Right as Judge Greg Mathis handed his daughter, Camara, over to Ryan Webb at the altar, the justice-seeking television personality leaned over and said something intended solely for his future son-in-law. “I had a word for him as I was handing her to him, and no one will ever know what it is that I said,” Judge Mathis tells The Knot in an exclusive interview. Jokingly, he adds, “And I threatened him not to tell.”
Though that portion will remain a secret, the judge and his daughter share all the details from the actual wedding itself—a lavish, outdoor celebration held August 26, 2017, at the breathtaking Rocky Oaks Estate in Malibu, California. “When I saw [the venue], I knew it was ‘the One,’” Camara jokes.
The love at first sight concept didn’t quite apply to her actual story with Webb, but their bond goes back to their teenage years. “We went to the same high school in Detroit,” the bride says. “We were actually in the same gym class, but he was a sophomore and I was a senior, and we didn’t really talk much. Ten years later, we reconnected on social media on Facebook, and I lived in L.A. and he lived in Las Vegas, but he was moving to Philly in a couple weeks. I was like, ‘You should come visit before you move to the East Coast.’ He came, crashed on the couch, and we’ve been talking ever since.”
In March 2016, Webb proposed, which was a complete surprise to his girlfriend, but not to Judge Mathis. “That was the biggest secret I had to keep in recent times,” the father of four says. “Knowing the stakes that were involved…”
The secret was safely tucked away until the moment arrived. “I just got home from work one day, and he was like, ‘Do you want to go to dinner?’” Camara recalls of the proposal. “And I was like, ‘No, I’m tired…’” Eventually, Camara caved. Webb took the scenic route to dinner, pulling over at one lookout point off Hollywood’s iconic Mulholland Drive. “He was like, ‘Why don’t we stop and relax and look at the city?’ …I was looking out and I turned around, and he was on his knee. It was a total surprise. I didn’t expect it at all.”
Elevation has been a theme throughout the couple’s wedding planning journey. The pair chose to exchange vows on the helipad of the Malibu estate, which boasts of sweeping 360-degree views of the Santa Monica Mountains and its surrounding vineyards. “It’s absolutely gorgeous,” says the bride, who hired Diann Valentine to execute all the details.
“I interviewed a couple wedding planners,” she says. “But what stood out the most about Diann was […] she asked me to send her pictures of anything I like—from interior design to fashion—so she could learn my style and create something unique for my special day. She did an amazing job.”
For Judge Mathis, seeing his daughter just as he was about to walk her down the aisle was equal parts emotional and memorable. “Disbelief. Disbelief,” he says of how he felt in the moment. “I don’t know what word to put to the beauty. The spectacular beauty offset by that wedding gown, and the joy I saw in her face. That is what is most memorable about walking her down the aisle.”
During the reception, the father and the bride—who’s followed in Judge Mathis’ footsteps by pursuing a legal profession—danced to Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely?” The tune itself holds sentimental value.
“When I was five or six, I was in a dance class, and we did a dad and daughter dance to that song,” Camara recalls. Judge Mathis fondly recalls how his daughter caused very little concern growing up. “When I was giving my words to the wedding couple—my toast statement—I was bragging profusely in the company of my three other children that she had never gotten into trouble as a kid,” the judge says. “She never argued… and so, one of the other children got up to speak and they began to talk about all the trouble!”
“I just didn’t get caught is all,” Camara says with a laugh. Still, she’s in good hands with Webb, whom Judge Mathis describes as “even tempered” and stable. “He’s also been prepared for a family. When I say that, he has the ability to support a family financially and emotionally,” Judge Mathis continues. “When I talk about his temperament, you need a lot of patience dealing with children, and sometimes you need patience dealing with your wife.” (Camara and Webb share a daughter named Nora.)
Camara adds, “[Ryan] reminds people of my dad… People are like, ‘You married someone just like your father.’ It’s crazy but it’s true. I would say I love his ambition and his passion for life and for people.”
Check out the couple’s wedding album and more details below.
The bride describes the Malibu Rocky Oaks Estate Vineyards in Southern California as her “dream location.” The ceremony itself took place on the helicopter pad of the estate, providing stunning panoramic views of the scenic mountains and vineyards. “The chairs were placed in a circle around the raised alter, which was surrounded by white flowers,” Camara says. “We had an unplugged wedding ceremony and reception. Guest were required to check their phones upon arrival. It was probably the best decision I made throughout the entire wedding process. People were able to actually be present, socialize and enjoy the moment. It created a really intimate environment. “
The Reverend Jesse Jackson, 75, officiated the nuptials. “Reverend Jackson has known her all of her life, and held her as a child as a toddler,” Judge Mathis says. “I’ve known Reverend Jackson since my twenties and have worked with him, so that was a natural request to make and a natural selection.”
Diann Valentine of Los Angeles-based event planning company, Diann Valentine Living Well, was the couple’s full-service wedding planner. “I wanted something elegant, contemporary but still, glamorous,” the bride explains. “Diann made the entire process so care-free… She took my ideas and created a beautiful fantasy that was far beyond my imagination.”
The bride wore a couture gown by Ines Di Santo which was comprised of lace and pearls with a form-fitting bodice to accentuate her physique. “The detailing on the gown is impeccable,” says Camara. “This along with the mermaid silhouette created the perfect combination of elegance and femininity.”
The Bridal Party
The maids were radiant in dusty rose gowns. “I wanted my bridesmaids to be able to select a dress that fits their personal styles and their bodies,” Camara says. Each girl chose their favorite style in coordinating colors from the same collection.
R&B superstar Kelly Price performed during the couple’s ceremony, and Johnny Gill sang the couple’s first dance song, “You For Me” at the reception. “Music can make or break a party,” Camara insists. “We had a DJ who played the latest hits alongside the legendary Dougie E. Fresh. Dougie knows how to start and keep a party going, so the dance floor was packed all night.”
“Instead of a traditional menu, my parents wrote a letter to us, which was placed on each table setting,” the bride shares. “We read the letter for the first time along with the guest as we sat down. It was such an intimate moment shared with our closest friends and family.”
The menus weren’t the only part that took on a different spin. “Instead of carrying a bouquet down the aisle, I wore a custom Valentine Cuff,” says the bride. “It’s a hands-free floral accessory designed by Diann Valentine to replace the traditional bridal bouquet. It hangs by your side and enhances your dress instead of blocking it like a bouquet may.”
The Cocktail Hour
The bride and groom served passed hors d’oeuvres before a formal sit-down meal overlooking the mountains. “Our two signature drinks were ‘Love me Long Time,’ a long island Ice Tea with Ginger Beer (instead of coke), and ‘A Webb of Love,’ a Blueberry Mojito,” the bride says. “A violinist played contemporary hits while our guest mingled and enjoyed the view.”
The bride encourages other couples to simply enjoy the process of planning–and the day itself. “Once it’s over, all you have are the memories,” she says. “I have so many favorite wedding moments that it’s impossible to name just one. From locking eyes with Ryan for the first time as I walked down the aisle, to partying all night long with our closest friend and family… it was all a dream.”