A Wedding with Persian Touches at a Chateau on the French Riviera

Planned by Estelle Kouma

Updated 09/06/19

Photo by Nancy Ebert

Heather Rodgers and Cyrus Roepers-Chamlou’s relationship didn’t start at the most opportune time. In 2010, they met in Washington, D.C. just before Heather was off to a year-long business school program in Madrid, Spain. “We decided to try a transcontinental long-distance relationship,” she says. “Thanks to a lot of BBMs, it worked.” 

Eight years later, the couple, who co-founded the kitchen goods e-commerce brand Virginia Boys Kitchens, invited 140 friends and family from 40 countries to witness their “I dos” in Grasse, France. The town in the French Riviera is quite close to where Cyrus’ family has gathered for more than 40 years, and while the destination was familiar, their venue was not. “We booked the venue sight unseen,” Heather says, who noted her future father-in-law actually discovered the chateau while driving in the area.

“It was so close to the familial home that it made it a sure-fire winner.” 

The couple’s wedding came together organically, and in true French fashion, had a rather laissez-faire vibe. Heather wanted to honor Cyrus’s Dutch and Persian backgrounds while also giving nods to the Mediterranean lifestyle. She did that by including a trail of Persian rugs to the Chateau and a reading of a Rumi poem in Farsi during the ceremony as well as through a family-style meal and, of course, serving a croquembouche in lieu of a wedding cake. It all came together with the help of local planner Estelle Kouma, whom Heather calls a “miracle-worker.” “Estelle was able to help us steer the ship to something that had a little bit of everybody,” she says.

“In the end, spending an unbelievable night with all your nearest and dearest in one place is worth all the madness.”  

Keep reading for all the details on the French destination wedding, planned by Estelle Kouma and photographed by Nancy Ebert

door
Photo by Nancy Ebert 

“We wanted our guests to feel like they were enjoying a fun evening in the comfort of a friend’s home, not necessarily a large chateau in the Riviera,” Heather says of planning the celebration. “We had to be very mindful about the flow and the progression of the events, most notably, not to have anything kill the momentum.” 

bride
Photo by Nancy Ebert 
bride
Photo by Nancy Ebert 

Heather admits she initially bought the “wrong one” when it came to her wedding dress. After realizing that the first dress she tried on—at Loho Bride in San Francisco while on a business trip to Napa Valley—was “the one,” she purchased the French lace gown and lace veil. She paired the look with gold Valentino shoes and heirloom jewelry, including a piece from Cyrus’s grandmother. “Grandmother jewelry is the best,” Heather adds. 

bride and groom
Photo by Nancy Ebert 

Heather says she’ll always cherish the moment that Cyrus and she exchanged private vows before the ceremony during their first look. But it wasn’t completely serious: the couple played rock-paper-scissors to decide who’d read first.  

venue
Photo by Nancy Ebert
persian rugs
Photo by Nancy Ebert 

The couple lined the walkway to the chateau with 12 Persian rugs as a nod to Cyrus’s heritage. 

gazebo
Photo by Nancy Ebert 

“Our florist was wonderful and really brought to life the gazebo by adorning it with baby’s breath, white local garden roses, and greenery,” Heather says of the décor around the altar. “It was beyond what I had imagined. Totally beautiful.” 

ceremony entrance
Photo by Nancy Ebert
bride and parents
Photo by Nancy Ebert 

As a duo of violinists played, Heather made her grand entrance escorted by her father and her mother.  

bride and groom hugging
Photo by Nancy Ebert 
ceremony exit
Photo by Nancy Ebert 

Heather and Cyrus exchanged a second set of handwritten vows for the ceremony with their guests, with Cyrus taking a more comical approach in front of friends and family. They also included a reading from his favorite poet, Rumi. Cyrus’s grandfather recited it in Farsi.  

couple
Photo by Nancy Ebert 

Cyrus donned a custom-made blue linen-silk suit from Alton Lane that he also accented with family pieces. He wore his grandfather’s cufflinks.  

cocktail hour
Photo by Nancy Ebert

During cocktail hour, guests sipped Kir Royales amidst Middle Eastern-inspired décor like poufs and more Persian rugs. 

Escort cards
Photo by Nancy Ebert

While Heather designed the invitations and signage herself (“a fun pet project for my weekends," she says), she did head to Etsy for help with the custom escort cards for the reception.  

newlyweds
Photo by Nancy Ebert

Heather changed into a light pink silk gown and a pair of dramatic gold earrings for the reception. 

dinner table
Photo by Nancy Ebert 

Wooden tables were lined with eucalyptus garlands, vases of petite blooms, and “as many candles as we could fit without creating a fire hazard," Heather says. They maintained the candlelit atmosphere by hanging strings of tea lights over the dining area.  

place setting
Photo by Nancy Ebert

Since the couple knew food would be the centerpiece of the table, they kept the place settings minimal with an olive leaf and menu. Dishes included Provencal fare like Nicoise salad and Poulet Basquaise paired with biodynamic wines from the nearby Chateau de Passavant. 

first dance
Photo by Nancy Ebert

The dance floor was set next to a Roman-style pool on the chateau’s property, which was the perfect performance location for the couple’s surprise first dance. After faking out the crowd with a simple slow dance to Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud,” the music cut to Carlos Gardel’s saucy tango piece, “Por Una Cabeza.” The couple broke out into ballroom-style number that included Cyrus dancing with a rose in his mouth. “I feel like those are pictures we’re going to look back on when we’re old and wrinkly to show our grandkids how cool we once were,” Heather says with a laugh.

 

Bride and groom
Photo by Nancy Ebert

Heather and Cyrus blended business with pleasure for their six-month honeymoon that took them from Portugal to Japan. Beyond meeting with suppliers, highlights included a road trip through northern Spain, a month wandering the island of Bali, serious time in Thailand and Vietnam, and a celebration of the Chinese New Year in Hong Kong.  

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Chateau Saint Georges || Planner: Estelle Kouma || Officiant: Dr. Steve Leveen || Bridal Gown & Veil: Made With Love || Shoes: Aquazzura || Hair & Makeup: Makeup Riviera || Bridesmaid Dresses: Parker || Mother of the Bride Dress: BLHDN || Groom’s Attire: Alton Lane || Groomsmen Attire: Hugo Boss || Engagement Ring: 1stdibs.com || Wedding Bands: Boone and Sons || Flowers: Floriane Fleuriste || Place Cards: Letters of the Valley || Guest Book: Claire Magnolia || Rentals: Options || Music: Adrian Sax, DJ Mike AndreaNebatSecret Violin || Reception Music: DJ Bono Solera, Norbert Fimpel || Catering: De Bouche en Bouche || Vegan Desserts: Raw Living || Videographer: Thomas Abowd || Photographer: Nancy Ebert 

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