This Glam Wedding Included a "Ring for Champagne" Station at Viansa Winery in Sonoma, California

If this couple had a memoir, the title would be Catching Flights and Catching Feelings. The whirlwind romance of Mahsa Zare (29, a luxury realtor) and

If this couple had a memoir, the title would be Catching Flights and Catching Feelings. The whirlwind romance of Mahsa Zare (29, a luxury realtor) and Johnathan (Hank) Hankins (31, a professional football player for the Dallas Cowboys) has taken them around the globe, so a destination wedding was a fitting way to celebrate their love. While they tied the knot on May 21, 2023, in Sonoma, California, their love story began in Dallas years earlier during a night on the town, when they bumped into each other while dancing at a club. Mahsa recalls how she and Hank “immediately felt connected, as if we had known one another for years.” The couple’s relationship immediately took flight. Hank was heading to Las Vegas and invited Mahsa along. “The idea of flying to another city to see a man I barely knew was very out of character for me, but I felt safe with Hank,” she says.

Two weeks later, by chance, they met in Michigan. While Mahsa was visiting the state, Hank (known affectionately as “Big Time Hank” in the NFL) gave her a call. By chance, he was also in Michigan visiting family—just minutes away. “The fact that we were both in Michigan at the same time visiting family was too much of a coincidence. It felt like fate, and I think we both knew that night that we would be together forever,” recalls Mahsa. “Everything seemed to fall into place so easily, so seamlessly.”

With Dallas, Las Vegas and Michigan playing key roles in getting to this point, a destination wedding in Sonoma was the perfect culmination to the couple’s globe-trotting journey (They currently call both Dallas and Vegas home). Mahsa and Hank originally wanted to get married in Italy, but were concerned about asking their loved ones to travel so far. “Instead, we decided to look in Northern California,” says Mahsa. “We had lived together in Oakland earlier in our relationship and loved the idea of going back to where it all started.”

And while the couple’s wedding didn’t involve plane tickets to Italy, they still looked to Europe for inspiration for the event’s glam aesthetic. “I wanted everything to feel very romantic, with heavy florals. We wanted the ceremony to feel romantic and intimate, but we wanted full-on glam for the reception.”

To bring this vision to life, the couple hired Andrea Eppolito, a planner whom Mahsa had wanted to work with even before they were officially engaged. Mahsa and Hank welcomed their daughter, Miliana, a few years before the wedding, and Eppolito had created a memorable baby shower. “Andrea made wedding planning stress-free and fun,” says Mahsa. The couple loved and trusted the planner so much that they asked her to officiate the wedding. “She said yes, and Hank entered the ceremony with her,” says Mahsa.

One of the couple’s favorite parts about working with Eppolito was how she “really paid attention to the things that mattered the most to us and found ways to incorporate them into the wedding,” says Mahsa. She recalls how Eppolito found a DJ who understood the couple’s love of San Fran- cisco-style dance music and a dancer who honored Mahsa’s Middle Eastern heritage with two numbers during the reception (a belly dance and a sword dance). “Andrea even found ways to have our four dogs represented on the groom’s cake and on our cocktail napkins,” notes Mahsa of her planner’s attention to detail.

The couple also celebrated Mahsa’s Persian heritage with a traditional knife ceremony before their cake cutting. “The bridesmaids held the knife and danced around Hank,” she says. “He needed to tip them and offer gifts in order to show his love for me and that he could provide for me. Once he had proven himself, they finally gave him the knife and we were able to cut the cake.”

The ritual came on the heels of dinner, where the most popular menu item was a Persian-inspired carrot salad on a spiced yogurt, served with a choice of salmon, steak or pasta.

The wedding cake was a butter-cream-encased masterpiece, which included layers of vanilla as well as cookies and cream. But since the couple loves sweets, they didn’t stop there. The groom’s cake, which celebrated the couple’s four dogs in fondant-model form, was made of stacked cookies. Additionally, there was a dessert buffet with chocolate sea-salt tartlets, vanilla custard pies with chocolate chips and even a gelato station.

Despite the pomp and circumstance of the reception, Mahsa shares that her favorite moment from the wedding was earlier in the day. She cherished walking down the aisle and seeing Hank for the first time. “The moment I saw my soulmate waiting at the end of the most beautiful aisle, so many emotions and memories rushed through me,” she says. “It was a surreal feeling to be marrying the man of my dreams in a place that was so dear to us. I was truly grateful for every single moment in our lives that led us to this exact place.”

Chic Black-and-White Wedding Invitation Suite
Elegant White Rose Wedding Bouquet
Embellished Amina Muaddi Slingback Wedding Heels
Drone Aerial Photo of Outdoor Wedding Ceremony at Viansa Winery in Sonoma, California
Outdoor Wedding Ceremony With White Roses Lining Aisle
Flower Girl Walking Down Ceremony Aisle Surrounded by White Roses
“Seeing Hank become a father definitely confirmed that this was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. He is an amazing father and the best example of a husband and partner to our little girl,” says Mahsa.
Despite writing them separately, the couple notes that their vows were strikingly similar. “We both talked about how our relationship is built on mutual trust and admiration, and how important it was to be equal partners and parents.”
Ceremony Recessional Down Rose-Lined Aisle
Stairs Decorated With White Stock Flowers Beside Black Acrylic Wedding Welcome Sign
During cocktail hour, an interactive drink station surprised guests. “The top said, ‘Marriage has a nice ring to it...’ and locations we love were listed under each bell. When guests rang a bell, a white-gloved hand passed them a glass of champagne,” says Mahsa.
"Ring for Champagne" Station at Glam Wedding
Glam Wedding Reception With Black Dance Floor
Sleek Black-and-White Signature Cocktail Bar Menu
Glam Wedding Reception With Chandeliers and Hanging Flowers
Cookie Groom's Cake With Dog Cake Topper Figurines