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something blue.




For having such a non-traditional wedding, I still wanted to follow the "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" custom. I know, call me old-fashioned. I ended up cheating a bit by combining my something old and something borrowed, which was my mother-in-law's wedding band because we didn't get ours in time. My something new was my cardigan...

And my something blue was....

    

Ta da!

You thought my dress would have some pink in it, didn't you? I don't blame you, look at the pink fest that is this blog! 

Since our engagement was non-traditional so to speak, as well as many aspects of our life, I figured why not play up the the idea of a white wedding with a splash of color. The sky blue veil was actually a last minute decision that my neighborhood tailor generously made for me as a gift. He is a kind Turkish man that even when I don't have pants that my short legs need to have altered, I stop in from time to time for a cup of coffee and a chat. Offering me this iconic bridal accessory was unexpected and extremely touching, adding another facet to the homemade feel of our entire wedding.

Leaving the town hall after the ceremony, we were greeted by many of the villagers who came down with their umbrellas to wish us well, and residents hollered and whistled from their homes as we passed by. 


Typically the tradition is that the bride and groom take the car back to the vin d'honneur while the guests follow by foot. Well my mom wasn't interested in another tour of Moret by foot, and helped herself to the front seat of the Rolls next to the horn-friendly driver. Every cutesy photo of us in the back seat of this vintage car features an awkward candid shot of my mother making all sorts of faces. I wish there was video rolling because each photo surely would have a comment.

We arrived at our rainy garden cocktail party with the front pieces of my hair starting to frizz up from the mist-like rain, and waited under a green Del Monte umbrella (yes, the pasta brand, and no they didn't sponsor the wedding) to welcome our guests. I have no idea where this umbrella came from but my mother made sure to remind me that it said Del Monte several times during the evening. I actually think she brought up the umbrella again last night over the phone.

So much time, energy, ideas and planning went into the entire weekend and it was just surreal that it was finally happening. I now understand why brides get stressed and anxious, and  feel a little guilty for secretly judging brides of my past who were wired up on their day.

So who would have thought that I'd learn something new on my wedding day? Because this was the first French wedding I have ever attended, it was unknown to me that the guests are forbidden to approach the bar for drinks and snacks until the bride and groom have had their first drink, almost like a ribbon-cutting to start the festivities. Well...it took me a good fifteen minutes to realize that no one was consuming anything, and having almost a face-off with our servers who weren't serving. I didn't want to be the pushy one to get the first drink so I walked around and chatted while Aurélien was...actually, I have no idea where he was. Details like this are blurry, as the day went by in almost a haze.

It wasn't until Paris Unraveled Allison (who also graciously made us real American cupcakes to supplement our dessert offering) informed me that we needed to christen the event with the first drink, and to announce that the bar was open before guests could help themselves. Ah ha! Had I known this, I would have gone straight for the bar, instead of leaving my guests standing in a wet garden in the rain as I made rounds not knowing where my husband was.

The vin d'honneur was the most relaxing part of the day - no big stories to tell here - the music was calming, conversation was flowing and the drinks were strong. The rain actually encouraged mingling and interaction due to the fact that tent space was limited, and friends from different aspects of our lives were rubbing elbows. Aside from seeing a server set down your food at a restaurant, the best feeling ever is seeing people you love and respect get along and make a connection beyond you as the common thread. As for us, we were finally offered a moment to actually talk to people. 

After almost two years of e-mails and blog comments, it was so lovely to finally meet Grenobloise. Not every bride meets a dear friend on her wedding day, but once again going back to not following traditions, I guess we were staying true to the theme. It was also wonderful to see Out and About in Paris' Mary-Kay and her family, The Kale Project and her husband, as well as friends who started this French journey with me at Alliance Française New York who made the trip all the way to France. Very much there in spirit was Sara Louise of Le Petit Village, Pictours Paris, Paris Cheapskate and of course...Duchesse. 

Our nod to Annie Hall with the words "Lurve" were originally hanging on the clothes line in the garden, but the rain wasn't having it. It was thanks to our quick-thinking coordinator who set them out on the bar for us. Merci! How sad would it have been to see drenched hearts dangling on a cord at a wedding?
Paper straws with little notes from the bride and groom.
I swear these little devils are the reason why everyone got so blitzed. The booze may have gone down a little too easy!

