If you're anything like me you'll get completely swept up in the romance of Yohan & Emily's story – as told by the bride herself below. It feels like you're reading the script of a romance film! When photography MARJORIE PRVL first received the inspiration board for what Emily wanted their special day to look like, she knew instantly that it was a match. “I met with Emily and Yohan in Madison Square Park in NYC right before my move over to Paris and that solidified things for us. The day started out pretty grey, but what's new for Paris? But just as I arrived at their “penthouse” apartment, the sun came out and it only got better from there. The rest of the day passed by in a whirlwind of love, dancing on the grass at Jardin des Tuileries, plenty of laughs, a private dining session at Le Train Bleu and all the beauty that Paris has to offer! It couldn't have been more perfect! This is one of my favorite weddings to date. The love shared between Emily and Yohan is palpable and you can feel it through the images.”
Beautiful Emily tells us their story and it's a goodie, so make yourself a cuppa, pull up a pew and get comfy!, “If you ask my mother she will say that since the age of five my dream has always been to get married in Paris. Enter my husband, a ruggedly romantic jewelry designer living in Paris with parents who are so quintessentially French that they have actually been featured in magazines (it doesn't help that they are both painters living in the most gorgeous part of Provence, Saint Tropez).
Spring of 2013 was the first chapter of our story. Coincidentally he was on holiday visiting New York City with a group of friends while I was wrapping up six years of the daily grind in the big city and had already decided to quit my job and find a little bungalow to shack up in on the Cote d'Azur for the month of August. My roommate at the time was doing a conversation exchange to learn French with a girl from Paris who was a colleague of a friend of my now husband, Yohan. She asked if we wanted to welcome a group of Frenchies when they arrived in NYC and we couldn't have been happier to say yes. We told them to meet us at a free Jazz concert at Brooklyn Bridge Park, and they did; with a very magical sunset and a spectacular view of lower Manhattan the stage was set for sparks. We talked for a long time that night and I probably understood one out of every 20 words he said; I didn't speak French and he hardly spoke English, but we communicated nevertheless. We rode bikes to dinner in Brooklyn Heights while everyone else trailed behind then we all went dancing in Williamsburg until dawn. I didn't even know his name until the next morning when I read the small piece of paper where he had written it down along with his phone number.
That was it, he left and flew back to France and I stayed in New York. We occasionally communicated via text and did Facetime once, but neither of us thought this would ever go anywhere. We knew we were in different places and I was just about to move to France and didn't think that I wanted to get into a relationship with anyone, let alone the first French guy to come knocking at my door so we were just taking it easy and having a fun crush. It was about 3 months later when I arrived in the South of France, and we had still been texting, that he invited me to come and see him in Saint Tropez and I obliged. My plan was to just go for the night and I ended up staying two weeks with him and his family before the two of us took a ten day road trip through Switzerland and Germany to end up back in Paris for the fall.
The rest just fell into place from there, I wasn't sure if he was "the one" but I knew I couldn't let him go. The bond we had superseded everything I had ever known, we understood each other in a way I had never experienced before in a friend or a lover. So we decided to give it a shot, 10 months later we decided to get married and 3 months after that we stood side by side and said "Oui, je veux."
Once we decided to get married, it was a no brainer to me that we would do it in Paris. That was where our love had blossomed, that was the place holding the largest part of our story. We have a tiny light-filled loft apartment overlooking the Eiffel Tower and Canal Saint Martin in the 10th arrondissement and in France you are only permitted to get married in whichever district you have residence.
I always wanted to elope, I have never wanted anything typical in life and especially in a wedding and I knew that I would have something very small and intimate with minimal amounts of stress. Being that my family is all in Florida, most of my friends in NYC and spread around the US and my husband's family is all in the South of France it just worked out that it was too difficult to have everyone come to Paris for a large event with less than three months planning time. So we decided it only fair to not invite anyone (save the witnesses and a couple of other friends who lived close by who had been an integral part of our story). But there were two things I knew I wouldn't sacrifice, my wedding dress and a photographer.
With such little time to plan and all of the time constraints we already had set up for travelling in the next few months we only had a couple of short time frames that we could get married. In France to be able to get married if you are not a citizen and don't have a long term visa, it's quite complicated. You are required to submit a whole portfolio on yourself and your family with an extensive amount of paperwork and then after they review all of the information they will approve the marriage and set a date. You don't have any control of that time frame or the date really and you have to allow at least 10 days for your wedding to be published in the public square so that any of your old suitors or spouses can see the announcement and object if they want to (it's called publishing the Banns) then if no one disapproves, you can get married. Everything is still very old world there, nothing can be rushed and it all has to happen in a certain way. That said it makes it quite difficult to find a photographer who will work under that kind of flexibility, nonetheless a film photographer which is what I wanted.
