Karelle Steiner and Christopher Golda have a mutual friend to thank for their relationship. The two first met at bar in Toronto in 2016—and when said friend introduced them, even he saw a spark. "He told us later that he immediately knew we would get married and ended up sneakily taking a few photos of the two of us, which he gave to us as a wedding gift," Karelle adds. The friend was right: Two-and-a-half years (and a move to San Francisco) later, Chris proposed on a secret getaway. "He sent me email hints every morning, but I was still shocked when we headed to Amangiri in southern Utah," Karelle says. "We watched the sunset as we ate dinner on a private patio, and Chris finally worked up the nerve to pop the question—with the help of a bottle or two of wine!"
Neither Chris nor Karelle can recall how they decided to get married in Paris. "We must have discussed it at some point, but it really was such a natural choice," she says. "We'd each fallen in love with the city on our own, and then discovered it all over again during visits together." For their wedding, the couple hoped to embrace the city's romance and history—as well as its avant-garde style and unexpected quirks—and booked Hôtel Le Marois, a private home near the Grand Palais, as the venue for their September 15, 2018 wedding. "Our vision was maximalism," Karelle says. "We wanted everything to feel a little over-the-top and dramatic, with a few modern touches." Surprisingly, the maximalist wedding design involved zero flowers. "We had hundreds and hundreds of candles surrounded by meandering grape vines," Karelle says.
They turned to Billy Folchetti of Luxe Paris Events to handle the logistics and (of course!) made a trip to the City of Love for "planning and research." "I knew Billy was the perfect planner for us when he invited me to his apartment in Saint-Germain to chat over a glass of wine," Karelle says.
The couple loved the venue's historic feel and "maze of rooms," so they took over the space on the big day. The bride got ready in one of property's luxe suites and put on a new pair of floral-inspired earrings, which Chris had given her the night before the wedding. "They were supposed to be my wedding gift, but he was too excited to wait," she recalls.
From the start, Karelle knew she did not want a traditional wedding dress. "I wanted something that was really unique and not entirely bridal," she says. That said, she admits that she was not entirely sure about what she was looking for and enlisted Chris to help. "Rather than worrying about bad luck, I was so happy to have him and my maid of honor both there the moment I put on this Vera Wang ball gown," she says. "They told me I had to get it, and I couldn't stop smiling!" The winning dress, a strapless silk ball gown, was made with layers of blush and nude tulle and finished with oversized bright pink flowers.
Since she was already wearing pink, Karelle asked her bridesmaids to wear solid berry tones. "I didn't give them much other guidance. I knew they'd each pick something beautiful!" she says.
The bride skipped a bouquet and finished her bridal look with crystal-embellished Miu Miu sandals.
Karelle says that she is always on time, and the day of her destination wedding was no exception. "My dad and I actually pulled up to the venue before the guests had arrived, so our planner had us drive around a bit longer to kill some time," she recalls. "We wound up taking photos in front of the Eiffel Tower!"
The ceremony took place on the landing of the building's grand staircase, surrounded by candelabras. "At one point, my maid of honor tried to grab my attention because she thought my dress was about to go up in flames," Karelle says with a laugh.
Escort cards were displayed on a credenza in front of an ornate mural. "The venue's design was already so over-the-top, so we tried not to compete with that," the bride explains of their simple set-up.
Candles reflected off of the mirrored and gilded surfaces found throughout the venue. Brass candlesticks and gold chairs with red cushions blended seamlessly into the ornate setting.
Loved ones shared both humorous and heartfelt toasts as guests enjoyed the Parisian meal. "We had sea bass tartare, duck breast stuffed with foie gras, and a cheese course," says the bride.
Of course, the night's feast was not complete without wonderful wine pairings. "Chris spent six months before our wedding selecting the perfect wines to serve with each course," Karelle admits.
The couple's wedding cake was a towering croquembouche lit with sparklers—the same type of cake Karelle's parents served at their wedding 36 years prior.
After dinner, Karelle and Chris filled the space with dozens of disco balls to add a touch of modern style to the Louis XV-inspired venue.
Karelle changed into a more fitted white dress with ruffles once the dancing got underway. A DJ spun funk, R&B, hip hop, house, and other dance music until the wee hours of the morning. "Chris and I danced to 'Blessed' by Daniel Caesar, then we danced with our parents to 'P.Y.T.' by Michael Jackson," says the bride. "The party got a little crazy, with Chris and his mom behind the DJ table and our décor items turning into dance floor props. But it was exactly how we imagined—as much fun as we could manage!"
Wedding Planner: Luxe Paris Events
Venue: Hôtel Le Marois
Bride's Dress: Vera Wang
Bride's Shoes: Miu Miu
Hair: Jesse Ervin
Groom's Attire: Dior Homme
Floral Design: Luxe Paris Events
Catering: Butard Enescot
Ceremony Music: Marsha Kate
Reception Music: DJ Twiggy Garcia
Photography: Cinzia Bruschini