If you’ve ever imagined meeting your soulmate aboard a cruise ship, your fairytale probably includes taking moonlight strolls, frolicking in paradise and sharing anti-nausea patches. At least that was the case for Jennifer Saller and Keita Jo who were brought together during their cruise to Mexico as the sole sufferers of seasickness. For most people, such circumstances might discourage romance, but for Jennifer and Keita, it was destiny at work.
It was a Spring Break trip attended by mutual friends from Loyola Marymount University, and while everyone else was comfortable on their sea legs, Jennifer and Keita were left to get to know each other as land lovers. Jennifer was convinced she had done something to offend Keita who spoke very little during their days together. It wasn’t until they returned to school that Jennifer discovered Keita’s crush on her and that it was only his shy nature that prevented him from expressing it sooner. A friendship between the couple developed into a beautiful romance and on their three-year anniversary, Keita surprised Jennifer by proposing to her at the very same spot at LMU where they had met for the first time.
Before falling in love with the Skirball Cultural Center, Jennifer and Keita visited the best of the beach, mountain and hotel locations that Los Angeles had to offer their wedding. The detail that ultimately attracted them to the Skirball Center was the ability to have the venue to themselves on the day of their choosing. Only one event was held at a time, and it was this unmatched level of privacy and the last minute availability of their ideal date that made it “meant to be”.
With a summer wedding decided, the couple confided in their vendors to create the ultimate in romantic celebrations. Their décor was a euphoric paradise in purples and pinks, a color scheme that was chosen to match the blossoming trees of the ceremony courtyard and fulfilled by flowers flown in from Keita’s native Hawaii. A unique lavender aisle runner led guests’ attention toward a luxuriant Chuppah that surpassed the couple’s wildest expectations. As Jennifer recalls, their florist “created the most beautiful piece of floral art we ever laid our eyes upon.” Tumbling from the Chuppah’s ceiling of ivory, lavender, purple and pink nosegays were copious amounts of hanging amyranthus, bunches of flowers and tea light candles that enveloped the couple underneath. The whole scene made Jennifer feel like the princess she had always dreamed of being in the fairytale that Keita helped her create.
Once indoors after the couple’s touching ceremony, guests dined on a menu fit for royalty. A first course of endive, radicchio and watercress salad with ruby grapefruit, candied pecans and citrus dressing was followed by an intermezzo of champagne sorbet and berries and a choice of roasted tenderloin of beef with a zinfandel shallot reduction and caramelized garlic mashed potatoes or baked salmon filet with cilantro pesto and artichoke butter. To accompany their vanilla and chocolate wedding cake topped with fresh flowers, Jennifer and Keita satisfied every sweet tooth in attendance with a dessert trio of chocolate truffles, a lemon tartlette, and a chocolate dipped strawberry.
The couple took the floor for their first dance to “From This Moment” by Shania Twain amidst an audience of supportive loved ones embraced in floral splendor. Purple and pink topiaries of roses, hydrangea and orchids pricked with towering curly willow sat atop tall glass vases. Matching orchids were hand tied to the willow branches and each pilsner style vase was placed upon a moss-covered platform surrounded by additional flowers. A lavender rose placed on every napkin at every table accented each tablescape.
The biggest conversation pieces of the evening were the personalized lavender M&M’s Jennifer and Keita included at each table. “Mr. and Mrs. Jo” and “07-10-04” were printed in white on each candy, a whimsical touch made even more personal by the fact that Keita works for the company that manufactures the favorite treats.
Jennifer, who is known for her infectious smile, could be found doing little else on her wedding day except when during her ceremony, she and Keita were brought to tears. They were so carefree throughout their celebration because they followed their own advice and only used vendors whose vision they completely trusted to shape their day. Jennifer and Keita both admit that when they first became engaged they weren’t sure how their wedding would ever come together, but thanks to the unconditional support they gave one another and the positive attitude they are known for possessing, their planning process, like their romance, was smooth sailing.