This Bride Wore Chanel Haute Couture to Her Garden Wedding in California
Nina Tiari—the designer behind a color- and print-focused fashion label that bears her name and debuted at New York Fashion Week in February of 2017—and João Salomão, a fine artist, painter, and former musician, moved in the same social circles in the city for years, and had long admired one another from afar. After many chance encounters, one day João took a leap of faith and invited Nina to see him play a show with his band, Trouble Andrew, in Brooklyn. From there, things took a turn. “He didn’t know me very well, and only had two guest tickets, but he decided to ask me if I wanted to come and bring a friend,” Nina remembers. “I was surprised and impressed by his gesture, and curiously accepted his invitation.”
Post-performance, Nina approached João to compliment him and thank him for the invitation. “I was somewhat prepared for him to have a standoffish ‘cool guy’ demeanor, but instead was greeted with an ear-to-ear smile,” she says.
Three years of dating later, João proposed. “João loves rituals and romantic gestures,” Nina says. “Every morning, I wake up to his huge smile walking in with a latte in his hand and tons of kisses from him and our dog, Melrose—it’s easily the best part of my day.” On one particular morning, João got up extra early and scattered rose petals all over the floor of their bedroom while Nina slept. He walked in with their dog in one hand and Nina’s morning latte in the other, and as she woke up and noticed all of the rose petals, he got down on one knee.
For their wedding celebration, both Nina and João wanted an outdoor ceremony with a natural, romantic garden feel. “I have a rather large extended family and grew up all over California before moving to New York. João and I still visit often, so it felt like an obvious place for our destination wedding,” Nina explains. “I started researching all the best gardens we could possibly get married at in California, but in the end, it all had to do with the dress.” Once she decided on her dress, she was able to fill in all the blanks and question marks about aesthetics, and called upon Christine Zohrabians of Fancy That! Events to pull everything together for their wedding at The Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Beach.
It’s no wonder Nina’s dress was the source of so much inspiration, as her search was the stuff of pure fashion fantasy. Her hunt for “the one” started and ended in Paris. This past January, she was lucky enough to attend the Spring 2018 couture shows. “When I saw the Spring 2018 Chanel couture show, I knew it was exactly what I envisioned for our wedding,” she remembers. “From the set design to the soundtrack, it was magical. Everything after that fell into place.”
The bodice and center of the gown were embellished with soft pastel iridescent pink flowers made up of layers of beads. The front hemline was kept tea-length, and there were more than 190 yards of short pleated optic white tulle and a detachable train that took four months of fittings and travel back and forth from Paris to reach perfection.
Chanel also custom-made both of the bride’s veils—a long cathedral for the ceremony and the short chin-length blusher for the Venetian masquerade reception—as well as her shoes. Since her gown was a major statement, Nina wanted to keep her jewelry simple, so she custom-made her own drop diamond solitaire earrings in rose gold to match her engagement and wedding rings.
“[For my beauty look] I wanted to feel and look like myself, but at my most glamorous, so makeup artist Liz Castellanos and I decided to do peach and natural tones and a timeless, polished cat-eye,” explains the bride. Nina got the idea for her hair after seeing Gigi Hadid’s middle part and sleek waves at the Met Gala. “I thought it would be easy to transition this into something pulled back for the shorter veil I was planning on wearing to the masquerade portion of the evening.” Chanel completed it all with embellished bobby pins that matched the embellishments on Nina’s dress. “They really thought of everything,” Nina says with a smile.
The bride designed pleated peach tulle gowns with silk faille sashes for the bridesmaids as well as dresses for her matron of honor and her mother—and also her first-ever menswear tuxedo jacket for her man of honor, incorporating powder blue throughout. “It was fun customizing something for the people I love most,” says Nina. “I loved the idea of everyone being part of my ‘something blue.’ ”
When it came time to figure out the flow of the ceremony, there was a lot to consider. Nina is Iranian American—her parents immigrated to the United States in the late ’70s right before the Iranian Revolution. Meanwhile, João is first-generation Brazilian American. He was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro and moved to New York City when he was 15. “Persians have a very culturally rich ceremony filled with lots of symbolism, and Brazilians have a Catholic ceremony that’s also very traditional,” Nina explains. “We wanted to combine our cultures and add a little bit of our own personality to it.”
Case in point? Nina walked down the aisle, escorted by her father, to Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” played on the strings. “It’s actually the perfect song for making a grand entrance and a romantic melody for walking down the aisle,” says Nina.
During the ceremony, the couple sat on a blush pink tufted linen bench at the sofreh, what Persians refer to as “the spread,” filled with symbolic references to fertility, health, sweetness, joy, prosperity, and success. The officiant, Shahrzad Ardalan, described some of the details from the sofreh to guests, and asked the bridesmaids to hold a piece of lace over Nina’s and João’s heads, while the bride’s mother and four other married women, whom Nina’s mom considers lucky in love and life, rubbed two sugar cones together above the lace. This symbolizes the transfer of sweetness over their life as a couple. Shahrzad then performed the Persian tradition of asking the groom first if he will marry the bride, to which he agrees, and then asking the bride, who refuses to answer until the third time asked. The first time she is asked, ladies from the family say in Farsi, “The bride has gone to pick flowers.” Then the second time she is asked, the women of the family shout, “The bride has gone to make rosewater from the flowers she picked.” At this time, the groom’s mother comes to the sofreh and gives the bride a gift, usually jewelry, and then finally, after the third time the bride is asked if she will marry her groom, she responds, “With the permission of my mother and father, yes, I will.” After the Persian ceremony concluded, the couple stood up in the front of the rotunda and recited their personal vows to each other, exchanged rings, and finally kissed.
During cocktail hour, the couple had portraits taken with family and close friends. While the newlyweds were posing for pics, guests grazed on lamb shanks, caviar and truffle crème fraîche, watermelon gazpacho, and tuna tartlets, while songs by Queen, The Weeknd, Prince, and David Bowie were played on strings.
Just as they’d hoped, dinner was outdoors in the garden under Venetian chandeliers and candlelight with the sun setting in the background. The band played songs with Persian, Brazilian, and American vocalists. During the meal, João’s father, famous Brazilian poet and artist Jorge Salomão, gave a heartfelt speech. “He wrote and recited a moving poem for us about love, in Portuguese, and João’s good friend who is also Brazilian, groomsman Gui Machado, translated the poem into English,” Nina remembers.
After dinner and speeches came to an end, Samba dancers dressed in all white came down the stairs to perform and escort everyone upstairs to the ballroom, where Venetian-dressed performers were stationed to greet them with trays of lace masks. The ballroom was decorated to evoke Marie Antoinette’s boudoir with chaise longues, pastel couches, and macaron towers—everyone danced the night away to disco and Rihanna. Outside on the patio, there was a cigar rolling station, a photo booth, a Persian ice cream station, and cheeseburgers, vegan burgers, fries, and pão de queijo, the Brazilian cheese bread snack. “After the reception, we collapsed on the couches,” Nina admits. “We ate the rest of the little Parisian delicacies for a bit, and then my new husband rubbed my feet.”