After graduating from Syracuse University in 2004, Tanya did what many college graduates had done before her: She took a trip backpacking around Europe. During her two days in Paris, she met a handsome Frenchman at a bar in the Bastille, and spent the night dancing with him. "We exchanged MSN Messenger names (it was 2004!) and kept in touch loosely after I got home," Tanya remembers. A few months later, Alexandre let Tanya know that he would be doing a three-month internship in Dallas. Not one to let an opportunity go by, Tanya hopped on a plane to go visit. During her four-day trip to Texas, she and Alexandre fell fast, and she knew she'd do anything to see him again. "I told him that I wanted to move to Paris when he was done with his internship!" Tanya reveals. Alexandre was surprised but excited, and a month later she bought a one-way ticket to Paris and the two spent the next two years together in the 5th Arrondissement. Tanya studied patisserie at Le Cordon Bleu and completed a stage at Chez Fauchon. She returned to New York with a love of macarons, and opened her own macaron business in New York City. The company name is Bisous Ciao, after the last thing Alexandre said to Tanya the night they met in Paris in 2004.
Though the couple was legally wed at City Hall in 2011, Alexandre officially proposed on July 6, 2013, while both of their families were vacationing in Corsica. "Alexandre wanted to give a welcome toast, so he spoke in French and I translated into English," Tanya says. "It started off saying how happy we were to have everyone there, but after a few back-and-forths, Alexandre got down on one knee and started to propose in French. I was so caught off-guard that I instinctively began to translate!" Tears and applause stopped her, and then it was time to plan a wedding. They chose a stunning chateau in the Dordogne region of France, perfect for two food-lovers, and celebrated over the course of three days, from September 1-3, 2014. The gorgeous, romantic celebration, styled by Ginny Au, was photographed by Corbin Gurkin — keep reading to see every French detail!
Tanya learned calligraphy in order to hand-write each invitation in a letter format. The invites included guides to local villages, encouraging guests to explore as they drove from the nearest airport in Bordeaux to Le Château le Mas de Montet.
On September 1, Tanya and Alexandre had a Thai marriage ceremony. The bride wore traditional attire made from raw Thai silk, with a long lace train for a modern twist.
The water ceremony involves the couple's parents and elders pouring blessed water brought over from Thailand over the bride and groom's hands and into arrangements of lush flowers.
Guide books, designed and created by Tanya, included travel information, foods to taste, and helpful English-French phrase translations. The bride also created the ceremony programs, written in calligraphy and tied with custom-dyed silk ribbons. Welcome baskets included sparkling water, fresh baguettes, seasonal fruits and jam.
Alexandre wore a Tom Ford tuxedo, paired with Finsbury shoes and a bowtie made by Monsieur Jean Yves in Paris.
Tanya's Reem Acra gown had a high neck, short sleeves, and a full cascading organza and horsehair skirt. "I was looking for something editorial and fashion-forward. I loved that the skirt was just the right amount of pouf, and the unusual bodice," she says. She paired the gown with blush Giuseppe Zanotti pumps and a cathedral-length veil.
Tanya's bridesmaids wore custom two-piece outfits from Allison Collection. Silk sleeveless tops were paired with raw silk salmon-colored skirts with modern peplums.
To match the French garden venue, Tanya carried a voluminous bouquet of garden roses and hydrangeas in shades of pink, tied with hand-dyed silk ribbon.
Beneath the venue's ancient sequoia trees, Tanya's parents walked her down the aisle to the altar. She and Alexandre wrote their own vows, and the ceremony was performed in both English and French, which included readings from The Little Prince and Rainer Maria Rilke's Letters. Guests were given white lace parasols from the bride's father's native Thailand.
After the ceremony, the couple took a tour of the nearby sunflower fields in a vintage Rolls Royce decorated with blooms.
A four-piece jazz group performed as guests sampled specialties of the Perigord region, including bonbons of foie gras and griotte cherry, a millefeuille of figs, goat cheese and almonds, foie gras on toasted brioche, and a lollipop of duck confit — all perfectly paired with French wines, of course!
Guests found their escort cards in a library set-up, with a card catalogue leading loved ones to boxes resembling hardcover books that held chocolate bonbons from a shop in Paris. "The card had each guest's name, a personal memory or inside joke, and an ISBN that corresponded to actual books that I'd chosen from the Library of Congress catalog that related to each individual guest," Tanya explains.
The reception took place in the east garden of the château, at two long tables topped with hundreds of candles and arrangements of blush and white roses and hydrangeas.
Each guest's menu was hand-written by the bride in either their native English or French, explaining the multi-course feast to come. The meal included spiny lobster with pistachio oil, filet mignon with sauce Perigord, local cheeses, and a gelée of Champagne with grapefruit and orange.
The meal lasted until midnight, interspersed with toasts, the first dance, and father-daughter and mother-son dances. "Our first dance was to an original version of Nat King Cole's 'L-O-V-E.' We worked with the band to create a French-English version and used both languages in the lyrics and chorus," Tanya says.
The bride loved the champagne tower, which she and Alexandre poured using magnums of Ruinart Brut Rosé. "I've always wanted to experience a champagne tower, and it was so fun to have our guests clapping as the champagne flowed!"
The couple served a traditional French wedding cake, a croquembouche, with cream puffs filled with pistachio, chocolate, and coffee cream. They also had a cheese "cake" with eight different French cheeses.
At midnight, guests were surprised with a spectacular firework show set off from the edge of the garden.
Guests wrote wishes for the couple, and then later in the evening everyone released lanterns to symbolized hoping their wishes for Alexandre and Tanya would come true. A DJ played until 4am, with miniature croque-monsieurs and French fries fueling the party.
"We didn't try to create an American wedding in France," says Tanya. "Instead, we utilized the amazing local resources and took advantage of our surroundings to create something really authentic. Destination weddings can be overwhelming, and this made it so much easier!"
Ceremony & Reception Venue: Château le Mas de Montet || Wedding Stylist: Ginny Au || Bride's Wedding Dress: Reem Acra || Shoes: Giuseppe Zanotti || Hair & Makeup: Amy Clarke || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Allison Collection || Groom's Attire: Tom Ford || Engagement Ring & Wedding Bands: Kebadjian's Jewelry || Florist: Sadia Fleurs || Invitations & Paper Goods: The Bride || Illustrations: Thérèse Cilia Art + Illustration || Music: Jazz Maniac || Catering: Monblanc Traiteur || Rentals: Options || Favors: Hugo et Victor || Videography: One Style Production || Photography: Corbin Gurkin Photography
Can't get enough of this beautiful wedding? Then check out another couple's French celebration in the video below.