Isabella Tobias Lites and Samuel Lites’ real-life Cinderella-style wedding is finished with modern flourishes.
By Lynne Konstantin
Photography by Abby Rose Photo
Isabella Tobias Lites started ice skating when she was 5. “I saw it on TV and absolutely loved it,” the Manhattan native says. By age 8, she had added ballet training to her resume, and she continued studying ballet and ice dancing at the highest level until she was 12.
Although she had performed many roles with the New York City Ballet, she knew she had to choose — and her heart lay with the ice. “I thank God that I wanted to become a figure skater and that Michigan ended up being the best place to move,” says Isabella, 26, “because I probably wouldn’t have met Sam otherwise.”
Samuel Lites, the son of Denise Ilitch and James Lites, also has an affinity for ice — he is an amateur scout for the Detroit Red Wings (which his grandmother owns).
It was at a baseball game, however, that the two met. Isabella accompanied a friend to Comerica Park for a Tigers-Yankees game. Clad in the opposing team’s garb, Isabella had already endured a bit of heckling from Tigers fans when her friend spotted Lites, a family friend, and they went to say hello. Native Detroiter Lites, of course, wore a cap and jacket emblazoned with the logos of the Tigers (which his grandmother also owns).
A spark was lit, and though they connected on Facebook, time passed. A year and a half later, Isabella was competing at Joe Louis Arena, so she hit up Sam, 28, for parking passes for her visiting parents and grandparents. “It blossomed from there,” Isabella says. “I’d always carried a torch for him, and we just had a really deep connection right away. We fell head over heels for each other.”
Two months into dating, Isabella was scheduled to compete in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. “It was really important to me to have him there — he ended up meeting my entire family for the first time at the Olympics.
Everybody loved him,” she says. “And we just progressed from there. He’s humble, kind, honest, pure. I have a more outgoing personality — when you’re a performer, you tend to be surrounded by big personalities. I loved that he had this quiet confidence. Plus, we’re both heavily involved in sports, so we understand each other’s lifestyle.”
That same moral compass is what attracted Sam to Isabella, too. “I love that she has such a passion for life and is incredibly devoted to her friends and family,” he says. “She’s a very loyal and thoughtful person.” Plus, he adds, she’s beautiful inside and out and has a great sense of humor — “someone who I could see myself with in the long run.”
Soon after the Olympics, when Isabella headed to Tel Aviv for a competition, she says, she had an inkling that something was afoot.
“My mom, my siblings, Sam’s grandmother — they were all coming to Israel! We were staying at a hotel on the beach, and we met his mom for a glass of wine on the roof deck with a vista of Tel Aviv,” Isabella says. “He got down on one knee and proposed. There was a Champagne toast, rose petals, a family celebration — it was amazing.”
There was no question where an Ilitch family fairytale wedding would be held. “(The Fox Theatre) was honestly where we all thought right away,” Isabella says. “It’s very special to Sam’s mother and father, of course, and poignant for his grandparents. Having the family represented that way really added a magical touch that wouldn’t have been there otherwise. It was magnificent.”
In addition to competing at the Olympics, a career highlight for Isabella was performing a routine to music from “Cinderella.” “It’s very close to me,” says Isabella, who, with the help of event planner Ann Owens at Emerald City Designs in Farmington Hills, was inspired to create a magical, Cinderella-style wedding celebration.
“I cannot say enough good things about Ann,” Isabella says. “She’s a young mom, sharp as a tack — and she knew our taste better than we did. I gave her some key words — classic, traditional — but due to the grandeur of the theater, we wanted romantic, fairy tale. I think she captured that beautifully.”
Owens says she arranged florals in a “new neutral” palette: whites and ivories, Champagne, blush, with no accent color, and added metallic in gold and silver. “We mixed a lot of elements,” she says, “so it would work with the Fox Theatre and its history.”
“Because it was a destination wedding for much of Isabella’s family, we wanted to tell the story of the Fox and utilize all of the space. The ceremony was in the main theater, cocktails in the Grand Lobby. Then the Emerald City team flipped the space in 30 minutes for dinner for 350 people!”
Isabella also had a very specific vision of what she wanted for her gown — and when she walked into the Vera Wang shop in New York, she found it hanging by the door.
“I wanted long sleeves and a very dramatic ball gown skirt — again, in keeping with the fairy-tale Fox,” says Isabella, whose experience with costumes helped her pinpoint precisely what looks good on her. And in keeping with her Cinderella moment, she chose Manolo Blahnik icy blue satin pumps. “They kind of looked like a glass slipper,” she says. “And they’re my ‘something blue.’ ”
For the vows, the couple wrote personal letters to each other. “I was really proud that people said the ceremony felt really personal,” Isabella says. At the reception, too, she says, “I wanted the intimacy, and for it to feel like me and Sam. I wanted it to be fun. The dance floor was still packed at 2 a.m.!”
It was equally magical for Sam. “I loved having all of my loved ones in one spot,” he says. “I have a lot of friends who I haven’t seen in a while, and just having them together, all in one place, was amazing. The love in the room was very special and something I will always remember.”
At the end of a spectacular wedding began a marriage. “I don’t think anything in our relationship has changed. But this sense of peace and contentment came to me right away. It felt really wonderful,” Isabella says. “It’s like having a slumber party with your best friend every night.”
Isabella Tobias Lites and Samuel Lites’ Fairy Tale Wedding Photo Gallery – Photos by Abby Rose Photography
The Wedding Details
The Wedding: June 10, 2017 at the Fox Theatre
Officiants: Rabbi Tamara Kolton and Sam’s aunt, Pastor Lisa Ilitch Murray, officiated the interfaith wedding.
The Gown: Vera Wang satin-faced organza ballgown with illusion sleeves and dramatic tulle skirt.
Veil: Custom Vera Wang two-tiered cathedral-length, edged in lace and crystals.
Shoes: Manolo Blahnik crystal-embellished blue satin pumps.
Bouquet: White peonies, ivory Playa Blanca roses and white gardenias.
Tux: A black tuxedo by J. Crew; for the reception, the jacket was switched out for a cream dinner jacket, also by J. Crew.
Rings: Custom by David Wachler, Wachler Estate Collection, Birmingham. 248-540-4500 wachlerdiamonds.com
Hair: Boriana Rexha, 6 Salon, Birmingham. 248-282-5600 sixsalon.com
Makeup: Jessica Hayes, Todd’s Room, Birmingham. 248-594-0003 toddsroombirmingham.com
Bridesmaids Dresses: Monique Lhuillier. moniquelhuillier.com
Party Planner, Event Designer and Flowers: Ann Owens, Emerald City Designs, Farmington Hills. 248-474-7077 emeraldcitydesigns.com
Cake: Vanilla cake with layers of cream with raspberries and lemon curd by The Home Bakery in Rochester. 248-651-4830 thehomebakery.com
Late-Night Snack: Servers passed out Little Caesars slices and Redcoat Tavern burgers.
Band: Ron Bedal Orchestra, a 14-piece Big Band-style group flew in from Chicago. 800-634-0014 ronbedalorchestra.com
Photographer: Abby Rose Photo, 734-846-2852 abbyrosephoto.com
Videographer: Two Penny Productions, Livonia. 248-345-8863 twopennyproductions.com
Honeymoon: Bora Bora. “We really wanted to relax and spend time with each other,” Isabella says.
Read more about Isabella Tobias Lites in 20 Questions with Isabella Tobias Lites.