4 years ago, I married my best friend. This sentence has been over-used, but there’s no better way for me to say it. Chris is my best friend, soul mate, love of my life, most beautiful thing I’ve ever set eyes on, & greatest man I’ve ever known and 4 years ago he became mine and I, his. A lot has happened in those 4 years since. We signed the official paperwork at city hall and had a ceremony in Central Park for our close friends and family. We honeymooned all across Europe for a month and shared one of the greatest trips of our lives together & most importantly we had our two little boys. But this post isn’t about these past 4 years, it’s about that one day that has brought us to where we are now.
It all started in September 2012 when Chris asked me to be his wife. (& that is an entirely different story for another time.) I couldn’t have dreamt up a better proposal and Chris completely took me by surprise, which is hard to do considering I was starting to put a little pressure on “so is this ever going to happen Chris?”.
We got home from our trip that Chris proposed on and I went straight into wedding planning mode. I’m one of “those girls” who dreamt about her wedding and what it would be like. I didn’t obsess, but I fantasized on different scenarios/venues/dresses. I knew I never wanted a huge affair. I wanted it to be close friends and family, but looking at the list grow and grow started to get a little stressful. We live in NYC, and it’s one of the most expensive cities in the world. Throw in a wedding here and the price of the event is comparable to a sizeable down payment on a home. We checked out the PERFECT rooftop venue and once food/drink/decorations were added in, the price for the size of our wedding was around $50,000. That may not be ridiculous for some, but it was impossible for us. Our parents offered to help, but we would be paying for the majority and not only did we not have the money, we didn’t want our parents to shell out savings. We needed another plan. But what???
A low-key rustic backyard wedding? That cut out all costs for a venue and we could hand select our caterer and provide our own alcohol which would cut down all our expenses significantly. The problem? We live on a high floor of an apartment complex… No backyard. Our only backyard option was my in laws house, and I didn’t want to put that kind of pressure on them, especially considering how many people would be there.
Get married at City Hall, & have a big party after?? That sounded romantic and spur of the moment, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted an actual ceremony of some kind at a venue of our choosing.
I wanted something that felt more like Chris & I. We loved to travel, and we got engaged while traveling Europe, so what better place than to be married there? I was working as an “apartment shower” that summer. Not an actual real estate agent, just someone who got paid hourly to give apartment tours in a huge apartment complex. It was an easy job that paid well and also had a lot of down time. During that time when I wasn’t giving tours, I had my own desk with a computer and was told I could work on any personal projects until my next tour. It was there that I completely planned our wedding, detail by detail.
I had it narrowed down to Venice (where we got engaged), and Paris. Chris & I had never been to Paris, but to me it was one of the most romantic cities in the world. The way I saw it depicted in movies was dreamy & so charming, and French food & wine has always been a favorite so why not Paris? The problem? As mentioned before, I’ve never been to Paris. I knew nothing of where to stay, where to eat, photographers, officiants for the actual ceremony, how to find and book a makeup artist for the big day. I started from scratch, put my head down and researched. I researched, I researched and I researched some more. An equally challenging project that went side by side with planning the entire wedding was the honeymoon. We would already be in Europe, so why not travel around Europe as our honeymoon? We wanted to go everywhere, but we narrowed it down to Prague, Amsterdam, Santorini, Mykonos, & end in Venice. We would travel to Prague the day after our wedding, and we would stay in Europe for a month. The flights were the most difficult part to arrange, but I was able to keep all of our expenses at a comfortable cost. We flew cheap, we stayed at inexpensive (but nice) hotels and would keep an eye on our day to day costs. Chris’s parents paid for our roundtrip flights from NY – Paris, and our hotel in Paris as our very generous honeymoon present and that helped us out tremendously! The remaining costs were the officiant, photographer, makeup artist for me, post-ceremony dinner and hotels for our honeymoon. Not too bad at all considering how much a NYC wedding & separate honeymoon would have been.
I bought my wedding dress at a NYC sample sale. I walked in thinking I would snag a few dresses for our honeymoon and walked out with a wedding gown. It was a gorgeous nude-blush gown from Reem Acra. I remember being in college and dreaming of a Reem Acra wedding dress, but could never afford its price tag. The Reem Acra dress from the sample sale was marked down to $300 and in EXCELLENT condition. Sold! I had my dream dress for 1/20th the price and anyone who knows me, knows I LOVE a good deal. We found Chris the perfect light gray suit from Saks off 5th. It was a Theory suit that would have cost twice as much in a Theory store and it fit like it was made for him.
