Now that it’s crystal clear that hosting a big wedding at this time is just not possible due to the spread of COVID-19, we’re sharing the experiences of real couples navigating the re-scheduling, cancellation, and civil and commemorative wedding processes in an attempt to help others make informed decisions and to spread our support to all during this time.
Airlie Cameron and Nicolas Estubier were in a five-year long-distance relationship between Paris and Chamonix in France, when the country went into its lockdown. She moved to the ski town, and in April, they made the decision to get married with no date in mind. Then in October, they gave themselves around two-and-a-half weeks to plan a small civil service and intimate reception.
Initially, the couple were only going to invite two people to witness their marriage—the minimum number of guests legally required to oversee a ceremony. But a friend encouraged them to throw a small party, and the guest list grew to 26 local guests via a Facebook event. Their new plan is to have a larger celebration with more loved ones in her hometown of Washington D.C. in the second half of 2022.
Airlie planned the entire micro-wedding herself. Given the short time frame and the mountain setting, they opted for a casual dinner of tacos and margaritas at a local restaurant—owned by fellow Americans—after the civil service.
For her wedding dress, Airlie thought back to Cara Cara’s Blue Hill dress in Jacobean blue that she had spotted online in July. “I even had sent a screenshot of it to a close friend saying that this may be my future wedding dress,” she says. “In spite of the fact that this dress wasn’t a ‘typical’ white wedding dress, I decided that it was the perfect dress for our Chamonix wedding.” It was further confirmed that her dress was meant to be, as it turns out that one of the Cara Cara owners is one of Airlie’s cousin’s close friends. And the bride loves the fact that she can easily re-wear it, possibly to her future rehearsal dinner in 2022.
Her “something old” was her grandmother’s aquamarine, diamond, and emerald necklace, and she completed the look with a stunning bouquet and flower crown from Fleuri’Cimes. On the day-of, Airlie got ready with Laura Wilson-North, who gave the bride a purple smoky eye and eyelash extensions.
On October 17th, 2020, the civil ceremony at the Chamonix town hall was conducted by government employees with everyone masked. The officiants spruced up the service by making the couple and their four witnesses make up short speeches on the spot. “I felt a bit embarrassed but was at the same time grateful that they livened up a traditionally dry government regimented ceremony,” Airlie says. And after being announced as husband and wife, the couple were given face masks with the Chamonix logo on them.
The newlyweds and their guests then headed to the iconic, red Chamonix train up to a viewing platform of the Montenvers Glacier, where champagne was served, and their friend Amelia Feuer, who is a professional opera singer, sang a moving Czech aria. Once back down at the station, guests, bystanders, and skiers coming off the glacier participated in the traditional rice toss over the just married couple.
In the evening, there was a dinner reception with Tex-Mex cuisine (the couple’s favorite) at Bighorn Bistro, and the new Mr. and Mrs. mingled and danced with their American, Swedish, French, British, Australian, German, and Italian guests, who were all local to the area too. While cutting the cake, Amelia sang “La Vie en Rose,” and guests jumped in on the refrain. And at the end of the night, everyone took home white potted cacti from Ikea, as a nod to the food served.
The two went to Naples, Florida for their honeymoon a week later, and luckily, Nico was able to enter the country, despite the travel ban, as exceptions are made for spouses of American citizens.
Looking back at everything now, the two see their wedding day as perfect—so perfect that they actually have a bit of anxiety on how they’re going to top it in 2022. At the same time, they’re excited about planning their D.C. wedding, so they can finally celebrate with close friends and family.