Nuptials of Note: Brianna Keilar & Fernando Lujan

by Erica Moody

The couple included personal touches in their Las Vegas wedding.

Brianna Keilar and Fernando Lujan read their vows at the Gallery at CityCenter in Las Vegas

Brianna Keilar knew Fernando Lujan was a catch from the first moment she saw him at a work happy hour. The CNN Washington senior correspondent was so impressed by the National Security Council director for Afghanistan that she tried to set him up with one of her best friends (who later ended up being a bridesmaid at their wedding). Three years after they met, Fernando saw on Facebook that Brianna was single and asked her to dinner at one of her favorite restaurants, Little Serow, where they talked so much, they barely touched the food.

When Fernando decided it was time to propose, he enlisted the help of Brianna’s mother, with whom he was very close. Together, they planned an elaborate proposal to take place in her California hometown but when her mother died unexpectedly last May, he changed plans to a private proposal on their terrace during Fourth of July fireworks, with a celebration at Fiola Mare afterwards. He worked with a designer in India to create the perfect Ceylon sapphire ring for his bride.

Brianna Keilar with “Elvis” and Wolf Blitzer at the reception

Deciding on a wedding location was easy; Brianna knew she’d be traveling to Vegas throughout the presidential campaign since it was in a battleground state. The intimate ceremony for 80 close friends and relatives at the art-filled Gallery at CityCenter and reception at the Mandarin Oriental included many unique features, and several high-profile guests (like CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and Dana Bash).

When Keilar’s friend Carol was not able to attend, a cardboard cutout of the bridesmaid was brought in

The wedding was filled with personal touches. One of Brianna’s best friends, Carol Lee, couldn’t make it, but a cardboard cutout version of Lee (in a bridesmaid dress, no less) was there in her stead. A mariachi band led the bridal party into the reception and an Elvis impersonator entertained. A personalized cake topper depicted the groom in a military uniform that replicated Fernando’s ribbons; the save the date cards and invitations were designed by Brianna’s graphic designer cousin, Peita Keilar. And in lieu of wedding favors, a donation was made to the American Cancer Society in honor of Brianna’s mother and Fernando’s father.

Table settings at the Mandarin Oriental, where Keilar and Lujan held their reception

The couple’s favorite part was the ceremony, for which they wrote their own vows. “The gallery was so colorful and beautiful and Rev. Linda Venniro gave the most thoughtful sermon,” Brianna says. “She incorporated our family and friends in a very heartfelt way.”

After the wedding, they spent a few nights at The Inn at Perry Cabin in St. Michaels, Md. and are planning a longer honeymoon for when Fernando has leave between assignments.

Fernando Lujan and Brianna Keilar

Wedding Date: December 30, 2016
Wedding Planner: Dennis Silknitter, Silknitter Events
Catering: Keri Keep, Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas
Bridal Gown: La Petite Robe di Chiara Boni
Shoes: Jimmy Choo
Groom’s Ensemble: Army dress blues
Bridesmaid Dresses: Tahari
Photos: Andre Niesing, AN Photographer
Hair and Makeup: Makeup in the 702
DJ: Sound Fusion

This wedding appears in the April 2017 issue of Washington Life. 

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