Every wedding is spectacular in its own right — particularly for the bride and groom. But for Sophia Mandola Bramlett and Alexander Ballas Bramlett, who exchanged rings Saturday night at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart and partied later at Hotel ZaZa, the evening was beyond special.
For starters, the ceremony was presided over by a heady team of Catholic clergy — the Rev. Brendan Cahill, Msgr. Frank Rossi and Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza. When the "I do's" and the genuflecting were completed, a rousing mariachi band heralded the fun to begin as the bride and groom and their 400 guests departed for ZaZa.
The groom's cousin, Dancing With the Stars champion Mark Ballas, choreographed the special steps for Usher's "Something Special."
No ordinary turn around the hotel ballroom would do for these newlyweds as they launched their new life together with the first dance. The groom's cousin, Dancing With the Stars champion Mark Ballas, choreographed the fancy footwork for Usher's "Something Special." The ballroom crowd burst into applause at their graceful moves as the couple's parents — Phyllis and Tony Mandola and Van Bramlett and Winkie Ballas Jamail — beamed.
In another star turn, songman and record producer Steve Tyrell, who couldn't attend the wedding, recorded a special rendition of his popular "The Way You Look Tonight" for the Bramletts. That's the tune Tyrell recorded for the 1991 version of Father of the Bride, the film that put him on the marquee and launched his club career. The family connections: Tony Mandola and Tyrell are cousins.
The party went on and on as guests grazed through buffet offerings of everything from risotto to osso bucco to fried chicken and danced to the sounds of Austin's Blind Date.
The previous night, the groom's parents called on the talents of the Mandola family for the rehearsal dinner in the private room at Tony Mandola's, the popular eatery on Waugh Drive. Ninety guests were wined and dined on a four-course Italian feast.
That, of course, was just the prelude to the wedding reception where the notable guest list included Cathy and Giorgio Borlenghi, Roz Pactor, Mary and Vincent Kickerillo, Ginger and John Niemann, Nancy Ames and Danny Ward, Trini Mendenhall Sosa and Frank Sosa, Lucia and Michael Cordua, Julieta and Juan Carreon, Karen and Bob Aspromonte and the entire Mandola/Laurenzo/Ballas/Bramlett families. The bride is the granddaughter of the late Ninfa Laurenzo, founder of Ninfa's restaurants.
As a special treat for the newlyweds, Kelli Kickerillo and Todd Forester hired a vintage white Rolls Royce that whisked them away under a shower of rose petals.