Unlike most couples, Olivia and Gael’s wedding story actually began in a bridal shop. It was February 2, 2019, and Olivia was visiting a boutique on a popular street in Cannes with her mother, helping a childhood friend choose her wedding dress. Gael was booked for the next appointment, as he was shopping with his niece who was getting married that same year.
“As we were leaving, Gael’s niece came in,” Olivia describes. “We were chatting, and Gael entered. I looked at my mother and we both thought, ‘Who is this handsome man?’ Gael didn’t say a word. The girls and I left the store to go to the restaurant next door. We immediately talked about Gael – he was mysterious, discreet, and polite with a certain charm and style.”
“Fate, luck, or determination, it doesn’t matter; we never left each other.”
Rather than brushing off her quick encounter as a temporary infatuation, Olivia decided to seize the moment and give Gael her phone number. She returned to the bridal shop with her number in hand, but unfortunately Gael had already left. So she asked the staff for his niece’s phone number, which they refused to give; but they offered to contact his niece to pass Olivia’s number along instead. A few hours later, Gael’s niece reached out to Olivia, sparkling simultaneous feelings of excitement and fear.
“I decided to be honest by explaining that I had a crush on her uncle and that I would like to get in touch with him,” Olivia recalls. “Less than 24 hours later, I received the first text message from Gael. Inquisitive, he contacted me a second time. He thought I was intrepid and surreal. He imagined that day that I was the bride and was pleasantly surprised to learn that I was not. He admitted that he found me radiant, captivating, with a great deal of relational ease. I explained to him that my approach was unusual for me. I suggested that we go out for a drink or a walk, and he accepted. Meanwhile, we exchanged message after message and found that we work 100 meters away from each other and that his friends were renting my parents' house in Roquefort les Pins. That evening, February 15, 2019, we were both excited, slightly stressed, but curious to learn more about each other. Fate, luck, or determination, it doesn’t matter; we never left each other.”
St. Moritz, Switzerland is one of the couple’s favorite destinations, so it only made sense for the proposal to take place at a magnificent wooden chalet. It was December 18, 2020, and Gael organized a surprise vacation after secretly asking permission from Olivia’s father for her hand in marriage. Olivia was getting ready upstairs when she heard the song “She” by Elvis Costello playing and discovered a hundred candles illuminating the chalet. Gael was down on one knee; and after his speech, he asked, “My love, will you marry me?”
The newly engaged couple was well prepared for the wedding planning process, with Olivia being an exceptionally organized and meticulous woman who enjoys managing projects. She gathered a great deal of wedding inspiration from magazines and Pinterest, and envisioned an unforgettable, magical, fairytale wedding with a Christmas theme. The wedding would also be a multi-day affair that took place over the course of two back-to-back weekends in December. First, 120 people gathered at château de la Bégude in Opio, France for cocktails and petits fours, followed by a reception at the bride’s parent’s home. The following weekend, an intimate group of 48 guests met in Saint Moritz for a “vacation wedding” that lasted an entire week.
“December 18, 2021, for us, is the real date of our wedding,” Olivia shares. “The reception of the hotel Suvretta House, the service, the kindness, and the dedication of the staff; everything was perfect.”
The bride began her day surrounded by a team of hair and makeup artists, Studio Balzac capturing each moment on camera, and her loved ones, including her mother. Cocktails were enjoyed in the hotel lobby by the fireplace, paired with snacks that were prepared by Chef Fabrizio Zanetti. For the reception, the couple surprised their guests with Christmas trees placed by each window of the room. One 3-meter-tall tree served as a focal point, which was complemented by tall centerpieces of orchids, roses, eucalyptus, and more. The tabletops were strewn with Swarovski stones, cinnamon branches, pine cones, and candles, and there were gifts for all the guests tucked under the tree.
Surrounded by the romantic, Old-World ambiance of a “Beauty and the Beast” style room, the newlyweds made their entrance to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You,” and guests enjoyed a sumptuous wedding dinner created by Chef Zanetti while Christmas songs and jazz music played. Dessert consisted of a wedding cake the couple designed in collaboration with French pastry chef, Johannes Bonin, and an artisanal ice cream bar.
To top off their fairytale wedding experience, Olivia and Gael headed to Disneyland Paris, followed by a few days in Bali to rest. Their honeymoon phase will also continue into 2023 with a planned trip to South America.
Photography: Studio Balzac, Cannes, France