Category Archives: Blog

An Elegant Elopement at the Rodin Museum in Paris

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PARIS, FRANCE–Ooh la la! France Wedding Planner is delighted to announce its collaboration with the Rodin Museum in Paris to arrange elegant elopements all day on Monday, as well as during the evenings for the rest of the week from 6 pm to 9 pm.

This allows up to 60 guests to use the newly renovated main hall for an elegant dinner or a cocktail reception, as well as the gardens for an elegant ceremony and photo ops next to the celebrated “Thinker” and “The Burghers of Calais.”

The Rodin museum gardens are some of the most spectacular in Paris, and feature stunning topiary and roses in the summer. No wonder Woody Allen used it for a crucial scene in his great movie “Midnight in Paris.”

Do contact Rachel Kaplan at rachel.kaplan@orange.fr to learn more about this unique venue and how she can arrange an unforgettable event that you will cherish forever.
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A Multi-Cultural Wedding at A Renaissance Château Near Paris

PARIS—This August Ooh la la! France Wedding Planner had both the pleasure and the honor to organize its first major multicultural wedding for 145 guests from as far away as Australia, Hong Kong and Southern India .

Our Francophile couple—he an Anglo-Indian from Australia, she a Korean-American from Atlanta—had fallen in love on the Champs-Elysées and knew they wanted to have their wedding in France, the country they knew and loved so much.

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They asked Ooh la la! France Wedding Planner to find an elegant yet rustic château with lodging and amenities for 150 guests of all ages, that would accommodate three days of festivities starting with a Korean-Indian wedding on a Friday, followed by a Western-style wedding ceremony and reception on Saturday, and an elegant Sunday brunch.

It was our good fortune that we knew the ONLY property close to Paris that would accommodate all of our couple’s wishes, and then some. When it became clear that there was no Korean or Indian caterer in Paris to handle a wedding banquet with tasty and authentic dishes, the food and beverage team at the château took on the challenge with great results.

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Then there was the décor for the Indian and Korean ceremony with all the attendant rituals. Little India and Chinatown–two lesser-known Parisian quarters–provided most of the decor for each ceremony, and we even sourced the magnificent white circus horse that could head up the parade of Indian drummers and lead the dashing groom to his beautiful bride. No easy task but we found the horse trainer who worked at the Buffalo Bill show at Disney World! Our bride and groom sourced their own Indian and Korean wedding attire as well as that of their respective families, and the photography shows how magnificent they looked.

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We not only managed to find a henna artist in Paris to do the hands and feet of our lovely bride as well as the hands of her bridal party. Better yet, the same artist traveled out to the château to also do henna for the guests during the cocktail hour. By sticking to lavish buffet service and signature cocktails -one of which was made with the Korean liqueur “soju”-dinner service went smoothly, and was punctuated by wonderful speeches made by the couple’s friends and enhanced by two volunteer emcees. Disco dancing followed until 2 am.

The following day, as everyone rested our floral design brigade returned to create a magnificent reception decor of white, gray and green–white blossoms, green ivy and white netting. Each table’s centerpiece featured a guidebook from a different country, and a map of the world directed each guest to the right table–there were 12 tables of eight plus a long bridal table.

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Following the outdoor ceremony–marked by blue skies and warm August weather–and punctuated by 80s Top Ten hits–our guests spread onto the elegant stone terrace for more signature cocktails made with organic French champagne–and an hors d’oeuvres buffet that offered a wide range of tastes, including from Georgia and Australia. Following dinner, our guests rushed out to see a magnificent fire works display launched by the castle’s moat–a spectacle that was truly unforgettable especially when set to Sting’s music.

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Naturally the guests enjoyed the champagne fountain and the lavish dessert buffet, as well as the exquisite all-white wedding cake that followed the fireworks show. Between the all-night photo booth, the DJ’s music selection of over 100 song titles, and the tireless company, the party went until the wee hours of the morning, and could have gone on much longer!

The next day, there was a copious post-wedding breakfast before the guests set off for Paris and our bridal couple to Santorini, where they went to recuperate after all the festivities. Here is an excerpt of their thank you letter followup:

“Rachel makes everything happen. Our wedding was atypical, cultural, and complicated – something no planner has done yet in France, except now Rachel. We say that with confidence as it was four different weddings over the span of three days[…] There were a lot of moving parts with lots of individuals involved, and Rachel orchestrated all the pieces. It was a relief to have her taking care of everything so we could focus on celebrating our big day(s!). The guests had a great time and it was truly memorable. Our family and friends are still raving about it!”

