I knew last year that the Summer of 2017 was certainly
going to be one to remember. My cousin Mary announced that she would be
getting married at her fiancée's alma mater, Notre Dame and my friend Mary announced
that she would be getting married in France! Thank goodness for me, they
chose back to back weekends and not the same weekend so I was able to attend
both. Even after running so many weddings for many years I still get
excited to be a guest! A lot of people ask if it's hard for me to attend
a wedding and I always answer no! It's actually nice not to be in charge and
just relax and enjoy myself. I really try and turn off and experience the party
from a true guest perspective and not from a professional perspective because I learn more and more about what the guests actually perceive and what
is special and unique about each one.
I stared off my journey traveling to Chicago to meet my parents and we were off to South Bend, Indiana where the Notre Dame campus is located. Mary's fiancée, John was from a family of three brothers and a father who had all attended Norte Dame. And John's brother was now a current MBA student there as well. My family and I are all huge University of Washington football fans and while none of us had attended Notre Dame we were all excited to partake in a celebration that took place in such legendary university, rich in their college football history!
Mary's fiancée John is also currently a Naval Pilot and was recently a Blue Angel so we knew that this wedding would have some naval fanfare as well which is not something you see everyday!
The wedding kicked off with a traditional rehearsal at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart where the ceremony would take place. It looked like a cathedral straight out of Italy! We then moved over to the rehearsal dinner that took place in Purcell Pavilion which is the home of the Notre Dame basketball team! John's dad surprised Mary and John with a very funny video montage that was played over the big screen above the basketball court, it was incredible! We enjoyed the rest of the night out on a rooftop over looking campus!
The wedding day started early .. hair and makeup was scheduled for 8 and the start of the ceremony came quickly! John wore his navy whites and the groomsmen wore navy blue tuxedos and I with the fellow bridesmaids wore navy blue gowns! How appropriate! As the catholic ceremony came to an end John and Mary exited the church under an arch of swords by some of Johns fellow naval colleagues. Then the bridal party was off to take photos around the Notre Dame Campus with the highlight being our adventure to the actual football field! This was pretty perfect considering both families were die hard college football fans!
Soon it was time to party! We moved over to the Palais Royale For cocktails and a dance party for the books! Mary and John choose to get speeches, a cake Cutting with a sword and parents dances done quickly in order to get all 275 guest on the dance floor! Let me tell you that these military men know how to dance! We even jumped roped at one point! Soon John and his friends serenaded Mary with their own rendition of "You've lost that loving feeling" and it was epic! I don't know how I managed to dance till midnight and still make it to the after party but I wasn't the only one that did! The next day came quickly and I was off....... time to go to France! But not without the most amazing memories of Mary and John's epic wedding!
Fast forward to Friday and I had made it to Brittany on the west coast of France for Mary and Ghislain's French fete! It kicked off with a traditional "moules frites" rehearsal dinner which translates to mussels and fries! I was so excited to see friends from not only the States but also England and France. This was truly an international crowd. Tables looked out over the gorgeous ocean scenery and toasts were given in both French and English! Mary and Ghislain wanted this welcome dinner to be a casual setting where everyone could meet and get to know each other before a much more traditional event on Saturday. The mussels were served in big pots and everyone had a side a French fries and of course the wine and beer were free flowing!
The next morning Mary and Ghislain along with their families attended the civil wedding ceremony where they were officially married and signed their license. During this time the guests had time to explore the Charming town of Brittany where Ghislain had spend many summers of his childhood. He is a avid competitor sailor and this all began during his time there so it was a natural place to bring everyone together. Soon we were off for the chateau for the very regal event! The chateau was stunning and we were escorted to the back garden for the ceremony right away. In true French fashion it rained and rained and rained! Our Mary refused to let the rain get in her way so she of course had blue umbrellas on hand so that the bridal party could still walk down the blue aisle on time. She was beaming as she walked down the aisle. Luckily the guests were sheltered by a tent!
The ceremony was performed in both French and English and we were all so proud of Mary as she read her vows in both languages! Soon it was time for cocktail hour outside of the chateau. I was so pleasantly surprised to see the bars lined with champagne flutes and that both Brit and rosé champagne were being poured. It was so elegant and so different from how we typically do things back home. There were other drink offerings but everyone just wanted to drink champagne! Foie Gras lollipops were being passed and I truly felt like I was in heaven. Soon the guests were escorted into the chateau for dinner and it was so elegant! The French are fans of simplicity so the dinner tables were dressed in beautiful white linens with simple flowers and candelabras. It really did feel as if we were in someone's home. Tables were set in three different rooms which made you really feel like you were at a more intimate dinner party. Menus were printed in French and English and soon dinner was served. All of the food was exquisite and extremely well plated. There was even a traditional French cheese course! Typical of European weddings everyone sits for dinner and then once dessert has been served the fanfare of the wedding starts!
Mary tossed her bouquet to all the single ladies and speeches were given. There was even a slideshow Presentation before the dancing began! Tables were moved out of the way and the DJ began playing both French and American hits! It was a blast and so different from what I had experienced the weekend before.I was so honored to be a part of both celebrations and enjoyed experiences that each couple put together that showed really who they were! It was a nice way for me to get to know each groom a little bit better as well! One thing I knew for sure was that each Mary found their dream husband and they sure had their own version of their dream wedding. What an amazing two weekends!