“After we decided not to get married in a church, we knew we wanted a beautiful outdoor scene,” says Jessica D’Argenio of her June wedding to Josh Waller. “Versailles was the most beautiful place we could think of.”
The bride attributes her obsession with Sofia Coppola’s film “Marie Antoinette” as an important factor in the decision to travel to France for an intimate ceremony surrounded by 13 family and friends. In lieu of a traditional bachelorette party, D’Argenio even rented out a theater at The Charles for a private screening of the film.
And yet, unlike a film set, the pair’s wedding at Versailles left much to chance. Although the grounds are technically a public park, the couple were unsure of how their wedding would be received by security. Also, in the summer the palace gardens are swarming with tourists, and the prospect of rain is a threat.
As it happened, it did rain— and that was a lucky thing. The weather scared away most of the crowds, yet cleared up by 5 p.m., leaving the wedding party with the grounds more or less to themselves.
The group stood in a circle and passed the rings around in a small bowl, with each person offering a blessing for the marriage. Because they were traveling so far, Jessica had chosen a lightweight ivory gown with beaded lace cap sleeves that could be easily packed. The surroundings were just as she had imagined. “The trees must have been at least three stories tall, and they were all arching in toward the center,” she says. “It felt like a cathedral.”
After the ceremony, the party adjourned to a private dining room at a nearby restaurant for a three-course French dinner. The couple later took the train to Barcelona for a five-day honeymoon.
Upon returning to the states, the couple held a garden cocktail reception at the Waller residence in Westminster, Md., the following month. An array of handmade decorations— fabric pompoms, fringed garlands and paper rosettes— served as lovely accents to the location’s rural backdrop of rolling hills and distant barns. Rather than a traditional sit-down meal, a variety of hors d’oeuvres with French and Spanish influences was passed among the 200 guests. A four-tier wedding cake, designed by Charm City Cakes, featured an array of quirky
Above all, Jessica and Josh wanted to create a party-like atmosphere that was informal and relaxed. The bride wore the same exquisite number she’d worn at Versailles, and music came in the form of iPod playlists. “I’ve never been a huge fan of the major, daylong, really intense weddings,” says D’Argenio. “Our weddings were a lovely experience, rather than a one-day thing.”
Wedding gown Jenny Packham, Rizik’s, Washington, D.C., 202-223-4050, http://www.riziks.com
Catering Jamie Forsythe of b bistro, Baltimore, 410-383-8600, http://www.b-bistro.com
Wedding cake Tommy Mayer, Charm City Cakes, Baltimore, http://www.charmcitycakes.com
Flowers Dale Klietz, J.J. Cummings, Baltimore, 410-783-1156.
Photography Lindsay Hite, Readyluck Photographers, http://www.readyluck.com