Spiked lemonade, c'est coquin!

 
A vodka-based mojito.


I'm wrapping up these wedding posts with one last to go and then it's back to my real Parisian life. I'm sure some of you are relieved! If I was bummed a few weeks ago that the wedding excitement was over, I'm here to report that that melancholy has since faded (as many of you had promised). Now that the big project of 2013 is thankfully behind me, I'm back to being me again where big decisions are no longer what font should we use, how big are the entree plates, and if navy blue is really that different than marine blue. I must have been so boring! No really, I think I just fell asleep writing that sentence....

 I'm now looking forward to the future and to a new beginning.
Thank you all for embracing our joy these past few posts.

Photography by Camille Collin

le temps de l'amour.

Did you know that the first French wedding I have ever attended was my own? Four years in Paris and I have never gone to nor have been invited to a wedding. I guess it's not that weird since I didn't come to Paris with a built-in group of friends, but interesting nonetheless. It took going to another one last night to realize just how non-traditionally French ours was. And so the story continues...

Getting off the train at Veneux-les-Sablons, I started to feel the emotion of the day that I was suppressing in order to keep my liquid eyeliner in tact, coming up again. Waiting for us at the station was relatives, friends, and in-laws of Aurélien's ready with their engines running to transport us rowdy pack to my father-in-law's house. It was something so simple but for some reason, really moved me. Seeing my mom get in the car with Aurélien's bother in-law Thomas, and my high school best friend loading her suitcase in the trunk of Aurélien's best friend's fiancée Julie, once again reminded me that it was another moment that I will most likely never see again. These group of people with very little in common had come together to speak broken Franglais for us. There was something very homemade about the way we planned the day's events, in our effort to get everyone together, to feel part of the family, and this life we have created over the past two years.

With the vin d'honneur and the reception being held in the garden of my new in-laws Gilles and Françoise where they have a guest house, we offered to host all of the American girls to sleep over since many of them shelled out for hotels in Paris. The Friday before the wedding was spent fluffing pillows with Aurélien's sister and my mom, and conducting a makeshift lottery by pulling names out of a hat to assign beds. As their fate would have it, some of the girl's were set up to sleep in the "costume room." More on that later...

Just as they were settled in and more veil fussing provided by Belle, my groom walked in. We tried to keep elements of our attire a secret from each other, but him living with a nosy yenta posed a problem as I wanted to know everything. While I had already seen his tux and helped pick out the bow-tie, a secret he did keep from me was wearing a sparkling new pair of white Repetto jazz shoes, the same that my father used to wear. Those emotions that I was trying to control started bubbling up again like a pot of water on the brink of boiling. Geez, why was everything provoking me to cry?

As a wedding surprise, Gilles rented us a vintage Rolls Royce to bring us down to town hall, with our guests trailing behind by foot. The driver greatly entertained himself by honking the hour in different musical arrangements the entire three-minute drive. Surely irritating all of our neighbors and terrifying our guests he was rolling past, he kept looking through the rear-view mirror at the guests cackling with an open mouth over their reactions.


So you know how I said that our wedding wasn't a typical French wedding, our ceremony was conducted by Gilles, complete with a 9 page speech that he had translated in English and read by Aurélien's sister. While waiting for the ceremony to begin, guests enjoyed extremely dramatic orchestral versions of "November Rain" and "Smells Like Teen Spirit."



Here are some of my favorite quotes from his heartwarming speech that made the wedding so uniquely us.

"I'd like to specify that a good part of this ceremony will get a translation in English...Having questioned some members of the crowd who are in their 80s, they confirmed that they are fit as fiddles and a good ear, so they don't need sign language support!"

"Dear Friends, let's take advantage of this moment, us French citizens, to pay tribute to the thousands of your grandparents who came across from the United States to free us from the nazis. Without them, our country's motto "liberté, egalité, fraternité" would no longer exist."

"On a beautiful summer Sunday, a young New York writer with italo-mexicano-irish origins, in love with Paris to the point she had chosen to live in the city met a young urban-planner, mad about Paris, street art and riding his bike."

"The word together suggests a real equality, which means being complementary and not being clones. Yes, I know there are scientists in the room. To maintain this equality, specialists advice to communicate time after time, and not only say "Babe, can you pass the salt?" Yes, I know communications specialists are also in this room."

