the sweet details of the event. In keeping with the retro theme, the wedding stationery, place cards and weekend itinerary were done in an old-fashioned typewriter font.
Early-arriving friends and family were welcomed to the Luxe Hotel with gift baskets filled to the brim with iconic California goodies: dried fruit and cheese, Walker's Shortbread, Ghirardelli Chocolates and Martinelli's Apple Juice. The couple reveled in sharing their version of California life with their out-of-town guests, most of whom were first-timers to the state. They began by hosting an intimate cocktail party for the twenty-somethings in the group at their loft in Venice, then it was off to their favorite local bar, The Other Room. The following night, celebrants dined at the infamous Mel's Drive Inn on Hollywood's Sunset Strip. "We wanted everyone to get a taste of the real L.A!" Dani says. The groom's parents hosted a lovely rehearsal dinner the evening before the wedding in the garden terrace at II Moro, a cozy Italian restaurant in West L.A. Family members shared touching speeches and live music performances.
The festivities began on a sun-filled afternoon in late August in the outdoor courtyard, marked by stone pathways and whimsical wildflowers. A string quartet played contemporary music as the family members took to their seats. The bride entered on her father’s arm, wearing her modern-day version of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s wedding gown. “Finding my dress was a big challenge,” Dani says. “I wanted it be unique and fashion-forward but in a classic way.” After nearly eleven fittings to reshape a gabardine Monique Lhuillier gown, the bride’s vision was realized. A Renne Strauss Bridal headpiece completed her timeless look.
Mark was a handsome groom donning a slim black Jill Sander’s suit paired with a skinny tie. The bridesmaids wore chic yellow ABS dresses with matching Mary Jane heels. They held bouquets bursting with yellow orchids, calla lilies, and green hypericum berries. An all-white Chupa adorned the ceremony, fashioned after a modern-day California landmark, the luxurious Viceroy Hotel. Instead of enlisting a traditional rabbi to preside over the Jewish ceremony, they sought out a cantor to recite the prayers in song. “Mark and I both felt strongly about having music that we identified with during the ceremony,” Dani says. When it came time for the bride and groom to embrace, Mark forgot to lift Dani’s veil. “Our first kiss as husband and wife had my birdcage veil pressed between our lips,” Dani says. “The second try was more successful!” The newlyweds joyfully skipped down the aisle to one of their favorite songs by Cat Stevens.
The pair adhered to a fresh palette of lemon yellow, lime green and black for the streamlined décor. “I was going for a 1960’s mod feel with geometric, clean shapes,” Dani says. Florist R. Jack Balthazar designed striking arrangements of white carnations swirled into tight topiaries. Sleek black linens added a touch of drama, a nod to the glamour and nostalgia of the event. A candy-laden dessert table satisfied the partygoers’ sweet tooth, capped by a fun three-tier mini cupcake display by Vanilla Bakeshop.
An eclectic lineup of musical acts filled the evening beginning with a ten-piece band, TC and Traffic Jamm. “They were truly one of the best parts of our wedding!” Dani exclaims. “We had them play mostly ‘60’s and ‘70’s music to capture the blast-from-the-past-feel!” Following Jewish tradition, the couple was lifted overhead in chairs for the Hora while friends and family cheered around them. They danced late into the evening savoring every moment of their decidedly retro-modern affair. The weekend celebration perfectly reflected the couple’s shared sensibilities. The bride says, “Both Mark and I have strong family identities and have seen how a successful marriage works through our own parents. We are genuinely happy people surrounded by a lot of love!”