Johanna Shahani met the Italian Sandro Salsano in her father’s Panama office. “I liked him the first time I saw him,” Johanna says. “But he was doing business with my father.”
Sandro made the first move by inviting Johanna out to lunch, but she had other plans. Johanna, recently inspired by a friend’s mother saying that finding true love takes effort, said, “No, let’s have drinks after work instead. We’ve been working all day.”
Drinks went well and nine months later Sandro popped the question on Johanna’s birthday. The proposal, at her father’s house, came as a total shock to her, along with the surprise party with friends and family that Sandro had planned for after the proposal.
The couple, who splits their time among Panama, Europe and Miami, wanted to be near the ocean for their March 14, 2014 nuptials. They also needed a spot large enough to accommodate the massive list of 2,000 guests who were invited to celebrate their marriage. They decided on Ocean Reef Island in Panama City for its unique and beautiful setting.
Johanna loved that they were able to create everything for their wedding, including their magnificent chandelier-drenched reception. They brought in décor from all over the world, including Latin American and European artists as well as orchids from Hawaii.
Thanks to fantastic musical performances, breathtaking fireworks and a festive atmosphere, the party continued well into the night.
“It was beautiful,” Johanna says of her wedding day. “I would describe it as simple and elegant. My friends say there was nothing simple about a wedding like that, but it was a beautiful, beautiful wedding.”
For her dress, Johanna turned to her friend Camille Thiry Russler, owner of Miami’s bridal boutique, Ever After.
“She said, ‘There’s nothing here for you. We need to go to Paris!’” Johanna remembers. And so the two set off in September (coincidentally enough, during fashion week) to visit designers. Johanna chose Giambattista Valli to collaborate with her on a show-stopping custom dress.
“He’s Italian, and we had a connection right away,” she says of Valli. “He knew what I wanted and was super nice. It was the most incredible experience I’ve ever had.”
The dress and décor were certainly stand-outs, but Johanna’s wedding day highlight was her first dance with Sandro. She was very nervous on the way to the church for the ceremony, but by the time they got to the reception and first dance, she had overcome her nerves and was able to relax. Taking in the beautiful view, being surrounded by friends and family and twirling with Sandro was a surreal moment.
After the wedding, Johanna and Sandro took a three-week honeymoon to California, Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora and Cabo San Lucas. They enjoyed some of the best beaches in the world, wine tasting in Napa Valley and excellent food.
Johanna absolutely loved the time they spent in Cabo, while Sandro’s favorite spot was Bora Bora.
Written by Allyson Reedy