We had a set budget and needed tons of flexibility both of which can't really exist when booking a film photographer, and forget about throwing the international travel part in. The vision I had in my head was a mix of this moody Paris shoot of The Civil Wars and a bright and soft film wedding that I saw, which was shot in the South of France. After being in contact with some of the best photographers, a couple of which are personal friends, revealing our budget constraints and the time flexibility issue due to my dossier still in progress, it just wasn't going to work for any of them.
Then comes Marjorie Preval. As I was vigorously scrolling on a bunch of blogs after a month of no luck finding a photographer, I decided to look at every single thing that was shot in Paris and who shot it and absolutely nothing was my style; nothing was at all what I was looking for until I saw Marjorie's Paris engagement shoot. Simple and sweet, light and beautiful, classic with such a high level of fine art, she used the light so well and her eye to capture the details and also the big picture was remarkable. I reached out to her and found out that she was arriving in Paris the day before we were hoping to have the wedding. We spoke and realized we had mutual friends in common, a shared love for French culture, the same vision for my day and right there it was set. She didn't have a large film portfolio at the time, but she had trained at a well-known workshop and her work spoke for itself.
From the beginning, I had this idea in my head what I wanted everything to look like and from the first visit to our neighborhood Mairie (French courthouse) I knew it would be perfect. It was a large, centuries old gilded stone building with gargoyles and spires on the outside and huge tapestries, delicate moldings and painted ceilings on the inside. It has some of the most spectacular details I have ever seen and it couldn't have been more beautiful, the perfect setting for us to express our love and commitment for one another (oh and it's free). Marjorie and I went to go visit the venue together and mapped out the kinds of photos we wanted to do, then decided to choose some spots around the city that meant something to me and my husband and to shoot around Paris for a few hours after we became husband and wife.
I had seen some very old photos from the 1930's with the vintage Juliet Cap veils the women wore and I knew that I wanted something similar. I couldn't find a veil at all that was within my price range and the style/color I liked so I decided to make my own. I went to the Marche aux Puces (flea market) in Provence with my mother-in-law, bought some antique lace and spent several days sewing my veil just the way I wanted it. I did the same with my flower crown, I knew I wanted waxed flowers so that they would last all day and not wilt and also because I like the old charm and style of them, so I found a cheap one at the market from the 1950's and pieced it back together to wear over my veil (it came with a cute boutonniere too). My shoes were also vintage from the market.
I have an eccentric old style and my husband is modern, so our day was going to have to be a combination of the two and my husband wanted to have a say in what dress I chose (typical French man). I knew what veil I wanted, and what my budget was so I planned my dress around that. I bought my dress from Gossamer Vintage online, I really had been admiring her stuff for a while and thought that she curates the pieces very well. I actually bought two dresses and the first one didn't work, so just about 3 weeks before our day I got the second one. It wasn't everything that I was looking for in a dress but it had the main elements, so when it arrived I changed everything I didn't like and made it a mix of all of the things I wanted (very typical for vintage dresses). I stayed up sewing my dress until midnight the night before the wedding (while my friend painted my toenails for me and we gossiped over wine). I was determined to do everything myself, and I did, even down to my bouquet. I wanted to use something French and that had meaning to me, so I decided to use the fresh lavender that I had in the flower boxes of my balconies; I woke up the morning of the wedding and cut all of the fresh lavender and wrapped it with a long velvet ribbon.
It was a typical Monday in late September, one that started off rainy and then cleared up by noon. The ceremony took 20 minutes in total, and included a lot of words spoken that I did not understand. All in all we had 4 people on my side and 6 people on my husband's side (including our witnesses who attest to the wedding.) Then we gallivanted all over town with Marjorie in tow to shoot some beautiful images that made up our Paris. We ended the night with all of our friends, endless amounts of champagne and a homemade cheesecake (my mother's recipe).
It was better than my dreams, simple and sweet with just the right amount of romanticism. No Eiffel tower, or typical touristy Paris things; just us, our Paris, and everything that we had built and lived for the last year. It was perfect.