Two of a Kind
With family attending from around the globe, one couple envisions a dual wedding celebration for two nights in two different themes—all at one exquisite location.- By Lisa Marie Hart | Photos by Elizabeth Solano
Quite often in life one thing holds true: The farther the distance travelled, the more worthy the final destination. Originally involved in a bi-coastal relationship, Anna Khayot and Mitch Paskover traversed thousands of cross-country miles in the name of love before they finally settled at home together in Los Angeles. So it follows that when the couple sat down to plan their July 21 wedding—and craft a global guest list of 350 friends and family—they sought a timeless West Coast location that promised a world-class experience.
“We wanted the feel of a destination wedding close to home,” Anna says. “The St. Regis Monarch Beach was exactly what we were looking for. We’re both Russian, and as soon as you reach the resort, you feel like you’re in Europe.”
The resort sparks the imagination with many architectural flourishes borrowed from great European estates. From Mediterranean-inspired rotundas, terraces and colonnades to the Pacific Ballroom’s corridor of mirrors reminiscent of Versailles, The St. Regis Monarch Beach has enchanted many couples that seek to combine their personal taste with a touch of international flair.
Event planner Sonia Sharma, of Sonia Sharma Events and Design, agreed with Anna and Mitch that The St. Regis Monarch Beach would make a grand, two-day affair meant to arouse the senses and envelop each guest in the full resort experience. In meetings with the couple, Sharma set to work on visual inspiration boards that blended classic, European opulence with late nights, thematic environments and custom menus that took a thoughtful cue from their Russian heritage.
Taking into consideration the resort’s amenities—fresh ocean breezes from private guest room balconies, championship golf course and lauded spa—Mitch envisioned a welcoming retreat for loved ones from near and far. “It was the perfect location,” he says. “Anna’s family from the East Coast could meet my family and friends from the West Coast and enjoy a few days hanging out together by the pool.”
Each guest was well aware that this day had been years in the making. Anna and Mitch had become friends in Los Angeles but spent years living on opposite coasts. On a trip back from Berlin, Germany, Mitch found himself with a layover in New York City. He knew Anna was just miles from the tarmac. “I was traveling with my friend and I said, ‘I’m going to get off this plane and go find this girl,’ ” he recalls. In the months that followed, the couple flew back and forth to see each other every weekend—until Mitch proposed. A month later, the two were on the same coast, sharing their dreams for the event of a lifetime. While Mitch serves as president of Continental Funding Group, Anna has a background in fashion.
“Anna and Mitch have excellent taste,” Sharma says. “They pay attention to every detail and were willing to work hard to create an exceptional experience for their guests.” Their ultimate wedding day called for an event layered with style, sophistication and an element of surprise.
Cocktails and Vows
“The resort exudes grandeur from the moment you first turn into the drive,” Sharma says. The views of the Pacific Ocean throughout the resort set a dramatic stage from any angle. “We wanted a high-caliber experience that would allow our party to take over the resort for two days and fully immerse themselves in all that it has to offer.”
On July 21, 2012, Anna and Mitch welcomed 350 guests to the coastal grounds of The St. Regis Monarch Beach. But before they even made their entrance for the 8 p.m. ceremony, the couple treated their guests to a lavish gathering on the Pacific Terrace. “Russians are big into the cocktail hour,” Anna explains. So at 6 p.m., guests enjoyed custom cocktails and relaxed into two hours of mingling before the couple would wed under the chuppah.
Station after station of sushi, seafood, lamb chops, shrimp and lobster allured guests with sights, scents and tastes. Guests from every corner of the globe laughed and chatted as they were presented with artistic trays of passed hors d’oeuvres. Anna’s dream decor for a glamorous start to the evening came to life in a crisp white scheme with touches of black and red, reminiscent of the splendor of old Hollywood.
Meanwhile, Anna prepared for her the ceremony with the moms and her bridesmaids in a well-appointed suite, while Mitch slipped into his tux in his best friend’s guest room.
