Four years after her infamous crash of a White House state dinner, a congressional investigation, an alleged kidnapping, a steamy music video, an on-stage proposal and an 11.42-carat diamond engagement ring, reality star Michaele Holt Salahi made history again Sunday night with the first-ever live, pay-per-view wedding to Journey guitarist Neal Schon.
And who says romance is dead?
The lovebirds, who first met when Schon spotted her in the audience at D.C.’s Constitution Hall 18 years ago, tied the knot in front approximately 18 bridesmaids (we lost count after a dozen), 14 groomsmen. two flower girls, a ring bearer, 350 guests and a dozen or so cameramen who chronicled the ceremony and reception/concert with the finesse of a boxing match. The live broadcast ($14.95 for three hours) was just like being at a live wedding, which proves that reality can’t compete with the production values of scripted, edited reality TV.
The “Winter Wonderland Wedding and Music Event” began with the hosts recapping the romance between the bride, 48, and groom, 59: The two first met at a Journey concert and he invited the willowy blonde and her friend backstage. “I was just like, ‘Wow! Who is that?’ ” Schon said in a pre-taped interview. Sparks flew, but the timing wasn’t quite right and the two remained friends and stayed in touch.
Not mentioned: Her marriage to Virginia vineyard owner Tareq Salahi, the reality show “Real Housewives of D.C.”, their appearance at Obama’s first state dinner in 2009 (which prompted a federal investigation of security procedures and several lawsuits). Also, no mention of the messy end of that marriage: Tareq told police his wife had been kidnapped, but it turns out she’d fled to the arms of her old friend Neal.
And thus began a new reality. “We’ve been together every day for two years and three months,” Schon said in the interview. “I love everything about her.”
“I love everything about you, Neal Schon,” she cooed back.
Nothing – not her brief brush with the feds, not his previous four marriages – could keep these soul mates from their inevitable fate: An on-stage proposal last year at a charity concert, a million-dollar diamond, and a fairy-tale wedding at San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts. And, to be fair, they appear to be a perfect match for each other and very, very happy.
Schon said several people approached the couple to broadcast the event, but they decided to do it themselves and make it pay-per-view with a portion of the proceeds going to victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Invited guests received an alias to
reserve hotel rooms and were not allowed to bring cameras, cell phones or recording devices to the wedding.
The 25-minute ceremony took place in a draped tent with California spiritual leader Michael Beckwith presiding: “Does your soul recognize him as a soul mate?” he asked the bride, who started crying. Yes, reader, she married him, although it was hard to get the two diamond wedding bands over her gloved finger.
Like any live wedding, there was plenty of down time while the wedding party posed for official photographs. So the hosts killed time with wedding chit-chat: Friends of the couple Sammy Hagar (who donated his signature rum for the reception), Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir, R&B singer Brian McKnight and fellow reality star Omarosa Manigault (but none of the D.C. “Housewives” as far as we could see) beamed for the cameras. The mother of the bride called it “a fairytale;” the mother of the groom said, “This is the girl for him. Everybody has noticed the change in him.”
The reception space – white everywhere, with 40 chandeliers, Christmas trees, and a towering winter forest wedding cake – included a stage where the groom performed Journey hits for his new wife. The newlyweds danced to “When I Fall In Love” as fake snow drifted onto the dance floor where the bride wore the second of three designer wedding dresses – alas, the broadcast before her third wardrobe change.
And they lived happily ever after – or something like that. Stay tuned.
Earlier: Michaele Salahi and Neal Schon set a wedding date (10/3/13)