Home Entertainment John Cena’s Super-Private Road to Marrying Shay Shariatzadeh

John Cena’s Super-Private Road to Marrying Shay Shariatzadeh

by Mat Lee
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John Cena’s Super-Private Road to Marrying Shay Shariatzadeh

5 Things to Know About John Cena’s New Wife Shay Shariatzadeh

In the ring as a WWE star, the “attitude adjustment” became John Cena‘s signature move. And he went on to master the concept in real life, too.

But while you can watch countless old YouTube clips of Cena hoisting humongous men over his shoulders and throwing them onto the nearest available surface, alas there is no video library that shows the work and training that went into the transformation we’re talking about.

Four years after unapologetically saying, “I don’t want marriage,” the once-divorced Peacemaker star took the plunge with Shay Shariatzadehand they’re celebrating their third wedding anniversary Oct. 12.

Though not approaching the high-profile, oft-on-camera status of Cena’s days dating Nikki Bella, the couple’s relationship was no secret, but their low-key ceremony at a Tampa, Fla., courthouse did take the outside world by surprise.

What looked like an engagement ring was spotted on Shariatzadeh’s finger in February 2020, but they never publicly shared any plans to wed. 

Cena had revealed the previous October how their coupling began, about seven months after they were first photographed together in her native Canada, where he was making the comedy Playing With Fire—and they walked their first red carpet as a couple at the premiere.

“It’s a wonderful day for a movie premiere and I got a beautiful date,” he told Entertainment Tonight. “What’s truly special about this one is that, no matter what projects I’m involved in the future, this one will always have a special meaning because I got to film a special project and meet someone special.”

Though she looked perfectly at home on the red carpet, Shariatzadeh is not in show business—which perhaps was a major selling point for Cena, so much of whose last relationship played out on Total Bellas, whether he was onscreen or not.

Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Rather, she worked as a product manager in the video security industry (always good to have one of those in an entertainment family) at Avigilon, a tech solutions company in Vancouver. She studied engineering in school and in 2019 was spotlighted by Avigilon on International Women’s Day, saying in a work profile that she looked up to her surgeon mom and her motto was “practice makes progress.”

Those certainly sound like words Cena lives by, too.

“Perseverance is the quality that I have,” he said on Sunday Sitdown With Willie Geist in 2019. “I’ve never really been outstanding at anything except sticking with something.” 

While not just anyone becomes a WWE Hall of Famer, then a movie star, in-demand host and the voice of all those Honda commercials without talent, determination, dedication and hard work have certainly factored into Cena’s success.

And though he may have been talking about his career in that moment, he certainly has tried to stick with certain things that in the long run just weren’t meant to be.

The 46-year-old spent nearly six years with Bella, starting out as friends on the wrestling circuit before finally asking her to dinner in 2012.

They were, as far as they said, very much in love, and Cena did ultimately propose—in 2017 at WrestleMania 33, right after they’d toppled The Miz and Maryse—even though he had said out loud that he didn’t want to get married.

He had also already tried it once, with longtime sweetheart Elizabeth Huberdeau, but they divorced in 2012 after three years of marriage.

“A lot of that was because of my inability to be a good husband,” he candidly told Rolling Stone in 2016, “but then Nicole strolled into my life, and that did it.”

By “it,” he meant that falling for Bella got the muscle car-collecting, always-on-the-go, PBR-drinking dude who in 1999 drove cross-country to Hollywood with a dream and $500 to his name to willingly share his life with someone.

For the most part.

Theo Wargo/NBCUniversal

As seen on E!’s Total Bellas, he made Bella sign a 75-page agreement before she moved into his Tampa mansion in 2013—as a guest.

“Although I do not wish to be formal, I do not want there to be any misunderstanding regarding your presence at the home as my guest,” the document read. “In the event that I ask you to vacate the home, you agree to immediately vacate the home and remove any and all items you have brought into the home as soon as possible.”

Cena explained that he was only trying to protect his assets for the sake of his family, several members of which he provided financial support to. “This is what my life is,” he told his about-to-be-live-in girlfriend. “This is what it’s become. You met my family. You think my mom paid for that house herself? She didn’t. My brother lives in that house, they’re expecting a child. My younger brother, he’s got medical problems. I make sure he’s okay.