"Finally and before the great solemn moment of your commitment, I wanted to quote the writer Jacques de Bourbon Busset, who said: "I have known the grace of living a great shared love."

Once all of the documents were signed, and I let out my shy "oui" (I even consider this public speaking in French), we were married!

But not so fast....

As our guests were waiting outside in the now pouring rain for us to come out as a newly married couple, the mayor of the town who was verifying all of the documents, found a problem*. Apparently, we had signed on the wrong side of one of the forms and conversations about the wedding not being officiated and annulled were being had. We had already heard the word nazi on our wedding day, but I had to draw the line at it being annulled. I quickly became an unhappy bride, mostly because I saw through the window all of our friends and family standing outside in the cold rain for us to come out. "Can't we just print out another one, sign it and get our guests out of the rain?", I offered. But we're in France...so no. 

Once everyone stopped saying the word annulled and surrendered the idea that the American witnesses were going to fly back to France a week later to re-sign the documents, it was announced that we were married...again. I don't know exactly how it was resolved because we all know how particular this country is with paperwork, and am a bit skeptical in the belief that all it took was me and my mother's New York comments to officiate the wedding. Wanting to get the show on the road, I stopped questioning and figured I'd find out when I apply for my new visa. That should be fun.  

Sending Kitty out with a boombox to hit play for our "exit music" (so homemade!) Le Temps de l'Amour by Françoise Hardy, we were greeted by bubbles and heart tissue confetti that was immediately melted by the rain and headed towards our cackling Rolls Royce driver back to Gilles' house to begin the celebration....

"C'est le temps de l'amour, le temps de copains, le temps d'aventure..."


*Update: The problem with the paper work was that we had signed on the wrong side, the side of the wedding following ours.
I can now see why there was some concern. Woops!

runaway bride.

Stressed about the wedding? Qui moi? Of course not, I would smugly respond when asked that the weeks and months preceding the wedding. I thought I was exempt from the madness that weddings tend to incite because we wanted a simple reception. Why would we be stressed out? Well ha ha on me because the day of the wedding was like New York and Paris Fashion Week combined with the launch of an E-Commerce site. Absolute chaos. 

It started with my miscalculation of the commute to my hair salon, my appointment going longer than expected, the 8 minute wait on the platform for both the line 7 and 6 (it was Saturday morning, not Christmas for pete's sake!), and the trains dragging ass through the tunnels. Once again it was made painfully clear that Paris is not your friend when you're running late. 

Arriving back at my apartment in a frenzy, I made a beeline straight to my bedroom breezing past Kitty, Samantha, Dr. Becky, Gwan, Belle and Stina who were entertaining themselves with the wine and crémant I left in the fridge for them. Before launching into the twelve hour string of events, I sat down on my bed to allow myself to take in deep inhales. As I'm reminding myself to try to absorb as much of the day as possible, Stina walks in with a cocktail in her hand, kneels beside me with her arm around me, and calmly asks if I would like a Xanax. God, I love people who live in L.A. As tempting as it sounded at the time, it just would have been a bad idea. The wedding certainly would have taken on a different theme had the bride been hopped up on pills. Since I was going for more Elaine from The Graduate than Neely O'Hara, I skipped the "dolls" and had a glass of bubbly to calm my nerves and to remind myself that the wedding is not going to start without me. An obvious fact that amazingly, I was having great difficulty accepting.

With twenty minutes to get to Gare de Lyon, we booked it to the metro - a runaway bride followed by her mother, a pack of loud American girlfriends and their roller-board suitcases in tow. It didn't look like we were going to my wedding as it looked like we were escaping it. Truly a cinematic moment that was begging for soundtrack music to accompany it.


Photo courtesy of Gwan

Photo courtesy of Gwan
Once on the train, with three minutes to spare, Gwan pulled out another bottle of crémant that they picked up while I was at the salon, and we took turns passing it around. An old woman sitting diagonal from me, who I was expecting to receive judgmental glances from gave me - the bride swigging alcohol in her wedding dress on a suburban train to the French countryside - an approving smile. At least that's how I chose to read it.

