Why Kim Kardashian's Hairstylist Didn't Want A Wedding

PHOTO: COURTESY OF SAMANTHA LEVI.
This story was originally published on May 14, 2015.

Celebrity hairstylist Jen Atkin always had serious reservations about the whole wedding thing. "I never thought I was going to get engaged," she tells us. "I grew up in a really traditional family, but I’m just such a feminist. The idea of wearing a ring freaked me out; I don’t want to seem like I'm a kept woman!"

So, what does a feminist do when she finds herself in a five-year committed relationship and her boyfriend surprises her with a ring? "I think I said, 'Yes! But, only if we don't have a wedding!'" she explains, laughing.

The two of them figured out a way to make it work, and the resulting wedding story is as endearing and inspiring as they are.

But, before we get to that, first a proper introduction to the couple. If Atkin looks familiar, it may be because she is one of the most in-demand celebrity hairstylists working today. Her clients include Jessica Alba, Christina Hendricks, and the ladies Kardashian (yes, she's even a character in Kim Kardashian: Hollywood). Plus, she is the mastermind behind Mane Addicts, a digital publication that shares her and her team's hair knowledge with the world. And, her husband? Mike Rosenthal is an equally in-demand photographer, director, and DP. Together they make up a behind-the-scenes L.A. power couple.

Now for their story. In the same way that all weddings are unique, this couple's story doesn't follow the conventional path. When we sat down to talk with Atkin about her nuptials, it was a lesson in how relaxed, fun, and downright chill a wedding can be — if you let it. Our conversation with Atkin, documented in the slideshow ahead, reveals that she was less concerned with flowers and food leading up to the big day, and more with treasuring her relationship with her soon-to-be husband and finding a way to tie the knot that felt right for them. It may have been a winding path, but she definitely found her footing as a bride in the most refreshing way. (Oh, and look out for a big surprise on slide five!)


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PHOTO: COURTESY OF SAMANTHA LEVI.
"Mike and I met at an Oscar after-party at the Peninsula Hotel, kind of a boring story — but a few days later we were both in Paris for work, and he called me to hang out. We went on a bike ride, and it was then that we ended up having our first kiss."
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PHOTO: COURTESY OF SAMANTHA LEVI.
"We were together for five years before we got engaged. We had never talked about marriage, not once in five years. Then one day he went to a friend of ours and told her that he was going to propose. So, she started dropping all these hints when we were with a group, asking us all what kind of rings we liked and stuff, but I would never answer."
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PHOTO: COURTESY OF SAMANTHA LEVI.
"Mike proposed in Greece when we were on vacation over the summer — and literally gave me the shock of my life. My jaw dropped, I think I said 'What is this? Are you serious?' about 30 times."
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PHOTO: COURTESY OF SAMANTHA LEVI.
"[My relationship with Mike] was the first functioning, healthy relationship that I've had, and I guess I come from the school of thought where 'if it's not broken, don't fix it.' I was scared that taking on traditional roles would ruin what we had, but those were my own issues that I had to work through."
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PHOTO: COURTESY OF SAMANTHA LEVI.
"We got married at the Jardin du Luxembourg park in Paris, just us two. It was this special little place he took me to on our first date. It was so beautiful that I actually started crying just being there again. Just us and someone to officiate. We didn't have plans to get married; we were in Paris for another wedding and were at lunch one day and we said, 'Why don’t we just do it here?' With a few friends in town, we managed to put it together. But, then we got back and had to make it legal!"
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PHOTO: COURTESY OF SAMANTHA LEVI.
"We totally eloped, but when we got back, we decided to invite 40 of our closest family and friends to the courthouse. We really wanted to do something for them."
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PHOTO: COURTESY OF SAMANTHA LEVI.
"During the ceremony, all of our family and friends were in the front row and watched us exchange our vows. It was perfect, because we wanted to give our parents that moment. And, it kind of is about your family, too."
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PHOTO: COURTESY OF SAMANTHA LEVI.
"We wanted to do foods from home [Mike is Jewish; Jen's family is Mormon] with things like challah bread and Mormon Jell-O casserole. One friend brought the playlist, and another made us a cake. And, a friend brought bubbles for everyone to use when we walked out of the courthouse."
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PHOTO: COURTESY OF SAMANTHA LEVI.
"After the ceremony, we rented out the top floor of a restaurant for a brunch. I asked some of my girlfriends to help with the decor who own a company called Homethrown L.A., and they came up with a travel theme, which is fitting because we love to take trips together. They took all these signs and photos; it was really beautiful."
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PHOTO: COURTESY OF SAMANTHA LEVI.
“Asking everyone to wear white was another nontraditional decision that we made. I had a bit of anxiety in wearing white, and Mike was down [to have them wear white instead], so I thought it would be fun.”
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PHOTO: COURTESY OF SAMANTHA LEVI.
"My dad [who lives in Utah] kept coming up to me all day and asking, 'Is that really Jessica Alba?' It was so funny, I was like, 'Yes, Dad!'"
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PHOTO: COURTESY OF SAMANTHA LEVI.
A subtle nod to the place they tied the knot.
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PHOTO: COURTESY OF SAMANTHA LEVI.
“Doing hair, I have heard the worst wedding stories and I have seen how it changes relationships. Girls tend to make the wedding so big that they lose sight of what’s important, which is the two of you.”
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PHOTO: COURTESY OF SAMANTHA LEVI.
Travel decorations from Homethown L.A. included names of Jen and Mike's hometowns and favorite destinations.
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PHOTO: COURTESY OF SAMANTHA LEVI.
"I was avoiding the day because the attention freaked me out, but it ended up being a special, no-stress day with my favorite people."
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PHOTO: COURTESY OF SAMANTHA LEVI.
"We had a camera and asked people to take selfies and write notes, which is very us. We have looked at the photos at least three or four times already."
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PHOTO: COURTESY OF SAMANTHA LEVI.
"I did my own hair and makeup, and my hat was vintage. I actually did buy my suit, which was rag & bone."
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PHOTO: COURTESY OF SAMANTHA LEVI.
A friend baked Jen and Mike a travel-themed cake.
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PHOTO: COURTESY OF SAMANTHA LEVI.
"Everyone kept saying how romantic it was because it wasn't a hoopla. Our friends all kept getting up and giving unannounced speeches and telling funny stories. Everyone laughed and cried."
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PHOTO: COURTESY OF SAMANTHA LEVI.
Photos of their travels lined the tables.
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PHOTO: COURTESY OF SAMANTHA LEVI.
"I can say that a year in, it was the best decision that I was ever forced into (laughs). When we got married, we did it our way."