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Celebrations

They Make Beautiful Music--Together

October 11, 1998|MARNELL JAMESON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The dress was big and white, but the flowers were wild. The music--like the celebration--ranged in mood from Pacabel to Van Halen. A Catholic priest, who'd received dispensation from the pope to surrender his vows of celibacy, married them, and the bride's hair was shorter than the groom's. Way, way shorter.

But make no mistake. The marriage of Susan Bougetz (who is keeping her last name) and Brian Aulbach, on Sept. 5 at Calamigos Ranch in Malibu Canyon, was practically conventional.

"You have to know, Susan once had pink punk hair," said maid of honor Alice Platt, Susan's friend since the seventh grade. "To see her in a big white dress looking so beautiful was truly amazing. Her father was completely overcome."

Now Susan admits that while on the outside she might be a bit radical, inside she's traditional when it comes to the important things. Brian, too, has become more mainstream since he met Susan.

"She's made a civilized human being out of me," he says with a chuckle.

For example, he now has his driver's license and is registered to vote. "I still have long hair, but everything else is on the up and up."

Most important, he said, "while I used to live only for today, Susan has made me realize there's a tomorrow." For this he has the L.A. riots to thank.

When they met, Susan, now 36, was working for Streetlights, a nonprofit organization formed after the 1992 riots to train inner-city men and women to be production assistants in the entertainment industry. Brian, 33, was working as a manager for Coufal-Isley Sound, a company that provides sound equipment to the entertainment industry. He had generously agreed to donate walkie-talkies to Streetlights' cause.

When Susan came to pick them up, he helped carry them to her car. And, well, their hearts were in the right place. Though both promptly reported to family and friends that they'd met someone interesting, he didn't exactly take the next obvious step--despite her completely unnecessary "follow-up" phone calls and gushy thank you note. (Honestly, some men need a brickbat.)

Finally, she stopped beating around the bush and asked him out. He had thought about calling her, he confessed. "I thought she was nice and cute, but dating is a tough thing when you're working at a business level."

Could this be the first reported case of sexual harassment backlash? Naw, turns out, Susan later discovered, "he's the definition of laid back." He comes from a family of artisans and chefs. He used to live in Hawaii, where he spent most of his time surfing and playing guitar. And today, when he's not working, he's concocting some marvelous soup or repairing mandolins.

Susan, who grew up in West Hills and attended UCLA, describes herself as "an instigator," and a consummate list-maker.

Their first date was at Lucy's, a Mexican restaurant in Hollywood, exactly between their two offices. They ate at a noisy table in bad light.

After an 18-month courtship, he proposed in Hawaii, with a ring his jeweler father had made for them using their two birthstones: aquamarine and diamond. Brian smuggled the ring over in the toe of his boot, so she wouldn't find it before the big night. He got on his knee. She said yes and cried. The waiters sent free pie. Then she ran up his cell phone bill calling family and friends, who, she was infuriated to learn, all knew that the inevitable had happened.

Maid of honor Alice knew her friend's condition was serious when Susan started talking about cooking. "Susan's idea of cooking is heating canned soup. Brian is a fabulous chef. When she called to tell me about this fabulous heart-shaped papillote Brian had made her, I knew she was goners."

"I've never been one of those women who dream of their wedding and subscribe to Bride before they even have a wedding date," said Susan. "But Brian and I always felt a sense of future together and just moved naturally in that direction. That doesn't mean I haven't completely gotten into this wedding."

In keeping with tradition, Susan wore something old and blue (her mother's wedding garter), a sixpence in her shoe, which her father gave her, and of course the new big white dress and veil.

The groom and his groomsmen were equally dignified in their morning dress tuxedos. Bridesmaids wore long Renaissance-style gowns with sleeveless tapestry bodices and full platinum-colored silk skirts, and carried flowers that were deliberately wild. And purple. The bride and each bridesmaid carried free-form bouquets of purple pansy, stock and sweet pea.

Appalachian waltz music played through the balmy morning air--which mercifully only threatened rained--as guests arrived to the outdoor sanctuary surrounded by trees and waterfalls for the 10:30 morning ceremony.

The rest of the day's music reflected not only the range of emotion but also the couple's many facets. The wedding processional began with Johann Pacabel's Canon in D, and the couple exited the reception to Van Halen's "Happy Trails."

In between, guests enjoyed songs from Riverdance, Frank Sinatra, Talking Heads and Elvis. For their song, the couple chose "Amor Gitano," by the Gipsy Kings, about a gypsy's eagerness to fall in love and dedicate himself to the woman he's waiting for.

Other memorable music moments included the couple's reception entrance to Ella Fitzgerald's "Makin' Whoopee," the bouquet toss to the Weather Girls' "It's Raining Men" and the garter toss to Rod Stewart's "Hot Legs."

After their honeymoon in Tuscany, the couple will return to their West Hollywood apartment and their jobs at Streetlights and Coufal-Isley, where they'll continue to help others make music of their own.

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