Once we were settled in and comfortably buzzed, I allowed the stress to dissolve for the 50 minute train ride and enjoyed a moment that I will most likely never happen again. Sharing this slice of my life, an otherwise mundane activity of a commuter train was brought to life by the voices and animation of my closest friends who are my family.

As chaotic as the first installment of the wedding was, it was true to what life is about, expecting the unexpected. I wouldn't have had it any other way...


the death of a party.



That's it? That's all I get? The wedding day came and went in a flash, and I have been in a haze for the past few days. I feel like I was hit full force with a mack truck of love from friends, family and of course - okay, this is going to be weird, this is the first time I'm saying this - my husband. Does this make me like a real adult now? Scary...

So I never really understood why weddings have been designated the "happiest day" of our life. Something about it always came across to me as a little dramatic (I know, look who's talking here). But you know what? Now I get it. While I couldn't confirm it as being the happiest day of my life (after all, I still have a few more days in this one - God willing), I will say it was by far the most fun day I have ever had. Really. I have never laughed, cried, and have been so happy to see people that I "lurve". My stomach is sore from laughing, my head is overflowing with memories, comments and jokes, and my jaw is swollen from the permanent smile I had on my face for the entire week of festivities. The people in my life are insane...and I love it.

Pictures are still coming in, our photographer is still editing, and e-mails from guests recapping encounters (some with "full documentation" videos) that I missed out are trickling into my inbox. I knew that the French know how to get down, don't get me started on the Americans, but when these two groups get together washed down with copious amounts of booze and dance music? Let's just say it got a little scandalous. 

I will break down the wedding post by post starting with our chaotic morning but for today I need one last day to look back on everything. What is with this post-wedding depression? Is this normal?  

At least it's not just me, even my decorations are sad....

My fresh mint and baby's breath bouquet commiserating with the soon-to-be swept up baby blue confetti.

Balloon suicide.

Did you know that helium only lasts 10 hours in nylon balloons?
I didn't.
A wedding day is no excuse to stop learning new things.


The last balloon and disco ball conspiring against the finality of the Sunday after.

do you want to take my picture?

 

A few weeks ago, Aurélien and I did the ultimate Paris wedding "must-do", and booked a photography session with our friend Lindsey, founder of Pictours Paris. Wanting to do something a little different than an Eiffel Tower theme (which was hard because come on, it's the Eiffel Tower!), we decided to mix it up with a kitchy nod to Wes Anderson.

From my silence you can guess that everyone is in town to celebrate the wedding. Oh là là! I haven't had a minute to even breathe but here are a few shots from our fantastic session with such a talented photographer who made us feel extremely comfortable - even during the goofy shots!

I'm sending you all the best and look forward to catching up with everyone after the wedding with full details to report...of course.

For now, enjoy the magic that is Pictours Paris...
  

One of my favorite buildings in Paris.
I call this the "You Can't Do That On Television" building.
Why? I don't know (slimed!)




so much beauty.


With everything beautiful that is happening and about to happen I can't help but think of my dad. He's always on my mind but now more than ever. I'm flooded with feelings, memories, and disappointments. It's like my emotions are on steroids right now. To give you an example of how ridiculous I've been these days: I cried during the movie Ted when I thought the douchey, misogynist, stoner teddy bear was going to "die". Seriously? What is that? 

I remember when he passed away in 2004, I was back home alone in my apartment in LA and realized that he wasn't going to be present for my future wedding, as well as other life milestones.

I have never been, and believe it or not, still am not this big wedding enthusiast. While it is a momentous occasion in one's life, I do think there are greater achievements than getting married. But for some reason thinking of my dad not being with me on this day when I was 23 released an emotional reservoir. I felt somewhat safe after many failed relationships, figuring I'd remain single forever (I know, how dramatic) and wouldn't have to deal with this hurt, this reminder. But now it's here and it's just sad. I want so much to just talk to him about everything...but I can't. To let out some of these emotions I went to the park and appreciated the beauty that I have at my fingertips. Paris has been tough with me, as well as some aspects of life, but nothing that these shoulders can't handle.

"I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what has happened, but it's hard to stay mad when there's so much beauty in the world."





The final installment of my "enterrement de la vie de jeune fille"
My dad and I went to Central Park every Saturday to ride the carousel.






getting ready to celebrate.


 illustration by natasha thompson.

