Photography by Siousca.
It stands to reason that the wedding of a French landscape designer and a communications and branding specialist who met in Paris would be stylish, relaxed and botanical-inspired! Everything about this wedding is so heartfelt, chosen to reflect the couple and their history together. Elizabeth & Fabien married at her old high school in a bilingual, outdoor Quaker ceremony, featuring hundreds of paper cranes they made themselves. Keeping that personal touch, they celebrated their reception at the restaurant where they had their first meal together in the US, which was transformed with a truly spectacular overhead floral installation. In fact, the loose, organic florals throughout their whole day are one of the loveliest aspects of it, be sure to check them out!
Why did you choose this location for your ceremony? I think I’m one of very few brides who chose to get married at her high school, but Westtown isn’t any ordinary school. I became the person that I am today on that idyllic 600 acre campus and wanted to create a memory with Fabien so he too could be tied to a place that means the world to me. We had the ceremony in the outdoor amphitheater where I graduated 10 years before our wedding day!
Your ceremony in three words. Light-soaked, sincere, natural.
How did you go about planning your ceremony? We were fortunate enough to have been supported by three members of Westtown’s Quaker Meeting. They served as our guides throughout the process of planning a Quaker ceremony, giving us all sorts of spiritual and practical advice (even down to how to have a bilingual ceremony!). What was most important to us was to respect Quaker tradition, while adding our own personal touches, such as the ceremony backdrop.
Who officiated your ceremony? How did you choose him/her? As in all Quaker ceremonies, we married each other without the presence of an officiant. All of our guests served as our witnesses.
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? The whole experience from start to finish was deeply moving, and being at Westtown was as idyllic as I had remembered. Our favorite thing about the ceremony was hearing the beautiful messages of love from our friends and family.
What were your ceremony readings? During a Quaker ceremony, any guest can stand up and share a message. Mostly, these message are not planned in advance, and come from the heart. However, we did ask two of our bridal party to read the ee cummings poem i carry your heart because we find it so moving, and perfect for a wedding ceremony.
What were your vows like? In Quaker ceremonies, the bride and groom make the same vows. I wrote ours based on a traditional Quaker text, but added bits and pieces to really make them our own. I read our vows in English and Fabien read his in French. We thought it would be more special if each of us spoke in our native language.
You can read the vows Elizabeth and Fabien shared right here!
Did you include any traditions in your ceremony? We of course included the most well-known Quaker wedding tradition: the marriage certificate. At Quaker ceremonies, the bride and groom exchange vows and rings, then sign a beautifully hand painted certificate with their vows written on it. Our illustration featured the Greenwood where we were married. Then, after the ceremony, all of the guests sign the certificate to attest to their presence and support of the couple. That makes the union official!
Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your wedding ceremony? After talking with many couples about their wedding day, they all said that the day whizzes by, that you hardly have time to sit back and savor the moment. What I love about the Quaker ceremony is that it allows you to be present, to relish the fact that you are surrounded by love and that you are embarking on an incredible journey. We feel so lucky to have had this moment of silent reflection.
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? The wedding day itself goes by so fast, but we found that the year of planning we put into it was a wonderful way of extending the joy. So we highly recommend that both partners are involved in the process because it’s very intimate and brought us closer together. Also, invest in vendors that are like you but better. They’ll totally get what you’re aiming to accomplish, then blow you out of the water.
Why did you choose this location for your reception? We chose Terrain because it was where we had our first meal together in the United States when Fabien first visited me nearly 8 years ago. Terrain is the outdoor living branch of Anthropologie, so the aesthetic of the venue is to die for. Fabien is a landscape designer, and he loved the idea of having the reception in a former plant storage space!
What was the best advice you received as a bride? The bride and groom set the tone for the wedding. If you’re happy and relaxed, your guests will follow suit. If you’re tense or stressed, people will notice. So just remember that there’s a solution for anything that seems like a problem.
Are there any DIY details you’d like to tell us about? The DIY project we’re most proud of was the 1,000 paper cranes we folded and used as a design motif throughout the day!
How would you describe your reception? Like our ceremony, we felt that the reception was the perfect reflection of us as individuals and a couple: unpretentiously elegant, filled with beauty in both its refined and unrefined forms. We wanted to create a relaxed, upscale environment for our guests with a meticulous attention to detail. Every part of the reception, from the food to the flowers to the music to the speeches felt just like us.
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? We didn’t feel the need to hunt around for the perfect theme for our wedding because we both knew that we already had the most unique inspiration right under our noses: the two of us! We wanted to immerse our guests in our incredible love story between an American and a Frenchman that started in Paris nearly 8 years ago. Nothing about our wedding was particularly French, since we had a whole separate wedding in France a few months after our wedding in America, but we’d like to think that we created a day that felt cosmopolitain and European.
The space itself is extremely inspiring, and we knew that we didn’t need to drown it with tons of decoration or rentals in order to have something stunning (although at times it was super tempting!) Fabien and I are particularly inspired by raw materials (wood, metal, greenery, wildflowers, paper) and used them to create an organic look and feel.
Our goal was always to plan a wedding that couldn’t be anyone else’s. When making any design decision, we always asked ourselves, two questions: “does this tell the story of our love?” and “will our guests really care?” Anything that felt superfluous got cut out of the plan. It really helped us stick to the very essence of what mattered to us.
Please tell us about any other special details or moments from your reception. The detail we’re most proud of are were the place cards for our guests. In addition to their names, we wrote a personal, one line message to each person. Some were funny, some were sweet, but it really blew everyone away.
The couple included a message in a bottle table, where guests could leave little notes of advice. Some of the options included “Best EFing places to visit during retirement” (EF for Elizabeth and Fabien), and “Best wedding hangover remedy!”
What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? We had a few, but one moment that stands out was being together right before our big entrance.
What was your first dance song? Our first dance song was so us – Formidable by Charles Aznavour. The words are a mix of French and English and the music is playful. Since it was such an original pick, it felt like a secret we shared.
Do you have any budget tips for other brides? Leave enough room in your budget for the things your guests will remember: the food and the music. Years from now, they won’t remember your wedding program or antique silver centerpieces, but they will remember if they ate well and if the party was hopping!
If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? Not a thing!