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A Dream Wedding In A Historic Church and Private Mansion in Paris

PARIS, FRANCE–When a Colombian-American beauty falls for a dashing Frenchman, it’s not altogether surprising that they would choose Paris as their choice for a destination wedding. But while the City of Light has plenty of magnificent photo ops, it’s short on churches where you can marry, as well as elegant venues where you can boogie until 4 am.

Fortunately, Ooh la la! France Wedding Planner was able to come up with the perfect non-denominational church where the pastor would marry our stunning couple after they provided a civil marriage license. Not only did the bride’s father walk her down the aisle to the music of her choice played by a professional organist, the church prepared a bilingual ceremony booklet that was distributed to all 83 guests so that everyone could follow what was being said. Beautifully presented, it was a lovely keepsake for all the guests to cherish for years to come.

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First-time visitors to Paris were treated to a two-hour bus tour of the city, that took them to the Champs-Elysées, the Pyramid at the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, while our newlywed couple did their private city visit in a chauffeured Mercedes with our celebrated photographer, who captured some of the most romantic moments of that unforgettable September day. Happily, the weather was perfect which made all the difference.

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The wedding party and bridal couple met up at around 6 pm at a sumptuous mansion on the Left Bank, a stone’s throw from the Musée d’Orsay. There they found an elegant champagne cocktail reception with exquisite French hors d’oeuvres, followed by a sit-down dinner consisting of a foie gras appetizer, filet of beef with seasonal vegetables and crispy fingerling potatoes, an assortment of French cheeses, an airy raspberry macaron dessert, as well as a traditional croquembouche–a tower of vanilla and chocolate cream-filled puff pastries that was enhanced by sparklers.

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Best of all, throughout the cocktail and dinner hour, a trio of Latino jazz musicians, brought a wonderful energy and joy to the entire evening, much to the bride’s delight. Yes, even in Paris, the spirit of Latin America is alive and well.

It wasn’t long before the entire group was off to the mansion’s discothèque, set up in the mansion’s former wine cellar. Everyone had so much fun, that they prolonged the evening until 4 am, helped by extra bottles of champagne provided by the groom’s family.

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A month later, we were delighted to receive this thank you note from the bride’s mother: “I wish to express my appreciation for the way you organized all the details of Isabel and Jerome’s wedding in Paris this past September 24. You and your staff did a fantastic job. It was a beautiful event, enjoyable and unforgettable. The Church ceremony and then the cocktail hour, dinner and dance at La Maison des Polytechniciens went flawless, and we have received quite a few compliments from friends and family members. It seems that everybody really enjoyed this special occasion with us….Thanks again, dear Rachel and my best wishes for more successful events to come.”

A Marriage Proposal on the Roof of Chambord Castle

CHAMBORD, FRANCE–The person foolish enough to claim that men have no romantic imagination should forever hold their tongue. The team at Ooh la la! France Wedding Planner has the real-life experience to strongly disagree.

Take Alvin Lim from Singapore: before he and his girl friend Annabel were about to start new and demanding jobs in the financial services industry, he had the inspired idea to vacation in France, one of their favorite travel destinations. What Annabel could never have imagined is the day that we concocted with Alvin via email and WhatsApp.

Alvin wanted something truly different for this trip. Paris was fine, but it didn’t fit his plans for what he had in mind. “I want to propose to Annabel on the top of a castle. Can you arrange that? Can you make sure to have a photographer record the occasion without her catching on?” Easier said than done.

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Nonetheless, Ooh la la! France Wedding Planner proved up to the challenge. First, we asked one of our local partners, a charming driver-guide to help us make this dream outing a reality. Did she know a photographer whom she could trust to take pictures throughout the day without getting in the way of our “love birds?”

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After some brain-storming we came up with the following day: 8 am pickup at a charming château hotel in the Loire Valley, a self-guided visit to the gardens of Villandry (the most beautiful in the region); lunch and a self-guided tour at Chenonceaux Castle, known as the castle of five queens and one mistress; and finally a VIP tour at Chambord Castle, concluding with a proposal and champagne toast on the rooftop overlooking the magnificent estate.

Thanks to the quick-witted guides and photographer, everything in the day went off beautifully, and Annabel and Alvin are now planning their wedding. A few weeks later, we got this lovely note of appreciation:

“I have 4 words for you – YOU ARE THE BEST. Despite such short notice, everything from the planning to the execution was absolutely flawless. You have been incredibly thoughtful throughout the entire process, while your team (Cathy and Alexis) took extremely good care of us every step of the way. Although we have never met you in person, we feel so privileged to have shared a very significant moment of our lives with you. Chambord, Cathy, Alexis and most importantly YOU will always hold a very special place in our hearts.”

