An oasis in the vast Moroccan desert, the luxurious Le Palais Paysan saw the wedding of Priscilla & Brendan unfold. The Bride, effortlessly classic in a lace Inbal Dror gown, juxtaposed by a whirlwind of terracotta dust, and soft neutral florals.
The reception lay amidst a dispersion of sand dunes, with hints of Tuscan detailing, decadent tablescapes embellished with brushed gold & familiar scent of Rosemary. The soft light of dusk allowed the Moroccan lanterns to illuminate the turquoise waters of the Palais Paysan pool.
NAMES: Priscilla Tan & Brendan O’Grady
WEDDING DATE: June 2105
GUEST NUMBERS: 100
HOW WE MET: I had actually heard of Brendan months before we met because our mutual friend had been trying to sell me on the idea that he had the perfect guy for me but given his previously disappointing recommendations, I didn’t quite believe him! But, on the rainiest night that San Francisco had ever seen, that same friend convinced me to leave the warm and dry of my house to go to a birthday party and lo and behold, that friend was right. Brendan and I met at the entrance to the party and spent the rest of the night laughing and dancing. We had our first date the next day... and our second date the day after that. The rest is history!
OUR ENGAGEMENT STORY: On a whim – or so I thought – Brendan decided he would meet me for lunch one Friday afternoon. As we walked to lunch, he suggested that we stop for a quick ice skating session at the miniature rink at The Standard Hotel since I’d been dying to go since we moved to NYC two years before. Keep in mind that Winter 2014 was dubbed the Polar Vortex so I was definitely bundled up like an eskimo in a giant, black and puffy, knee-length down coat with the hood pulled on and cinched tightly around my face. After 15 minutes of skating and waddling our way around the rink, Brendan stopped and asked me to take off my hood. Obviously, my first response was “Are you crazy?! I’m going to freeze to death!” but luckily I humoured him because before I could blink, he was down on one knee, ring box in hand. The entire skating rink and the sidewalk bystanders erupted into cheers and out of the crowd popped a hidden photographer that had been capturing our entire escapade. After I said “Yes!”, Brendan told me to pack a bag and be ready to leave in 4 hours. On top of the engagement surprise, he had planned a surprise trip to the Maldives for us. Am I lucky or what?
(Interview continued beneath gallery..)
MARRIAGE TO US MEANS: Love is wonderful, amazing, intoxicating & fun, but a marriage is something you build together. And it takes work; real, hard work sometimes. Marriage is an adventure embarked upon by two where ‘I” becomes “we” and you learn to grow better together and to grow wiser together.
WEDDING LOCATION: We chose Marrakech and the Moroccan Atlas Mountains for our destination wedding. The three-day event started with a visit of the Djemaa El Fna Unesco Site for a traditional mint tea followed by a rehearsal dinner in an ancient medina Riad. Over our years together, exploring the world has been at the heart of our relationship, so it was a no-brainer that we would host a destination wedding. The first time we ever visited Morocco we fell in love with the country – the colors, landscape, architecture, people, food – and out of all the places we explored, the Atlas Mountains harbour our best memories, so we knew our wedding had to be in the countryside and feature amazing views of the Atlas mountains. With the help of wedding planners, Boutique Souk, we chose Le Palais Paysan boutique hotel to host our international friends and family and celebrations.
THEME/STYLE: Clean, minimalist, modern, effortless. The only two colors in my closet are black and white, and although I love these extremes, I’m also very drawn to the greenery of the natural world. Trees and plants always hold more emotion and fascination for me than flowers so this was an overarching creative mandate for the event. My vision was to create an elegant party in a naturally stunning environment – no crystal chandeliers or decadent floral arrangements.
PHOTOGRAPHY: Andreas Holm -There is a raw elegance to Andreas’ style of shooting and we loved the uncontrived intimacy that he is able to capture with his lens.
VIDEOGRAPHY: Happy Wedding Films. Jon Aleksandr and team have a distinct, rustic and stark yet polished style of film that really spoke to us. Love and energy leap off the screen when you watch their films.
BRIDE’S DRESS: French lace gown by Inbal Dror: fitted mermaid silhouette with deep V-neck plunge, low U-back and cathedral train.
BRIDE’S SHOES: Stuart Weitzman Nudist sandals in Platinum.
BRIDESMAID’S SHOES: Drauzia woven sandal by Schutz in gold.
