Article appeared on Sept. 4, 2011 on page M-10 of the San Francisco Chronicle
Megan Heinen, 27, has walked down many a red carpet. The part-time model and fashion blogger knows how it feels to strut down a runway, with all eyes on her and cameras flashing.
But the red carpet she stepped onto on a recent Saturday was different. It lined the aisle of Stanford’s Memorial Church, and her soon-to-be husband, Tyler Mobley, 28, waited at the other end.
“I once had to model a wedding dress in a fashion show,” Heinen said. But she was reluctant. “I didn’t really want to put a wedding dress on until it was my wedding dress, on my wedding day.”
When her day came, it resembled, in many ways, the fashion shows where she has come to feel at home.
At the back of the church, wedding coordinator Melissa Prestinario and Diane Elcan, the Stanford Faculty Club’s director of catering, served as the show runners. Prestinario opened the doors to the church sanctuary and sent each bridesmaid with perfect timing. Elcan sent text-message updates to the reception chef, advising him when the guests would be arriving.
Heinen’s seven bridesmaids each walked solo down the aisle, giving the nearly 200 wedding guests plenty of time to look at their unique red satin dresses. Danielle Pettee, a San Francisco dressmaker and friend of the bride, custom designed each woman’s dress and was at the church to pin, stitch and make last-minute adjustments.
Heinen, on her father’s arm, wore a gown created by New York designer Anna Maier Ulla-Maija, and when Heinen reached her groom, they turned to face their guests and struck a pose as the minister instructed friends and family to “make their final photos.”
When Heinen and Mobley turned back to face the minister, joy and emotion overtook poise and orchestration, and the bride said her vows with a shaking voice and tears in her eyes.
Inspired by cardinal red
A wedding in Memorial Church was a fantasy come true for the bride and groom, who met as Stanford undergrads in 2005. In retrospect, the couple are surprised they didn’t meet earlier since their high schools were only a few miles apart – Mobley attending Palo Alto High School and Heinen, Menlo-Atherton.
Mobley’s parents and brother attended Stanford, and his brother also married at Memorial Church. Although Heinen’s family is full of Cal alums, when she was a little girl she dreamed of getting married on Stanford’s campus.
Heinen added that when the time came to choose colors, dresses, flowers and other wedding details, she turned to her notebooks full of photo clippings.
“It was hard because, through the fashion industry, I’ve been exposed to so much – so many different styles,” she said. “But the church was my inspiration piece, and my colors were (Stanford’s) cardinal and white.”
Although Stanford is a backdrop throughout Heinen and Mobley’s love story, they did not start dating there. In fact, they met the night of a formal dance on campus, and Heinen had another date. It wasn’t until two years later, when both had graduated and moved to San Francisco, that they ran into each other repeatedly while bar-hopping one night in the Marina.
“At the last bar, he left,” Heinen said. “And then he came back in to get my number.”
The couple dated for a year before Mobley left to attend business school at Columbia in 2008.
“We stayed together on and off,” Heinen said. “The distance was really hard, but we knew we wanted to be together.”
Relocating to Atlanta
After graduation in May 2010, Mobley accepted a job in Atlanta with insurance company ING. “That’s when the pace (of our relationship) really picked up,” he said.
He missed Heinen and wanted her to join him in Georgia, but she was in the middle of planning a fashion show in San Francisco. He booked a plane ticket for her as soon as the show was over and also e-mailed her a photo of an engagement ring – the one he had just purchased.
“I wanted her to know that, when she came, she’d be getting a ring,” Mobley said.
He formally proposed after a romantic dinner, and Heinen accepted.
“I always knew he was the one after we started dating,” Heinen said. “Our families are so similar, and this just fits. It clicks. The proposal just solidified my decision to move to Atlanta.”
Heinen said they hope to return home to live in the Bay Area in the next few years. She and bridesmaid dress designer Pettee have talked of working together.
Mobley admitted that the San Francisco fashion world, and the world of wedding planning, were more “Megan’s scene.” (His, he said, is watching college football at a bar with his buddies.) But he looked very much at home coming up the red carpet with his new wife on his arm.
“With Megan, I have fun no matter what I’m doing,” he said.