True Gentlemen, Like No Others

I’m going to embarrass two of our best friends with this post, and I’m not going to apologize for it.

Rob Iles and his partner Michael Paonessa are hands-down, two of the most remarkable gentlemen I’ve had the pleasure of knowing, in my entire life, and I’m so honored to call them best friends.

To know Rob is to love him, and we hit it off right away. He does market research, because he’s smart as a whip, and because he really does know what’s good, what’s cool, what’s going on, and how to make it happen. He manifests this in every aspect of his life that I’ve witnessed, and Michael is his lovable, softer-spoken complement, fox-bright, and perfectly content to join us in witnessing Rob’s magic.

When Sam and I announced our engagement, Rob and Michael immediately offered to provide – and design – all of the flowers for the wedding. Mind you, neither one of these men are florists, nor are they creatives in the industry sense of the word, so while Sam and I certainly trusted Rob’s taste, which is well-proven, we weren’t sure if they knew what they were biting off. He simply asked us for colors: off-white, chartreuse, wine, black tie.

Weeks later, he flew over from Tampa and took us to the L.A. Flower Mart, walking us through as though he’d done this a million times, without a care in the world. He bought arms full of flowers and took us home for the ‘dry run’ on the arrangements. He knows our taste almost as we are arriving to it. He listens intently and is uncommonly open to input and suggestions. He teaches us that Hydrangea need to be immersed completely, and soaked for hours to remain fresh. His arrangements are masterful.

In the months preceding the wedding, boxes of carefully-chosen vases and containers started arriving from Pottery Barn. All we could do is laugh. There were so many.

He and Michael flew out days before the wedding, checked in to the local Starwood property and commandeered a small conference room and a delivery van. The day before the wedding, they rose before dawn and went downtown to the Flower Mart, filled the conference room, and ordered the AC dropped to chill.

That night they treated us to an unparalleled dinner at Spago, where we also received a blessing from Sidney Poitier.

The next day, as Sam and I prepared, Michael and Rob flooded the outdoor space with dozens of the most tasteful arrangements Sam and I, and any of our guests, had ever seen; and this is a town with Floret, Mark’s Garden and The Empty Vase. All their extraordinary wedding gift to us, and checked in to help us tie perfect bow ties.

Yesterday, an arrangement arrived from Jacob Maarse, a local florist in Pasadena. I’d swear that Rob arranged it himself. I’m certain he struck his famous immediate rapport with the staff there, listed the components by name, and maybe even scientific name, and produced by proxy, the flawless arrangement we placed on our table last night, successfully recreating our best day a year ago – an unforgettable experience.

The problem with friends like Rob and Mike is that they set the bar so very, very high, that it’s hard to find the words, or even the medium,to thank them. So, I’ve assembled these words in my own arrangement and I’m putting them on the largest billboard in the universe, because that’s the only way to express the scale of our gratitude and love for our best friends, Rob and Michael.

You are truly gentlemen like no others. Thank you for your endless kindness and friendship. You are friends, you are brothers, you are family. We love you so very much.

Sam & Bronson

1 Response to “True Gentlemen, Like No Others”

  1. Tuesday, April 22, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    I am indebted to Rob Iles for more than I can enumerate on a blog post. He is a true friend. And I will be ever grateful to the gods for crossing our paths on that fateful day in Orlando five years ago. Thank you, my dear friend Rob, for being in many way, the big brother I never had.



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