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LOCATION: SAINT JEAN CAP FERRAT, FRANCE

Our French Elopement, Part Two

After our ceremony in Chateauneuf-Villevieille we headed down the mountain to Villefranche-sur-Mer. This was one of the two alone times Jeremy and I had throughout the day, and all I can remember is that I wanted to lay my head back or on his shoulder, but couldn't do either because of my hair and the boning in my dress. Ha. He took a hilarious selfie (I'll share on Instagram with some other BTS snaps) with my arm propped up on his shoulder, hand holding my chin, and I'm fully asleep. It would be another 12 hours till the night ended so I'm glad I got a nap in!

We wandered through the streets of town, past curious tourists yet also into tiny streets without a person in sight. Then our friends sweetly grabbed gelato, the first thing we'd eaten since breakfast. It was my only gelato this trip and so close to the Italian boarder it was divine! (And can we talk about the color palette they chose with the flavors? My brilliant friends.)

Then we walked down to the dock and surprised everyone with one of my favorite things, a boat ride! We had wine and snacks, goofed off and relaxed. The weather was perfection with the sun high in the sky and the breeze keeping us cool as we sped along. And the views off the French Riviera are some of my favorite I've seen.

There's an image of Carrie Bradshaw sitting in Paris with a giant gown piled around her. That's the vision I had for my elopement wedding dress. Grand and light, ladylike and wild, fitted and textured. Accidentally nailed it in this candid shot with my guy.

The photo below it is my new happy place image when I fall asleep at night. Leaning back against my husband in a gorgeous gown, taking in the view on a boat off the coast of France with sunshine and the perfect breeze. I'm not sure how long we were sitting there when Erich snuck this one, but I could easily be there for hours. With a glass of rose. (wink)

We headed out to the bow of the little yacht and this candid is one of my favorite photos of my dress. You can see how grand, light and billowy she is. And that late afternoon light. Le sigh...

This group shot was one I had never seen at a wedding and sketched out for Erich. One of my visions for the elopement was things you can only do with a micro-wedding of six guests, things we can't do with 60 guests in tow at our family wedding: hike a mountain, wander town with gelato, and a boat ride where we could all chill on the bow to take in the view was one of those.

Shoes off and sunglasses on we vogued, laughed, dipped our feet in the water. Then we pulled into the breathtaking dock at Cap Jean Saint Ferrat where our evening reception was awaiting us.

From the dock we headed to the hotel where Jeremy and I were staying that night. It was time for a wardrobe change! I threw on my second gown as quickly as I could, trying to beat the fading sunlight for some moments we had coming up.

Then walked out the front door where my new husband was waiting in the most stunning car we have ever seen. This was our second sliver of alone time as we drove around the coast.

When planning our elopement I found a lot of Instagram profiles of vendors (photographers, planners) saying they specialize in "Adventurous Weddings". That never resonated with me. I don't feel like an Audrey Hepburn character would have an adventure wedding on a frozen tundra wearing black sequins, boho hair flying down her back.

Yet if the half hour hike up a mountain wasn't enough proof, our crew of two photographers and two cinematographers shooting this car sealed the deal. Erich and Henry were half hanging out of the back of a van with the doors opening, shooting ahead of us as we curled around corners.

When we got to this lookout point they darted across the street, with traffic zooming around a blind corner, pressing themselves against the wall trying not to get hit but determined to get the shot. I glanced over through my sunglasses and distinctly remember thinking, "Does Bradford have a wife and kids?!" as I feared for his safety.

We'd had a different photographer lined up initially (story for another time: our photographer, planner/stylist, florist and singer all quit within 48 hours for unrelated reasons 28 days before our ceremony) and during this drive Jeremy and I kept saying, "I cannot picture X doing this". Turns out we were having an adventure wedding! And the vendors we had on board were the kind of glint-in-your-eye wild creatives my vision needed to come to life.

We looked out over charming Villefrance-sur-Mer where we had wandered as tiny specks just a few hours earlier. Then with our "tout juste marie" (just married in French) sign on the back and a wave to the gents, we were headed back to meet our friends for our reception.

Arriving to the Four Seasons in Saint Cap Jean Ferrat was magical. We wound our way to a private garden where our guests were already enjoying cocktail hour.

(We later learned that our day of coordinators had, amongst other foibles, left the guys at the dock when they got off the boat. The plan was to get an Uber to the hotel but when none were around, and they could have driven with the coordinators or gotten their help calling a local taxi, the gentlemen guests walked another half hour or so. Thankfully it was a gorgeous day and I sincerely hope they were wearing comfortable shoes!)

My vision for the reception was always one secluded table with a view of the sea. I originally planned we would do this at our AirBnB, renting someplace with a backyard and a view, but after months of hunting we could never find the right place. I'm so thankful no door opened as now I can't imagine doing it anywhere else.

We used velvet linen in one of my favorite colors of chartreuse, with emerald on the cocktail tables. Then covered the center with a runner of blooms. It was like staring down at the largest bouquet you've ever seen, with your wine glass popping up through it and some extra blooms sneaking around your plate.

To match the vintage plane ticket invitations guests received at the reveal, we keep the travel them with menus printed on a vintage map of the area, and place cards designed to look like throwback luggage tags with their three letter airport codes this time the initials of each guest.

Before the sunset we took our glasses of wine down a clear glass trolly/enclosed ski lift sort of thing. The hotel is built on such a steep mountain, this is the only way to get guests down to their private stretch of the ocean. (Another BTS video coming to Instagram of this soon!)

We had the shore to ourselves without another guest in site. I had never envisioned myself a sandy bare-footed beach bride, yet with my love of the sea this stretch of rocky cliff was absolute perfection.

