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A Seaside Wedding at a Chateau in the South of France

By Alexandra Macon

Romina, a financial advisor and the founder of Gaspa & Romy, a jewelry line that she’s launching in June 2018, met Thomas Bocahut, an architect, through mutual friends at a dinner. She’s Italian, spent her early years in Germany, and then eventually moved to Vancouver, where she grew up. Meanwhile, after finishing architecture school, Thomas followed in his cousin Max’s footsteps and bought a one-way ticket to Vancouver to start a new life. When they met, Romina had just gotten out of a relationship and wasn’t looking for anything serious. “However, we started talking, and I found him—and his accent—to be extremely sweet,” says Romina. “He was kind and open. That said, it wasn’t until the second time I saw him at a party a few months later that sparks started to fly between us. I fell in love right away after that second encounter.”

The two started dating in 2015. “Thomas was waiting with me for my taxi, and as the cab drove up, we said a friendly goodbye to one another,” remembers Romina. “He gave me the longest hug, and getting into the car, the cab driver must have observed this because he told me to get back out and kiss the poor guy. I did, and haven’t regretted it ever since.”

In April of 2017, Thomas proposed while they were on vacation in St. Barth’s. “We spent our last afternoon of vacation at Gouverneur Bay snorkeling,” recalls Romina. “After coming out of the water and getting warmed up on the beach, Thomas surprised me by telling me he’d found a special sea shell. He gave me a beautiful box with an unforgettable ring he found on the island in it, and he proposed to me there as we were laying down on the beach. It was truly romantic and heavenly!”

“I knew I had to propose while we were on vacation,” says Thomas. “When else would I find such a beautiful setting?” They celebrated at an intimate lunch at the Cap du Eden Roc hotel, and again later that evening with Thomas’s parents who were also on the trip.

After vacation, they immediately threw themselves into the planning process. From the very start, they knew that they wanted a wedding close to Thomas’s summer family home, nearby St. Jean Cap Ferrat, 10 minutes away from Nice. “This place is very special to Thomas as he spent every summer growing up in St. Jean,” explains Romina. “He wanted me to be a part of this by getting married here.” Once they’d settled on the location, they started searching for a venue large enough to host all of their family and friends for a few days.

“We were both very picky, and Thomas being an architect, wanted a space that would create the perfect atmosphere for hosting a warm and welcoming reception,” says Romina. “Luckily, I came across Chateau de Montfort in La Colle Sur Loup, an hour away from Nice, online. The Chateau dates back to the 12th Century, and the grounds are just magical.”

Lush gardens, beautiful and unique architecture with medieval archways, and a large outdoor pool made for the perfect setting. “The grounds were big enough for people to find hidden corners and transport themselves to a different space and time,” says Romina. “Which we of course loved. We actually never saw the venue in real life beforehand, but we entrusted Thomas’s parents with seeing it, and after they did, they gave us their seal of approval. They actually called us immediately and said we had to have the wedding there!”

They picked their shared birthday month of September for the wedding, and after that, the date just fell in their laps. “We decided on the 29th—Thomas wanted to get married the same year we got engaged, which overall I’m so happy we did!” They enlisted Emilie Alberini from Luxuria Services to handle everything. “She made sure it was all flawless,” says Romina. “Because Emilie is based in France, we coordinated with her through Skype, email, and Thomas’s parents, as we were in Vancouver throughout the entire process.”

When it came time to choose her wedding weekend wardrobe, Romina knew she wanted a dress that was soft and feminine. “My mother was the biggest help,” says the bride. “She really knows what I look best in.” After trying on several dresses, she put on one by Maggie Sottero, and everyone just stopped and stared. “That’s when I knew it was the one,” she says with a laugh. “I loved the neckline and bust, how it contoured perfectly without revealing too much. Seeing the dress from behind, the simple details of the buttons and the gathering of the fabric—I felt very French in it.” She chose a shorter veil in blush to give the look a more classic feel and paired this with minimal jewelry.

Romina never planned on having a second dress. “That said, when it was presented to me, and considering how large my ceremony dress was, I thought why not?” she admits. “I fell in love with it immediately after trying it on. I liked how the two dresses were completely different from one another.” The evening look was more glamorous, with fine detailed beading, a simple silhouette, and a side slit. Romina paired it with vintage chandelier earrings and sparkly Micheal Kors opened toed shoes.

Thomas wore a Dior tux. “I was inspired to wear a light blue bow tie like Cary Grant in the movie Houseboat,” he says. “My wife presented me with a pair of black Tahitian pearl cufflinks with red rubies—a gift I wore during the ceremony. They were a nice final touch. How did she know?”

Bridesmaids were in dresses by Monique Lhuillier. “I wanted them to each have their individual look but to complement each other,” says Romina. “Honestly, my inspiration came from the Clarins cousins—that famous photo of them each wearing an ethearal yet different dress.”

The civil ceremony was in France. “With Thomas being French and me being Italian, it was without a question that we would be married legally in Europe,” explains Romina. It was held the day before the wedding at Marie de Saint Jean Cap Ferrat.

The church ceremony on the 29th was at the Église Saint-Jean-Baptiste, overlooking the bay of the Cap Ferrat. The quaint church was decorated with simple white flowers ranging from baby’s breath, roses, hydrangeas, and ivy, and the service was done in French, with one English reading for Psalms. “It all felt very surreal—I saw Romina walking towards me and all my emotions came to the surface,” says Thomas. “It was truly a beautiful moment that will forever be in my heart.”

They kept the service very traditional. “I was nervous as French is not my first language; however, I managed—and thank goodness no one minded my accent as I was saying my vows.” Following French Catholic traditions, the bride and groom kissed each other’s wedding bands after exchanging vows. There was a prayer for the Virgin, and the bride’s second bouquet was given as an offering to provide fertility and happiness in the marriage. Guests had flown in from Canada, Italy, Israel, the United Kingdom, and Germany, and they loved how the ceremony was made up of traditional French customs.

Following the ceremony, everyone moved outside onto the church patio for the traditional vin d’honneur overlooking the cape. “Everyone enjoyed themselves for a couple of hours before we headed to the back of the chateau,” says Romina.

After taking a few photos, the bride and groom changed into their evening attire, and guests were greeted by the pool with cocktails and canapés. The couple greet their guests and then poured champagne over the champagne tower. “I’d wanted to do this ever since I was a child!” laughs Romina. “Looking at it, I thought it would be easier to get all the bubbles flowing down!”

There was an outdoor dinner under a garden canopy. Dinner was plated and started with a bouquet of crayfish, foie gras briochine, and caramel spiced fruits. The main dish was veal medallion, done the “Rossini Way,” with creamy potatoes mash and vegetables of the season. The interlude was a spoonful of limoncello sorbet. Dessert was an assortment of petit fours and the traditional Piece Montee, a tiered wedding cake made with cream puffs.

Speeches were given via an open mic: “We did not want any forced speeches and let the evening roll out with well wishes as they may,” says Romina. “And, a beautiful poem was dedicated to me by Thomas’s friend, Thomas (nicknamed German Tom as he is from Germany, and my Thomas is French Tom). All the speeches were heartfelt, funny and charming.”

Afterwards, the newlyweds shared their first dance, and then a DJ played everything from Daft Punk to Sinatra. “We cut our cake after some dancing,” says Romina. “And, we ended the evening with everyone playing bartender and telling us how much they enjoyed the day.”