The Exotically Glamorous Austin Nuptials of Anna Anami and Will Hardeman
By Allison Haberer
Photography by Ashley Garmon
Anna Anami and William Bryan Hardeman were recently married in a stunningly personalized wedding. The happy couple celebrated their nuptials at the historical Driskill Hotel, with the ceremony being held in the ballroom and the reception in the Mezzanine of the venue. The Driskill was the perfect place for their wedding because it held a special place in their heart; it was where Austin native Will’s parents once held their own wedding reception. The bride is the daughter of Shaesteh Arezehgar and Mohsen Anami. The groom is the son of Rebecca and Bryan Hardeman. The couple are both graduates of The University of Texas at Austin.
It took the couple over eight years to find their way to one another, but with a little encouragement from the groom’s mother, it all seemed to fall into place. After a trip with friends to Lollapalooza in Chicago, the two came back a couple and the rest is history.
The bride described the theme of the wedding as a “Persian princess marrying prince charming in springtime.” She wore a handmade Enzoani wedding gown that had a trumpet silhouette that was strapless with jeweled bodice, very low cut back and made of duchess tulle that complimented the groom’s custom white dinner jacket.
It was important to the couple that the bride’s Persian family traditions be incorporated into the ceremony and that included the wedding spread and the knife dance. The knife dance, or raghseh chadoo, is when the couple is ready to cut the cake, they have to “earn” the knife. A female family member or friend will start dancing with the knife, and the couple must offer money to the dancer in exchange for the knife. But the dancer may be coy and take the money and pass the knife to another woman to continue the knife dance. Also incorporated into the ceremony was the sofreh aghd, the center stone of Persian weddings. A sofreh is a colorful, decorative spread of symbolic items. Each item is carefully displayed and crafted and has its own meaning, from warding off evil and to encourage prosperity, fertility, and wealth, as well as tradition and family.
Before the wedding there was a round of events to celebrate the couple like their engagement announcement party that was hosted by the groom’s parents at their home in Tarrytown. An engagement party was also hosted by the bride’s mother, Shaesteh Arezehgar and Dr. Kevin Flynn at Dr. Flynn’s home at the W Residences. The third engagement party was hosted by friends at the home of Dr. Steven and Jamie Dell, while the last engagement party was hosted by friends at the home of John Schweitzer. The bridal luncheon was hosted by friends at Tarry House Club, and a luncheon was hosted by friends at the Driskill Hotel the day of the wedding.
The night before the wedding, at the rehearsal dinner at The Austonian Club, Custom linens, flowers, laughing Buda calligraphy place cards, and soloist and keyboardist to entertain 100 guests who flew in from all over the globe including Dubai and Canada. Anna and Will wanted to surprise their parents with a special thank you so they brought in a soloist who serenaded their parents with Natalie Merchant’s Kind and Generous and Celine Dion’s Because You Loved Me. Then Will surprised Anna by jumping on the mic to sing her Mark Cohn’s True Companion. Lots of toasts, bubbly and celebration high atop the city skyline completed the pre-nuptial evening.
The 400 guests, dressed in white dinner jackets for men, including the groom and his attendants, and floor-length pastel gowns for women, complemented the beautiful ceremony and reception. The floral arrangements, designed by Westbank Florist, engulfed the entire floor with their heavenly scent. The couple spared no detail, as the incredible five-tier orange Grand Marnier chiffon cake with butter cream filling and topped with hundreds of hand cut fresh spring flowers. The food had both a Persian and American flair and included a variety of traditional and nontraditional dishes including: saffron basmati rice, yogurt marinated chicken, lamb, a seafood tower, beef carving stations, along with charcuterie/vegetable/fruit towers. There was a dessert table, which included whimsically colored French macarons and Jordon almonds, individual carrot cakes and Persian desserts infused with rose water. Event planner Victoria Hentrich of Creative Consultants and her team helped the couple envision their special day.
The couple hired a dance teacher to create custom Viennese Waltz for their first dance to Elvis Presley’s Can’t Help Falling in Love with You. The bride had six attendants and the groom had seven. The ceremony also included two handsome ring bearers: Julian Dell, 16 months old, the son of Anna’s good friend Jamie Dell, and Jack Levy, six years old, the son of Anna’s business partner, Noa Levy. The adorable flower girl was Gigi, also six years old, Will’s cousin’s daughter. One of the most special moments from the reception was the reveal of custom birthday cakes for the best man and Nita Archer, Will’s maternal grandmother who both shared the same birthday as the wedding day.
The bride is a real estate broker with The Boutique Real Estate and the groom is the managing partner of Continental Automotive Group. After the wedding, the couple honeymooned on the island of Anguilla in the British West Indies and St. Barth. They will reside in Austin.