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Michelle & Jon: Passport to Party at Hotel Bel-Air

By: 
Carrie Bell
Issue: 

Although this couple lived in the same dorm during their freshman years in St. Louis, it wasn’t until both graduates moved to New York City and found apartments three blocks from each other that their relationship blossomed. A mutual love of good pizza and bad movies sealed the deal. During a hike on California’s Catalina island, Jon found the golden opportunity to propose.

To conjure the “bohemian spirit of wanderlust,” this event unfolded like an ideal day of a vacation spent in a quaint French village. The ceremony, with its olive branch-and rosemary-enwrapped iron chuppah, curved herb-lined aisle and pond with swans, felt like a stroll in the Provençal countryside. Cocktail hour was set up like an open-air farmers’ market, with chalkboard signage and “stalls” for artisanal cheese, chilled seafood and fresh crudités. Dinner brought guests to a main-street bistro for beet-and-goat-cheese layer cakes, and sautéed black bass with confit tomatoes and basil zucchini purée.

Grass wasn’t going to give off the right European café vibe, yet the couple didn’t want to sacrifice dining under the stars. The solution? A vintage-inspired, custom-made black-and-white hexagonal-tiled floor placed over the grass.

The reception design paid homage to a beautiful outdoor café with wooden farmhouse tables, woven chairs, linens in peacock blue and natural shades, and a soapstone pedestal bursting with greenery. Also enhancing the atmosphere were flickering candles, an unplugged musical duo, an on-the-scene artist, Greg Kalamar, who painted the convivial gathering, and a double ebony bar with a brass foot rail lit by the soft glow of gold globe lights. Miniature fruit trees, overhead hanging clusters of greenery and citrus-dotted arrangements made the property fresh and fragrant. Attendees were directed to their seats by assignments calligraphed on fresh leaves attached to lemons. The tables featured crates filled with berries, nuts and apricots among fuchsia floral centerpieces set in marble urns and accented with marble hex tiles and wooden boards filled with market cheese selections. Custom napkins also served as menu cards with the evening’s selections printed on the linen fabric and placed at each setting.

The ballroom was transformed into a chic lobby lounge with starburst pendants, tufted ottomans and enlarged prints of the couple’s photography displayed gallery style for the after-party. And just as one might end a day continental style, guests enjoyed gelato, coffee and nightcaps.

After cutting a rug on the pewter dance floor and noshing on late-night snacks, everyone was gifted with a set of glass coasters featuring the “Coffee Cup” series, a collection of personal photos snapped by the couple before sipping their joe during their travels abroad.

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