“I’ve just been offered a job in Paris,” my boyfriend of one year announced. “I won’t even consider it if you’re going to rule out coming with me…”
Huh? Definitely an invitation, not quite a proposal. So what’s a young, gainfully employed, woman-in-love to do?
Quit her job, pack her bags and move to Paris, of course!
Fast forward six months. Newly engaged and living in the Marais, we spend weekends scouring flea markets for second-hand furniture and sipping cheap red wine on our sixth-floor terrace. It’s great. But with Greg off at work and a scant hour of French per week on my calendar, it quickly becomes clear: I need a project.
I decide to get serious about planning our wedding.
Le chateau: I spot the photo in the back of a French bridal magazine; Chateau des Conde, in the village of Vallery about 90 minutes south of Paris. We call ahead and arrange to visit. The village is French country perfection: a sleepy town center with a church, boulangerie, one restaurant, a bar/tabac and a post office. Summer vines climb stone walls and window boxes spill with blooms. We haven’t even laid eyes on the chateau yet but I’m already falling hard.
Chateau owner, architect Patrice Vansteenberghe, welcomes us with champagne that we sip as we tour the grounds. The chateau dates back to the 12th century, boasts 22 rooms to host our future guests and a reception salon designed by the architect responsible for the Cour Carree at the Louvre. By the time we see the room where Lenny Kravitz and Vanessa Paradis holed up for a month scribbling lyrics, we’re more than ready to let love rule (and hand over the hefty deposit). After several more glasses of champagne, dinner with Patrice’s chic weekend guests, and an impromptu overnight in the Kravitz suite, visions of a wedding bash are dancing in my head.
Le menu: Supreme de volaille or blanquette de veau? Brouilly, Beaujoulais or Bordeaux? So many choices, so much free time. It’s enough to push a budding Bridezilla completely over the edge. Enter Olivier Casanovas, caterer extraordinaire. Our menu degustation at his fab Neuilly apartment is as lovely as a wedding soiree, complete with crystal goblets, endless dishes to sample and even a fluffy bichon to nibble the scraps. We’re in good hands; the wedding feast will more than uphold its country’s gastronomic rep. But will I?
La robe: A three-day wedding celebration complete with wine tasting in a medieval cave and a poolside cocktail reception. At a chateau. In France. Perhaps this is all getting to be the teensiest bit too much? No turning back now. Guests had been alerted, plane tickets purchased. It was high time I found a dress. After failed visits to Paris bridal outposts Pronuptia and Galleries Lafayette, I find My Dress in a tucked away shop in the 4eme chez designer Suzanne Ermann. One custom dress, a floor-sweeping veil, satin heels, a wrap, hand-beaded necklace, and a pair of elbow length satin gloves later, I was ready. Well, almost.
With our May date fast approaching, my wedding planning book is beginning to resemble the King James Bible (and is, of course, no less sacred). And yet, critical details remain: civil ceremony, music, flowers, officiant, vows, and seating plans — not to mention my horse-drawn carriage.
Can I pull it all together before our (one hundred plus) guests arrive?
Stay tuned for Paige’s follow up post to hear all about the big day!
- Are you planning a wedding in France? Rendez-vous in Paris can help you plan your perfect French wedding.
- Kim from Parisian Party, a fabulous wedding planner herself, comments on how to choose a wedding planner in France.
- For gorgeous wedding photography or Paris engagement shots, check out One & Only Paris Photography
Written by Paige Bradley Frost for the HiP Paris Blog. All images by One and Only Paris Photography. Looking for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, London, Provence, or Tuscany? Check out Haven in Paris.