Schon is the daughter of Howard A. Holt Jr. & Rosemary (née O'Malley) of Fairfax, Virginia, sister of Debbie, Howard III, and Glen. She attended, but did not graduate from, King's College, in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
Michaele met Tareq Salahi at a 2000 Christmas party that McLean, Virginia real estate developer N. Casey Margenau and his wife Molly had hosted. Michaele and Tareq married in 2003 in a ceremony at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C. The guest list included 1,836 guests, including Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy and former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Margaret Heckler. The wedding, originally scheduled for October 2002, was postponed numerous times, prompting Kennedy to quip that he needed to issue "subpoenas" to the bride and groom.
Schon was a front-desk employee at contemporary hit radio station WKRZ in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in 1989. She then moved to the Washington, D.C., area getting a job at the make-up counter at Nordstrom at the Tysons Corner Mall in McLean, Virginia, for most of the 1990s. In 2001 she was a make-up artist on the set of the "Lady Bird" episode of the PBS documentary series American Experience.
Schon has claimed to be a former Washington Redskins cheerleader; she has also claimed to have been featured in numerous television spots, was the face of Virginia.org's Wine Getaways ad campaign, and has also claimed to have been a featured model in various magazines. However, the Washington Redskins have publicly stated that she has never worked for them. She did perform with the Washington Redskins cheerleaders during the September 20, 2009, Redskins-St. Louis Rams game at a halftime event honoring the team's pom-pom alumni, although other cheerleaders questioned her dancing abilities.
In Florida, a polo magazine editor said the Salahis submitted pictures for a December 2008 article that identified Schon, then Michaele Salahi, as a "former Miss USA." No record exists of her winning that beauty crown, pageant officials said. In 2010, Michaele was one of the featured housewives on Bravo's The Real Housewives of D.C.
In June 2005, while he was a Senator, Barack Obama had posed for a photo with the Salahis and the Black Eyed Peas at the 12th annual Rock the Vote Awards Dinner at the National Building Museum. The Salahis also gatecrashed the September 26, 2009, dinner for the Congressional Black Caucus, where the couple posed for photos with Rep. Chuck Rangel and Star Jones before being asked to leave by security. On the December 2, 2009, Today Show they claimed they were given tickets to that event by the Gardner Law Group, but caucus spokeswoman Muriel Cooper refuted that claim.
"The first the White House security detail knew of their blunder in allowing them into [the November 24, 2009, state dinner] was when the couple posted photographs from the dinner on their Facebook page." Invited guest Brian Williams, anchor of the NBC Nightly News, observed the Salahis' SUV being turned away from the East Gate entrance. After that, he saw the Salahis and crew leave their vehicle and walk to the White House. They entered through two security checkpoints; only one of them checked for photo ID. The White House on November 27 released photos of the couple posing with President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, and other celebrities in attendance. Secret Service director Mark Sullivan issued a statement on November 27 saying that the Secret Service was "deeply concerned and embarrassed by the circumstances surrounding the State Dinner". Sullivan's statement also pointed out that "the preliminary findings of our internal investigation have determined established protocols were not followed at an initial checkpoint, verifying that two individuals were on the guest list."
Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York, wrote a letter to the United States House Committee on Homeland Security requesting an investigation into this incident. The Secret Service is also considering criminal charges against the Salahis. Michaele Salahi was requested by the committee to appear at a hearing on December 3, 2009, but she refused to attend.
On October 14, 2012, Neal Schon proposed to Michaele onstage during a charity concert at the Lyric Opera House in Baltimore, Maryland, offering her an oval 11.42 carat diamond engagement ring. The marriage would be Michaele's second and Schon's fifth.
The couple married on December 15, 2013, in a pay-per-view ($14.95 for three hours) wedding that was broadcast live from the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, California. On December 1, 2015, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors agreed to a settlement that would pay Neal and Michaele $290,000 in response to a lawsuit that had accused the city-county government of improperly permitting the wedding's organizers to increase their fees after learning of the pay-per-view arrangements.
In the opening segment of the December 5, 2009, episode of Saturday Night Live, Kristen Wiig portrayed Michaele as an interloper who got on stage at a Barack Obama speech in Allentown, Pennsylvania and posed for various pictures behind the President with her husband, Secret Service agents, and Vice President Joe Biden. At one point, they asked the President to stop his speech and snap a group shot of all of them.