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Guidance to Getting Married in France

PARIS, FRANCE–For those of you who are planning to have a destination wedding in France, we would like to share some useful information that will help you decide on the best approach to take regarding one of the most important events in your life.

If you have a valid marriage license from your home country, there are a select number of religious institutions in Paris and in other parts of France where you can be married by an English-speaking minister or rabbi or imam. You will need to send us a copy of your marriage license beforehand so we can make the ceremony arrangements on your behalf.

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Ooh la la! France Wedding Planner has organized weddings in both non-denominational churches as well as in the Grand Mosque of Paris. It is important to make these arrangements well in advance since the wedding season heats up between April and October in a big way.

We take great pride in organizing the wedding ceremony on your behalf, and making sure that all your concerns are addressed well in advance. We know the most beautiful synagogues in France where you and your family will be welcome, as well as other houses of worship.

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For those of you who wish to marry at your nation’s consulate, you also have some options there as well. You can marry at the Turkish Embassy in Paris, as well as at the Norwegian, Swedish and Danish consulates if you are a citizen of these countries. Again, we can assist with the scheduling of such an event, but keep in mind that you will have to keep the numbers down since the spaces allotted for such occasions are small.

We have also invited our guests to invite their local priest or rabbi or minister to their wedding in France–an option that allows you to have a religious ceremony before friends and family, as well as a binding religious contract. This doesn’t mean that your marriage can be legal on French soil, but at the very least it fulfills the spiritual needs that you may have.

Now for the bad news: unless you are a French citizen or a long-term resident of France, you won’t be able to marry at a local French city hall. Nor would you want to: any person getting married in France is tied to French law and the French tax system. Furthermore, you need to be fairly fluent in French, and the city hall will only provide an English-speaking interpreter if one of the partners is French.

In short, even in the best of circumstances, the procedure to be legally married in France takes a minimum of four to six months planning and tends to only favor local residents with perhaps the exception of VIPs. Remember Tony Parker and Eva Longoria? They were able to marry in France because Mr. Parker was French and an international basketball star–making the media coverage great for France’s image.

Therefore, when thinking of a destination wedding–the most important thing we can assist with is making your dream wedding an unforgettable occasion with the least red tape possible.

A MAGICAL VOW RENEWAL IN VERSAILLES

PARIS, FRANCE– Louise and David wanted to celebrate their love by renewing their vows in a truly special way. Lousie explains how well their special day went –

“It was always my dream to visit Versailles.  When my husband and I decided to renew our vows on our ten year wedding anniversary – we knew this was the perfect opportunity.    I envisioned renewing our vows in the Gardens at Versailles and the Temple of Love.  Thus began the adventure for the next year of reaching out to entities in Versailles, trying to get answers, trying to figure out what we could and could not do, would they allow it, logistics, finding a venue for a dinner reception, could we bring our stuffed monkey Baboo into the gardens (as he has been an integral part of our family) all the while working within both time zone and language barriers.  I finally threw up my hands and said we needed someone local, on the ground who knew the ropes and the venues.  That is when I discovered Rachel Kaplan and Ooh la la! France Wedding Planner.

Rachel was able to bring our vision to life.  She easily and effectively garnered access and permission into the areas that we wished to have our ceremony.  Being a historic park they can’t close down for private events, but Rachel still managed to maneuver the other visitors around the event so it felt like it was our own private oasis.

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[Rachel was able to secure] the incredible venue and dinner at a Michelin-rated restaurant in a charming town about ten minutes from Versailles, procuring a most talented photographer who went out of his way to get some really unique shots, high-end transportation for our party, beautiful flowers and décor, hair and make-up and a few surprises along the way.  I was especially touched that prior to the event she had purchased a most beautiful coffee table book of photos of Versailles to have our guests sign at the dinner later that night.  It will always be a special keepsake.

The greatest accolades I can give are the personal touches Rachel provided; she was personally involved in helping to shape our vows and story, acting as our celebrant, providing history lessons and delightful anecdotal stories about Marie Antoinette and Louie on the bus in between photos shoots which our guests absolutely loved!  Her ability to remain calm when schedule faltered from time to time and we needed to re-adjust due to guests wandering off, or having to work around other tourists was impressive. That is a sign of a true professional!

So many thanks Rachel for helping me to bridge the language and cultural barriers in Versailles and making our vision a reality.  We cannot thank you enough!”

FROM PERU TO PARIS: AN ENGAGEMENT AT THE EIFFEL TOWER

PARIS–Maria, a Peruvian exchange student studying in Glasgow, Scotland for the year, thought she knew how she was going to spend her Christmas break in Paris with her boyfriend Adrian.

