This lavish wedding celebration began where many relationships do: on a blind date. Caroline Fare, 28, and Eric Villency, 38, met in January 2010 when a close friend, Sandra Ripert, set the duo up. As wife of famed chef Eric Ripert, she definitely has good taste, and the couple hit it off right away.
In April 2013, Eric invited Caroline to join him at an event, and proposed in her apartment when he came to pick her up. The event had been a ruse—instead, Eric brought Caroline to Le Bernardin, where Chef Ripert prepared a special tasting menu for the newly engaged pair. Later, Sandra and close friends and family members stopped by for a celebratory toast.
The venue selection was easy. Eric and his design firm had created the interiors at the Eau Palm Beach, and it became a home away from home for Caroline and Eric. "We wanted a place on the ocean where our guests could join us for the weekend," says Caroline. "My friends and family from Sweden were so excited for the warm weather!" So on the weekend of December 14, 2013, the couple and 160 guests celebrated in lavish style, captured by Frances Tulk-Hart.
Per Swedish tradition, Eric proposed to Caroline with a diamond band instead of what Americans consider an engagement ring. "At Swedish weddings, the more substantial ring is given on the wedding day, not beforehand," Caroline explains.
Delicate lace Jimmy Choo pumps peeked out from beneath Caroline's gown.
"Ever since I was little, I dreamed of making my own wedding dress," says Caroline, a jewelry and couture designer by trade. "I draped blush fabric and layers of lace over a custom-made corset, with crystals on the top layer for some enchanting sparkle." The bride paired her gown with a breathtaking diamond necklace.
Eric had his white suit custom-made in Italy, and wore it with a light blue shirt.
The ceremony took place beneath a dramatic arch dripping with white and purple flowers. Votive candles hung from the branches, and larger candles floated in vases arranged along the aisle. Shimmering gold fabric covered the chairs, adding to the room's warm glow. "I had so much fun creating a mood board," says Caroline.
Caroline carried a lush bouquet as she walked down the aisle on her father's arm.
"We wanted a wedding where all of the participants shared a personal connection with us," says Caroline. In that vein, Eric's son, Ronan, dressed in a white suit and blue shirt like his father, served as the ring bearer, while Eric's uncle was ordained in order to officiate.
The spiritual ceremony included a Navajo prayer, quotes from Bob Marley and Marilyn Monroe, and anecdotes and narratives from the couple's relationship.
Caroline's bouquet featured seven types of flowers: "According to Swedish Midsummer lore, one day a woman picked seven flowers, put them under her pillow, and dreamed of her husband-to-be," recounts the bride. "My seven flowers were blue bell, lilac, peony, rose, hyacinth, lily of the valley, and lily."
The reception took place in a formal ballroom, decked out in flowers and candlelight. Crystal pillars were draped with roses and greenery, and low arrangements were full of colorful orchids, roses, and hydrangeas. "It was intimate, celebratory, romantic, and whimsical, just like Midsummer," says the bride.
Guests dined at stations featuring caviar tacos, seared salmon, harissa-spiced lamb chops, and braised short rib.
The couple's three-tiered wedding cake featured layers of strawberries and vanilla cake, wrapped in white fondant and topped with pink sugar flowers. In addition to cake, a dessert display featured apple butter crème brûlée, white chocolate mousse, chestnut and chocolate tarts, and fig-and-date bread pudding.
After dinner, guests headed outdoors for the dance party. Caroline and Eric shared their first dance to U2's "With or Without You," the same song they used for their processional. After the dance ended, famed 1980s tribute band Jessie's Girl took to the stage. "Eric always jokes that Sweden is stuck in the '80s, so we ran with it," says Caroline. "It was the highlight of the night!"
The couple treated their wedding as a celebration of their relationship instead of the beginning of it, giving them the chance to really enjoy the process. "Life isn't perfect, and there's no reason to expect your wedding day will be," says Caroline. "The love is all that matters."
Ceremony & Reception Venue: Eau Palm Beach || Wedding Planner: Nadia Rodriguez of Eau Palm Beach || Bride's Wedding Dress: Caroline Fare Design || Shoes: Jimmy Choo || Jewelry: London Jewelers || Hair: Oscar Blandi || Makeup: The Bride || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Caroline Fare Design || Engagement Ring & Wedding Bands: London Jewelers || Florist: Designs by Sean || Music: Jessie's Girl || Catering & Cake: Eau Palm Beach || Photo Booth: Shutter Box || Photography: Frances Tulk-Hart