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Married in Marrakech: Jane Lerman & Shane Fonner's Desert Wedding
“Your name is Jane, my name is Shane…we have to get married,” remembers Jane of her future groom’s quick and daring opening line. The two were introduced by mutual friends, and couldn’t help but notice the lyrical nature of their name pairing. “Obviously, I thought he was ridiculous,” Jane recalled, “but I also thought he was funny; I just went with it and said ‘Sure, City Hall tomorrow?’”
Both founders of their own fashion companies, the twosome shared a passion for style and creativity. Jane helms her NYC PR Firm, L.E.R. PR, and handbag line BLACKSEA; Shane is the creative director of his own luxury menswear line, Palmiers du Mal. The two moved in together just six months later, and soon after, realized that the fateful night spent dancing, singing karaoke and laughing about their rhyming names with friends in 2009 would eventually become a memory they would soon share as husband and wife.
“Shane proposed during the summer of 2014 in Florence, Italy,” recalled Jane of the couple’s picturesque Italian getaway. She had once mentioned to her future groom that she would never want a public proposal, and he kept that in mind when orchestrating the ultimate ask. The couple set out for a day of sightseeing, and quickly getting into the local spirit, Shane insisted that they drink Limoncello shots at every stopping point. Little did Jane know that her future groom was simply trying to calm his nerves in preparation for the life-changing event he had scheduled later in the day.
“As we crossed the Ponte Vecchio and passed Palazzo Pitti, we turned onto a cute side street that was completely empty,” remembered Jane. “All of a sudden I saw him reaching into his bag and getting down on one knee. I was so stunned; I was not expecting it to happen right then and there.” After a “yes,” and a celebratory bottle of rosé at a charming café, the newly engaged couple called home to spread the news of their first engagement. “I will admit, I [am] very superstitious and Mercury was in retrograde that day,” recalled the bride. “Three days later, when we were at Villa Lena in Tuscany, which is still one of our favorite places on Earth, I told him that [aspect] was bothering me.” As an understanding solution, Shane agreed to “cancel the engagement,” a decision that allowed him to ask for Jane’s hand in marriage a second time. Unsurprisingly, she said yes–again.
Plans and preparations for their wedding began almost three years after the couple got engaged in Italy, and the time to consider what was important to them in a venue allowed them to settle on somewhere far and away. The couple felt strongly about a destination wedding, in a location that spoke to their fashion-focused interests—and that could top their super-romantic proposals. “We fell in love with the magic of Marrakech,” said Jane. “The colors, the sights, the sounds, the people.”
The pair organized a trip to Marrakech to begin scouting wedding locations that were far from the norm. “A friend had met Fabrice Orlando of Cocoon Events on her trip to Marrakech, and recommended I meet with him,” Jane recalled. “We met at his villa and talked about our desires to avoid a cookie cutter venue and wedding. Our thinking was that if we were bringing all of our close friends and family to Morocco, we wanted to make sure they had the experience of a lifetime. We wanted experiences that made the trip worth it, something that was incredibly memorable and a multi-day affair. We initially wanted to have our wedding ceremony in the Agafay desert, but when thinking logistically about possible threats of rain, comfort for our guests, etc., we decided it would be more fun to do a whole day there before the wedding.”
Kicking off their exotic celebration, Jane and Shane arranged for guests to dine at La Pause, an enchanting boutique hotel that feels uniquely integrated within its desert surroundings, for a welcome lunch. The property is remote with no electricity, and feels one with its sand dune surroundings. An afternoon of camel riding, ATVing, playing with falcons and good company set the tone for an unforgettable weekend. “That day was just as important to us as the wedding ceremony,” said the bride.
For the wedding itself, the couple settled on a private villa, designed by Aziz Lamghari–who also designed the famous Palais Rhoul and Palais Namaskar. The couple forged a deep connection with Lamghari during their visits and wedding prep, so-much-so that he was invited to the wedding as a guest. The villa serves as the architect's home when he is not renting it out for private affairs, and he spent the weekend enthusiastically regaling guests with tales of its history. “The home was like a museum full of [Aziz’s] impressive collections of antiquities (like original tapestries from the Pyramids of Giza), his own sculptures and classic cars, like some of the most rare Jaguars and Rolls Royce’s,” recalls Jane of their stellar ceremony and reception site. "We felt like we needed to have the wedding there, almost solely for the purpose of letting other people know that this incredible place exists.” Aziz even let the enamored couple use his favorite car—a 1952 limited edition Packard—to make their grand entrance, and exit, as husband and wife.
