Congratulations to Lauren and Florent de Goriaïnoff
January 9, 2014
How did you decide on Aspen Colorado for your destination wedding?
For our Franco-American wedding, Florent and I worked together to create a week of parties in order to introduce our French contingent to the American one. Florent and I are “Winter” people and always knew we wanted a winter wedding. He grew up skiing in the Alpes twice a year and I also enjoy skiing. Being based in Paris, we thought about having the wedding in Méribel or Mergève in the French Alpes. After further discussion, we decided that my family was bigger and it would be easier for his family to make a trip to the States than mine to France. My father suggested Aspen during a conversation. Aspen seemed to us like the best choice as the village is accessible by foot so our guests would not need to rent cars and the fact that there are great restaurants, shops, and many things to do for the non-skiers helped. I had only been to Aspen once during the summer, so while I was back in the States for Christmas, my mother and I made a trip out there to see some venues and get a better feel for the town and atmosphere.
As soon as we entered town, I fell in love with the city. It is an old mining town and has managed to keep it’s charm and authenticity while at the same time integrating this very cosmopolitain aspect into the mix. We are huge foodies and really wanted the best food and wine for our reception, so we researched and made appointments with 3 places to visit while we were in Aspen. My criteria were the following:
1.) Had to have great wine and food.
2.) Had to allow us to go as late as possible for the reception, which is 2:00 am in Colorado. French weddings usually go until sunrise the next day, so this was a very important aspect…ending at midnight was not an option for us.
3.) Needed to be able to host the ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception in the same venue as we did not want guests to be bothered to move nor upset the “flow” of the evening.
4.) Needed to be able to host the reception and dancing in the same room the whole night as I find the best parties are always the ones where everything is centered in one room and around the dance floor instead of dancing in one room and having the bar/tables to sit in another.
Read Lauren’s helpful tips for brides below…
How did you choose your wedding ceremony and reception venue?
Out of the 3 venues we visited, the newly renovated Hotel Jerome just completely blew our minds! The deco was this eclectic mix of old and new that made you feel like you were in someone’s extremely stylish home for drinks instead of a hotel. I loved the double fireplace, the paintings, artifacts, the Chesterfield couches in the lobby…it just made us want to stay all day, read a magazine and sip tea! Christine Follin, their catering sales manager, met us and gave us the tour and talked us through everything including a tour of the ballroom, where the ceremony and reception could be held. I had a great feeling about The Jerome, but was not yet convinced. After visiting the other venues, we went back that evening to have a drink and discuss what we had seen. I decided to go take one last look at the ballroom while we were there. As I was walking down the breezeway, I felt like I was seeing everything differently this time, but could not understand why I felt like it was the first time I was seeing this venue. Maggie, who works at the Jerome, turned on the lights in the ballroom, opened the curtains, and it was pure magic!! Then I figured it out…I was seeing it all at night!! All the lighting, sconces, lit trees outside the windows, how the ballroom suddenly became this creamy, celestial, space! It suddenly felt romantic and intimate. I could envision us surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of candles and creamy flowers…it was that “awe” moment some brides experience, and I just knew. I walked back to my mother and told her to go have a look. She came back almost in tears after seeing everything at night like I did. From then on, my vision started taking shape. During our week in Aspen, we had a Colorado Micro Brew party, an Après Ski Party, Rehearsal Dinner, Wedding, Brunch, and Farewell Dinner.
We chose not to have a wedding party because we just wanted it to be the two of us at the altar. We did have our brothers as ushers for the ceremony and my nieces and nephews as flowers girls and ring bearers. I decided I did not want the girls to carry flowers, but lanterns instead. Since our colors were cream/black/and touches of red, they carried red lanterns, wore black satin dresses, cream fur capes, and red scarves. A family friend came over and helped put Christmas greenery and berries around the base of the handles on the lanterns in order to soften up the metal look. The brothers wore winter plaid ties in the same colors and the little boys winter plaid bow ties.
I was a bit picky when it came to the deco. I knew exactly how I wanted it to look, but more importantly, how I wanted it to FEEL! I am a huge fan of candles for creating ambiance, intimacy, and romance. After having seen the ballroom at night, I wanted a candlelit ceremony and tons of candles on the tables at the cocktail hour and dinner. The only flowers present at our ceremony were the mothers’ posies, the petal covered aisle, and my red rose bouquet. I really wanted to respect the candles-only theme and, furthermore, did not want guests to get a hint of what type of flowers we would have for the reception. I guess you could say I wanted them to be surprised! One thing we did that was fun, was we had servers with trays of champagne and Perrier at the entrance to the ceremony so people could grab a glass (or 2!) and already start celebrating! We wanted to set the tone early in the evening and express to our guests that this was a party! Our order of ceremony cards read: “Music Starts, We Get Married, Everyone Parties”. This was the only idea I took off of the site Pinterest.
For the cocktail hour, we went with red roses and candles to match my bouquet and give a bit of color. We did not want to have any flowers that resembled the centerpieces for the reception, and red roses are so pretty in winter against a snowy back drop. One thing we added that was European and French was the use of a crier to call people to dinner. Our friend, Mathieu, who is perfectly bilingual played this role for us. He stood with a list and announced each persons name at for a table, then these people were escorted by servers to their tables. We thought it was a nice touch to have everyone’s name called and personally escorted to their tables…this also eliminated place cards!
As for the reception flowers, I really only found one centerpiece that I liked after months of researching. I only like centerpieces with one type of flower in them and I needed to have extremely tall, substantial vases in order to create height as the ballroom has tall ceilings. I also knew the vase had to be wide in the middle in order to be filled with water that would reflect the candlelight. I chose cream tulips because the ensemble of about one hundred tulips and their long leaves made for an ample and towering centerpiece that respected the black/cream/gold and touches of red color scheme, but added some nice green into the mix to make them stand out. Around the bottoms of the vases and in the center of the long head table, masses of candles were put.
