A Carnival-Themed Farewell Dinner Following a Wedding Weekend in France
Several years ago, Lara and Kjell vacationed with their respective families in Egypt. As luck would have it, they met during a game of beach volleyball—and they realized Lara was about to attend Kjell's university. "It must have been fate!" says Lara, who moved to school six months later. "Within the very first few days, Kjell helped me install the lighting in my new apartment and took me out to dinner after. It only took about three weeks for us to become official! My mom said she knew the second she saw us talking on the beach."
Years later, Kjell asked Lara's father for her hand in marriage, and his excitement gave away the proposal plan. But Kjell (who works in corporate development) knew Lara (a management consultant) wanted to be surprised, so he planned an epic proposal with the couple's friends, who were visiting. "They pretended that the boys had something planned for the girls, and the dress code was 'beach-chic,' says Lara. "We arrived at a lake, where a motor yacht was waiting. Kjell and I hopped on and he drove us, saying we'd pick up the others on the opposite side of the lake. But there, with sun shining and the perfect view on the city, he stopped the boat. I only realized what was happening when he was already on one knee!" After the intimate proposal, the couple celebrated with Champagne and snacks on the boat, followed by dinner at their favorite restaurant.
Lara and Kjell (who live in Zurich) got married in June 2017 at the Chateau de Robernier in Provence, France. The wedding weekend, which included a welcome dinner, ceremony, black-tie reception, and morning-after brunch, ended with a circus-themed farewell dinner at the same venue. About 95 guests attended the celebration, which was complete with circus performers, a carousel, and other carnival attractions. "Since our guests came from lots of different places, we wanted to have a long weekend with them," says Lara. "Having a full 'day-after' was incredibly special because all the tension was gone. Everything had already went well on the wedding day, so we could just relax and enjoy our guests. We're both so happy we decided to do it this way. We truly feel like we've enjoyed every second of the weekend and had the chance to give attention to all of our guests!"
The farewell dinner took place at the Chateau de Robernier in Provence, France, which was far from the couple's hometown of Zurich, Switzerland. "We wanted to get married in an elegant chateau, but nothing too stiff. The chateau was the perfect mix—elegant and chic, but also natural, organic, and very 'Provençale,'" says Lara. The celebration overlooked hills and vineyards on the French countryside.
A red, white, and black sign like those seen at a circus welcomed guests to the party and pointed out the fun and food to come.
A Fun Dress
Lara wore a lace dress from Mery's Couture. The gown originally had a long train, but after alterations, the back hem fell to mid-calf. "It had an even more vintage-style look, and we used the leftover lace for the inside of the frock, which originally had no lace inside," adds the bride. Lara paired the dress with glittery strapped sandals by Jimmy Choo; she says they were "the most comfy heels ever" when walking on the gravel. Earrings from Elizabeth Cole, her custom-made wedding band and engagement ring, and a family heirloom sapphire ring from her great-grandmother completed the look.
The Groom's Look
Wanting to adhere to the night's "1930's and 1940's vintage" dress code, Kjell donned a maroon striped Gabriele Pasini vest. "Finding the vest was the first step and actually a complete coincidence; we just found it in Zurich one day," he says. "Then we built the look around the vest. Lara and I both like fashion and we usually give each other style advice." Thinking that a good costume always includes some kind of head accessory, Kjell added a classic boater hat from Nordstrom into the mix. A custom-made white shirt, maroon pants from Marc Jacobs, a polka dot bow tie from Mrs Bow Tie, and Navyboot shoes rounded out his ensemble.
Two performers from local circus company Cirque Indigo gave guests a big (and tall) welcome as they were on stilts.
The event began with cocktail hour around the venue. "The champagne we served all weekend was my family's favorite, and the wine for the evening came from the chateau itself and the vineyard next door," says Lara.
The couple rented an authentic steam carousel from 1886. It was upgraded with electricity, and guests rode it all evening long.
The carousel was also an extra-special backdrop for photos. Here, Lara poses with her grandmother, mother, and little sister.
Lara's oldest friend from high school served as her maid of honor. The other bridesmaids included Lara's little sister and four friends from university. "They've seen all my highs and lows!" she says.
Kjell's groomsmen included his little brother, university friends, and former coworker (who served as best man). With suspenders and bow ties, they got in to the thematic dress code.
A Festive Cart
The Cigar Bar
The couple repurposed their own gold bar cart, which they transported from Zurich, into a "cigar bar"—although they used it in various ways throughout the wedding weekend. "We bought a variety of good cigars, designed the sign, and put it in a gold frame," says the bride, adding that the card box on the bottom of the cart came from BHLDN. Old suitcases and a phonograph furthered the vintage vibe.
Kjell created vintage-inspired menu cards to display the food options. "Since we had a five-course menu at the main wedding reception, we wanted to keep it a bit more easy-going for the farewell dinner," says Lara. Gaudefroy Receptions catered multiple stations with BBQ items, including beef filet with rosemary, sole, lobster, and breast of goose with honey.
Guests also enjoyed a salad bar, ratatouille, and mashed potatoes—as well as ice cream and sorbet for dessert. During dinner, they listened to retro music performed by a duo.
"For our vintage circus celebration, we knew we had to add circus red," says Lara. That's why the long tables at the reception were topped with vibrant red runners.
The couple purchased cupcake wheels from Amazon, which they painted gold and used as centerpieces. Tiny colorful blooms sat inside of the ferris wheel's baskets.
Bistro lighting strung overhead created a magical ambience. The couple also hung upside-down parasols from Alibaba throughout the space.
The Popcorn Machine
Gaudefroy Receptions supplied a popcorn machine; guests scooped the savory snack into classic red-and-white popcorn containers.
Towards the end of the evening, the circus performers did a "fire show," since fireworks are illegal in the region because of wildfire risks.
The Sparkler Send-Off
Lara's little sister arranged a sparkler send-off. According to Lara, "I had dreamed of getting a sparkler send-off, but we didn't do it the night before because there was simply too much going on. It turned out to be the perfect moment before everyone left!"
After everyone went home, the couple reminisced about the event. "Stepping out of the chateau onto the front yard, hearing the vintage music, seeing all the decorations and the guests dressed in 1930's clothing—it was overwhelming how much it felt like we had suddenly traveled back in time," says Lara. "The positive vibe coming from the crowd was incredible, I remember everyone laughing and smiling all weekend, which was the best feeling for us."
Photography, Dominique Bader
Location, Chateau de Robernier
Catering, Gaudefroy Receptions
Flowers, Laetitia C
Videography, Million Memories
Music, Velvet Rose
Bride's gown, Mery's Couture
Hair, On Location Glam
Lighting, Daniel MC
Photo Booth, VIP Box
Performers, Cirque Indigo