Jewelry designer Katie Dean admits that she and Jon Tam actually didn't have a case of love at first sight. In 2008, Katie had accompanied her roommate at the time to a high school reunion, where she was introduced to Jon. The pair went their separate ways afterward—he to New York, she to Los Angeles—but sparks finally began to fly once Jon permanently migrated to California. "We are a perfect example of being at the right place at the right time when we saw each other again," the bride admits of their fateful reunion years later.
After a year-and-a-half of long-distance dating from L.A. to San Francisco, Jon popped the question on Katie's 30th birthday, almost ten years after their first interaction. He flew down a few days before the occasion, then, on the day of, whisked Katie off to the beach prior to a celebratory birthday dinner. "After walking a little bit he took ahold of my shoulders, and I instantly knew what was happening," Katie recalls of the proposal. "I was so excited, and I just remember saying, 'YES!'" One of the couple's friends, a professional photographer, even hid behind a rock formation to capture the moment.
Despite their west coast romance, the pair's love of French food, culture, and atmosphere sealed the deal for a destination wedding on May 26, 2018. "We also wanted to have a wedding that was more intimate and to get our wedding guests out of their daily routines," Katie says. With that in mind, Jon and Katie decided on Chateau Grimaldi, an estate in Aix en Provence, France, as their wedding "home base." It also proved the ideal setting to pull off the couple's classic, cozy wedding vibe. "We wanted to look back at our wedding and have it feel timeless," Katie says.
Their goal came to life thanks to a streamlined cream-and-white neutral color palette with hints of gold for the "epitome of chic," as the bride puts it.
Keep reading to see how Jon and Katie put their own spin on a monochromatic destination wedding, captured by Amanda Rigiero of Amanda K Photography and planned by By Mademoiselle C.
The chateau's three-story home housed the duo's wedding party and immediate family. The picturesque property also came equipped with an old chapel, 17th century ruins, a tennis court, and pool.
The bride's profession unsurprisingly influenced her wedding day style. "As a jewelry designer, it’s only natural that I’m a huge fan of gold," says Katie. She admits that, aside from her dress, her shoes actually claimed dominance as her favorite part of her wedding look. Katie also pulled minimal bridal accessories from her own eponymous collection, Katie Dean Jewelry, including her custom wedding band and "K" and "J" initial earrings.
Katie admits that she was very particular about her dress. So much so that, after not finding anything on par with her simple conception, she re-assembled a top and skirt (same fabric, different designers) to create her own gown. "I completely took them apart, altered them to fit like a glove, and had them sewn together to make one dress," she says. "It was a big undertaking, but it was important to me to keep my integrity in for my vision." The final look came together seamlessly after eight appointments with her tailor.
Florals served as an extension of the day's neutral color scheme. The guys' boutonnieres matched the bride's lush, hand-tied arrangement of muted garden roses, ranunculus anemones, peonies and other early summer blooms.
For a "special touch," the bridesmaids' pastel dresses provided the wedding's singular pop of color. "Staying in line with our classic wedding theme, I liked the idea of everyone being in tulle to create a warm and romantic look," Katie explains.
Since the stunning chateau obviously lent its own natural beauty, Jon and Katie kept the ceremony decor on the simple side, dispersing all-white seats within the venue to host their 90 guests.
A combination of green and neutral florals, like peonies, roses, and anemone, decorated the ceremony arch. Smaller renditions of the same blooms also lined the aisle.
Both of the bride's parents gave her away. "My mom is a huge influence in my life," she says. "It was really special having her walk me down the aisle with all of our closest friends and family watching."
A few months before the big day, the couple's minister sent the bride and groom surveys to complete separately for the wedding. She then used their responses to craft the ceremony, perfectly personalizing the event with the story of how they met and then summarizing where they each envisioned their lives in 20 years. "That was the most beautiful part to me," Katie bride recalls. "It was amazing how similar our answers were even though we hadn’t shared it with each other."
The newlyweds let no flowers go to waste, converting any excess petals into "confetti" for guests to toss after their vows. As a major music buff, Jon also curated all the tunes for the affair, selecting "Bitter Sweet Symphony" by The Verve for their recessional.
Guests enjoyed twelve different hors d’oeuvres (six hot, six cold) during cocktail hour, along with two signature drinks—the chef's "special mojito" and a "special champagne" beverage. Taking a cue from royalty, the pair also served Pol Roger, the same bubbly from Prince William and Kate Middleton's 2011 wedding.
Further contributing to the wedding's vibe, Jon wanted a unique, but timeless allure, opting for a dark navy Dior tuxedo paired with a velvet bow tie.
Continuing the monochromatic look, white linens and chairs adorned the reception space, along with white and green centerpieces and bronze and silver candlestick holders. Jon and Katie also adopted the French "fairy lighting" concept, hanging string lights in a criss-crossed pattern.
Katie's affinity for gold reemerged within the place settings. Gold-rimmed chargers—topped with vintage blue plates—and matching cutlery added extra accents.
Guests dined al fresco on a two-course dinner. Stuffed tressed summer squash was served to start, followed by a choice of rack of lamb with summer tart or a filet of sea bream with wild herb emulsion.
Dessert proved to be a top priority for the confection-loving couple. A macaron tower lasted all of 15 minutes, but their wedding cake stole the show on their substantial dessert table. It featured dainty gold details, crisp frosting, and life-like sugar flowers—complete with surprise confetti filling.
For couples planning their own nuptials, Katie recommends splitting up the responsibilities. "The bride and groom can each focus on different aspects based on what their specializations are," she says. "For instance, I owned the aesthetic side, while Jon owned the spreadsheet management of guest addresses, gifts, etc."
Venue & Accommodations: Chateau Grimaldi || Wedding Planner: Marjorie Burgarella of By Mademoiselle C || Officiant: Corrine Perkins || Bride's Top: Alexandra Grecco || Bride's Skirt: Carol Hannah || Alterations: Shirley’s Designs and Alterations || Veil: Mihca Cho || Bride's Jewelry & Wedding Band: Katie Dean Jewelry || Bride's Shoes: Gucci || Hair: Brittain Monge || Makeup: Magali Juneman || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Birdy Grey || Groom's Attire: Dior, Saint Laurent || Groomsmen's Attire: Sandro Tuxedo || Engagement Ring: Maurice Badler || Groom's Wedding Band: Cartier || Floral Design: Boston Pollen || Invitations: Minted, Juliana Nahas || Paper Products: Creme de Papier || Music: The Kingswood String Quartet || DJ: Tony Martinez || Catering: Steven Borishansky || Cake: Made in Cake || Rentals: OPTIONS || Favors: Maxim's || Videographer: Duncan Dimanche || Photographer: Amanda Rigiero of Amanda K Photography