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In fashion, the word “couture” connotes the grandest and most expertly made garments, assembled with painstaking care by highly skilled artisans. Its Latin root, however, has a humbler meaning: very simply, “sewn together.” When Eric Fleiss, along with his three young children, fell for JoJo Cohen, the simple truth was that their hearts were “consutura”—sewn together—from the start.
Outwardly, they had their differences. He was a single father in Los Angeles; she was a New Yorker with a glamorous, globe-trotting job as a fashion stylist. They met in August 2012, during a marathon dinner date orchestrated by a mutual friend while JoJo was in L.A. for work. “I was dumbstruck,” says Eric, the president of a real estate development and investment firm, of their connection. “She’s beautiful, but there’s also a warmth to her that was intoxicating.” They talked for hours, and after Eric showed JoJo photos of his kids, who’d lost their mother to cancer the previous year, “I felt like they—and Eric—were mine already,” JoJo says. “Everything was so natural.”
One year (and multiple cross-country trips) later, Eric proposed. When they broke the news to Teddy, then 5, and twins Benji and Caroline, then 2, the tykes were unanimously thrilled. “I filled a void for them, but they filled one for me too,” says JoJo. “We just fit.”
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It’s in the Details
The bride-to-be wasted no time planning a party for the ages—and for all ages—in four months flat. Thanks to years of experience styling fashion stories, she knew just where to turn for the touches that would make her January 18, 2014, wedding extra-special, like the artificial snow that lined walkways around the property (“I’m from the East Coast—how could I have a winter wedding without snow?”) and the right mix of stylized fonts that appeared on invitations.
She also knew whom to call on to make her dream dress: her close friend, the late designer L’Wren Scott. “Her instinct and knowledge of a woman’s body were unlike anyone else’s,” says JoJo. “We both also shared a love of flowers, and the dress was a magnificent reflection of that, with blossoms everywhere.” The gown was special for Scott too—it was her first wedding dress commission. “L’Wren said it was the greatest honor,” recalls JoJo. After they collaborated on the style, Scott sent it to England’s Royal School of Needlework—whose handiwork also appeared on none other than Kate Middleton’s wedding gown—to be embroidered with vintage pearls and three butterfly motifs, one representing each child.
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The letterpressed suite (by Pitbulls and Posies) included a card with a love note from F. Scott Fitzgerald to his wife, Zelda.
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The Language of Fashion
“We spoke the same language from the start,” says JoJo of working with L’Wren Scott on her silk-crepe gown.
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Embroidery and Embellishments
Artisans at the Royal School of Needlework used 200 pearls to embroider the wisteria floral designs, each of which took two days to complete.
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An Everlasting Bouquet
For her bouquet, “I knew I wanted peonies, but there aren’t any in January,” says JoJo. The solution: Scott fashioned the fluffy flowers from feathers and bound them with velvet ribbon.
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JoJo and Eric’s crew positioned broadsheet-style posters that announced the event along the drive leading to the venue. (Vintage French advertisements filled out the bottom half of each page.)
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The Color Palette
The day’s minimalist black, white, and gold palette was punctuated by lots of greenery.
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The Ceremony Backdrop
A topiary huppa, crowned with magnolia leaves and a crystal chandelier, marked the spot where the couple became Mr. and Mrs.
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In Good Company
JoJo’s walk down the aisle was truly a family affair: She started the trip with her father, then met her mother halfway for a kiss before Eric’s children came to escort her the rest of the way to the altar.
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Nearly 400 guests watched as the couple said “I do” in a family-oriented Jewish ceremony at The Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades. Eric’s father sang the seven blessings, JoJo’s dad said a prayer, and Teddy read a poem. Caroline’s role? Running up to give JoJo hugs midwedding.
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The First Wedded Kiss
A tag printed with an F. Scott Fitzgerald quote instructed guests to toss the pouch’s contents—fresh stephanotis blooms and ivory rose petals—at the sight of the couple’s first wedded kiss.
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A Moment with Mom
JoJo and her mother, Rita Cohen, stole a sweet moment together on the big day.
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A Solemn Vow
Spending the night before the wedding apart was a challenge for JoJo and Eric—especially with three young kids in the mix. “Not seeing each other beforehand was important to us, and also really difficult to do,” JoJo says. “We had separate suites at the venue and one in between us for the kids so that they could run back and forth.” So when the pair reunited after the ceremony, they made one more solemn vow: not to let go of each other again for the rest of the evening.
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Cocktail Hour Specials
“Eric and I are both really particular about how we like our drinks,” JoJo says. Proof positive: the hand-lettered bar menu spelling out the specifics of their signature cocktails—one his, one hers, and one theirs.
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The 37 youngest attendees headed to their own fun-filled party (cookie decorating! a magician! movies!), while the adults gathered for a family-style feast beneath the tent’s transparent roof, moonlight glinting off gold-trimmed centerpieces. Wavy gold glass chargers and tall, scroll-like vessels of gardenias and ferns gave the white tables a dash of Art Deco glamour.
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There’s no question about it: Simple black cocktail napkins printed with a bubbly slogan in gold foil set a festive (but still elegant) tone.
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The Wedding Cake
Sugared peonies and gold palm leaves adorned the five-tier, Art Deco-inspired cake by Perfect Endings, which was part vanilla pound cake with citrus curd and part mahogany cake.
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The newlyweds kicked off a night of dancing with an up-tempo salsa to Gipsy Kings’ “Volare.” The geometric dance floor came courtesy of creatively placed black vinyl appliqués.
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A riff on another Fitzgerald line (along with a few other lovey-dovey quotes) turned bathroom mirrors into conversation pieces, thanks to removable metallic vinyl decals.
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One Big Tent
How to host dinner for nearly 400 guests? “We put up one of the biggest tents known to man,” JoJo says. Even more impressive than the tent’s sheer size, perhaps, was the way the moonlight filtered through the transparent roof. “It was just spectacular,” Eric says.
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A Work of Art
Live-event artist Greg Kalamar used acrylic paints on canvas to illustrate the reception. By the time the last glass of Champagne had been poured, he had committed the revelry to canvas, capturing a scene as well designed as any couture gown, with every flourish in its rightful, beautiful place.
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Location: The Riviera Country Club
Event Design and Production: Lisa Vorce Co.
Flowers and Event Design: Mindy Rice
Catering: The Food Matters
Photography: Elizabeth Messina
Officiant: Rabbi Michael Gotlieb
Stationery: Pitbulls and Posies
Calligraphy: Anne Robin
Cake: Perfect Endings
Rentals: Classic Party Rentals (chairs); Town and Country Event Rentals (tenting, flooring, rentals); La Tavola (linens); Signature Party Rentals (flatware); Blueprint Studios (furniture); Designer Event Rentals (dance floor); Revelry Event Designers (chandeliers and specialty furniture)
Hair: DJ Quintero
Makeup: Valerie Sarnelle
Flower Girl’s Headband: Stephen Jones Millinery
Snow Cones and Cotton Candy: La Dolce Vita Gourmet
Late-Night Snacks: Kogi BBQ
Aisle Runner: The Original Runner Company
Artificial Snow: North Hollywood Ice Co.
Hedge Rental: Green Set Inc.
Specialty Ice: Ice Bulb
Live Event Artist: Greg Kalamar
Magician: Greg Wilson, The Master Magician
Cookie Decorating: Little Sparks Cookies
Travel Concierge: Life:Styled
Bride’s Gown: L’Wren Scott
Groom’s Tux: Purple Label by Ralph Lauren
Engagement Ring and Groom's Wedding Band: Robert Procop