Holly and Xavier are a globe trotting couple. Holly is Canadian, Xavier is from New Zealand, they met in Thailand and live in London. So when choosing a destination for their wedding day, Paris was the perfect choice.
They hosted a garden party with views of the Eiffel Tower which made for a spectacular setting. Holly chose an original 1930s vintage gold gown which looked beautiful and she teamed it with a vintage inspired headdress. With a budget of £5000, their loved ones got stuck in to help craft their perfect day. So romantic.
Thanks so much to Eva Photography for sharing these dreamy images with us.
THE PROPOSAL | In February 2014 Xavier took me to Venice for a romantic weekend – it was also Valentine’s Day and Carnivale, so pretty romantic all around! We had a lovely Valentine’s Day wandering around the streets of Venice and at one point he stopped and gave me a little box… with earrings in it… it really threw me off the scent! So, in the evening when he stopped me on a bridge over a quiet canal, I really wasn’t expecting it, but he presented me with the most beautiful art deco ring and proposed right there. I, of course said ‘yes’ and we went out for a delicious dinner and much wine to celebrate.
THE VISION | We always knew that our wedding would be interesting to plan, just purely from a logistical standpoint because I am Canadian, Xavier is from New Zealand and we live in England. We were also on a pretty tight budget (the whole thing had to be under £5000) so working with this limitation meant we got a little creative!! And the more we talked about things we started to feel that one big wedding just wasn’t going to work for us. Xavier came up with the idea of a two smaller events and I loved it. The main one would be in Paris – so that our London friends could come easily and our close friends and family who could make the journey to Europe would also get to see somewhere other than London and Paris, right? Doesn’t get any more romantic than that!! There were only 25 guests, so it was wonderfully intimate. The second event would be a more relaxed BBQ at my favourite place in the world – my parents cottage on Lake Huron in Canada. We ended up with around 65 people there, which was a nice number, it didn’t feel too overwhelming! Best of all, having the two parties meant that all of our loved ones would get to at least one event and we got to have more parties, and more parties is always better.
THE VENUE | Once Paris was decided we had to find a venue, that we could afford and would let us bring our own food/booze in. This was probably the biggest way were were able save money and was the most challenging to find. Xavier actually saw photos on a blog of a wedding and based on the view of the Eiffel Tower he figured out approximately where the venue was located…. then he spent hours on google street view to find the venue! We didn’t actually see the venue until the day of our wedding!! But it was better than we imagined – a house about 10mins walk from the Eiffel Tower, with a garden, kitchen and two floors inside for a few tables and chairs and a bit of dancing.
All of our booze and most of our food we got through Carrefour (a French supermarket) and we just got it delivered the morning of the event. This was so much more affordable, but meant Xavier and a few wonderful friends had to go down ahead of time and get everything in order – thank you!!!! We also ordered a few canapés from Bonne Marche, which we also got delivered to the venue on the day. We both knew we wanted to have as much time mingling with friends and family as possible, so a sit down dinner just wasn’t going to work for us. We had more than enough food and drink for everyone and a few of our guests just pitched in to help get the food out and keep the booze stocked up. When you plan a wedding on a budget, getting lovely friends to help out with things like this can make all the difference!
Once we worked out all the details for Paris we still had to work out a few of the business details. You can’t legally get married in France unless you are a resident, so we went to Camden Town Hall (across the street from the Eurostar Station) on the Friday morning to make it legal. We met all our friends afterwards for bubbly to celebrate, before getting the train to Paris. The train ride itself became quite a party actually!!
Saturday was the main event and my brother conducted a beautiful and meaningful civil ceremony for us where we embraced a few French traditions, such as the ribbon cutting and the champagne sabre toasting.
After a few cocktails and nibbles we walked from the venue to the Eiffel Tower and did a boat cruise up and down the Seine, which was so fun! Then back to the venue for more food, drinks – neither of us wanted a formal sit-down dinner, so everything just felt relaxed and easy. At midnight everyone grabbed a bottle of wine and we walked back to the Eiffel Tower for a final few drinks and watched the Eiffel Tower twinkling light display at 1am. It was such a perfect way to end our perfect day.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | I had a really fun day trying on dresses with friends and we went to a few different shops, but I could tell straight away that none of them were right. I love vintage, so decided to go to Elizabeth Avey in Greenwich after work one day, by myself. She was wonderful and listened to our wedding plan and suggested a few unconventional looks, to go with our unconventional wedding. The gold silk, 1930’s bias cut dress I ended up buying was the first one I tried on, I immediately felt so comfortable and fell totally in love with it, but I actually left the shop that night thinking it wasn’t going to buy it. It felt like I was throwing away my chance to wear a white dress, but after a couple of days I still couldn’t stop thinking about it and I thought ‘who says I should wear white?’ I went back the next day and bought it. I absolutely loved it and felt amazing on the day, it was perfect.