May in France really is one of the best months to be here, especially if you work. Every week there is a bank holiday where no matter which day it falls on, it's an excuse to faire le pont which means to take a long weekend. This year the holidays have fallen on every Wednesday of the month and most folks aren't just bridging long weekends they're "viaducting" them. No really that's the expression. It's a good thing I'm getting the extra down time because I think my body is preparing me for the exorbitant amount of energy that I'm about to expend in the forthcoming days. I have just been exhausted, sleeping at least an extra four to five hours per night. For example, last night we came home at 7 pm and went straight to bed. We woke up for a little over an hour to catch La jeunesse a-t-elle une histoire? on the Arte channel; a special I didn't want to miss. It was a fascinating look the history of youth and its involvement and evolution of pop culture. (I'm sure it will be repeated, I highly recommend it.) 

With only a few days left, here are some things that are on my mind:

I'm hoping that the 30 euros manicure (that's like 40 bucks!) will be worth it and that I'll at least get a hand massage...I'm not banking on it though. In New York, 40 bucks at any nail salon (read: Mon - Wed), I can get a mani/pedi and ten minute back rub. With this entire bring NYC to Paris movement happening here these days, I'd really like to see the cheap nail care culture brought over. Consider this my manifestation. If putting it in a blog post isn't putting it out into the universe, I don't know what is.

I'm terrified of the Clarisonic that my mom bought me for wedding prep. I want to take it for a spin (after all, it is pink!) but for the first time in my life, I did a little research before trying a new product. Numerous beauty message boards have complaints from acne-prone girls who had a serious breakout upon introducing this "system" to their sensitive skin, calling it the "purging period" before they saw results. I don't need my skin to purge week before my wedding. I don't need anything to purge at this moment. My skin has one job next week and it's to gleam like the sun reflecting off of J.Lo's cheekbones in one of her many videos and/or red carpet appearances. I'll test out this bad boy next week and let you know how it works.

My dress fitting last week went well, the dress was a wee bit big but nothing grave. So about this dress that I haven't really been talking about: What I wanted was simple yet just a little unique (if that's even possible), it was impossible to find, so I had it made. Sounds super fancy and expensive right? Having it made was about a thousand euros cheaper than purchasing a dress already designed. Who would have thought? I did cheat the system a bit and instead of having the couturier sketch my ideas and make a new pattern, I gave her a dress to use as a model and purchased the fabric and lining at one of the many fabric stores by Sacre Coeur. Done and done. When I was 14, I bought a vintage dress for 3 dollars at the Good Will that is my ideal cut, so I figured work with what works...and it does!

This weekend will consist of blowing up balloons, creating our place card settings (it's a mini project), scrubbing down my father-in-law's apartment on Ménilmontant (that his previous tenant left in squalor complete with Hello Kitty plush dolls everywhere), preparing it for my girlfriends from the States to stay in, preparing my own apartment for house guests Dr. Becky and one of France's finest bloggers and trying to live in this special moment because it's going to fly by once next week comes. Despite everything that has happened with my family, I do wish they cared a little more. Even an e-mail would suffice. A misconception is that I am upset because my grandmother wasn't paying for the wedding (and more unfairly that I am spoiled brat living in Paris, life can't be that hard). This is not true. Had she been honest with me about not wanting to participate, instead of going about it how she did, I would have had the best of both worlds: a wedding done my way and my family's support. Am I really the only one that sees it this way? So frustrating...

We're in countdown mode and are knee-deep in preparation. I will have more to report when...the Americans arrive..New Yorkers specifically. Stay tuned!!

painting the town.

As expected, my pre-wedding laryngitis has turned into a full-on pre-wedding cold and am reporting to you live from my bed. While I'm not exactly jazzed to be sniffling, sneezing and hacking up violent Alien: Resurrection coughs, I'm taking advantage of these last moments of peace -- the calm before the storm so to speak.

As previously mentioned, Aurélien had his bachelor party last week that his friend Matthieu organized for him and their four best friends. It was a top secret mission with plans so air-tight, that despite my best efforts he wouldn't divulge any of the details. What could they possibly be doing? My imagination restricted me to the obvious guesses: Vegas, strip clubs, gambling, boozing. But since we don't live in LA and the fact that they were leaving at 8:30 am, I knew that what he had planned was a little more profound than overpriced drinks and nudie bars.

