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Alexandra Shiva Weds Jonathan Sherman in Divine Style

It wasn’t a dream-like replica of the Garden of Eden, but it could have been. Two Gardens of Eden perhaps.

This story first appeared in the May 23, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

But what it really was was the Joseph Papp Theater, where two of its theaters, Martinson Hall and LuEsther Hall, were truly and beautifully transformed by the magic wand of Robert Isabell with thousands of yards of white gauze falling from ceiling to floor, and thousands upon thousands of fragrant white flowers everywhere. Martinson Hall was the setting for the wonderful wedding of film director-producer Alexandra Shiva and writer Jonathan Sherman, son of Dr. Ronald Sherman and the late Barbara Daniels Sherman.

Perhaps the scene was more Cocteau than Eden. Even the lobby was draped in white gauze and there were four 10-foot tall arrangements of white snowball viburnum and lacecap hydrangea towering from huge urns. One knowledgeable guest likened the scene to a Christian Berard set from a Cocteau movie. The 20-foot tall columns were painted white and the entire room was splayed in white gauze that went on forever (very Cocteau). The gold distressed ceiling and the columns were overgrown with English ivy, which looked as if it had been growing for hundreds of years (very Cocteau). Eight 10-foot tall candelabra dripped with ivy and jasmine (too Cocteau for words). The floor was covered with natural sisal, and four gigantic white urns were filled with white lilac and white bridal veil spirea. The houppa under which the traditional Jewish ceremony took place was a bower of thousands of gardenias. The 13 bridesmaids wore classic cream-colored Marc Jacobs gowns with silver belts and carried cream-colored sweet peas. The bride carried a bouquet of lily of the valley.

About that bride. Alexandra Shiva, the lovely dark-haired dark-eyed daughter of Gil Shiva of New York and the late Susan Stein Shiva, wore one of the most romantic wedding dresses that ever came out of Chanel’s atelier, pure white silk net with a fitted bodice and a full skirt and long train, sparkling with silver flecks. Covered by her veil, her eyes never left the groom’s face during the entire ceremony, performed by Rabbi Chava Koster. The matron of honor was Sandra Shure and the bridesmaids included Alexandra’s striking sister-in-law, Anne Shiva; Samantha Bass; Marni Sherman; Tina Chai; Lithe Sebesta; Cyia Batten; Laurie Prince; Ginny Bond Donahue; Fernanda Niven; Alexia Landau; Michelle Gucovsky, and Tehzeeb Hoosenally.

Groom Jonathan Sherman’s best man was Scott Sherman, and he, too, had 13 attendants including Alexandra’s brother, Andrew, and Ethan Hawke, who arrived with his wife, Uma Thurman, and their little daughter. After cocktails, the guests strolled to dinner in LuEsther Hall, which was draped in light blue gauze and carpeted with natural sisal. Centering the tables were blue and violet flowers with hints of green viburnum, surrounded by julep cups filled with lily of the valley. The cloths were made of sky blue linen and adorned with old family silver, and every woman found a gardenia in her napkin. Glorious Food served the fettuccine with caviar, rack of lamb and warm chocolate souffle cake, accompanied by the finest of wines. Oh, and the ceiling and candlelit chandeliers were draped in lilacs and white orchids.

The Empyreal Strings played for the ceremony and during the first course. Then Russian gypsy violinists strolled around the dance floor during the main course. Then, Samy Goz from Paris, the Orchestra of choice for every big splashy party, had the entire room dancing for three solid hours before everyone — or almost everyone — went to Joe’s Pub for the after party, where DJ Tom Finn played until the bride and groom ended the party at 5:30 a.m.

Lauren Bush, George and Barbara Bush’s granddaughter and President George W. Bush’s niece, flew to Houston from Princeton, where she just finished her freshman year, to give her mother, Sharon Bush, a surprise birthday party at the Post Oak Grill. Her 14-year-old sister, Ashley, got up at 6:30 that morning to bake and decorate a cake for Mommy before she went to school and met Lauren to cohost the lunch. Sharon, after her difficult divorce settlement with Neil Bush, was surprised by the party from her tiny toes to her tiny nose. Lauren and Ashley had gathered up 30 of her favorite girlfriends including Debbie Clemens, the wife of Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens, and TV’s Dr. Gale Gross.

That night, Sharon, Lauren and Ashley gave a Mexican fiesta in the family home to welcome Kingsley Aikins of the American Ireland Fund to Houston. This will be the last party in the house they have lived in for the past 10 years, as Sharon and the children can no longer afford the place, which is on the market for $1.5 million. Barbara and George Bush are going to help find a house for Sharon and their grandchildren, albeit a smaller one. Sharon is now working for the American Ireland Fund, which has committed $1 million for the Special Olympics set for Dublin on June 21. This is the first time the games have been held outside the U.S. and over 7,000 athletes from around the world will participate. Sharon and her children will join Eunice Kennedy Shriver who founded the games and other assorted Kennedys in Ireland.

Sharon’s 17-year-old son, Pierce, will stay in Washington to work for Texas Congressman John Culberson. More on all this and the Shiva/Sherman wedding in another column.

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