This Elegant French-Inspired Wedding in California Was Jam-Packed with Thematic Entertainment
It had taken some convincing, but Raffi Kazazian, a physician, was out for a drink with a friend at a bar in Hollywood on a work night. As he was preparing to leave, he says he spotted the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. "I will never forget the moment I told my friend, 'I would marry that girl,'" he says. He worked up the courage to talk to tax consultant Tahirah Kim Felton ("I'm sure the couple of drinks didn't hurt," he admits); after their brief conversation, he realized that had promptly forgotten to ask for her number. He found her again, gave her his digits, and asked that she do him the honor of going out with him sometime.
Ten long days passed ("Whatever happened to the two-day rule?!" Raffi laughs), but Tahirah called; their first date, which took place the following Sunday, led to a serious relationship, which led to their engagement on August 9, 2020. Proposing during the pandemic, says Raffi, was no small feat, as lockdowns and restrictions made sourcing the perfect ring—and finding the correct moment, for that matter—a challenge. Ultimately, the groom got down on one knee in their kitchen, while Tahirah was making dinner. "I knew this was the only way to surprise her and she was truly caught off guard," he shares. "I was nervous as well and stood up while waiting for the answer—she promptly told me to get back down on my knee while she answered yes!"
They kicked off wedding planning during the pandemic, as well, and quickly realized they need to manage their expectations. They oscillated between a Vegas elopement and a destination wedding in France, but the duo ultimately decided to compromise and hold a smaller-scale event at a French-inspired venue. It was a rocky road to their June 5, 2021, celebration; California restrictions were changing every day, they say, which made nailing down their guest count (they landed on 75 loved ones) and establishing certain parts of their big day (like the cocktail hour) difficult. They couldn't have executed their elegant Parisian-inspired affair at the The Langham Huntington Hotel, they say, without the help of Summer Newman of her eponymous firm, Summer Newman Events. "Once we found Summer, she guided us through the whole process which she made seamless," they explain.
Together, they showed their loved ones a good time: "For most, it was likely the first event they had attended during the pandemic," they say, "which is why we skipped a long, drawn-out ceremony and filled out the gaps with live entertainment—and kept the food coming and the drinks flowing. It was important to be surrounded with happiness and joy. Being considerate of everyone is what really drives us as a couple."
The couple's invitation suite, designed and executed by Kelsey of Grey & Cake, balanced European chateau grandeur with approachable, modern elegance. Letterpressed onto earthy, neutral paper, the curated set also featured a duogram, highlighting the couple's initials, an illustration of the venue, The Langham Huntington Hotel, and a fresco-style vellum sleeve; it was finished with silk ribbon and a wax seal.
Before she slipped into her wedding dress, Tahirah stepped into a pink-and-cream hanbok to pose with her mother, who wore a similar garment.
Fit to Perfection
The bride always knew she'd choose a traditional white wedding dress, and loved everything about this strapless, lace-covered number from Monique Lhuillier, with a unique cut-out at the back. It wasn't necessarily her first choice, however—she had originally purchased a mermaid wedding dress, after a first round of shopping with her mother (Tahirah went back to the atelier and selected the exact opposite of what her more conservative mother had liked). Post-purchase, however, she couldn't shake the sense that she'd made the wrong decision—and ultimately changed her order to "The Magnificent," complete with lace bolero overlay for additional coverage.
Her timeless bouquet, created by Enchanted Garden Floral Design, was full of soft texture, thanks to garden roses, ranunculus, corncockel, sweet peas, and double tulips in shades of ivory with light accents of yellow and cream.
Bridesmaids in Black
In an effort to stick to a streamlined palette of black and white, Tahirah asked her attendants to wear dark dresses sourced via Bella Bridesmaids. "I don't like to see a lot of colors and wanted to make everything as clean as possible," she explains.
Her junior attendants wore black, as well; their matching ensembles featured an asymmetrical lace neckline.
His groomsmen wore traditional tuxedos, explains Tahirah, to keep with the black-and-white theme.
Raffi and Tahirah's ceremony took place on the property's lawn, at the foot of a patio. The aisle's entrance was framed with French-style urns filled with overflowing blooms and foliage; they were placed on matching pedestals and anchored by grounded floral arrangements.
A classic round-top arch was the altar's focal point and was completely covered in the day's signature florals, which included roses, delphinium, tulips, lisianthus, phlox, viburnum, and seasonal greens.
A harpist and cellist from Dart Collective provided sweet melodies during the processional and service. The wedding party and groom walked in to the thrums of Schubert's "Ave Maria."
Ahead of and during the ceremony, the couple's live watercolorist, A.E. Kieren, got to work sketching guests' portraits; he continued painting during the reception, as well, hand-delivering his creations to the couple's loved ones.
