Reception Site and Caterer: Vanderbilt Mansion, Fisher Island Hotel and Resort, Fisher Island, Miami Beach, FL; Cake: Chocolate Fashion, Coral Gables, FL; Event Planner: Divine Design by Guerdy, Inc., Fisher Island, Miami Beach, FL; Floral and Event Design: Ocean Florist, Fisher Island, Miami Beach, FL; Wedding Gown: Max Chaoul; Photography: Ray Santana Photography, Miami, FL
Geraldine Holze was seventeen when she met her first boyfriend, Cedrik Denain, at a tennis tournament in Monte Carlo; seventeen years later, their relationship turned serious. Although Cedrik left Monaco for the U.S., the two "always kept in touch," Geraldine says. During the four years she studied and worked in Miami, they saw each other often. Geraldine returned to Europe, but when she reconnected with Cedrik during a Miami vacation, suddenly "the timing was right. After almost seventeen years of friendship, we started dating," she said.
In March of 2006, Geraldine hosted a casual birthday celebration for Cedrik. "We had dinner; it was very pleasant," she recalls, but she was disconcerted when her guests abruptly departed en masse. "It was like a bus was waiting for them downstairs and they had to leave," says Geraldine. As she began to clean up, Cedrik said, "Come over here for a second." Geraldine thought: "Oh my God, I'm in trouble."
"He started speaking in English to me," she says, explaining, "Usually Cedrik and I speak French together." Cedrik's serious tone "was like lightning going through my head," she says. "I really didn't expect a wedding proposal on his birthday. I said 'yes,' of course. It came as a reflex from the heart."
She woke her family in Europe but didn't phone friends right away. "I let them marinate," she says.
After considering several wedding locations, the couple invited 250 relatives and friends to ultra-exclusive Fisher Island, which lies off the Florida coast near their South Beach home. Cedrik is Chief Operating Officer of Fisher Island Investments, which develops and manages the island's resort and residential properties.
A week before the wedding, when Geraldine tried on the Max Chaoul gown she'd fallen for in Cannes, she was dismayed to realize, "I had lost four kilos; I was swimming in my dress." Seamstresses at Josée Couture in Coral Gables made quick alterations. "They had angel hands," she says.
The couple's interfaith wedding ceremony, presided over by Rabbi Frank and Reverend Jones, took place under an enormous tree in the courtyard of the resort's Vanderbilt Mansion. Their vow exchange was followed by a Middle Eastern-themed cocktail party on the beach. "I wanted to take our guests on a trip," says Geraldine, who was tickled to discover Miami's Berber Trading Co. "I thought I was in Marrakesh," and "I pictured the beach like that right away," she says. Lebanese and Moroccan hors d'oeuvres catered by Khoury’s were followed by a magnificent buffet dinner by the pool, and guests were encouraged to mingle under four different reception tents.
Stephane Guenne and his band from Paris provided five hours of non-stop American pop and French classic music. A nervous Cedrik serenaded his bride beautifully—not in jolting English but in French. "It was like a fairy tale," Geraldine says.
The Denains hope to honeymoon in South Africa in December or January. Their schedules are busy, but they regularly play together under the sun, and Geraldine says she doesn't regret the decades that intervened between their meeting and their marriage. "It was always there; it was always under our noses. It just took quite a while to figure out we were right for each other," she says. "I think it was fate."
> Written by Kim Knox Beckius
Copyright 2014 Grace Ormonde Wedding Style Magazine