A Stylish Civil Ceremony in the 11th Arrondissement of Paris—Followed by a Tropical Reception at a Chateau
Cindy Babin, a model, realized she wanted more than friendship with Franklyn Kwakye simply because of the way the professional wedding photographer made her feel. "I knew he was the right one because of his leadership, the way he pulled me up, and the security he gave me," she shares. "Above all, we were true friends before we fell in love and have the kind of relationship where you laugh 24 hours a day—what happiness!"
Despite the challenges the pandemic posed in France, the French couple managed to create a rendition of the wedding they had always dreamed of. "The hardest aspect was that the process wasn't in our hands, but in the hands of God and the government," they say. Luckily, the pair had an ally in Estelle of Madame Wedding Design, who was able to interpret their vision—driven by love and diversity—and help them navigate their wedding safely. "Estelle's proposal highlighted European fine-art colors of cream, clear blue, and blush, along with deep greens and tropical touches," says the bride, noting that the tropical vibe was executed through the use of hundreds of birds of paradise flowers. This unexpected combination encapsulated the couple's wish for a variety of styles to be represented, and they felt comfortable letting the professional design the details of their affair. "We just had to say yes or no. She knew perfectly what was best for us, and we were so happy with the wedding styling. Just amazing," shares Cindy.
Ahead of their chateau celebration, they decided to tie the knot with a civil service in the 11th arrondissement of Paris, where they used to live; following the courthouse service, they hosted a small celebration at a chateau in Aillant-sur-Tholon on August 28, 2020. And while a great number of their loved ones could not be with them on the big day, they have hope for a larger celebration in Africa down the road, when it is safe to travel. The groom, in particular, saw their wedding as a great triumph, and is simply grateful to have married his wife. "Marriage has really been put to the test in 2020," he says, noting that virtually all of the events he was scheduled to photograph last year were impacted by the pandemic. "It is with great humility that I can say that this was a victory. I have hope for 2021 after finding myself married in 2020."
Dressed to Wed
Cindy wore a two-piece ensemble from ASOS for the couple's civil ceremony in the 11th arrondissement of Paris. The duo wanted to first tie the knot in this part of the beloved city; it is where they used to live.
Floraison Paris composed the bride's modern bouquet, punctuated with birds of paradise and full roses; the arrangement subtly previewed the one she would carry down the aisle a week later, during the couple's chateau ceremony.
Franklyn chose a subtly striped suit from Zara for the occasion, which he finished with a navy bow tie.
The couple's service was held at a courthouse and attended by just a few witnesses.
Posing Around Town
After they were wed, they headed over to Vincennes—"far away from the places popular with tourists" and where they currently reside, they say—to pose for a few photos.
A Tropical Touch
The couple's invitation suite included a detailed rendering of their venue, Chateau le Roncemay; the notes were wrapped in vellum adorned with a tropical bird of paradise motif. Inked in blue, the response card was simple and elegant, a lovely foil to the richly vibrant invitation design. "It was really 'us'," says Cindy of the eclectic mix created by Graphikkart.
The exquisite chateau made a storybook backdrop for the couple's big day.
Dress to Impress
For their first look, Cindy chose a graceful wedding dress by Tasya Talitha Paris, complete with a cape; she left her hair down and accented her waves with a gleaming headpiece. Franklyn donned a dark, tailor-made suit by Rives Paris for his first glimpse of his bride. "We discovered each other on the fields of Roncemay," recalls Cindy. "I was very nervous during this moment, but when I saw him, it was obvious that nothing was going to separate us from this incomparable and unshakable love."
The couple changed into different attire for the ceremony—Franklyn opted for a suit with an ivory double-breasted jacket, complete with an ebony bow tie. It was another Rives Paris creation, he explains, which was an intentional choice, one rooted in honoring local, diverse creatives throughout their celebration. "Lamine Sow is the Black owner of the brand, and I have always said that I would pay tribute to him for the quality of his work. He is based in Paris and I am proud to have worn [the product of] his success story," shares Franklyn, noting that his shoes, by Goya Paris, paid homage to another one of his favorite Black fashion designers.
Cindy tapped Tasya Talitha Paris to create her second gown, as well; it was made to measure and she was heavily involved in the design process, she adds. "I had the opportunity to create my dress with her!" the bride shares. "From the choice of fabrics to the sewing, it was a real pleasure." The textured one-shouldered number featured a peek-a-boo bodice; the full A-line shirt was cut with a dramatic side slit.
Orange blooms accented neutral roses and calla lilies in the bride's hand-tied arrangement. "The bouquet mixed tropical flowers with white roses," says Cindy. "The color of the bird of paradise played its role perfectly in the composition."
Blue was the color of the day for Cindy's attendants, who wore flowing chiffon gowns with varying necklines.
Father-Daughter First Look
Ahead of the processional, the bride got a sweet kiss from her dad while an attendant adjusted her train.
The pathway to the altar was lined with a mix of orange-and-white blossoms, which popped against against a running garland of greenery; the day's signature flower brought a modern edge to the design. Franklyn eagerly awaited the arrival of his bride alongside a floral installation at the end of the aisle. He recalls "the moment Cindy's father entrusted me with his daughter and asked me to take care of her" just before he gave her away at the altar as one of the most poignant moments of the day.
Their faith played a deep role in the ceremony, which they personalized extensively. The groom entered to the worship song "Lean Back" by Maverick City Music, while Cindy's processed in to Deborah Lukalu's soulful "Today Is My Day," performed by two friends. The Protestant service was defined by a piece of scripture about love (John 13:34) and followed by their vow exchange. "We wrote our own," says Franklyn. "Cindy shared that I was the best person for her in life, and I reflected on how my decision to propose to her was the biggest decision of my life." The groom added a moment of levity with a reference to the astronomical number of text messages he'd exchanged with the bride since they first met: "Over 100,000, excluding audio!" he says.
Inside the chateau, French-blue table linens laid the foundation for stylish reception tables, courtesy of Madame de la Maison. Ornate chargers were topped with gilded china that picked up the gold in white-handled cutlery.
Floral arrangements were kept low and emphasized by runners of gauzy fabric.
Franklyn dipped his bride during their first dance to "Known" by Tauren Wells.
Photography, Alain M
Venue and Catering, Chateau le Roncemay
Wedding Planning and Event Design, Madame Wedding Design
Flowers, Floraison Paris
Bride's Civil Ceremony Outfit, ASOS
Bride's Wedding Gowns, Tasya Talitha
Jewelry, Maison Sabben
Shoes, Bella Belle Shoes
Hair (civil ceremony), L'Artiste Qui Peint
Hair (wedding day), Modern Bride Paris
Makeup, Beauty By Maeva
Groom's Civil Ceremony Outfit, Zara
Groom's attire, Rives Paris
Catering, Chateau le Roncemay
Cake, Wedding Cakes and Co.
Linens and Tabletop, Madame de la Maison
Rentals, Be Lounge
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