We decided to create a memory table in order to have those who could not be with us, closer to us for our special day. Many people were moved to tears looking at the photos, including us.
We also found a skiing couple cake topper and thought that that added a bit of our fun-loving personalities to the night. Our favorite cake is red velvet cake, so we chose it for our cake. It also added that touch of red that was seen throughout the evening.
My brother is a graphic designer and designed the menu and order of ceremony cards for our wedding. We ordered the paper for these a few weeks before the wedding and because of huge snow storms in the midwest, it did not arrive until the night before we were to leave for Aspen! We got a bottle of wine and started printing at about 9:00 pm at night. All we could do was laugh and keep the wine flowing! They turned out beautifully and we had made a great memory. My brother also made a video of photos from both our lives set to music. We played it after everyone was seated for the reception. It was such a great moment filled with tons of laughs! Most of the people in the room had either not seen my childhood photos or Florent’s. As we are from different countries, it permitted people to discover a bit more about us and our families through this video.
My brother-in-law owns cocktail bars, wine bars, and restaurants in Europe and the US, so when it came time to pick a signature cocktail, we wanted to pay homage to him and the bar we met in. He and his partners created a cocktail in 2006 called the Experience #1 that was served at their first bar, Experimental Cocktail Club , in Paris. This is also the bar where Florent and I met. It just seemed natural to choose this cocktail to be served to our guests throughout the night. One of my brothers is also in the wine and spirit business, so when it came time to choose the wine, we relied on his advice and suggestions. Our family friend is doing some really great things out in California with wine and we tried a few of his wines and chose the Mordecai by Banshee red wine to serve at our wedding. We were happy we could serve a friend’s wine and showcase some of the good reds that are coming out of the USA to our French guests. For the white wine, we chose one from Burgundy to add the french touch to our Franco-American wedding.
For our menu, we served elk for an appetizer, lamb/trout for the main dish, a cheese plate, and then red velvet cake. We added the cheese plate in order to keep the French theme going. We also chose local cuisine by choosing the Colorado lamb, trout, and elk. If all these people were descending on Aspen from different countries, it seemed only logical to showcase the local meats, fish, and cheeses. It was all delicious and cooked perfectly. Often times wedding food is mediocre at best, but The Hotel Jerome knocked this one out of the park! We had guests telling us that it was one of the best meals they have had, period. That was nice to hear since we had put a lot of thought into it.
Best memories from your wedding day
I borrowed my sister-in law’s veil for the big day. When it came time to put it on me, I enlisted her help. However, at that moment she was getting her hair curled and had to put the veil on with her hair in mini, separated pony tails, and half curled! The photos are hilarious of this moment. We were on the verge of crying because the moment was so special, yet also busting out laughing…a great moment for me.
I also LOVED the fact that everyone hit the dance floor while the appetizer was being served! I told the DJ to play music we wanted to dance to during dinner, to keep everyone’s toes tapping. The kids ran out to the dance floor and started dancing and singing to the music!! It was too tempting for the adults, as well. We all got up and joined the kids and ended up dancing in between the courses…we wanted a party, and WE GOT IT!!!!
I do have to mention that a plane crashed at the Aspen Airport 4 days before our wedding, which closed the airport for a few days. At that same time, a snowstorm hit the midwest and flights were all cancelled to the airports surrounding Aspen and eventually into Aspen once the airport finally opened! I went to the hospital 2 days before the wedding because I had staph infection in my throat as well as the flu. There were lots of things thrown into that week that were so unexpected and potentially disastrous for us and our wedding. Guests hopped into cars, carpooled, drove 15 hours to get to Aspen, waited in airports for days, drove 2 hours south of their hometowns just to hop a flight that was actually scheduled to leave for Colorado…we were moved beyond words to see the extreme measures our guests were going to just to simply be there for our day. The fact that every single one of them made it, was just amazing and so touching to us. Everyone in that room really did have something to celebrate and were ready to do it once they arrived.
Any advice for a bride planning a destination wedding?
I would say that even before you visit venues, make a list of criteria that are a must for you or you are not flexible with. Call venues and ask about these things and see if your criteria can be met or not. I was thinking about doing my wedding in a state other than Colorado, until I found out that in this state, liquor could not be served after 11 pm and the venue had to be shut down at 11:30 due to a noise ordinance imposed…this was a deal breaker for me and we ended up completely taking a different turn with the location and state.
I would also say that hiring at least a day-of wedding planner is essential for a destination wedding. Jane Floyd of Jane Floyd and Associates and Christine Follin of The Hotel Jerome completely put it all together for me. I communicated my ideas and they made it happen along with my chosen florist. When you are a bride planning a destination event, there needs to be someone locally based that understands your vision and what you want and can tell you if that can happen or not with respect to your chosen location.
Enjoy your engagement, planning, and wedding week…it all goes by so fast!! In the blink of an eye, a year had passed and we were boarding a plane for our honeymoon. Savor every face in that room that night, every hug, every smile…because they all came to this destination wedding for YOU and to be a part of this huge moment in your lives. It was truly on honor to host our guests and it is a week we will never forget.
Thank you to the local vendors of Aspen Colorado
Jane Floyd and Associates – Wedding and Event Planner Harrington Smith – Florist Rev. Jill Pidcock – Officiant Halcyon Productions – Audio/Visual DJ Dillon – Platinum Productions Hotel Jerome – Wedding Ceremony and Reception Venue Florist: Harrington Smith Hair: Claudia Connell of Bloom Salon Robin Proctor Photography Ceremony Quartet: Silver City Strings.