Shayna Katzman of London, England, grew up with a grandfather calling her “big-eyed rabbit,” while reading and watching Alice in Wonderland.
When she decided to marry Blythewood native Philip (Phil) Simoneaux II two years ago, the fine art and art history graduate decided that Alice in Wonderland would be a meaningful and fun theme to pursue.
“I wanted to memorialize my grandfather and my late godfather, Sir William Tymym, a sculptor who is famous for the lifesize ‘Guy the Gorilla’ sculpture that sits at the entrance of the London Zoo. He taught me art as a child,” she says. “Phil is more conservative, but he was very accommodating and enjoyed it all.”
Shayna, who works full-time at Glenforest School and also has her own artistic jewelry line called Birdies by Shayna, illustrated aspects of Alice in Wonderland for the save-the-date card, the invitation and the program. She also designed cards that were enlarged and situated around the garden at Canal & Senate. Finally, through her jewelry line, she created illustrated necklaces and cufflinks featuring Alice in Wonderland images for several members of the bridal party.
Taking Shayna’s cue and implementing their own imaginations were Beryl Jaffe and Doris Frank of RSVP Events Parties with Panache. At the venue owned by Dupre Catering & Events, which includes 300 Senate, The Hall at Canal & Senate, the garden and the Manor House, were croquet sets, pink flamingos, topiaries, an archway of flowers and giant teapots with flowers in them. Also on hand were Larry Hembree, executive director of the Nickelodeon Theatre, who officiated the wedding, and pianist Joe Hudson, who provided musical accompaniment for the service.
“Both Larry and Joe played huge roles in helping to orchestrate our wedding service. Without them, our ceremony would never have been the theatrical, musical production that it was,” says Shayna.
At the same time, Shayna says she was careful not to make the wedding overly themed.
“We still wanted our wedding to be tasteful and elegant. What Beryl and Doris did was amazing! It was larger than life, and there was so much personality in it!”
Adding to the personality were the green-and-white paisley-printed bridesmaid dresses hand-sewn by Annabelle LaRoque, whose shop is on Devine Street. Shayna’s sister, a makeup artist in London, designed the dresses based on a style she had seen by British designer Vivienne Westwood. The groomsmen wore tuxedoes and top hats, while Phil wore a top hat and tails with his tux.
Music selected was not the traditional “Pachelbel’s Canon,” but instead were selections from musicals such as The Fantasticks and Into the Woods. Shayna’s brother, a musical theater major, sang “Try to Remember” from The Fantasticks.
“He has an amazing voice, and everyone was in tears,” she says.
In addition to her strapless white dress, Shayna wore a headband featuring Swarovski crystals.
After the 6 p.m. wedding, guests gathered at food stations decorated with giant teapots. The cake fit the Alice in Wonderland theme as well in that the layers were off-kilter, arranged at different angles. The topper was a cloth pair of handmade whimsical birds.
Since the bride’s and groom’s initials are “S” and “P,” Shayna created a gift of a mini salt and pepper shaker in a chiffon bag with another of her illustrations enclosed.
“There was nothing really traditional about any aspect of the wedding, except the something old, new, borrowed and blue,” she says. Shayna carried an old penny handed down by several generations of women in her family. The borrowed and blue item was a bluebird broach. The something new was a Swarovski crystal ring, a gift from her mother.
“It was all just fun and relaxing, and we all had a wonderful time,” adds Shayna.