She understood that they were staying at an AirBnB apartment in the 19th district, that they were going to spend a day at Disneyland Paris, and that they were going to have a private Eiffel Tower tour with a photographer in Spanish. So far so good.

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What she didn’t know is that Adrian had called Ooh La La! France Wedding Planner a week earlier asking us to organize a surprise proposal following the Eiffel Tower tour. Could we rent an acoustic guitar for him to play? Check. Could we arrange to have a bouquet of red amaryllis lilies? Check. Could we make sure to bring a set of 10 posters to the event with one of our hostesses? Check.

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So following the tour, with guitar and lilies in hand, as well as posters, Adrian unwrapped his pre-Christmas surprise. First there was their favorite Metallica song that he played on the guitar  backed up by speaker with a USB key so small he pulled it out of his coat pocket.

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Then the series of posters, each one unfolded to reveal an important occasion he and Maria had shared. Last a red heart shaped poster asking Maria for her hand in marriage. The final act was the stunning engagement ring.

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Naturally our photographer recorded every instant, so they could cherish this once-in-a-lifetime occasion forever.

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Adrian wrote to us on Christmas Eve:

Thanks for everything. We are having a great time, we are very happy. We are downloading the photos.
Thanks!!! 🙂
Merry Christmas”

MUSIC IS THE FRUIT OF LOVE

PARIS–Last month we had a wonderful and unusual request. “I want to propose to my girlfriend at an elegant jazz club in Paris, with my friend Garfield Mayor playing our favorite song “When Stars Collide” from his album Take It or Leave It. Can you make this happen?”

While this was an unusual request, we knew just the place for his dream to be realized. We called one of the loveliest hotels on the Left Bank where they have a jazz piano and a bar open on Sunday evenings–perfect–since the musicians would not be playing that night.

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Our romantic jazz bar in Paris

Best of all, Bayley had never been to the Left Bank before, and this was her first trip to Paris. Garfield visited the hotel early Sunday evening, before the special guests’ arrival and worked everything out with the bartender. By 8 pm when our couple strolled into the jazz club, Garfield was playing their special song…and as the say the rest is history.

Verdict: Here’s the fiancé’s recap of his surprise proposal to Bayley:

“The proposal went amazingly. Perfect. She as I hoped had no idea, Garfield was amazing, and most importantly she said yes! Her father being in radio we even made the Boston stations with the announcement.

It wouldn’t have happened as amazingly as it did without your assistance- thank you!”IMG_0371

A DESTINATION WEDDING THAT GAVE STAR BILLING TO FRANCE

With Rachel’s help, we pulled off a week in France that our family and friends will remember for the rest of their lives. More than one of them, on the final day, told me it had been the best week of their lives.” – Kathleen Peddicord, Mother of the Bride.

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PARIS—Until I had the privilege of organizing the destination wedding for Kaitlin Yent and Harry Kalashian, Jr. this past August, I hadn’t fully realized the significance of creating a total wedding experience in France could have. Now, I happily stand corrected!

Because Kaitlin and Harry reside and work very hard for a major conference and investment company in Panama, Kathleen Peddicord, ‘mom-in-chief’ stepped up to the plate and worked with Ooh La La! France Wedding Planner to create her daughter’s dream wedding. She understood that because guests were coming in from all over the world, that they needed to do something fun and interesting during their stay in Paris, as well as during their stay at the Château de Villiers Le Mahieu where the wedding was to take place.

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Here is a sample of the pre-wedding activities:

AUGUST 9, 2015: A two-hour highlights Paris tour in a vintage bus with an open deck in back where passengers could get the best view of EVERYTHING—including Kaitlin’s former school, the Ecole Active Bilingue. Dinner followed at Amore & Gelosia (Love & Jealousy) where they source their prosciutto and Parmesan from Italy and make the best home-made pasta and tiramisu (naturally, everyone raved).

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AUGUST 10, 2015: A private tour of the Louvre: How Ten Celebrated Works Illustrate the History of Civilization. (Even those guests who dreaded ‘doing’ this mammoth institution, came away both delighted and surprised and highly praised the guide). Then it was a fun-loving wine tasting at O’ Château, the most famous wine bar in Paris, where everyone so stuffed themselves on bread and cheese they didn’t need dinner…

AUGUST 11, 2015: Since we were among a group of animal lovers, we headed on our own private safari to Thoiry, the oldest park of its kind. From the safety of our luxury bus, our savvy driver and English-speaking zoologist helped us get the best photos of bears, antelopes, elephants, ostriches, even a family of hippos.  Still, the day’s highlight may have been a close up view of the Siberian tigers being fed raw meat.

