Leerone Milstein and Sasha Strauss found themselves seated next to one another at dinner while attending a conference in Washington, D.C. "I'm pretty sure that my older sister Wendy intentionally sat two seats away from Sasha, leaving me with no option but to sit next to him," admits the bride. The groom's mother also chose to leave the seat next to him open in the hopes that an "eligible single lady" would take the bait. Their plans paid off; Leerone and Sasha discovered that they were both attending the same college and living only a short distance from one another back in Los Angeles. Soon after returning home, the pair began dating.
Two years later, Leerone, a singer and songwriter, was performing at a local basketball game during halftime. Before she had the chance to leave the court, Sasha stole the microphone, got down on bended knee, and proposed in front of the homecoming crowd. Leerone happily accepted but had a little surprise of her own in store for Sasha. Leerone had secretly wanted to be the one to pop the question, so a few months later at Sasha's 30th birthday party, the bride asked her groom to be her husband. "Now he has two rings too," says Leerone.
Always ones to do things their own unique way, Leerone and Sasha were not interested in hosting a typical wedding. They instead saw the celebration of their marriage as a way to indulge their love for drama and style; they decided to design each and every aspect of the wedding around a 1930s theme. They were looking for a space that embodied the "grand, classy, and old world charm" of the era, and found the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown L.A. to be ideal. Joined by the expertise of coordinator Tobey Dodge and the insight of their parents and Leerone's recently married sister, the bride and groom went to work bringing the rest of the wedding details in line with their chosen vibe.
After much research regarding the design aesthetic of the decade, Leerone and Sasha sent out eight-by-ten inch invitations done up in a vintage style font and feather motif. Not only did the stationery establish the event's specific tone, it requested that guests participate in the theme by wearing 1930s-inspired clothing. Fedoras, gloves, and wingtip shoes were encouraged, as well as bobbed and curled hairstyles for the ladies. The fathers of the bride and groom donned top hats, and certain vendors were asked to wear era-friendly tuxedos and spats provided by the couple. It was a chance for everyone to show their glamorous sides, and the bride and groom were no exceptions.
Sasha wore a custom-designed tux modeled after a '30s style suit as he waited for his bride beneath a moss-covered chuppah that was surrounded by wedding guests seated in Art Deco-styled chairs. The bridal party walked the entire perimeter of the diamond-shaped aisle accompanied by an original song written by the bride. Leerone then entered wearing opera-length gloves, her hair appropriately styled with finger waves. She and Sasha exchanged vows amid the embrace of their 330 guests and recognized Hanukah by lighting the first candle on the menorah.
The celebration had actually begun prior to the ceremony at a cocktail reception that featured a black and white checkered dance floor staffed with professional swing dancers. Guests were persuaded to take a quick swing lesson or dine from buffet stations decorated with harlequin print fabric. After Leerone and Sasha were pronounced husband and wife, the large gathering moved into the ballroom where the newlyweds put their own swing lessons to good use during their elaborate first dance.
The stylized centerpieces utilized flowers that were reflective of the era, such as calla lilies and orchids, interspersed with large leaves and fronds. The vases rested on tables draped in brown linens and surrounded by chairs covered in white satin. The simple white wedding cake was displayed on its own balcony overlooking the grand room, and after dinner, guests were invited to partake in an entire room filled with desserts in addition to the cake.
At the entrances to each of the rooms for the cocktail hour, ceremony, and reception were enlarged versions of the couple's engagement photos. They were taken at Los Angeles' historic Union Station, and Leerone and Sasha dressed the part in 1930s attire. The photos were just another example of the attention to detail that Leerone and Sasha paid to every facet of the celebration, including the contentment of their guests. "We inserted personal notes in all of our guests' invitations. The notes stated why they were important to us and how much it would mean to us to have them attend our wedding," asserts the groom.