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The Newlyweds’ Daughters Joined Them For Their First Dance at This Wedding in Calistoga

By Cathleen Freedman | Photography by 

KT Merry

|Planning by 

Easton Events

While making their way across the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill campus, Sheena Williams strolled with her roommate and Marvin Williams walked with his. Their roommates were already friends and stopped each other on the quad. As the roommates’ conversation continued, they eventually got around to introducing Sheena and Marvin. It was the start of an eight-year friendship that eventually turned into a relationship.

After five years of dating, the couple returned to their alma mater for an event. Marvin, a retired professional athlete, told Sheena that he needed to meet up with one of their friends to give away a pair of shoes he signed. They made the trek across campus, and Marvin “poured his heart” to Sheena, but all she could think about was how long it was taking them to find this “friend.” Then, in the exact spot they first met thirteen years earlier, Marvin stooped down to one knee, and Sheena began to cry happy tears. “Students walking by cooed,” she remembers sweetly. After she said, “Yes,” a photographer and a group of the couple’s closest friends emerged from the bushes.

Before ever being engaged, Sheena and Marvin mused about marrying in Italy one day. There was something just so romantic about saying “I do” in front of a landscape where the water meets the mountains. “But once we got engaged, there were some key people that we didn’t think would be able to make the trip, so we decided to search for a spot that felt like Italy!” Sheena shares. Her planners found a great alternative in Sonoma, but the venue would later be severely damaged in the 2019 Sonoma wildfires. “We lost the venue, and I was seriously devastated,” she recalls. “But Easton Events is like a fairy godmother, plus a tribe of Tinkerbells. They made magic happen for me twice! We found another venue in Calistoga that ended up being more than anything we could have ever dreamed of.”

The bride knew exactly what she wanted to wear—a trumpet-shaped dress with off-the-shoulder sleeves—but did not know how to find it. She turned to The Stylish Bride for assistance. Julie Sabatino booked two days’ worth of bridal atelier appointments for Sheena, and at Spina Bride, she tried on a beaded trumpet-shaped dress by Lee Petra Grebenau. When her mother cried and her daughter fixed the train, Sheena knew it was the one.

But so much can change in a year. After switching venues and dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, Sheena fell out of love with the dress. She checked on the gown production and requested a longer train and custom tulle sleeves. “It was the perfect amount of drama to get me re-excited about my dream dress,” she admits. Searching for beauty experts was another journey. Sheena ultimately asked her local hair stylist, Shassity Stevenson, to style her hair and reached out to friends of friends to find a make-up artist in San Francisco. They recommended Ashley Bias. “Both girls were literally heaven-sent considering how late in the game I got it figured out,” Sheena confides. “They took the best care of me.”

The groom looked to his trusted custom clothier, Elevee, for his wedding day suit. He paired the white tuxedo jacket with black tuxedo pants and a white shirt. For the after-party, he upgraded into a suave black shirt.

The weather on the wedding date, July 11, 2021, had cooled down to the perfect degree. Sheena describes the scene, “The sway of the willow trees was magical and walking through vineyards to get to your seat was like something out of a movie.” The couple’s daughters walked down the aisle first, and Sheena followed with her father. He wore a dashing tuxedo jacket in pink—his favorite color. Her cousin, Broderick Santiago, officiated the thoughtful, intimate, and timeless ceremony. When Sheena thinks of this day, she says, “It was like the chicest fairy tale story ever written!”

The newlyweds joined guests for a dinner of cacio e pepe and brick chicken with mashed potatoes and live music from Élan Artists. Then, it was time to get the party started. A DJ, cigar bar, and photo booth upped the ante for an evening filled with dancing and even a silent disco. Sheena and Marvin shared their first dance to “Never Enough” by Loren Alfred from The Greatest Showman.

It was important to Sheena they do something non-traditional but would also be meaningful to them for years to come. After the song’s first chorus, their daughters joined them in dancing. Sheena’s favorite part of the reception, though, was how her eldest daughter lit the dance floor up all night with her moves. Sheena adds, “It meant everything to me to see her enjoy the day mom and dad got married.”