“I always tell them, I’m a horrible brother, but I try to be the best provider that I can. I just don’t want to ever be in a position where that’s in jeopardy.”

Ultimately Bella filed his benevolence away in the plus column, but several years later, she still sometimes felt like a guest, despite the fabulous only-hers closet she called her favorite room in the house.

Cena was consistently clear about wanting things the way he wanted them.

Talking about the things he and Bella fought about most—marriage, having kids, taking care of their dog Winston and his workaholism—he told Rolling Stone in 2016, “Look, I know I cannot handle raising a child. It’s like with the dog. My biggest thing to Nicole about the dog was: Love dogs, but I can’t contribute to taking care of one. I don’t have the time. And just because everyone else is happy with children doesn’t mean that’s how I have to live.”

He continued, “I’ve been upfront about this. I just have things I need to get done. It’s not negotiable. We’ve been to therapy over it. I don’t think it will ever be over with. I’m stubborn as f–k and extremely selfish as well. I don’t want kids, I don’t want marriage. That’s me just saying, ‘Hey, this is my life and this is how I’m going to live.'”

And yet he proposed a year later.

But going by his past comments, it wasn’t surprising that they ended their engagement in 2018, Bella calling off the destination wedding they (but mainly she) had been planning. They did spend a couple of months trying to work out their issues, but they soon realized it really was over.

The ensuing months were admittedly not easy, particularly with everything playing out publicly. However, in a sweet twist of fate, Bella rang in 2019 in the arms of her former Dancing With the Stars partner Artem Chigvintsev. They share 3-year-old son Matteo and tied the knot last year.

Yet though Bella had happily moved on by March 2019, when Cena is said to have met his future bride, that didn’t mean she was excited at the prospect of seeing her ex with someone else.

“My stomach went into knots,” she admitted on The Bellas Podcast, recalling how friends (thanks, ladies) started to send her links to the pictures of Cena and his new flame, who was still going by “mystery woman” at the time.

But to her surprise, she was okay. “You either want to poop your pants immediately…or you just have the craziest tummy ache, right?” she explained of how she expected to feel. “So, neither of that happened to me when I saw the photos.”

And after Cena got married in 2020, she amiably congratulated him (once Lisa Vanderpump had her against the figurative ropes on her podcast). 

“John, congratulations on your wedding,” Bella said on All Things Vanderpump. “I’m very, very happy for you.”

But though Cena’s trip to the courthouse may have seemed to come out of the blue, there’s little chance it was a spur-of-the-moment decision for him when the day came in 2020.

“See, I think about every decision I make,” he told Rolling Stone in 2016. “I don’t just knee-jerk.”

Besides, Cena hadn’t yet met Shariatzadeh, so he didn’t have all of his options on the table yet. He has stayed pretty consistent, however, on the subject of having children since that revealing interview.


When Drew Barrymore gushed to Cena on her talk show last year that he’d make “the world’s greatest father,” he had a thoughtful response.

“It’s hard work to balance the time I need to run myself correctly,” he explained. “It’s work to be the best partner and husband I can be to my loving wife. It’s hard to keep connections with those in my life that I love, and it’s also hard to put in an honest day’s work.”

Moreover, Cena added, just because a person might be good at something shouldn’t be the reason for doing it.

“You have to have passion for it,” he said. “You have to have fuel for it. It’s like saying to someone, ‘Man, you know, you’re pretty good with your hands, you’d be a great carpenter,’ but if I want to be an actor, I’ll be an actor.'”

Marilla Sicilia/Archivio Marilla Sicilia/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images

Which he decided to be and then became—and his dedication to the career he’s worked so hard for keeps bearing fruit.

While he and Shariatzadeh are a very private couple, she color-coordinated with an in-costume Cena at the 2021 L.A. premiere of The Suicide Squad and made the trip to Italy in May for the Rome premiere of Fast X, where they looked very much the devoted twosome.

