It Was Obvious from Day 1

It Was Obvious from Day 1

A few months after graduating from Yale in 2010, Ariel Shepherd-Oppenheim was home visiting her family in Los Angeles. Her sister, the actor Clementine Ford-Wilcox, hoping to encourage her to move back to L.A., took Ms. Shepherd-Oppenheim to a nightclub in Hollywood to meet people in the local L.G.B.T.Q. community.

“I was looking for someone who would know everyone and could introduce Ariel around,” Ms. Ford-Wilcox said, “and it turned out it was Eliza.”

At the club, she ran into Eliza Ladensohn, the founder of the women’s clothing line Sloane & Tate who Ms. Ford-Wilcox knew through a mutual friend. She introduced Ms. Ladensohn to her sister.

“Right away, we hit it off,” Ms. Ladensohn said.

“Someone actually asked us how long we had been together,” Ms. Shepherd-Oppenheim added of that first meeting.

A few nights later, at Ms. Ladensohn’s suggestion, they met for drinks at Palihouse in West Hollywood. Ms. Shepherd-Oppenheim, just 23 at the time, was impressed by the hotel’s stylish lounge and rooftop view of Hollywood Hills. Ms. Ladensohn took notice of Ms. Shepherd-Oppenheim’s drink order.

“I was ordering a vodka club soda, but Ariel was ordering all these really fun drinks off the cocktail menu,” Ms. Ladensohn said. “I remember thinking this is cool, she’s adventurous.”

After her trip home, Ms. Shepherd-Oppenheim, now 32 and a writer for television shows including the upcoming Hulu comedy “Solar Opposites,” returned to New Haven, Conn., where she was an intern at the Yale Cabaret. She and Ms. Ladensohn stayed in touch by text. About a month later, Ms. Ladensohn, 41, made plans to visit Ms. Shepherd-Oppenheim after a business trip to New York.

As Ms. Ladensohn arrived in New Haven, Ms. Shepherd-Oppenheim was called to work as a stage manager for two showings of a student adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s short story “The Wedding Reception.” Ms. Shepherd-Oppenheim was initially apprehensive about inviting Ms. Ladensohn into her world.

“I was still living on campus and hanging out with all of my college friends,” she said. “I was nervous she was going to come and think, ‘Oh my God you’re still a child I can’t date you.’”

But Ms. Ladensohn enjoyed exploring the Yale campus and attending the first production of the evening. And while Ms. Shepherd-Oppenheim managed the second showing of the play later that night, she was kept company at Ms. Shepherd-Oppenheim’s apartment by her new miniature dachshund puppy, Pip.

“We came into her life at almost the same time,” Ms. Ladensohn said.

That fall, Ms. Shepherd-Oppenheim moved back to Los Angeles and the two began dating steadily. In 2013, Ms. Shepherd-Oppenheim and Pip moved in with Ms. Ladensohn.

Ms. Shepherd-Oppenheim, the daughter of the Golden Globe Award-winning actor Cybill Shepherd, began working as a Hollywood assistant before writing for television. Ms. Shepherd-Oppenheim’s father, Bruce Oppenheim, is a Los Angeles chiropractor whom Ms. Shepherd married in 1987 and divorced a few years later. Growing up, she says didn’t take much notice of her mother’s career. But later in life, Ms. Shepherd served as an example of how to make it in the entertainment business.

“I saw that it was possible to break in and that there are times when things are going well and times when things aren’t and understanding that cycle,” Ms. Shepherd-Oppenheim said.

When Ms. Ladensohn moved to Los Angeles in 2000, after graduating from the Wharton School of Business, she also aspired to make it in Hollywood, as a movie producer. But after a string of jobs at entertainment studios, she set out to start her own clothing and underwear line inspired by men's wear designs. Sloane & Tate has since grown in popularity, with celebrities including Miley Cyrus, Serena Williams and Mila Kunis sporting her pieces in magazine spreads.

“I was inspired by idea of starting a line that makes women feel powerful in an industry that tends to objectify women,” she said.

Both women lean on one another for support and motivation in their careers.

“There’s so much overlap in the challenges we face and the goals we have for ourselves,” Ms. Ladensohn said. “Navigating that together is something that we have in common and has bonded us.”

The two also have mutual tastes in art, film and music, in particular the British rock band the Libertines. This makes it easier for each to ask for feedback on their work.