The site for their ceremony—the very private Pacific Lawn with its striking rotunda and ocean views—was one of the couple’s top requests “In July, it’s always nice to be oceanfront,” Mitch says. “It’s a bit cooler than the city.” The tranquil scenery and comfortable temperatures greeted the wedding party as they found their places. Bridesmaids in chic black dresses carried bouquets of roses and anemones, while three sets of parents stood proudly under a romantic white chuppah.
“The Rotunda on the Pacific Lawn, with its garden setting and curved, semi-circular staircases, are signature hallmarks of a wedding at The St. Regis Monarch Beach,” says Eileen Hanly, associate director of catering and conference services. “We find that couples looking for an exclusive event venue in Southern California visit our competitors then come back to us saying that they desired a more majestic feel. That is something we excel in offering both our couples and their guests.”
Anna’s adoration for high fashion shone through as she strode down the aisle in a Vera Wang gown complemented by a lush bouquet of fragrant white peonies. She paired the designer dress and its sweetheart neckline, elaborate lace, tulle and pleats with a white bejeweled sash and long, sweeping veil, also by Vera Wang. On each side of the bride, loved ones from the far reaches of Germany and Moscow to New York, Miami and Canada surrounded her, including her uncle who flew in from Israel.
Photographer Elizabeth Solano—who had given the couple’s engagement photos a downtown edge at Union Station in Los Angeles—took advantage of the warm summer sunlight to capture Anna and Mitch amidst stunning natural surroundings, complete with the ocean’s blue backdrop.
Dinner and Dessert
From the Pacific Lawn, the party moved to the 12,000-square-foot Pacific Ballroom. Several styles of pure white flower arrangements graced a mix of square and circular tables for visual interest. The arrangements by Square Root Designs out of Orange County incorporated hydrangea, roses and orchids.
While guests sat down for a four-course plated meal, they also made sure to visit the “martini lounge”—a custom ice bar serving caviar along with signature martinis made from a vodka luge and a selection of premium mixers.
Timokha Entertainment from New York entertained for hours before the revealing of Anna and Mitch’s towering wedding cake. Rising more than 6 feet high, the confection created by Special Cakes by Ruben was the striking centerpiece, but guests also perused the descending displays of masterful sweets under two custom tented dessert cabanas.
Anna and Mitch say they were both very involved in planning each bespoke detail with Sharma and the resort. “I called Mitch ‘my groomzilla,’ ” Anna says. “He knew every detail of each day, just like I did, except, of course, what my dress looked like.”
At 2 a.m., guests delighted in one more surprise, this time in true Southern California style. A visit from the In-N-Out truck, where guests who only heard mention of the California-based chain delighted in sampling hot hamburgers and fries. Anna and Mitch celebrated until 4 a.m., when the sleepy guests and love-struck newlyweds retired for a good night’s sleep.
Another glorious July day greeted Anna and Mitch’s wedding guests on Sunday morning. Some chose to sleep in and wake at their leisure, looking forward to a second evening of festivities ahead. Others opted to rise early for a quiet walk along the private beach. The day stretched languidly ahead, affording each guest the opportunity to play golf or tennis, enjoy a massage at award-winning Spa Gaucin or unwind poolside under a cabana.
By Sunday evening at 6 p.m., Sharma and a team from the resort had transformed the entire Pacific Ballroom overnight. Entering by the terrace this evening, instead of the main doors, several guests stopped in the doorway to take in the full effect: a room familiar yet elaborately re-decorated.
“For Sunday, we envisioned a more modern setting with a lounge atmosphere,” Anna says. “The more intimate, more relaxed feel was ideal after our more formal wedding night.” Bathed in white custom fabrics and ambient lighting from dazzling chandeliers, the ballroom added a dash of Miami inspiration, resplendent with conversation booths and oversized white furniture.
Timokha Entertainment returned for another night of music until midnight. On the dance floor, Mitch—in a white dinner jacket and black pants—joined Anna, who wore a knee-length dress by Badgley Mischka, trimmed in feathers.
Just a few weeks after their celebration, the couple was ready for an excursion made for two. Having traveled extensively when they first met, the adventurous pair headed off for a honeymoon of global proportions. Their 18-day exploration of Croatia, Venice, the Amalfi Coast and Paris was a fitting exclamation point to a truly bespoke wedding celebration.