As screenwriters, Hope Mineo and Jeff Kitchen could not have invented a more stirring wedding story than their very own. It is a tale that began in the classroom, when Hope, a student in Jeff’s screenwriting seminar, left a distinct impression on her teacher with her infectious energy. As their work brought them closer together as friends, Jeff pursued Hope, looking for something more than friendship. When it was finally clear that a lifetime commitment was in their future, their fairy tale reached a turning point. “We fell madly in love and never looked back,” said Hope.
And on Christmas morning, the plot thickened. Surrounded by Hope’s family, Jeff surprised her with a very special gift inside a slightly wet box. Hope unwrapped it to find a small bed of flowers (which Jeff had been sneaking into the garage throughout the night to water) cushioning a ring and when she looked up, Jeff was already proposing on bended knee. They all celebrated, taking their time to relish the moment, except Hope’s young nephew who thought it was about time they returned to the real business at hand: opening more gifts!
To sufficiently capture the essence of their vibrant relationship, Hope and Brett knew their wedding would have to center around their shared commitment to spiritual well-being. They also knew incorporating an old Hollywood theme would not only celebrate their passion for the entertainment industry, but also add a glamorous backdrop to their affair. Hope and Jeff turned to event planner Joann Richter of Trilogie Productions to help them locate the ideal spot for their dream wedding, a venue that would allow both a ceremony in nature and an elegantly appointed reception, all in one. They ultimately found everything they needed at Le Chateau Rose, a private residence in Beverly Hills, and after experiencing several setbacks in choosing their wedding date, Hope and Jeff allowed October 2, 2004 to choose them.
The couple credits Richter with bringing their ideas to fruition. “She knows what she’s doing,” claims Hope, adding “and she did it with so much love and care for Jeff and I every step of the way.” With celebrations planned for several days before and after the actual wedding, Richter’s challenge was to keep the proceedings’ spotlight on spirituality and unity while making sure each and every guest was accommodated in luxurious style. During the ceremony, their Hollywood theme was portrayed by sleek, art deco details like white flowers, hanging crystals and an aisle runner trimmed in feather boas. They chose to use fragrant gardenias throughout the decor - accenting the chuppah, on the lapels of the groomsmen, floating on cocktail tables - because during their relationship, Jeff would often pick gardenias from the tree growing outside his apartment and bring them to Hope. Therefore, the bride carried a stunning creation of gardenias and greenery spiked with crystals while her bridesmaids carried fluffy amethyst china mums also adorned with crystals.
More inspiring than their ceremony’s décor, however, was their officiant, best-selling author on spiritual health and fulfillment, Marianne Williamson. At the couple’s request, Williamson conducted a powerful marriage ceremony that blended traditions from Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism and Paganism in a manner that allowed everyone to feel included. Hope and Jeff also included two more people in their ceremony, her father and his mother, who both passed away when Hope and Jeff were very young. They placed flowers on two chairs in the audience that were left empty in their honor and read letters that they wrote to their parents specifically for the occasion. Hope and Jeff were married alongside a waterfall and between the exhilarating natural setting, the embrace of their guests seated in the round, and the moving sentiments they exchanged to each other and their parents, not a dry eye was found during the ceremony. “It was such a full spectrum of powerful emotions that I will never forget,” asserts Jeff.
To match the overwhelming warmth and attention to detail paid to the ceremony, the couple orchestrated their reception with equal precision. The aura of a Golden Age gala was felt from every detail. Table centerpieces were cut crystal vases overflowing with mums, Casablanca lilies and white gladiolas. An astonishing nine-course meal was served by waiters wearing white tuxedos while five different bands played 1930’s standards into the wee hours of Sunday morning. Hope and Jeff’s guests had received lengthy invitation booklets forecasting an unprecedented wedding celebration and the eleven-hour extravaganza they encountered lived up to every word.
But of all the warm and moving aspects of their wedding, Hope and Jeff’s most emotional experience did not occur until after their grand affair, the denouement in their romantic tale. The newlyweds were home, having just said farewell to their loved ones, when they were inundated by the overwhelming significance of the journey they had just taken. Hope and Jeff began crying together, joyful over their incredible weekend and saddened because their much-anticipated wedding was now a memory. “It was just so emotional and overwhelming in a really beautiful way,” said Hope. Their friends and family who had been at arms-length all weekend had departed, but as Hope and Jeff prepared for their “mini-moon” to Santa Barbara, they were finally able to savor the serenity of the newest chapter in their life together as husband and wife.