“Whatever is going on artistically in my life, by the time it’s seen the light of day, Eliza has seen it 150 times,” Ms. Shepherd-Oppenheim said.

The couple knew early on in their relationship that they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together. But it wasn’t until almost eight years of dating that they began seriously discussing marriage.

In the summer of 2018, Ms. Ladensohn booked a spa getaway for the couple at the Four Seasons in Westlake Village outside Los Angeles. Ms. Shepherd-Oppenheim had a feeling Ms. Ladensohn was going to propose. But at the start of the trip, when Ms. Ladensohn said she hadn’t made any big plans for the weekend, Ms. Shepherd-Oppenheim began to have doubts.

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“I did something that I’ve truly never done before,” Ms. Shepherd-Oppenheim said. “I looked through her bag to figure out what was happening. I didn’t see a ring, so I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’ve told all my friends.’”

But on the next morning of July 21, 2018, over breakfast in bed, Ms. Ladensohn proposed.

And as the Melissa McCarthy film “Life of the Party” played on the hotel room TV, Ms. Shepherd-Oppenheim said yes. “I was like, ‘Title-wise, this is a good sign,’” she added.

For some family members, the engagement couldn’t have come soon enough.

“In the span of time they were together, I met my husband, got married and had two kids,” Ms. Ford-Wilcox said. “We were all excited to officially become family.”

On Oct. 26, around 100 guests, including the poet Naomi Shihab Nye, the singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge and her wife the actor and producer Linda Wallem, gathered for the wedding at the Stone Eagle Golf Club in Palm Desert. The ceremony was held at the first tee of the course, tucked among the red rock and chaparral in the hills overlooking the Coachella Valley.

Standing before a canopy of palm branches, Ms. Shepherd-Oppenheim, dressed in a white dress, and Ms. Ladensohn, in a black tuxedo, were joined by their wedding party and Rabbi Heather Miller, who officiated.

“I promise to hold your hand and step forward into the future with you wherever life takes us,” Ms. Shepherd-Oppenheim said in her vows to Ms. Ladensohn. “In the song ‘Nature Boy,’ Nat King Cole sings the greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and to be loved in returned. Because of you, I know that’s true. I love you, and I always will.”

“I promise to always be on your team,” Ms. Ladensohn said in her vows. “I promise to honor you with all that I do and all that I am. I promise to celebrate you and celebrate our love always. What’s mine is your yours. I’m so glad it’s you. It’s always been you.”

The couple exchanged rings, and Ms. Miller gave the Sheva Brachot, or Seven Blessings, recited according to Jewish tradition.

She then produced a wineglass wrapped in dinner napkin, a symbol that relationships are fragile and a reminder of the need to treat one another other with care and compassion, Ms. Miller said. The rabbi pronounced the couple married, and the glass crunched beneath Ms. Ladensohn’s foot as she walked her new bride down the aisle.


When Oct. 26, 2019

Where Stone Eagle Golf Club, Palm Desert, Calif.

Toasts from the Parents Ms. Ladensohn’s parents, Claudia and David, gave the first toasts of the evening. Ms. Ladensohn is the former chair of the Texas Commission on the Arts. Mr. Ladensohn is the chairman of the board of directors of Broadway Bank in San Antonio.

“Anything I could possibly wish you both, any happiness I could possibly bring you both, you’ve already found in one another,” said Claudia Ladensohn.

“This is truly the happiest day I can remember in the last 30 years,” Mr. Ladensohn added during the reception. “Thank you both from the bottom of my heart; it’s filled with love for you both.”

Toasts, Part 2 Ms. Shepherd-Oppenheim’s parents followed with their toasts.

“Ariel was actually a very pushy broad right from the beginning,” Ms. Shepherd said jokingly. “She pushed right down that birth canal — she pushed out sideways!”

“I never thought I was going to have children; I didn’t want children,” Mr. Oppenheim added. “I had a life and things were fine. But God blessed me with children, and now, God blessed me with Eliza.”

Family Wedding Ms. Ford Wilcox’s son, Elijah Ford-Wilcox, 5, was the ring bearer in the ceremony. Her daughter, Welles Ford-Wilcox, 3, was the flower girl.

Dancing Together Instead of a couple’s first dance, guests were invited to join a group first dance to the song “Dancing on My Own” by Robyn.

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