A Wedding with Persian Touches on the French Riviera
Heather Rodgers and Cyrus Roepers-Chamlouâ€™s relationship didnâ€™t start at the most opportune time. In 2010, they met in Washington, D.C. just before Heather was off to a year-long business school program in Madrid, Spain. â€śWe decided to try a transcontinental long-distance relationship,â€ť she says. â€śThanks to a lot of BBMs, it worked.â€ť
Eight years later, the couple, who co-founded the kitchen goods e-commerce brand Virginia Boys Kitchens, invited 140 friends and family from 40 countries to witness their â€śI dosâ€ť in Grasse, France. The town in the French Riviera is quite close to where Cyrusâ€™ family has gathered for more than 40 years, and while the destination was familiar, their venue was not. â€śWe booked the venue sight unseen,â€ť Heather says, who noted her future father-in-law actually discovered the chateau while driving in the area. â€śIt was so close to the familial home that it made it a sure-fire winner.â€ť
The coupleâ€™s wedding came together organically, and in true French fashion, had a rather laissez-faire vibe. Heather wanted to honor Cyrusâ€™s Dutch and Persian backgrounds while also giving nods to the Mediterranean lifestyle. She did that by including a trail of Persian rugs to the Chateau and a reading of a Rumi poem in Farsi during the ceremony as well as through a family-style meal and, of course, serving a croquembouche in lieu of a wedding cake. It all came together with the help of local planner Estelle Kouma, whom Heather calls a â€śmiracle-worker.â€ť â€śEstelle was able to help us steer the ship to something that had a little bit of everybody,â€ť she says. â€śIn the end, spending an unbelievable night with all your nearest and dearest in one place is worth all the madness.â€ť
â€śWe wanted our guests to feel like they were enjoying a fun evening in the comfort of a friendâ€™s home, not necessarily a large chateau in the Riviera,â€ť Heather says of planning the celebration. â€śWe had to be very mindful about the flow and the progression of the events, most notably, not to have anything kill the momentum.â€ť
Heather admits she initially bought the â€śwrong oneâ€ť when it came to her wedding dress. After realizing that the first dress she tried onâ€”at Loho Bride in San Francisco while on a business trip to Napa Valleyâ€”was â€śthe one,â€ť she purchased the French lace gown and lace veil. She paired the look with gold Valentino shoes and heirloom jewelry, including a piece from Cyrusâ€™s grandmother. â€śGrandmother jewelry is the best,â€ť Heather adds.
Heather says sheâ€™ll always cherish the moment that Cyrus and she exchanged private vows before the ceremony during their first look. But it wasnâ€™t completely serious: the couple played rock-paper-scissors to decide whoâ€™d read first.
â€śOur florist was wonderful and really brought to life the gazebo by adorning it with babyâ€™s breath, white local garden roses, and greenery,â€ť Heather says of the dĂ©cor around the altar. â€śIt was beyond what I had imagined. Totally beautiful.â€ť
As a duo of violinists played, Heather made her grand entrance escorted by her father and her mother.
Heather and Cyrus exchanged a second set of handwritten vows for the ceremony with their guests, with Cyrus taking a more comical approach in front of friends and family. They also included a reading from his favorite poet, Rumi. Cyrusâ€™s grandfather recited it in Farsi.
Cyrus donned a custom-made blue linen-silk suit from Alton Lane that he also accented with family pieces. He wore his grandfatherâ€™s cufflinks.
During cocktail hour, guests sipped Kir Royales amidst Middle Eastern-inspired dĂ©cor like poufs and more Persian rugs.
While Heather designed the invitations and signage herself (â€śa fun pet project for my weekends," she says), she did head to Etsy for help with the custom escort cards for the reception.
Wooden tables were lined with eucalyptus garlands, vases of petite blooms, and â€śas many candles as we could fit without creating a fire hazard," Heather says. They maintained the candlelit atmosphere by hanging strings of tea lights over the dining area.
Since the couple knew food would be the centerpiece of the table, they kept the place settings minimal with an olive leaf and menu. Dishes included Provencal fare like Nicoise salad and Poulet Basquaise paired with biodynamic wines from the nearby Chateau de Passavant.
The dance floor was set next to a Roman-style pool on the chateauâ€™s property, which was the perfect performance location for the coupleâ€™s surprise first dance. After faking out the crowd with a simple slow dance to Ed Sheeranâ€™s â€śThinking Out Loud,â€ť the music cut to Carlos Gardelâ€™s saucy tango piece, â€śPor Una Cabeza.â€ť The couple broke out into ballroom-style number that included Cyrus dancing with a rose in his mouth. â€śI feel like those are pictures weâ€™re going to look back on when weâ€™re old and wrinkly to show our grandkids how cool we once were,â€ť Heather says with a laugh.
Heather and Cyrus blended business with pleasure for their six-month honeymoon that took them from Portugal to Japan. Beyond meeting with suppliers, highlights included a road trip through northern Spain, a month wandering the island of Bali, serious time in Thailand and Vietnam, and a celebration of the Chinese New Year in Hong Kong.