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Fireworks Went Off at This Couple’s French Chateau Wedding

By Shayna Seid | Photography by 

Emilie White

Amanda Kay Wilkins and Philip Stephen Bauer met in their undergraduate honors geography class at Miami University in Ohio. “I had such a crush on him and can still tell you what exact outfit Phil wore during his class presentation. We had class together but never spoke until we ran into each other one night out on campus the following semester. We’ve been together ever since!” Amanda says.

After 10 years of dating, through graduate school, long-distance, and moves, he got down on one knee during a trip to Paris. “We had previously visited the Luxembourg Gardens years before and stumbled upon the Medici Fountain. I knew that someday I would propose there,” Phil says.

The engaged couple were set on hosting a destination wedding, and knew that the French wedding spirit was one they wanted to incorporate. After getting a large positive response from guests about flying across the Atlantic, they found Chateau de Varennes, which could accommodate everyone, and booked it blind. Darling + Pearl created a gorgeous invitation suite and to help plan everything, the bride set up a video call with Jennifer Fox, and they hit it off immediately. For florals, the couple hired Florésie, and to capture it all in moving picture, they got Jay Films to video the whole event. 

As for aesthetic, Amanda wanted something something bold to balance out the French Baroque-style of the venue. “I knew that I wanted punchy colors like fuchsia, deep red, burgundy, and fire coral,” she says.

When shopping for a dress, the bride knew she wanted something with sleeves. She, Phil, and her parents looked for dresses in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. She had first tried her dress on in San Francisco but was determined to see the full Monique Lhuillier trunk show in New York. “However, when I arrived at the Monique Lhuillier flagship in NYC, I knew that ‘Maeve’ was the one for me,” she says.

She completed her bridal look with a matching lace jacket, tulle, cathedral-length veil, and Stuart Weitzman block heels. On the day-of, Phil surprised her with a pair of diamond stud earrings, which she gladly wore. The groom looked dapper in a custom, navy tuxedo from My.Suit and velvet Gucci loafers.

For their welcome dinner, the bride stood out amongst the all-white décor in a red Adam Lippes dress with Jennifer Behr Pluto earrings. And while getting ready on the morning-of, she wore a Lunya silk romper with matching monogrammed robe and blush Gucci loafers. Shanna Wedkemper did the bride’s beauty look and Annette Thornton did the bridal party’s makeup.

In a small chapel on-site, Amanda walked down the aisle with her father, while Aurore Daniel played a violin and cello duet. “The doors to the chapel closed, and the music changed. And then, like a movie, the doors opened, and out of the bright sunlight came Amanda. She was so beautiful— absolutely perfect,” the groom says. 

Phil’s good friend from high school presided over the intimate ceremony. “We actually gave him terrible notice, like two weeks, but he did such a fantastic job,” Amanda says. After the exchanging of the rings, cocktail hour began outside.

Before the seated reception dinner, the bride snuck away to change out of the lace jacket, bustle her gown, and let her hair down into loose waves. Then, everyone met at long, rectangular tables for the delicious meal, which ended with a rose and lemon wedding cake with fondant icing by Synie’s Paris.

For dancing, Popcorn Factory, who had played throughout the evening, continued until the DJ took over at 3 am. “Everyone had told me that French weddings go late, but I had never thought we would stay up that late!” the bride says. The newlyweds had their first dance to “Always Remember Us This Way” by Lady Gaga. “We couldn’t get enough of this song after seeing A Star is Born!” In the middle of the band’s set, guests were surprised with a magical fireworks display.

After the party died down, remaining friends moved into the kitchen to snack on leftover cake and dance to their favorite throwback songs from college until it started getting light out.