Their "boys gone wild" adventure was kicked off at a shooting range. Of course it was. Did they shoot animals? Thank God, no. Did they shoot targets? Nope. They drove two hours outside of Paris to shoot little ceramic discs in the air (one that we now have a souvenir of in our living room). Having been a teen in the 90s, the image of plates being shot in the air elicited the four words "dishes are done, man" and a mental note to download this forgotten classic.

Heading back into the city, they made a stop into this abandoned building....   



...passed this Parisian scenic beauty,

...crept through this creepy door,




 ...and painted this.

This soon-to-be demolished building has temporarily been taken over by artists, where every inch was covered in paintings and installations from well-known street artists to new-comers. Matthieu was absolutely right when he said that I would never guess what he had planned for their boy's outing.

What happened after was more typical; boozing it up with whiskey-filled flasks at a showing of Iron Man 3, eating hamburgers and drinking beer, hitting up bars at Bastille and swearing that they didn't go to the Penthouse Club on the Champs-Elysées (not that I would care.) I didn't press him for too many details, after all, wasn't it me who was sipping rosé out of a veiny flesh-toned penis straw only a few weeks ago?

a day in the life.


This week I've had one song looping in my head: Blur's "Country House". And why is that? Because I have been out in the country. Enjoying my spring break, I've been living out my Sara in Le Petit Village fantasy at my future in-laws Gilles and Françoise's house in - you guessed it - the country. Aurélien has had meetings all week out in Bois le Roi and instead of commuting back and forth from the city, he figured he'd stay with his dad and step-mom who live nearby. I was only happy to tag along for a little holiday away from Paris.

Enduring a bit of a spring cold and a mild case of laryngitis, it's been nice to breathe in some fresh air away from the metro and car fumes of the city. I have been treating myself to waking up late, most mornings to the musical stylings of Gilles out in the garden performing a medley of Brigitte Bardot's "Moi Je Joue" and Bad Company's "Feel Like Makin' Love"After a breakfast of toasted baguette with melted salted butter and an oeuf à la coque, I try to whisk Françoise to Los Angeles with Tracy Anderson's 15 minute workout for Goop, but have no such luck. After several doggie-style position leg lifts that come with a host of her side comments, she's on the couch with a Vogue menthol in one hand and a copy of Grazia in the other. Luckily for her, she doesn't need the butt lifts nearly as much as my Italian tookus does. You know what they say about French women...

 

After my strenuous 15 minute workout and disco shower, I'm famished. Gilles then prepares a lunch of fresh tomato (from the garden) and mozzerella salad, grilled meats, bread, and rosé under this blossoming tree, where the three of us eat...and totally gossip. Country living.

Lunch is then followed by a walk into the village where a brocante may or may not be happening, and purchases that make my feet smell like Barbie are made.


  As well as purchases like this.
 I swear I needed new notebooks. 
Really.

Sadly, I had to draw the line at taking these cuties home.

After a mid-afternoon sieste, we take a drive around the countryside where Gilles and Françoise show me the beautiful endless colza fields that blossom in the springtime.

 



As pretty as they are, they smell just awful. Reacting an Herbal Essence commercial, I characterize that I am in a field of fresh-smelling flowers and that I simply cannot get enough. Method acting at its finest right here.

Once Aurélien comes home, we indulge in cocktail hour which is followed by dinner deliciously prepared by Gilles and a movie. In the spirit of feeling a little old-timey in their quaint village, one evening I introduced them to "The Notebook". I know it's cool to not like this film as it was quoted on Twitter that is is the Olive Garden on romantic films, but hey, I've never been one to turn down a bottomless basket of garlic breadsticks.

While they all thoroughly enjoyed the film and several tears were shed, there was one major concern: Where was the chick from Destiny's Child? Confusing the name Gena Rowlands with Kelly Rowland, during the entire film they expected one of the non-Beyoncés to have a cameo and perhaps even perform a number with the Gosling. I totally understand their disappointment.

Life in the country this week has been just splendid, a real treat from the hustle and bustle that is Parisian living. What's on tomorrow's agenda? Seeing my wedding dress for the final fitting...it's all happening!!