Happy New Year! And a very special welcome our newly-engaged couples out there who had an extra special holiday season. We are kicking off 2017 with this wedding that ticks every box you might ever have dreamed of. Destination wedding in France? Stunning historic venue? Delicate Monique Lhuillier number? Luscious blush florals we can’t stop thinking about? And finally, dancing the night away with your new spouse in a gilt-edged ballroom? This classic, romantic black tie affair has it all in spades!
Bride Eva designed all of the beautiful stationery and paper goods herself. She tells us: “as a former stationery designer, the design of the invitation was very important to me and I wanted to create an elegant suite that captured my aesthetic. It was so nice to finally be able to execute my own invitation, instead of ones for other couples, and I designed our save the date in less than an hour! I’ve been a letterpress printer for several years, and printed the save the dates myself. I had the rest of the designs foil stamped by a local company, and the calligraphy was done by Rachel Carl, who I’ve worked with before on other projects.”
Why did you choose this location for your ceremony? It was important to us that our wedding venue be both elegant and intimate, as well as have a beautiful outdoor location for the ceremony. As soon as we saw the Pavillon de Musique de la Comtesse du Barry, we knew it was the perfect spot. The building is magnificently decorated, needing little added embellishment, and it has a big, gorgeous terrace with a view of Paris. It also happened to be the perfect size for the number of guests we were expecting.
What was your ceremony music? Our ceremony music was played by Jazz Around Midnight’s Gypsy Trio, led by Alex Beker. They played high tempo swing music with two acoustic guitars and a double bass. We wanted a French sound that was fun and relaxed. The trio was just right. The music before the wedding was mostly Django Reinhardt hits. Our families walked down the aisle to La Vie en Rose. When I came out, the band played an acoustic version of Etta James’ At Last, which they learned specifically for our wedding.
Who officiated your ceremony? How did you choose him/her? Jon reached out to his longtime college friend, Brian, about officiating our ceremony. Brian is a an extremely gregarious and versatile character, who previously worked as a standup comedian, before becoming a lawyer and technology executive. We didn’t think twice about asking him, because we knew he would be cheerful, funny and professional. It was the right choice, and he hit it out of the park!
How did you go about planning your ceremony? Our officiant actually planned most of the ceremony! He had never officiated before, but he called on a few friends he knew who had. From their suggestions he wrote a wonderfully funny and light ceremony that was exactly the right tone for us.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your wedding ceremony? We decided to forgo bridesmaids and groomsmen, and to have only the Best Man and Maid of Honor. These two are our closest, most important friends and it felt right that they should be the ones standing next to us as we got married.
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? Our officiant sent us a few questions before the wedding to answer and keep hidden from each other. He only revealed what each of us had said about the other during the ceremony itself. It was some of the most heartfelt, loving words I’ve ever heard from Jon, and to hear it in front of everyone we love was very moving. Of course, I also really loved my dress and the flowers!
Did you include any traditions in your ceremony? We wanted a lighthearted and non-religious ceremony without any traditional expectations. The only exception to this were the vows.
What were your vows like? This was the one traditional thing we wanted! We stuck with the traditional vows: “I, Jon, take you, Eva, to be my lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part…” It’s an honest and heartfelt classic that never goes out of style.
What were your ceremony readings? I found a letter from Johnny Cash to June Carter that I felt was honest and relatable. It was true to our relationship, and Jon, who identifies with Johnny Cash, felt it suited us. The letter contained the right amount of mushy sentiment while letting Jon still feel manly.
Your ceremony in three words. Romantic, funny, honest.
What was your recessional music? After the ceremony, Jon and I walked down the aisle to Moppin’ the Bride, which was the upbeat exit we wanted.
What was the best advice you received as a bride? Don’t buy a wedding dress you need to change in any way. At one stage I was considering a dress that had sleeves, and I thought I might prefer the dress with them removed. My sister, a fashion designer and Parson’s graduate warned against making major modifications to a dress. I think it was excellent advice!
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? When it comes to vendors, hire professionals, stick to your vision, don’t hire anyone you have doubts about. As for the trickier, more emotional things: don’t be too concerned about what other people think, make sure you take care of each other’s needs first (f the groom wants something reasonable, he should have it!), don’t be afraid to break tradition, and only have there those who make you happiest.
What was your favorite moment or part of the day? The most rewarding part of the celebrations was seeing many of our friends meeting and enjoying each other’s company for the first time.
The couple included hand lettered love quotes throughout their day – so romantic! (This Gone With The Wind quote is a special favorite of ours, too, and we featured it in our Words To Love By series.)
How would you describe your reception? The reception was romantic and elegant in an incredibly French setting.
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? I was inspired by the beauty and sophistication of Paris and old world France. I love traditional French decor and I wanted the style of our wedding to be classic without feeling dated. I chose colors I thought would feel timeless and flowers that felt romantic and whimsical.
Having been a wedding stationery designer for many years, I’ve worked with couples from the beginning of their planning until the day of the wedding. I also have three sisters that have been married before me. This gave me several years worth of experience of how to plan a wedding! Over the years, I developed a taste for what appealed most to me.
I knew finding a venue was the first step that would inspire everything else, so that was our focus. If you can find a great place that fits your vision, there’s less work to be done elsewhere. Once we nailed down the location, both Jon and I were on the same page in terms of style. The most important thing to me was the visuals. I wanted to create a mood that was romantic, vintage-inspired, and elegant. I cared a lot about the paper items and calligraphy, the flowers, and the ambiance. Jon cared more about the music and the food. We both worked very hard to keep the guest list small, so the celebration felt intimate and personal. We committed to finding the best vendors to work with, while making sure that their taste was in line with ours.
Do you have any budget tips for other brides? I think it’s very important to know your budget, how flexible it is, and where you really want to spend the money. Be prepared to do your homework! For several months, we collected quotes from multiple good vendors for almost every aspect of the wedding, and then compared prices and styles. We negotiated hard, made sure we were only paying for things we really wanted, and requested changes to the wording of contracts when necessary. It’s important to realize that vendors make packages for simplicity, but you should only pay for the things you actually want. At the same time, we were happy to pay for good work and excellent products. It’s a balance of both cost and value, but in most cases we found that the best vendors were not the most expensive. Lastly, keep a detailed spreadsheet of your vendors and costs. You don’t want surprises when it comes to the budget.
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? We decided to ditch the classic wedding cake, which neither of us like, and instead opt for what the French do best dessert-wise: elaborately decorated pâtisseries! We ordered from two vendors, L’Éclair de Génie which makes the most incredible, unorthodox éclairs, and Carl Marletti, who make miniature edible masterpieces. We also had delicious fresh fruit, including some of the best strawberries any of us had ever tasted.
What was your first dance song? Father/daughter or mother/son dance? We skipped the traditional father/daughter and mother/son dances. Our first dance as husband and wife was to The Wedding Samba by Edmundo Ros (as featured in the movie A Good Year, which also inspired much of our honeymoon). We took dance lessons to learn a Rumba routine and spent weeks practicing almost daily in our basement.
If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? Nope. It was better than I ever imagined! (Although the day before the wedding, I’d probably skip the 8-hour tour of Versailles in 90-degree heat.) Truly though, the pictures speak for themselves. This wedding was worth the 11 year wait!