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AUGUST 12, 2015: Naturally, no visit to France is complete without a tour of Claude Monet’s house and gardens at Giverny. Not only were we able to explore the wonderful summer bounty of this garden— which  has the biggest and most stunning varieties of dahlias anywhere—but we also discovered a magnificient waterlily garden and a house that had been beautifully refurbished to its former glory with copies of the very works that once hung in Monet’s studio.

Then it was off to the Hotel Baudy for a delicious three-course lunch, the very place where Monet’s students once lived and worked. Everyone agreed that the spread was both delicious and speedily served—a boon since everyone was eager to get back to the Château de Villiers-Mahieu where they could play pétanque, swim and use the spa before the wedding rehearsal and dinner to follow.

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AUGUST 13, 2015: The Big Day. We were so fortunate because despite all the dire warnings that it would rain, we were able to hold both the late afternoon ceremony outdoors—a family friend was the heart-warming and loving celebrant for our bridal couple—and witnessed the most beautiful fox trot by Kaitlin and Harry on a specially built outdoor dance floor.

True enough, at 9:30 pm, the rainstorm arrived but who cared, when everyone was safely indoors, feasting on foie-gras and beef tenderloin, cheese and salad and the ultimate wedding cakes, which reflected our couple’s passion for travel and all things vintage. Everyone danced until 4 am and naturally the staff at the Château made sure the famished were fed sandwiches and refreshments.

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AUGUST 14, 2015: After a copious brunch, everyone headed back to Paris on a private luxury bus—everyone, except the bridal couple who were driven back in a Citroën traction convertible! The final touch to a very special destination wedding.

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A WEDDING IN RODIN’S GARDEN FOLLOWED BY A DINNER CRUISE WITH FIREWORKS

PARIS—The City of Light never ceases to amaze. We learned that this summer when we were able to arrange a small wedding for Sarah Pazdan and Thomas Gabriel from Santa Barbara, California, in the magnificent garden of the Rodin Museum on the Left Bank for a very modest price.

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How was this possible? How could Ooh La La! France Wedding Planner manage such a feat when all others including Dior pay a small fortune to show their couture beneath a tent in the same garden?

Because of our special relationship with the Rodin Museum, the staff there understood how much this event meant to our bridal couple, especially when they had to cross a continent and an ocean to get there.

We also took a chance that the weather was going to be okay—a fairly big chance in September as it turns out—and we were able to pull it off. Fortunately, despite rain earlier in the day, at the last minute, the sun DID COME OUT—and the show went on. And we have the pictures to prove it!

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Then it was off to the Eiffel Tower, by the Ecole Militaire for a lovely group shot of the wedding party, before the group boarded a glass boat on the quai de la Bourdonnais where you can stop for a grand total of 15 minutes…Naturally, we were at the ready with a red carpet welcome and our photographer for an entrance worthy of the Cannes Film Festival

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The guests each received a glass of champagne as they boarded the boat, and then were passed freshly prepared hot hors d’oeuvres. The boat had a wonderful deck where people could admire the city’s skyline and monuments—and smoke if they so wished.

Because Ooh La La! France Wedding Planner prides itself on realizing the dreams of every bride, we made sure the décor fit in with the black-and-white striped tablecloth and chargers that the bride’s mother carried all the way over from California. They worked beautifully with the chairs covered in white and set off by black satin ribbon sashes. We love the way the bronze color of the chargers matched the color of the champagne! To top it off, we had one of the best florists in Paris, Luc Deschamps, who normally works for Louis Vuitton and Dior, create a stunning table runner made of fresh hydrangeas, roses and coxcombs, all the marvelous shades of shocking pink, lavender, and Indian rose.

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While the groom was able to eat an excellent double cheeseburger and fries (his request!) the other guests dining on filet mignon, wild mushrooms, grilled cherry tomatoes and green beans, which were preceded by a delectable melon and lobster salad. For the finale, our bride chose the most amazing cake that looked like a giant pale pink rose that when cut revealed itself as a delicious vanilla-flavored butter pound cake!

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Naturally, the open bar and the DJ went on all night; we couldn’t keep it all moving fast enough especially since we wanted to make sure our dinner cruise allowed our guests to enjoy the biggest spectacle of fireworks in all of Europe! Yes, our lovely bridal couple had fireworks (free of charge) the night of their wedding…what better way to celebrate with friends and family.

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Just imagine?! Fourth of July on September 12, 2015—and on your own private boat on the Seine River, with the Statue of Liberty blessing this wonderful occasion.

We only hope we can do it again next year!

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