So that was it. We would be getting married in Paris surrounded by 4 family members & we weren’t telling anyone. It was an elopement, with the addition of having 4 other people “in” on the secret, which to me made it even more romantic and exciting. I went ahead and flew to Paris 5 days ahead of everyone else to decide on a venue and finish any last-minute details. One of my closest friends, Sahar was in Europe and flew into Paris to help me out. We had a girl’s trip for those 5 days and it was so nice to have her there with me. She helped with all the last-minute details and secured the PERFECT restaurant for our post-ceremony dinner. I first saw this restaurant online and dreamt of it ever since. When I arrived to Paris, it was August and so many stores/restaurants were closed for the summer month. I arrived to the restaurant to be greeted with a sign that said “Closed until August 20th”. August 20th was the day of the ceremony. Does that mean it would be open again on that day?! Did I luck out by some magical chance?! The restaurant did not answer any calls in those next few days so we had to just wait and HOPE it would be open after our ceremony.
My mom and sister arrive, then Chris the day after. I remember meeting Chris at his shuttle stop. Our phones only worked where there was wi-fi and the plan was for Chris to meet me at our hotel, but I wanted to be there when he got off the shuttle so I could be the first thing he saw when he walked onto his first Parisian street. I waited 3 hours for that shuttle, hoping every shuttle was his and searching for his face each time. I couldn’t wait to see him and share this new, beautiful, romantic city with him. He arrived and we couldn’t stop kissing and hugging, it was such a special moment.
We spent the next few days exploring the city and before we knew it the wedding day was here. Chris went to his parent’s hotel in the morning with his suit, while my sister and mom came over with some bread, goat cheese and fresh berries (so Parisian of them) while I had my makeup done.
I was so nervous. I did my hair, put on my dress and added the veil. My mom took some iPhone photos of the “finished product” and it was off to meet my husband-to-be.
We met at the Luxembourg Gardens & Chris was more handsome than I could have ever imagined. He looked perfect and I was the happiest I’ve ever felt in my life. I was about to marry the man of my dreams, my best friend & I couldn’t believe that this was the beautiful start to the rest of my life.
I had scouted out this location two days before and it was empty and BEAUTIFUL! We arrive to a MUCH, MUCH different scenario than I expected. It is PACKED with tourists. PACKED. Everyone is staring at me walking in with a gown on and I was mortified. I could feel my face get more flushed by the moment. This was supposed to be an intimate setting, but I forgot that just like NYC, we were in one of the most touristy cities in the world and you can never rely on a certain location being empty on any given day.
Our photographer saved the day and my sanity. He took us to a little park behind the Notre Dame that was more perfect than any location I could have found. He said it was one of his favorite spots in the whole city. It was empty and had a gorgeous view overlooking the Seine.
Our officiant was the cutest old man, a proper gentleman. A sailor and a scholar. Ok maybe I added in those last two titles for effect, but he was the most wonderful officiant for our ceremony. He retired to Paris with his wife and dog from Florida, became an officiant, and never looked back.
I wrote our entire ceremony. I spent months going through hundreds of ceremony scripts online, picking out details I liked/didn’t like and making them into my own. Chris & I wrote our own vows and I won’t get into it that much, but I will say there wasn’t a dry eye including the officiant who we had just met. He pulled us aside after the ceremony to tell us they were some of the most beautiful vows he’s ever had the pleasure of officiating over.
After the ceremony, we left a love lock with our names and the date on the bridge behind the Notre Dame and hopped in a cab to the restaurant. We walked up the spiral staircase to a private dining room surrounded my mirrors, paintings, and a balcony overlooking the city. It was the perfect setting for our dinner. The food was some of the best I’ve ever had, the wine was flowing and we fed each other chocolate “wedding” cake. It was like a dream.
Writing this out makes me appreciate this day in a whole new way, especially now that we have two littles with us. I can’t wait until they are old enough to hear about how mommy and daddy got married in Paris.