Some say distance makes the heart grow fonder and such was the case for Mary Ashrafyan and Stephan Gevorkian. Set up by mutual friends, the two dated for several months and knew that the attraction had turned to love when Stephan, a doctor specializing in trauma surgery, had to leave for a two-year stint in a small village in Mexico.
“He told me he was going to be away and I realized I didn’t want to be parted from him,” says Mary. “I realized I didn’t want a future without him.”
“I FELT HER LIFE WAS MORE IMPORTANT TO ME THAN MY OWN AT ANY COST.”
Although difficult, the two say keeping the long-distance relationship going was definitely worthwhile. While Mary, a professional Latin ballroom instructor, jokes that Stephan is the more romantic one of the duo—“I was fine in the state we were, not pushing for a wedding”—he did want to make it official. So after six years of dating, Stephan arranged a Valentine’s Day proposal.
“She would just think of the day as her gift and wouldn’t imagine I was going to propose,” he says. After horseback riding, brunch and a romantic gondola ride, the couple headed to Cicada (the restaurant where they’d had their first date). Before dessert, Stephan got down on one knee and asked for Mary’s hand. The couple headed back to Mary’s house where unbeknownst to her their families were waiting to celebrate.
For their July nuptials, they chose St. Mary’s Armenian Church in Glendale, California. The couple’s 560 guests then headed to the reception at L.A.’s Taglyan Cultural Complex. A logo with their initials that the couple had designed for their invitations also graced the custom, gold-colored dance floor. “The venue was magical,” Mary recalls, “full of Hollywood glamour.”
To ensure no interruption to the party atmosphere, all toasts were given before the couple shared their first dance choreographed by the bride. Stephan’s sisters, both NYU graduates, surprised everyone by showing a video they had made. Mary’s students from her Dynamic Duo Dance Studio also surprised the couple with a performance.
Guests dined on caviar, filet mignon, lobster, crab and other delicious dishes. Libations included 50-year-old cognacs, limited-edition bottles of Dom Perignon, Roberto Cavalli vodka, and special-numbered red and white wines. “I think it was the first wedding I have seen where nobody sits down,” Stephan says. “We had everyone dancing until 4 a.m.”
The newlyweds honeymooned at a five-star hotel in Bora Bora, enjoying their first days as husband and wife in a waterfront bungalow. “It was paradise,” says Stephan, “me, the beach and the most beautiful woman in the world.” Glad that the long-distance part of their relationship is behind them, the two look forward to one day starting a family.
“People used to tell me there is no difference when you’re dating and married, but for me it was different,” Stephan says. “I immediately felt more responsible for someone else. I felt her life was more important to me than my own at any cost. I can’t explain it but it’s overpowering to be that in love.”
Location, Caterer and Lighting: Taglyan Cultural Complex, Los Angeles, CA; Floral Design: Design Shop, Glendale, CA; Rentals: White Night Design, Burbank, CA; Cake: Rafi’s Pastry & Cakes, Glendale, CA
Stationery: Creative Works Designs, Burbank, CA; Wedding Dress and Veil: Vera Wang; Bride’s Shoes: Giuseppe Zanotti; Grooms Tuxedo: Tom Ford; Groom’s Shoes: Christian Louboutin
Photography: Duke Images, Pasadena, CA