Colleen & Andrew: Le Mariage

It all started with French class.

  • Bride and Groom
    Photo by Laura Ivanova Photography
    The couple wanted something elegant and intimate for their summer wedding.
  • Bride and Groom exchanging vows
    Photo by Laura Ivanova Photography
    Colleen and Andrew exchanged vows under a birch chuppah.
  • white ranunculus boutonnieres
    Photo by Laura Ivanova Photography
    The men wore white ranunculus boutonnieres accented with geranium
  • The grand staircase
    Photo by Laura Ivanova Photography
    The grand staircase served as the “aisle” for the ceremony.
  • snippets of lavender were tucked into the napkin
    Photo by Laura Ivanova Photography
    Snippets of lavender were tucked into the napkin at each place setting.
  • The bride's petite bouquet
    Photo by Laura Ivanova Photography
    The bride asked for a petite bouquet so she could hold her parents’ hands as they gave her away.
  • Mercury glass votives
    Photo by Laura Ivanova Photography
    Mercury glass votives added to the ambiance of the room.
  • cake
    Photo by Laura Ivanova Photography
    Garden roses and ranunculus adorned the cake.
  • bite-sized fried oysters
    Photo by Laura Ivanova Photography
    D’Amico served bite-sized fried oysters, the bride’s favorite.
  • The programs
    Photo by Laura Ivanova Photography
    The programs carried over the design from the invitations.
  • guests’ seating cards
    Photo by Laura Ivanova Photography
    Animal stamps on guests’ seating cards indicated their meal.
  • Bride and Groom wedding rings around lavender
    Photo by Laura Ivanova Photography
    The couple used lavender as a way to incorporate France into their decor.
  • Lemon leaf floral swags
    Photo by Laura Ivanova Photography
    Lemon leaf floral swags adorned the bride’s and groom’s chairs.
  • invitation envelopes
    Photo by Laura Ivanova Photography
    The same script from the invitations was used on the envelopes.
  • Bride's shoes
    Photo by Laura Ivanova Photography
    The bride’s first wedding-related purchase was this pair of Valentino stunners.
  • tall centerpieces
    Photo by Laura Ivanova Photography
    The couple wanted tall centerpieces to draw the eye up to the venue’s vaulted ceilings.
  • Lemon leaf wreaths
    Photo by Laura Ivanova Photography
    Lemon leaf wreaths welcomed guests at the doors.

It all started with French class. French 102, to be exact. Andrew, then a junior at the University of Chicago, was the only guy in the class, and he happened to get paired up with a cute freshman named Colleen.

As they got to know each other, he started asking her out to coffee. Again. And again. And again. “She was very Minnesota Nice about it; she sort of avoided the issue,” he says. “I never really had the sense that she wasn’t interested, but I also never got a clear yes either.” Luckily, his persistence paid off, and toward the end of the year she finally said yes. The coffee date turned into a real date, and they’ve been together ever since—through graduation, job changes, grad school, long-distance dating, and a move to New York City.

Eight years of dating finally culminated in a mid-snowstorm proposal on December 21, 2010, while the couple was visiting Colleen’s family in the Twin Cities. As they started planning their wedding, the now-New Yorkers knew they wanted to get married in Colleen’s hometown. They loved the open, airy feel of Calhoun Beach Club and thought it would be a great venue to show off Minnesota to their out-of-town guests (particularly the picky New Yorkers).

“We wanted something elegant but simple and something that would be very much a celebration—very joyful, full of lots of laughter, and something very intimate,” says Colleen. One important way the couple cultivated that intimacy was by choosing an officiant who knew them both well: Colleen’s oldest brother. “That sort of set the tone for the wedding,” says Andrew.

The ceremony itself Andrew upon the bride and groom’s respective religious traditions, incorporating both Catholic and Jewish touches. About 200 friends and family surrounded the couple as they married under a beautiful birch chuppah, which was draped with greenery and covered with Colleen’s grandmother’s Irish lace.

“It felt like a really nice way to integrate both sides,” says Colleen. “I think it was really the centerpiece of our day.” Other traditional elements included a blessing of the rings, a unity candle, the breaking of the glass, and dancing the hora. “We wanted both traditions represented and we may have gone a little overboard,” laughs Colleen. “It was really nice, though. Our ceremony was really important to us, and it had a lot of substance.”

The thoughtful touches continued into the reception, thanks in large part to the creativity of florist Tara Bailie, who crafted the look of the tables. “She suggested that we take my engagement ring as inspiration, which has mixed metals in it (silver and gold), so she chose a champagne linen and a pewter napkin for the silver and gold,” says Colleen. They worked in Colleen’s favorite color—yellow—among the bouquets of simple white flowers, which were placed in mercury vases to continue the look of silver and gold mixed together. The tiered cake included tasteful touches of gold ribbon, along with a black flower motif that duplicated the design from the couple’s wedding invitation and echoed the flowers on Colleen’s wedding gown, which she’d found at Amsale’s flagship store in New York. (The cake also featured a custom-made cake topper of their dog, Sam, with a little paw-printed sign that said “I do too!”)

Among the elegant tablescapes, the sunny lake views, and the delicious D’Amico food, there was one other small but particularly symbolic detail: Sprigs of lavender were tucked into the napkin in each place setting—a special nod to that fateful first meeting in French class nine years earlier.

Ceremony/reception: Calhoun Beach Club
Dress: Primrose dress by Christos from Amsale
Bridesmaids’ dresses: Amsale
Groom’s/groomsmen’s attire: Personal tuxes
Rings: Leslie Berman Inc. (the groom’s mother) in New York
Catering/cake: D’Amico Catering
Custom dog cake topper: Laurie Valko via Etsy
Flowers and chuppah: A Day in Provence
Invitations: Epitome
Calligraphy: Rosann K Calligraphy
Ceremony music: Brian Sundberg String Quartet and Simone Perrin
Reception band: The Sevilles
Linens/rentals: Linen Effects
Wedding coordinator: Joan Nilsen of Ambiente
Makeup: Nordstrom and Uptown Hair District
Videography: Vibrant Films
Honeymoon: Vancouver, British Columbia