Enjoying a first date while living in New York City that went just well enough, Shayna Freisleben remembers meeting Alex Efron and finding him to be adventurous and cute, but the after-work meeting remains a blur for both of them. It was the second date that they truly connected. “It was far more memorable!” smiles Shayna of the love match. 

Just a few years later, on the NYC terrace of Alex’s grandparents’ home, Alex proposed to his beloved. As Shayna happily agreed, the groom-to-be’s grandparents emerged from behind the scenes with Champagne and canapés to celebrate. “It was so intimate and meaningful,” Shayna explains. “Both of our grandparents are special to us, outdoor space is hard to come by in the city, and their terrace is really beautiful with panoramic views of upper Manhattan.” 

The bride dived into planning with her wedding-planning team at Rikki Ladenheim Events, along with the help of her mother and mother-in-law. “We were really fortunate to have different skill sets and points of passion,” tells Shayna, who was especially mindful to include Alex in every decision as it was a big day that reflected both of them. Since Shayna is a native Angeleno, the couple opted for Los Angeles as their wedding locale. 

After contacting only a few venues, Shayna was thoroughly impressed with a luxurious hotel in the heart of Beverly Hills after speaking with their catering director. A sunset ceremony in the garden of the storied hotel was ideal for the bride’s vision of a lush, verdant, and whimsical setting. Thousands of fresh florals, such as roses and peonies, in shades of pink, blush, apricot, lavender, and cream enveloped the space. Her bridesmaids preceded her, wearing a plethora of hues in styles of their choosing, making the scene all-around stunning and colorful. 

The bride’s grand entrance looked like it was borrowed directly from a fairy tale. She wore a classic, strapless ball gown with a matching veil as she walked with both of her parents to meet her husband-to-be, while a string quartet played. A Jewish ceremony led by the bride’s childhood camp rabbi, whom she has known for 20 years, included all the customary traditions, and at the conclusion, “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses played for the recession. “That iconic opening riff sounded so good with live musicians!” notes the bride. 

“We wanted the room to feel as if were bringing the garden indoors and deploy color thoughtfully.”

Similar décor elements were used for the elegant reception. “We wanted the room to feel as if were bringing the garden indoors and deploy color thoughtfully. The standout accents were undoubtedly the hand-built pepper trees in the ballroom,” illustrates Shayna. “Our guests were floored!” The dinner began with the bride and her grandmother blessing the challah. “It was a special moment reflective of a special relationship,” she confides. 

Guests sat at tables artfully decorated with blush charger plates, floral-inspired custom menus, and bullion flatware. “Our centerpieces were abundant, as if they were growing out of the table,” describes Shayna. "The spring timing of our wedding meant we were able to use an incredible seasonal floral selection of peonies, ranunculuses, garden roses, delphiniums, and viburnum blooms, among others.” 

After supper and slices of the delicious cake that offered two different flavors – banana cake with mini chocolate chips and cream cheese frosting and coconut cake with passion fruit buttercream – the entire party was on the dance floor. “Our band was unbelievable!” says Shayna, who points out one detail that she might have done differently. “Ensure our hora chairs had arms! It got briefly precarious up there for Alex and me.” The groom echoes his bride’s thoughts on the music, “The dance floor was packed the entire night, and the band’s finale rendition of ‘Proud Mary’ was unlike any live wedding performance I've ever seen!” 

Shayna encourages others who are planning their weddings to talk to recent brides. “They’re often the most keen and they possess great, hard-won advice,” she says. For the day of, Shayna emphasizes “sticking with your partner at all costs,” and she’s so glad she heeded that advice. “It’s incredibly special to experience every moment jointly,” she affirms.

This real wedding was originally published in the Spring 2023 issue of Inside Weddings magazine. 

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