My shoes were from Dune and the headpiece was from Anthropologie – once I had the dress, it influenced the rest of the look and so I really embraced the 1930’s feel of it.
I also got a small, beaded vintage handbag from Mishka Vintage – she had such a wonderful selection in there, I struggled to choose just one!
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Xavier bought a blue wool suit back in February, but then we had the heatwave in July and he tried it on and realised just how unbelievably hot it was!! A mild panic ensued, but he went to Topman and found the gorgeous light blue trousers and waistcoat. He was really happy with it and he looked so handsome!
THE FLOWERS & CAKE | As we were planning such a small wedding, we were able to be much more relaxed about these things! Xavier and I spent a few weekends scouring charity shops for glass vases of various shapes and sizes that we brought with us to Paris. Then on the morning of the wedding, I met up with my best friend and we walked around the corner from our hotel to a local florist and I picked out the white baby’s breath for decorating and then chose the white roses and freesias and when we got back to the hotel, Jill did a google search on bouquet making and made my bouquet for me, borrowing scissors and wire from the hotel kitchen and assembled in it the bathroom of our hotel room. She did a wonderful job and all the flowers cost £35 in total.
On our morning wander we also strolled into a local patisserie and I picked out a strawberry cake and some assorted macaroons. I think we spent around £40 in total.
I loved not having to stress over things like this for months in advance, but I know it’s not for everyone!! Paris is a city of florists and patisseries, so I really wasn’t worried at all and spending the morning walking around Montmartre with my best friend was on of my favourite memories of the day.
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | As we were on such a limited budget, we were really unsure about getting a photographer. And in fact as the date got closer and closer, we still hadn’t found one and were thinking of skipping it all together – we are so happy we didn’t do that!!!! Eva was recommended to me by a client of mine and we met with her around 2 weeks before the wedding and she was so lovely, we felt really good about working with her. The photos speak for themselves and we couldn’t be happier with them!! But the best thing is how wonderful Eva was to work with, she made us and all our guests feel so at ease and it seemed like she was just another guest. So many of out guests have commented about how lovely she was and we have such beautiful photos to help capture the day for us, we are thrilled with them and her.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | Luckily Paris is a stunning city and the house was a beautiful space, so our decorations were pretty minimal. The vases had baby’s breath and peacock feathers, we also brought antique-looking tea-light holders with us and little white and silver, heart shaped chocolates for the table decorations. We had to provide all our own dishes etc. so as a way to keep the clean up to a minimum we bought study but lovely wine glasses and attached each guest’s photo to a glass and that way they would know which glass was theirs and they had a little memento of the day. A few more hours of eBay and charity shop hunting meant we were able to get a collection of antique silverware to take with us as well and we bought paper plates since it was just a casual canapés and drinks thing. We also had photo boards on display, with Polaroid prints of us over the years which I’ve kept and put into a separate album.
Since we were in Paris, we wanted to tie in a few French traditions, so we did a bit of research and found a few things we wanted to include. There is a tradition that is practiced in small villages in France today where the groom collects his bride-to-be on the morning of their wedding. As the wedding couple make their way to the chapel, village children stretch white ribbon across the road that the bride must cut as she passes and it symbolises them getting through life’s challenges together. So we decided to do our own variation of this by having Xavier meet me first at the venue so we could walk together. We had ribbons for all our guests and they held them for us to cut through as we walked down the aisle. Not only did we feel it was a beautiful tradition, but also helped us come up with an alternative way for me to walk down the aisle, as my father passed away 8 years ago. Plus we really liked the idea of us walking together as a couple.
We also had a sabre and Xavier expertly cut off the top of a champagne bottle at the end of our ceremony. Then we poured it into a sterling silver two-handled ‘coupe de mariage’ and toasted our devotion, love and friendship to each other and shared our first drink together as a married couple. It also symbolised our two families joining and is kept in the family to be passed down to future generations and ensures a happy future for all who drink from it.
THE HONEYMOON | Cuba. It was the perfect combination of gorgeous beaches and fascinating culture – a dream come true.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Make it your own! Don’t be afraid to step out of the traditional box and do what makes you happy :-)
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photographer | Eva Photography
Dress | Elizabeth Avey
Suit | Topman
Headpiece | Anthropologie
Shoes | Cartier
Sublime. Thanks so much to Holly and Xavier for sharing their wedding with us xo Lou