Escorted to the Altar
Tahirah, escorted by her father, made her way towards the altar to "Gymnopedie No.1." "Seeing my future wife walking down the aisle," says Raffi, was a big-day highlight. "This was first moment I realized this dream was finally coming true."
During the nonreligious service overseen by The Officiant Guy, the couple exchanged traditional vows.
A Traditional Conclusion
Ahead of the recessional, the couple chose to jump the broom—and walked back up the aisle (as freshly minted spouses!) to Felix Mendelssohn's "Wedding March" in C Major.
While their loved ones moved onto the cocktail hour, the couple, reveling in their first few moments of married life, stole away with their photographer to pose for a few portraits around the property. They appreciate this break, they say. "It allowed us to finally relax, have a drink, and fill each other in on our day, since we hadn't seen each other since early morning," explains Raffi.
Since a seated cocktail hour was a requirement due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, the pair decided to delight their guests with a show. The celebrants were greeted by the LA Follies, dressed in black-and-white hand-beaded tutus and show-girl headpieces inspired by the Parisian clown Pierrot; they later performed a number that melded traditional high-energy can-can dancing with a cinematic Moulin Rouge-inspired cabaret twist.
Dinner and a Show
Rossi Music, a live French musical trio, welcomed guests into the reception ballroom.
A.E. Kiernen delivered several of his creations during the cocktail hour and ensuing party, as well.
Summer of Summer Newman Events transformed the hotel ballroom into a Parisian retreat ("We wanted our guests to feel as if they had left California," explains Tahirah) that spoke to the event's palette of pecan brown, warm white, yellow, green, and black. At the king's table—which is where the wedding party spent the evening—a row of tall, overflowing arrangements were filled with greenery, delphinium, lacecap hydrangeas, roses, and lisianthus.
Sky-high centerpieces were alternated with simpler compotes; roses, sweet peas, tulips, ranunculus, scabiosa, corncockel, and orlaya were placed into small golden vessels.
La Tavola's "Beatrice Garden" tablecloths—which the pair loved for its warm white hue and classic, romantic print—served as the basis of the tablescapes. A soft green napkin sourced from BBJ Linen was the perfect backdrop to the folded menus that Summer and Kelsey created together. Traditional china, including a gold-rimmed charger, silver-and-gold cutlery, and simple glassware completed each respective setting.
Table for Two
The sweetheart table was dressed with a swag of floral blooms and greens, which spanned the length of the entire station and draped onto the floor.
Parents of the Groom
"Watching our friends and family have so much fun at the reception," says the duo, was arguably their biggest wedding highlight of all.
Cutting the Cake
The couple's textural wedding cake, which was created by the Langham's pastry chef, was inspired by the duo's crest, created by Kelsey. Summer, however, also had a hand in its creation: After studying the monogram, she sketched out each tier, working in several Old-World elements from the invitation suite. It was as tasty as it was beautiful: Inside, brown sugar pound cake was layered with white chocolate mousse and raspberry filling and topped French buttercream frosting.
The Only Two People in the Room
"Our first dance was to 'I Only Have Eyes for You' by the Flamingos," explains Raffi. "Tahirah and I love the classical feel to this song and the emotion that it inspires." As they swayed to the tune, the groom felt the lyrics come to life: "Although 'we might be in a garden or crowded Avenue,' or, in this case, a room with many people, I always feel like it's just the two of us—and that's all that matters."
Tossing the Bouquet
Photography, Kurt Boomer Photography
Venue, Catering, and Cake, The Langham Huntington Hotel
Wedding Planning and Event Design, Summer Newman Events
Videography, Miguel Garcia Studios
Flowers, Enchanted Garden Floral Design
Stationery and Paper Products, Grey & Cake
Officiant, The Officiant Guy
Bride's Attire, Monique Lhullier (wedding dress and veil), Giuseppe Zanotti (shoes)
Bride's Second Look, L'Agence (slip dress), Superga (sneakers)
Bridal Dresser, A Stitch in Time Bridal
Bridal Hair, Sintia
Bridal Makeup, Anna Hart Makeup
Wedding Party Hair and Makeup, Veiled Vanity Artistry
Bridesmaids' Dresses, Bella Bridesmaids
Groom's Attire, Ralph Lauren (tuxedo), Christian Louboutin (shoes), Rolex (watch)
Guest Book, Modern Album Designs
Music, Dart Collective (ceremony musicians and reception DJ), Rossi Music (seated cocktail and French lounge music)
Entertainment, LA Follies (dance performers), A.E. Kieren (live watercolorist)
Rentals, Town and Country Event Rentals, Found Rental Co (antique rentals), La Tavola Linen (linen rentals), BBJ Linen (linen rentals)
Favors, Chateau d'Estoublon (olive oil)
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