Robin Sterling and Todd Gordon most certainly know the importance of grace under fire. Though a rainstorm is probably the most common “disaster” to threaten a wedding, Robin and Todd were faced with a much greater blow when a fire at The Hotel Bel-Air ruined their reception ballroom just days before the wedding. But, rather than bemoaning the unfortunate turn of events, the buoyant couple found an equally swank and historical site to host the evening celebrations. The couple swiftly settled on the legendary Sunset Room at The Beverly Hills Hotel, and carried out their dream wedding in full force.

At the beginning of their seventeen-month engagement, Todd recalls that the wedding planning seemed to fall into place rather easily. The bride and groom made all of the major decisions together, and even had a great time working on all the details. They chose the Hotel Bel-Air, for it’s beautiful Swan Lake ceremony site as well as ballroom and the classically-hip L.A. vibe that comes with it. The September date was chosen for its promise of great weather and an ideal sunset as well as for the availability of the couple’s top choice vendors, such as the photographer and the band. The look of the wedding would center around a traditional black-tie color scheme, with Robin in pure white, Todd in a black tux with a white tie and vest, and the bridesmaids and groomsmen all in black. Simple white flowers with green accents would complement the lush outdoor scenery, while chocolate and red roses would be mixed with the whites for the wedding party, garden gazebo, and the table centerpieces to provide an unexpected punch of color, particularly in the photographs.

The couple received the horrible news of the hotel fire just two days before their wedding date. With no chance of keeping the reception at The Hotel Bel-Air, Robin and Todd swiftly concocted a “Plan B” and secured the legendary Beverly Hills Hotel. Many of the elements of the reception had to be reworked to accommodate the change in venue -- dinner selections and menus, additional flowers, and even table arrangements had to be redone for the new layout. Somehow, between the sanguine couple and their outstanding team of professionals, the changes were completed in time and the original style and feel of the event was preserved seamlessly.

Friends and family members filled the gardens of Swan Lake at Hotel Bel-Air for the couple’s sunset ceremony. Robin and Todd had chosen a rabbi who they felt was more spiritual, than religious, for their Reformed Jewish service. Deceased family members were given special honor, which lent a personal touch to the day. Additionally, the Rabbi blessed the couple with the “Hand Over Heart” custom in which the bride and groom place their hands over the other’s heart, joining it with their own.

The sentimental ceremony was followed by a formal dinner reception, where every detail was handled with care, down to the centerpieces blooming high above the dinner tables to ensure that guests could see each other and that conversation could flow freely. Though the reception was a high-spirited party atmosphere, it did have its share of romance, too. One of the most sentimental moments came when Todd read a poem that he had written for Robin three years earlier, when they first started dating.

Having survived their unanticipated ordeal, Robin and Todd pulled out all the stops when it came to enjoying their celebration. Rather than dancing to a slow, clichéd song, the bride and groom showcased their personalities during their lively first dance to Barry White’s “My First, My Last, My Everything.” The rest of the evening was filled with dancing as well as with impromptu entertainment by the joyful newlyweds: Robin wowed her guests with her “Lady Marmalade” performance and Todd spared no irony with his rendition of “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash.

Since his wife handled their unexpected twist of events so gracefully, Todd wanted to treat her with an extra special surprise: Unbeknownst to Robin, Todd handled all of the details of making this article a reality. As she reads the story of her wedding, Robin will be reminded once again of the extent of her husband’s love for her… oh, and to expect the unexpected!