Jeremy knew I was going to wear a ballgown from Kleinfeld and was completely supportive. Yet for dinner I wanted to change into something that made him think, "Hello that is my wife!"

I had tried on this Kelly Faetanini dress somewhere along my search and was amazed how flattering it was. I also loved how affordable the price-point was. A teacher at heart, I'm always conscious of how I can inspire others, wearing a mix of more high and low pieces in my daily style. With such diversity of wedding budgets I wanted to have one be in that 2-3k range I hear most of the women say on Say Yes to the Dress.

I reached out to the designer directly and we kind of fell in love. I realize I assumed she was older and when I walked into her studio to meet a peer, we instantly bonded over running our businesses and teams, having started our brands around the same time. She so sweetly fitted me for the gown personally, helping me decide what to tailor or which bustle.

(Pro Tip #1: If a dress is a little too sheer on your stomach, ask if the designer can add a second piece of lining. If you've seen my pinned IG Stories on my dress hunt you know about my bellybutton test (aka you should not see it!) and when Kelly offered to put in another panel of lining it took any shadow away and was perfectly flattering.)

(Pro Tip #2: Sit, walk, go up and down stairs, and dance in your dress before you say yes. I got a littttle too into the va-va-voom of how we pinned it and could thankfully jussst get up stairs, but if there had been dancing I wouldn't have been able to get low low low at all. In addition, off the shoulder styles often really constrict your movement. I couldn't raise my arms much, which left me dying with laughter trying to pose with Jeremy in the car earlier, but again because there was no dancing it wasn't an issue at all for our reception. So for me, the dress was perfect. But for the typical dance floor affair, opt for a little less curve and more ease in your alterations.)

I switched to an orangey-red lip and added these tassel earrings I'd bought from Anthropologie a couple years ago. The light, the color... these are my favorite photos of Jeremy and I from the day.

And the color with the girls just takes my breath away. How the poppy of my lips mirrors the color in the flowers, my earrings tie into Jade and Stephanie's lavender dresses, the pop of yellow.

I look at this group photo and am reminded of how blessed we are in New York for the diversity of our community. The eight of us represent four countries and accents (America, England, Mexico, Australia), four ethnicities (European, African, Indian, Mexican), two religions, have lived in nine major cities before New York, and have every hair color you want in a commercial thanks to my token redhead. (wink) And if we someday move to the South of France they are all the kind of friends who would say they'll visit, and then do it!

As the sunset we headed back up the glass trolly to our garden, while Doug and Steph snuck in an adorable kiss at the back.

We enjoyed more drinks and appetizers at our private bar, and I for one felt like my work was done. All the photos were behind us, the itinerary, chasing the light, and we were moving into what I would later say is one of my favorite parts of the day.

My favorite part of the day was our ceremony. As I described in my last post it was so laid back and leisurely, so intimate and without any perfection or performance. I didn't want that moment of actually making the biggest decision of our lives to fly by, and it was the opposite. I have such warm feelings recalling it.

My other favorite part was this dinner. I had thought through the setting, the scenery, the decor, the view, the soundtrack. But it hadn't occurred to me that each of our six friends would want to go around the table and give a toast. I have never had a group of people share such love and gratitude towards me, and now my wonderful husband too. Some of my dearest friends shared things I had never heard them say, stories from their perspective of how I influenced their life I never knew. And hearing their reflections on my new husband made my heart soar.

We laughed hysterically, wept, and laughed while we cried. I'll never forget it. Love, is what weddings are about. The couple, and those around them. Whether you're present at the wedding or not, you can choose with each friend who marries to add to this life-shifting moment in their life by amplifying the love around it.

I love sleep. I totally thought the night would end much earlier, after a long day, a full night of sleep before a flight the next day. But this night stretched on, wonderfully. I never thought about the clock, and before I knew it it was 2am, 20 hours since our wedding day began and I was still buzzing on peace-filled giddy adrenaline.

We had a sparkler send-off, lots of hugs, and were off to our honeymoon in Santorini, Greece.

This secret elopement dream was in my head for so many years. Long before there was a business, social media, or anyone to share it with. It was just a movie in my head. Bringing it to life at a time when I have so many of you to share it with to amplify the joy, and the extra magic of creating things I hope can inspire other couples in their own stories is the icing on the cake. (Ours was coconut with dark chocolate ganache by the way.)

I was insane to plan two weddings!! And will share more after the family wedding about the lessons I learned, and my reflection having had both experiences. While I wouldn't ever do it again for all the stress! Ha. It was my dream come to life, the most magical adventure of our lives, and the photos and videos will be the companions to our memories till our 50th wedding anniversary. To long love stories...

Our incredible team, whether vendors or brands, all of whom I cannot recommend highly enough!

Wedding Dress: Kleinfeld's, Rivini's Dahlia dress // Reception Dress: Kelly Faetanini Phoebe dress // Bridesmaids Dresses + Men's Ties: Bhldn // Earrings, Hair Pin: Bhldn // Florist: Kelsea of East Olivia // Photographer: Erich McVey // Cinematographer: The Brothers Martens // Graphic Design: Steph B // Grooms Watch: Nomos // Hair MakeUp: Camille Bonardi // Linens: La Tavola // Rentals: Options // Reception Venue: Four Seasons // Planner + Stylist: Bride

PS Miss any wedding posts? Visit DeanSt.co/wedding to see the list starting at the bottom with my views on privacy, why I didn't share our relationship, Jeremy's face, or even his first name calling him Beau until we were engaged and then eloped.

Till our family wedding in 2019...

PPS Feeling inspired? Everyone should feel this stylish when they want to, wedding day or any day!

So before the festive bustle of family and friends this holiday season, I'm bringing back my style class. Take an hour for yourself, before you shop for anything else, find joy awaiting right in your closet.

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