I’ve often wondered what happens when a wedding planner ties the knot – and this, my dears, is it. I’m talking the most romantic Parisian affair you’ll ever, ever see planned by that amazing Julie of Strawberry Milk Events. She brought the most talented vendors in all the land, with KT Merry to capture every second. You can spot this drool-worthy day in the fall issue of Martha Stewart Weddings, but if you’re longing for more, not to fret! Part II is coming up next!
From the Bride…Why Paris: I am a wedding planner/designer based in the DC area, so I wanted to do something completely different and unique for our wedding. I plan/design big, local weddings more weekends than not, and as we started planning our own nuptials I quickly realized there was an underlying pressure to top every wedding I had planned to this point. I also realized since I have so many great vendor relationships, however would I ever pick my favorites? And the fact that I had already worked in most of my favorite local venues – well, it made the decision easy. We established that we wanted an intimate destination wedding that would be an experience for our guests, and really be about bringing two families together. Not about putting on the best wedding show. Paris was actually the first place I thought of – it’s my favorite city in the world, ultra romantic and I grew up traveling there annually. Initially we dismissed it because of the distance and cost to travel for guests. We then started considering US destinations so it would be easier for guests to travel, but after a few months of searching and not falling in love with any particular destination or venue, we felt we were really left with one option. To follow our hearts to Paris, the city of love – and and my favorite city in the world. We knew not everyone could make it (including my grandmother) and we struggled with that for awhile. But after she told us we’d be crazy for NOT going, and that’s what she would have done if she could do it over, we were decided.
After deciding on Paris, I quickly started scouting venues online. About 20 venues into my search, I found the Hotel de Crillon. When I pulled up their website and saw their reception space, I froze in my chair. My jaw dropped, heart started beating a little faster and I couldn’t help but tear up (I’m such a wedding planner – I didn’t tear up over my dress, just the venue!) I had never seen anything so beautiful, so romantic, or so perfect for our wedding. Everything from the soft gray curtains paired with the just right amount of gold gilding, to the beautiful original herringbone floors, from the moldings and amazing antique crystal chandeliers to the tall ceilings and natural light pouring in from the french doors leading out to the balcony with views of the Eiffel Tower. It was stolen straight from one of my sweetest dreams. It was as if everything floating around in my head that I wanted for our wedding, was suddenly staring back at me on the screen.
The Invitations: I was inspired by the beautiful ornate doors of Paris that you find at every turn. I worked with one of my go-to local stationary designers, Little Bit Heart, to custom design a blush and gold foil invitation suite featuring laser cut doors out of rose gold glitter paper. The doors were tied off with gold thread and a small brass skeleton key charm. The envelope liner was a commissioned drawing of Versailles Palace from an artist in Australia, whom I found on Etsy. The clock in the drawing was set to 3pm, our ceremony start time. Custom watercolor stamps of the Paris skyline, beautiful calligraphy by Trial by Cupcakes and a giant wax seal finished the set. The wax seal featured the floral emblem that we also incorporated into our gold foil inserts, an architectural detail carved into the chapel we were married at and also hand-painted on the ceiling of my grandparents home.
Wedding palette: lucite, sparkle, blush, gold, grey.The Design: I wanted the wedding to be glamorously Parisian and classically sophisticated, but not typical. I love french decor and serious ornate architecture – I thought it would be great to balance the traditional look of our chosen historic venues with some unexpectedly modern and whimsical elements such as lucite chairs and chevron patterned sequin linens. The back story to our wedding decor is that I’m a bit obsessed with Marie Antoinette…specifically, Sofia Coppola’s version featuring Ladurée and candy-colored costumes. However, the whole Marie Antoinette themed wedding became a very popular trend a few years back and therefore I dismissed it as something we would ever incorporate into our wedding decor. As a wedding planner whose job is to stay on top of the newest trends, I felt like I needed to come up with something that hadn’t been done a million times already. However, after learning about the history of the venues we selected (yes – I learned about the Marie connection AFTER I fell in love with the venues!), there was no way I could get around embracing it. It was definitely meant to be. (And how appropriate that the queen of fashion inspired our wedding day, considering it took place at the end of Paris’ fashion week?)
The Marie Connection: We got married at the Chapelle Expiatoire, which is a quaint chapel in the middle of a beautiful elevated park in the center of Paris. The Chapel was built in 1816 in honor of Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI – they were actually buried there for a short time. Having our intimate ceremony in such a grand venue so rich in history felt truly amazing. The very salon our reception was held in at the Hotel de Crillon is where Marie Antoinette used to take piano lessons, and the square in front of the hotel (Place de la Concorde) is where she was guillotined (morbid but true!) I planned the wedding from a distance, with the exception of one long weekend in Paris in July where I had the chance to do a tasting at the hotel, select rentals, and meet with florists and have a hair/makeup trial. Of course, the most exciting part was finally seeing the venues (which we had already booked) in person! There is always a chance that things are a bit more polished in pictures (especially with historic venues) but amazingly all of these venues looked identical in person to the photos I had seen.
Wedding Day Highlights: A violinist stood on the front steps of the chapel serenading arriving guests with typical french ‘chanson’. Even though we were in Paris, I had to have my classic Father of the Bride moment so the bridesmaids walked into “Chapel of Love” – but the string/instrumental version. Our recessional was to another American wedding classic, “Today I Met the Boy I’m Gonna Marry.” After the ceremony, the string trio moved outside and played instrumental versions of more current pop songs, while a rather regal looking butler in 18th Century costume poured guests velvety European drinking chocolate in vintage porcelain teacups on the lawn.
My absolute favorite moment of the day was walking into the church with my dad, seeing all our closest family and friends who had traveled so far, the lucite chairs sparkling in the sunlight that was streaming in, and the gorgeous oversized orchids dripping at the altar. Then seeing my best friend, waiting at the end of the aisle for me – all to the tune of Canon in D (which means so much to my family – my parents played it all the time when my mom was pregnant with me.) It was such a surreal moment that couldn’t have been planned more perfectly, I couldn’t help but get a little weepy.
Photography: KT Merry | Videography: MG Image | Wedding Dress: Vera Wang Via Vera Wang On Madison Ave., NYC | Florist: Soly Flor | Stationary: Little Bit Heart | Ceremony Venue: Chapelle Expiatoire | Reception Venue: Hotel Crillon | Brides Shoes: Sergio Rossi | Planner: Julie of Strawberry Milk Events | Hair: Sonja Stein | Calligraphy: Trial By Cupcakes | Lighting: AZ Diffusion | Groom’s Shoes: Ferragamo | Grooms Attire: Hugo Boss | Ceremony Music: Ivana Strings | Band : Jazz Around Midnight | Linens : La Tavola | Makeup: Sanni Sorma | Server In Costume At Ceremony Site: Les Menus Plaisirs | Taxi: Classic Rent