Busy and intense, law school can be a tough place to start a romance, but it took just three days into their first year at Laval University in Québec City for Francis Dufresne and Stéphanie Laberge to meet and fall in love.
“She fit perfectly with the kind of woman I was looking for,” recalls Francis about spying Stéphanie in a hallway during an orientation event.
For Stéphanie, it was Francis’ gorgeous blue eyes that initially drew her in, and although she also found him to be “the perfect guy,” she held back a bit, even though she knew within a few months that she had found the love of her life. Concerns rooted in past relationships turned sour were soon erased by a whirlwind of experiences happily shared with Francis, from law school to summer trips to finally living together for five months while on a university exchange program in France.
“IT WAS LIKE A DREAM. YOU LIVE THAT MOMENT ONLY ONCE IN A LIFETIME.”
A day after getting their legal licenses, the two lawyers in love took the first step toward getting their marriage license as well. Under the pretense of celebrating their admission to the Québec Bar, Francis took Stéphanie to a rustic island on the St. Lawrence River for a picnic lunch in the riverside gardens at La Seigneurie de l’île d’Orléans.
“I didn’t know what he was up to at all,” recalled Stéphanie. “I was kidding him, asking him, ‘Are you going to ask me to be your wife?’ and he replied, ‘We said in five years.’ I didn’t realize he was about to ask me right there.”
Even when Francis reached into the picnic basket and pulled out a velvet box from Tiffany & Co., Stéphanie assumed that inside would be earrings, not a ring. It wasn’t until Francis asked her, “Do you want to spend the rest of your life with me?” that his intentions sunk in.
A trip to Europe was the perfect way to celebrate the engagement, and planning for the wedding began in earnest when the couple returned to Québec three months later. Despite their world travels, there was never any doubt that they would be wed in their home city, surrounded by their closest family and friends.
On her wedding day, Stéphanie awoke at her parents’ house and spent the day preparing for the ceremony with her five bridesmaids before driving to the church with her father. Stéphanie “began to cry as soon as the doors opened,” and saw the long aisle and pews filled with guests awaiting her arrival, she remembered. “I had to stay calm when the doors opened,” said Francis, who was waiting at the altar for his bride-to-be. “It was like a dream—you live that moment only once in a lifetime.”
With vows exchanged, the newlyweds headed out to the streets of Old Québec to take pictures while their guests moved to the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, a historic hotel and the city’s most famous landmark, for cocktails. The Museum of French America, housed in a former seminary building dating to the 17th century, provided the setting for a romantic and intimate reception and dinner.
Seated at long tables decorated with cherry blossoms, guest after guest rose to make toasts and speeches in honor of the newly married couple. “We are so lucky to have so many friends and family who wanted to do something to show their love for us,” said Stéphanie.
For their first dance, the couple chose Coldplay’s “The Scientist,” and as the band sang, “You don’t know how lovely you are, I had to find you, tell you I need you,” the atmosphere was so relaxed that Stéphanie “felt like I was dancing with my husband in our own living room.” Francis agreed: “It was just as if we were alone.” Then, a DJ took over to emcee a celebration that included a costumed, Grease-themed show starring many of the guests, including the bride and groom playing the lovestruck Sandy and Danny.
Two days later, the couple was traveling again, this time to Bora Bora for a three-week honeymoon, before returning to legal careers in their hometown, each working for their family’s own company. Looking back, Stéphanie says she enjoyed “every single minute” of her wedding, from planning to reality. “I loved everything,” she laughs. “I want to do it again!”
Reception Location: La Chapelle du Musée de l’Amérique Francophone, Québec City, QC, Canada; Caterer and Cake: Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, Québec City, QC, Canada; Event Design and Planner: KA; Wedding Planning & Design, Québec City, QC, Canada; Floral Design: Fleur Concept, Québec City, QC, Canada; Linen and Rentals: Location Gervais, Québec City, QC, Canada; Lighting: Prestige Décor, Québec City, QC, Canada; Stationery: À Deux, Québec City, QC, Canada; Wedding Dress: Mark Zunino exclusively at Kleinfeld, New York, NY; Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo; Bride’s Earrings: Swarovski; Engagement Ring and Wedding Bands: Tiffany & Co.; Cinematography: One-Blink, Montréal, QC, Canada; Photography: Magnolia Studio, Montreal, QC, Canada