On the TODAY show that month, Cena allowed that his wife “loves me for who I am, and I love her for exactly who she is.” But other than that, he stressed that he and Shariatzadeh were on the same page about keeping everything else to themselves.

“We have core values which we both believe in, and one of those is keeping our information to us and those extremely close to our inner circle,” he said. “I couldn’t be happier, but I think a way for us to keep our intimacy is by keeping it intimate.”

Read on for more couples on the same page who pulled off their weddings in secret:


Chris Evans & Alba Baptista

The Marvel star and Warrior Nun actress married in an intimate ceremony in Massachusetts on Sept. 9, 2023.


Naomi Watts & Billy Crudup

Naomi confirmed she tied the knot with the actor in a June 10 Instagram, sharing behind-the-scenes photos of their surprise wedding.


Lukas Gage & Chris Appleton

The celebrity hairstylist and The White Lotus star confirmed that they tied the knot in an April 26 Instagram, sharing photos of Kim Kardashian and Shania Twain at their wedding.


Jessica Alba & Cash Warren

Jessica Alba and Cash Warren, who share three children, married in 2008 when she was expecting their first child, daughter Honor. “We eloped and I think I was nine months pregnant!” she told Glamour U.K in 2022. “It wasn’t planned.”

The actress continued, “It was literally, ‘Honey, do you have anything to do this morning?’ And he was like, ‘No.’ So I said, ‘Should we go to the courthouse and get married?’ And he was like, ‘Yeah.’ And then I said, ‘Can we get waffles afterwards because I have a doctor’s appointment? Will you come to my doctor’s appointment?’ And that’s how it happened!”


Johnny Costello & Kimberly Perry

“Today my love, @juannycostello, and I are celebrating 6 months since ‘I do!'” Kimberly Perry shared about her secret wedding to Johnny Costello on Instagram on Dec. 18. “On June 17th we hit the road from LA to Las Vegas in a black corvette and got married at midnight. It was wild and wonderful and reminded me all over again that God is the most glorious creator and the master of the most beautiful blueprint for our lives! I love you Johnny and can’t wait for forever.”


Christina Ricci & Mark Hampton

Two months after announcing their baby news, the Casper actress revealed that she and the celebrity hairdresser tied the knot!


Uzo Aduba & Robert Sweeting

The actress announced she wed Robert Sweeting in a heartfelt Instagram post on Sept. 12, writing, “For some of us, it can feel like we spend our whole lives waiting for our special someone. My heart, my love — I’m so happy my life started last year with you. You’re the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Elizabeth Olsen & Robbie Arnett

The WandaVision star subtly revealed she and the musician had tied the knot by referring to him as her “husband” during an interview with Kaley Cuoco for Variety.

Chelsea Lauren/Shutterstock

Justin Hartley & Sofia Pernas

In May 2021, a source revealed to E! News that the This Is Us star privately married the actress after about a year together.


Ariana Grande & Dalton Gomez

The pop star exchanged vows with the real estate broker during an intimate May 2021 ceremony held at her home in Montecito, Calif. 

A source told E! News, “There were only about 20 guests, close family and friends. It was a beautiful day and very romantic. Everyone is happy for them. It was perfect and just what Ari wanted.”

Courtesy of Nicolas Cage

Nicolas Cage & Riko Shibata

The action star wed his girlfriend in Las Vegas in February 2021. He wore a Tom Ford tux and she wore a handmade Japanese bridal kimono. Cage and Shinto exchanged traditional Catholic and Shinto vows.

Swan Gallet/WWD/Shutterstock

Sophie Turner & Joe Jonas

The Jonas Brothers singer and Game of Thrones actress secretly tied the knot in a small ceremony in Las Vegas shortly after the 2019 Billboard Music Awards. They had a second, larger wedding with more friends and family in France months later.


Bradley Whitford & Amy Landecker

The Transparent co-stars eloped in July 2018—and the bride had a last-minute fashion emergency. After seeing that the actress wore a periwinkle dress on her big day, a commenter wrote she had “loved the white one, too.”

“I destroyed it with makeup right before the wedding,” she wrote in the comments section. “Thank God I packed this!”