Naturally, both the bride and groom incorporated their own designs into the details of their three-day affair. Jane opted for a semi-sheer, wide-leg Temperley London jumpsuit for their adventurous day in the desert, which she paired with red Aquazzura espadrilles and her own BLACKSEA clutch—a plexiglass and metal minaudiere featuring a sunset and a desert landscape, which she called the “Agafay” in tribute to the inspiring landscape. “I designed the Spring 2019 collection of BLACKSEA after our site visits in Marrakech,” said the bride-come-designer. “I wanted to create bags I [and my guests] could wear for every day of the wedding.” The bride complemented her wedding day look with a different BLACKSEA minaudiere, a sophisticated white clutch with gold laser engraving.
Jane chose a romantic yet sexy Galia Lahav gown with an embroidered floral bodice and cascading train paired with Manolo Blahnik “Chaos” sandals for her lavish day-of look, as well as her something new. A pair of diamond earrings passed down to Jane by her grandmother honored the traditional rhyme for her something old, while a blue bracelet tied to the inside her gown served as her something blue. As a sweet something borrowed, the bride pinned one of her best friend’s earrings to the back of her gown, which she styled with a custom Yestadt Millinery veil.
Shane elected to don two of his own creations for the wedding celebrations, choosing a Palmiers du Mal getup for the Agafay desert as well as a custom wedding day look, which he completed with a vintage YSL bowtie.
Florists Christian Pierre Van Houtte and José Rodriguez created an enchanting display of florals for the couple’s jaw-dropping ceremony. An ethereal walkway of pink flower petals were scattered along the ceremony floor, which contrasted the bevy of white fringe chairs set out for the guests. All-white floral arrangements and accessories were chosen to compliment some of the more traditional Moroccan elements the couple incorporated into the wedding, like the sweeping red Moroccan rugs that lined the site where Jane and Shane recited their vows, and were pronounced husband and wife.
Entertainment was key for the couple throughout the entirety of the festive weekend, highlighting the authenticity, zest for life and romanticism of each special event. “We had to have entertainment every step of the way during the wedding, starting with the welcome drummers, The Essaouira Gnawa, and the welcome horn blowers, The Dakka Marrakchia, to greet guests before the ceremony,” explained the couple of their decisions to incorporate as much local flair into their celebration as possible. The two also opted for a reception performance by singer SoShy and guitarist/singer Jam Kay after their vows.
The cocktail hour, which featured entertainment by the Andalus Arabic Trio, preceded a reception held in the villa’s elaborate backyard. A wall of candles crafted by Fabrice and Cocoon Events created a sultry aesthetic for the space, an alluring atmosphere that carried over into the dinner tent. “[Fabrice] created a rainforest effect with sparkling candles, flowers and crystals draping down from the olive trees above the tables–it really made it feel like we were in a movie, or some kind of fairy tale,” Jane recalled.
Moroccan salads, chicken pastilla and lamb confit with baby eggplant graced guests' plates, and a tiered wedding cake by Gregory Moumin was presented for dessert. The emphasis on giving their guests the time of their lives did not end at the four performances and day in the desert that preceeded the reception; a diverse assortment of performances from entertainers like Jean-Luc Viala, torch men, belly dancers and more promised unique amusement and a surprise at every turn for the couple and their guests throughout the night.
The day after the wedding, the newlyweds hosted a brunch for all of their guests to enjoy at the Dar Sabra. A dress code of kaftans and traditional Moroccan attire was encouraged to all who chose to attend. “I loved the brunch we hosted after the wedding night at our hotel,” said Jane. “We loved seeing all of our favorite people in their best kaftans, turbans and baboush–it was so inspiring, and the perfect way to start our next chapter together.”
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