A couple of months ago, PokerUpdate brought you the exclusive story about the October 2015 wedding of former Full Tilt CEO Raymond Bitar and his lovely new bride, Jacquelyn Lucas.
While the coupling of two lovebirds would normally be cause for celebration, the poker community was somewhat taken aback when news of the nuptuals surfaced because last anybody had heard, Bitar was “unlikely to live more than a couple years and is nearly penniless.” At least that’s what poker pro Allen Cunningham stated on the 2 + 2 forums in October 2014.
For those who may have forgotten, Bitar escaped a lengthy stint behind bars for his role in the demise of Full Tilt Poker due to ill health, namely, his desperate need of a heart transplant. Ray pled guilty to two federal counts and paid a $40 million fine in 2013, walking away a free man and leaving many of those affected by the FTP shutdown in 2011 feeling that he got a slap on the wrist and may have somehow played or beat the system.
However, in October 2015, just one year after Cunningham’s doom and gloom post, Bitar stood at the altar with a fetching young lass at his side, tying the knot in hopes of a happily ever after ending to a story that a lot of poker players can’t seem to forget. It remains unclear as to whether or not Bitar received the new heart that he needed, but wedding photos certainly show him to be looking much healthier and thinner than before Black Friday.
Not much was known about the wedding ceremony at the time, but new details have emerged. And what a ceremony it was!
Ray and Jackie, a 2005 University of South Florida graduate, were wed at Saint Sophia’s Cathedral in Los Angeles. A Greek Orthodox church built in 1952, St. Sophia’s was designated as a historic and cultural monument in 1973.
“It was like getting married in a museum,” the blushing bride said of St. Sophia’s, according to wedding photographer Marla Rutherford. “I love the crystal chandeliers and hand painted ceiling.”
The wedding party included 13 bridesmaids and 13 groomsmen, the ladies decked out in lovely red gowns and the men sporting black tuxedos with red bow ties and vests. Ray, who met Jackie at a Halloween party at the W Hotel in Los Angeles, wore a white tux with black trim.
Following the wedding ceremony, the reception was held at the Taglyan Complex, promoted as “the most celebrated wedding venue In Los Angeles.” Celebrity sightings at various events at Taglyan over the years is a veritable who’s who of Hollywood A-listers that include Alyssa Milano, Hugh Hefner, Slash, Jack Black, Hilary Swank, Oprah Winfrey, Magic Johnson, and 50-Cent.
The bride was “carried in on a gold float” surrounded by musicians and belly dancers who performed the Zephra, a dance from the Middle East known to Bitar’s family, whose ancestral roots are tied to Syria and Lebanon. Rutherford referred to the Arabic music as “exotic” and to the reception as “all night ….. non-stop partying to live music.”
The bride and groom enjoyed their first dance as newlyweds with fog rolling in, apparently a Taglyan Complex specialty. Also unique to Taglyan are the outdoor courtyard and gardens complete with stone fountains, marble pillars, and an immaculate rose garden.
The photographer, who was flown in from Colorado, called it an “amazing million dollar wedding.”
Not bad for a guy thought to be almost broke and near death.