The bride, who hails from Saudi Arabia but lives in Paris, had fallen in love with the impressive Salon Opera, one of the most exquisite ballrooms in all of France. A National Heritage Site, it has played host to some of the city’s most iconic residents, for example, Victor Hugo and Sarah Bernhardt. It is oval in shape and also boasts 24 meter-high ceilings topped with a magnificent cupola.
The wedding was a traditional Saudi affair. This meant that all the guests – who hailed from across Europe and Saudi Arabia, as well as Paris – were female. Since the ladies would be showing their faces and dressed in European style, no men were allowed, and this included the staff. Only the groom, the bride and the groom’s close male relatives are allowed to participate in the wedding, and they stay at the ceremony for about thirty minutes before leaving so the women can dine and dance at leisure with the bride.
Arabic weddings begin with the zaffa. For the ceremony, we had set up a gorgeous altar and Meridien chair for the bride and groom. Guests were served coffee, tea, mocktails, as well as chocolates and canapés. The most important part of the zaffa is the bride’s entrance. We made this particularly impactful and amazing, using the high ceilings to video map her wedding logo into the ballroom. The guests caught their first glimpse of her in silhouette through the pink velvet curtains. Then, as we slowly opened them, she was revealed in her breathtaking Celestina Agostino gown.
The client had asked me to recommend my favorite couture designers in Paris and I had mentioned a few. However, she loved Celestina the most. She has the best laces, and also a very unique chic Parisian glamour style, which really suited the bride.
The Salon Opera is very ornate, so we just wanted to enhance the existing décor in our design. The bride loves feathers, gold, and light pink tones, so we brought these in to complete the look. We also had to cover the three mirrors that were behind the altar. This is something we always need to consider, so that the photographs are not spoiled by having a reflection of the guests and photographer. I love how all the décor came together to create such a regal, opulent ballroom wedding design.
Having an all-female event does present some challenges. Anyone visible to the guests must be a woman, including the serving staff. The musicians and singer were male, so we had to place them in a separate room next door. Their music was piped into the main ballroom with video conferencing, so the guests could still enjoy it. Our light and sound engineers were top notch, and it was a huge success.
For the food, the bride had brought her chef from Saudi Arabia. We were happy to coordinate with him and his team, to ensure they were familiar with the kitchens. The hotel staff were extremely cooperative, ensuring that everything ran like clockwork. The chefs made a huge array of Arabic dishes. There was enough food for five hundred people, even though there were only three hundred guests!
Thank you to my wonderful clients. It was a delight to work with you in creating this opulent ballroom wedding in the very heart of Paris. It’s sure to be a night that none of the guests will ever forget!
Wedding Professionals: Wedding Planner: Alejandra Poupel Events, Venue: Grand Hotel Intercontinental, Salon Opera, Photography: Rima Wedding Photo, Furniture: Options France, Event Design: Perspective Art & Design Floral