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Heidi Klum & Tom Kaulitz

The supermodel and former Project Runway host secretly obtained a marriage license and wed the German rocker in early 2019. 

Jim Smeal/REX/Shutterstock; Twitter

Miranda Lambert & Brendan McLoughlin

“The House That Built Me” singer revealed in 2019 that she and NYPD officer Brendan McLoughlin tied the knot. E! News confirmed that they got married on Jan. 26, 2019 in Davidson County, Tenn. “In honor of Valentine’s Day I wanted to share some news. I met the love of my life. And we got hitched!” she wrote on Instagram. “My heart is full. Thank you Brendan McLoughlin for loving me for…. me.”


Miley Cyrus & Liam Hemsworth

After a 10-year relationship, the pop star and Australian actor exchanged vows in an intimate wedding ceremony held in Tennessee over Christmas 2018. Cyrus wore a satin Vivienne Westwood gown for the top-secret affair. The pair has since divorced.

Le Studio Photography

Christina El Moussa & Ant Anstead

The HGTV star and her boyfriend of just over a year wed at their home in Newport Beach, Calif. in Dec. 2018. They split less than two years later.

Rob Kim/Getty Images

Joe Scarborough & Mika Brezezinski

The Morning Joe co-hosts tied the knot at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. on November 24, 2018. Vanity Fair reported that they got married alongside the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. 

Gisela Schober/Lester Cohen/WireImage

Daryl Hannah & Neil Young

Multiple outlets reported that the two wed in August 2018. Young confirmed the following October that Hannah is his wife.

Joe Schildhorn/BFA/REX/Shutterstock

Karlie Kloss & Joshua Kushner

The supermodel and her main man hosted an intimate ceremony in upstate New York just three months after announcing their engagement in 2018. 

Photos courtesy of Hilary Swank and Philip Schneider, Gown: ELIE SAAB HAUTE COUTURE

Hilary Swank & Philip Schneider

The Oscar-winning actress and her new husband celebrated with friends and family at a secret wedding in Saint Lucia Preserve in Carmel, Calif. Swank called the ceremony “timeless” and “a dream come true.”

Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

Robin Wright & Clement Giraudet

The Golden Globe-winning actress married her longtime beau in August 2018, according to Vogue Paris. The House of Cards star and Saint Laurent VIP relations manager reportedly tied the knot in a low-key ceremony at an unknown location. 

Taylor Hill/Getty Images, Jordi Vidal/Redferns via Getty Images

Michelle Williams & Phil Elverum

The Golden Globe winner secretly married Mount Eerie frontman Phil Elverum in early July 2018 in the Adirondacks. They split in 2019

Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for blu

Cardi B & Offset

The Migos rapper publicly proposed to the “Bodak Yellow” performer in October 2017, but it was revealed nine months later that the pair had actually tied the knot in a no-frills ceremony in September of that year. 


Emily Ratajkowski & Sebastian Bear-McClard

The Gone Girl actress and star of Robin Thicke‘s “Blurred Lines” music video married the actor at a New York courthouse in February 2018. The news came just weeks after it was reported she was no longer living with her then-boyfriend, music producer Jeff Magid.


Amy Schumer & Chris Fischer

The Trainwreck actress and comedienne married her beau, a chef, at a private home in Malibu in February 2018 and just two days after she went public with their relationship.

Earl Gibson III/WireImage

Jordin Sparks & Dana Isaiah

In late 2017, the singer and actress announced she and her boyfriend eloped in Hawaii. 

Matt Baron/REX/Shutterstock

Jason Momoa & Lisa Bonet

The longtime couple tied the knot in a wedding ceremony held at their house in Topanga, California, near Los Angeles in 2017. 

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Amanda Seyfried & Thomas Sadoski

The actor said in mid-March 2017 the two had eloped the previous weekend. E! News had confirmed in September that the two were engaged. Two months later, Seyfried’s rep said the actress was pregnant with their first child.


RuPaul & Georges LeBar

The TV personality said in March 2017 he and his longtime partner had wed in January.

(Originally published Oct. 19, 2020, at 3:35 p.m. PT)

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