It started with a lunch at Archie Moore's. A standing tradition, we meet with Candice Coppola from Jubilee Events every couple of weeks or so to catch up and relax. It's usually the same thing - we sit at the same booth, order the same meals and sometimes even talk about the same things. After one especially fun lunch, we got in the car and Rob suggested what was one of the craziest ideas I had ever heard. "Let's go back to Paris, and do a photo shoot and a workshop!" he said. "In three months." Clearly, he had lost it, I thought. I looked at him like he had ten heads. How in the world would we be able to pull that off? That was just the first of many questions I asked him on that car ride home and like he does most of the time, he had answers for nearly all of my questions. And the ones he didn't the answers for, he told me we would figure it out. I couldn't deny his determination and the more we talked about it, the more it seemed like it just might be possible. If we had the right team to help us.
So we made plans to meet up with Candice for lunch once again. Same place, same booth, same order, one completely crazy idea to discuss. We can't say we were surprised when Candice said she would love to come aboard, even with the tight deadline, because she's just that good. A few short days later Candice had Beth Chapman from The White Dress by the Shore interested and yet another lunch was scheduled. This time at Elizabeth's Cafe in Madison (which is unbelievably delicious, go there now! Well, after you read this and check out the pictures!). Over that lunch the four of us talked excitedly about the plans and Beth and Candice discussed the many possibilities for styling and decor. Both mentioned a shot they had seen on our blog from our trip to Paris in 2008. It's a picture of a man in a newsstand with his two dogs, kind of a very typical thing you would see on a Paris street. They said that would be the starting point for their inspiration board.
Soon the board was created (see below) and everything started to come into place. Beth had a dress she knew would be perfect for the shoot, a stunning tulle gown from Modern Trousseau and a gorgeous necklace from Miss Ruby Sue. Candice had tons of details and accessories compiled in just a short amount of time - stationery from Posh Paperie, table linens from Rentals Unlimited, hair accessories from Twigs and Honey, a tuxedo from Tuxego, cufflinks, you name it - she had it.
It was all coming together very smoothly, with one snag - we very much needed the help of someone on the ground in Paris, with knowledge and expertise of the vendors and locations over there. We found that and more with Kim Peyt from Parisian Events who, even over e-mail, was clearly just as excited about the idea as we were. She worked diligently and found us the perfect location (a large apartment with a roof deck that had a gorgeous view of the Eiffel Tower), flowers by Catherine Muller a cake by Sugarplum Cake Shop, shoes by Vouelle and more. Together, in just a few short weeks the team of the five of us were able to bring together pretty much everything you would possibly need for an actual wedding. No small feat considering it had to be done across several different states, countries and multiple time zones. It may not have been easy, but as you can see below - it was totally worth it.
The four of us here in the U.S. left on three different flights with nearly ten suitcases between us weighing probably nearly a thousand pounds in total. We made plans to have dinner on our first night in Paris, meeting at a place called La Petite Chaise (the Little Chair). In a complete happy coincidence, while walking with Candice on the way to the restaurant we just happened to walk into Beth and her friend Sarah (who accompanied Beth and was a HUGE help assisting with pretty much everything). Dinner at that restaurant, one of the oldest in Paris, was the perfect way to kick off this once-in-a-lifetime experience. We toasted over a bottle of champagne and made the plans for the following day - fittings and gathering together all of the last minute details.
Soon the day of the workshop arrived and we were pumped. The apartment was bustling with energy and excitement from the moment we entered with Beth, Candice and Kim hard at work right away. Our models Segolene and Jeremy arrived and were quickly being made-up by our incredible Paris-based Make-Up Artist Masafumi Matsuda. It was finally time for us to get started on our part.
While we let the experts deal with the decor and styling of the shoot itself, we focused on our workshop part of the day. It may have seemed a bit crazy to many people for us to have our very first workshop overseas, but shooting in Paris had always been a dream of ours, we only thought it would be right to share that opportunity with other photographers. It also seemed like the perfect way to share what we have learned about photographing weddings and running a business over the last six years. When all the attendees arrived, we sat down and got to know one another over orange juice and croissants while hair and make-up and decorating was going on around us. After introductions and a bit of conversation, we spent the rest of the morning talking about the way we run the business-side of things, something our European attendees were very interested in since business is usually run a bit different overseas.
Once our models Segolene and Jeremy were dressed and ready, we started with the shooting part of the workshop, giving each attendee the chance to photograph the models on their own while we gave tips about the best lighting and posing. We then headed up to the roof to capture the details of the gorgeous tablescape Candice had designed and she and Kim had put together. It was a simple white and gray table with a cheery green and yellow centerpiece, floral garland by Kate's Paperie, all set with the backdrop of one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world. It's a bit of an understatement that we photographers (us included) were simply blown away by the incredible styling job done by Beth, Candice and Kim. Between the dresses, hair, accessories, flowers and table - it had all come together in a way that none of could have even pictured even while looking at the inspiration board.
Being March in Paris, of course it had to rain but we made the best of it and used it as a teaching opportunity. We were up for venturing outside with some umbrellas until the hail came. That's right, hail! Pinging off the windows - it was definitely unexpected. But we had fun with it, setting up our models by the window to use the beautiful light that was streaming in and making the most of the situation. Once the rain cleared the group of us made the short walk from the apartment to the Eiffel Tower. How do you have a bride and groom in Paris and NOT shoot in front of the tower?! Thankfully the clouds dissipated and a bright blue sky emerged just in time for our arrival. The crowds and tourists were making their way to the tower seemed endlessly interested in what we were doing and small crowd gathered behind our own group which only added to the excited energy we all already had.
We brought the day to a close with a large group dinner at a nearby restaurant - with red velvet chairs and dramatic drapes, and this wasn't even a fancy place. But it's Paris! That's just how they do it. Over several bottles and wine and courses, we looked out to see the streets were dark and it was getting later. None of us could believe how fast the day had gone by. Safe to say all of us could have gone back out and done it all over again. You never know, maybe we will...
(Also Coming Soon: shots from our Day Two Amelie inspired shoot!)
* Just in case we missed anyone that helped us out in the links above, here is a complete list of the vendors that helped us! Can't thank you all enough! **
Photography: Robert and Kathleen Photographers / Fashion & Model Styling: Beth Chapman, The White Dress by the Shore / Event Design, Planning & Coordination: Jubilee Events / Event Planning: Parisian Events / Gown: Modern Trousseau / Jewelry: Beth Chapman, The White Dress by the Shore / Makeup & Hair: Masafumi Matsuda / Rentals: Rentals Unlimited / Tableware: Noel Collet /home / Shoes: Vouelle / / Headpieces: Twigs and Honey / Paper Cake Topper Menus and Escort Cards: Posh Paperie / Lace Paper and Floral Garlands: kate’s paperie / Floral Design: Catherine Muller / Tuxedo: Tuxego / Calligraphy: Elizabeth Porcher Jones / Cuff Links / Cake: Sugar Plum Cake Shop / Ruffled Tulle Necklace: Miss Ruby Sue / Gown Cleaning and Shoe Preservation: Madame Paulette