Surprise wedding at City of Hope

Last night, I went to a wedding. Not that surprising, you might say, it was, after all, a Saturday night. Well, there were a few surprising things about this particular wedding.

  1. I was not specifically invited to it.
  2. The other 1699 people in attendance were not specifically invited to it either.
  3. Not all 1700 people present personally knew the bride and groom (I did not).
  4. Everyone was wearing black, including the bride and groom.
  5. It was the first wedding I have ever attended in Las Vegas (Elvis was not in the room).
  6. It was the first Jewish wedding I have ever attended.
  7. Aretha Franklin provided the post-wedding entertainment.

Then again, there were some of the typical wedding things I have come to expect.

  1. It was, strangely perhaps, quite romantic.
  2. I cried.
  3. It was crazy expensive (rumor is about $2 million, all paid by the groom).

You may be wondering what strange event I attended last night. Well, as always on the Saturday evening before the official opening of Cosmoprof, I went to the City of Hope Spirit of Life Gala. City of Hope, an innovative biomedical research, treatment and educational institution, is dedicated to the prevention and cure of diabetes, cancer and other life–threatening diseases. Every year, the professional salon industry raises funds for City of Hope. Every year, the fundraising campaign culminates with the Spirit of Life Award, an award presented to an outstanding industry leader who has made a significant commitment to helping those in need during a gala at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Yesterday, this award was presented to George W. Schaeffer, founder of OPI.

While all of you know OPI, and most likely love their colors and creative names (my all-time favorite is still “I’m not really a waitress” red…), not all of you may be familiar with George Schaeffer who founded OPI (originally a dental supply business named Odontorium Products Inc.) in 1981. Last fall, Coty bought OPI for a cash deal of $1 billion.

Generously, Schaeffer underwrote the entire gala this year, paying for the food, the entertainment, and everything in between, so that all of the money raised went directly to City of Hope. Not only that, he also promised to match the funds raised up to $2.5m. As of last night, over $5m had been raised.

In a surprising turn of events, Schaeffer announced during the program that he had a surprise for the audience. Having gathered his closest 1,700 friends and industry colleagues under one roof, he wanted to officially celebrate his wedding. Schaeffer and his gorgeous bride were officially married on 11.11.11 at 11.11 am, but had not yet had a party. So last night, I witnessed their wedding ceremony, and my first Jewish wedding (complete with chuppah, the seven circles, the breaking of the glass, and the raising of the bride and groom on chairs).

It was unexpected, extravagant, slightly strange, yet romantic and lovely. And if weddings are measured by the quality of the entertainment, nothing beats Aretha Franklin singing after the nuptials. But that is a story for a different blog…

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