WEDDING RINGS: Our wedding bands and engagement ring were custom designed by Allison Greenwell. Wedding bands: Full band of diamonds with shared prong setting in platinum for Priscilla; platinum band for Brendan. Engagement ring: round cut diamond with 4 micro prongs low-set in platinum, there are 3 small diamonds embedded in the band to the left of the main stone in a nod to my love for all things asymmetric in style.
JEWELLERY/ACCESSORIES: I chose not to wear any jewelry except for my engagement ring. My usual style is always minimal jewelry and I wanted to keep to that aesthetic: only wear what matters! Each girl wore a gift from the bride: a custom silk and gold bracelet by COATT which detailed each girl’s first initial in Morse code.
GROOMSMEN ATTIRE: The groom wore a made-to-measure tuxedo by Franco Ercole, custom shirt by Cego, cufflinks and studs by Ippolita, and velvet tuxedo slippers by Barneys New York. Groomsmen all wore black tuxedos by Theory.
HAIR: Hair was worn down and in loose waves without any adornment. I wanted the look to be natural and not take away from the drama of the dress, yet still be able to stand and balance against the unique style of the dress.
MAKEUP: Inspiration was taken from the warm, golden tones of the Sahara. Warm, browns and gold for the eyes; peach gloss for the lips; and instead of pinks or peaches for the cheeks, we opted for a sun-kissed, dune gold dusting on the cheekbones.
STATIONERY/INVITATIONS: Save the dates and wedding invitations custom designed by Becca Halev.
FAVORS/BONBONNIERE: As guests arrived to their hotels and Riad’s in Marrakech, they were greeted with a hand-delivered letter and welcome gift bag filled with our explorations in the souks: organic Argan oil for hair and skin, Moroccan pastries, cookies and fresh fruit for hunger pangs, solid musk for home fragrance, Taous soap for dusty days in the desert, and nigella seeds for headaches and hangovers!
FLOWERS & BOUQUETS: I’ve never been the type to love colorful, romantic flowers but I’ve always gravitated toward succulents, herbs, and greenery. I wanted the floral décor and bouquets to be minimalist and sophisticated and to reflect the natural environment of Morocco. Olive leaves and rosemary featured prominently throughout the ceremony and tablescapes. Each menu had a sprig of rosemary atop with the note: Rosemary, a symbol of fidelity, loyalty, and remembrance.
BRIDES BOUQUET: Olive branch and ivory Atlas roses.
BRIDESMAIDS BOUQUETS: Ivory Atlas roses.
PREPARATION: We had a casual bridesmaids brunch at Le Palais Paysan before we started our beauty prep and while the girls moved to hair and makeup, the groomsmen and Brendan had a groomsmen lunch on the terrace of the hotel. Before the rehearsal dinner, all the girls went for a mani/pedi trip and blowouts at Dessange Salon. On the day of the wedding, all the girls had hair and makeup done together at Le Palais Paysan by Phillipe from Dessange Salon and Marian Filali.
CEREMONY DÉCOR/ RECEPTION DÉCOR: The romantic afternoon ceremony was celebrated in an olive grove under a canopy of Atlas roses intertwined with draped, natural linen. Dark wood chairs with white cushions for guests were twined with olive leaves and hanging baskets of roses lined the aisle. Rose petals were scattered to create a path for the bride and guests were given baskets of rose petals to throw as the bride and groom recessed down the aisle.
A basket of bamboo and paper parasols were provided for guests seeking additional shade. Dinner was served in the setting of the pool pavilion with 180-degree views of the Atlas Mountains as a backdrop. The tables were adorned with aromatic lavender, rosemary, succulents, and Atlas roses. Glass candelabras and tea-lights were woven throughout the tablescape to create the bride’s visIon of twinkling lights in the desert night and the event’s palette was green, white and gold, reflecting the groom’s Irish heritage. Each table was named for a significant moment in the couple’s relationship (first date, first apartment, first trip) and table names were placed in gold gilt frames.
Place cards were attached to Marigold, Moroccan tassel wedding favours. The outdoor dining area was surrounded by hundreds of white Moroccan lanterns, open fires and candles, and the trees surrounding the pavilion were hung with glass Moroccan lanterns.
WEDDING PLANNER/ WEDDING STYLIST: Rosena and Fred Charmoy of Boutique Souk, an Irish and French couple who met and married whilst planning other people’s weddings and events in the intoxicatingly, exotic Marrakech.
CAKE: French pièce montée tower wedding cake. It was so good that guests were still nibbling at the mountain at 3 AM and again at breakfast the next day!
WEDDING SONGS: The bride was accompanied down the aisle by her father to The Beatles- In My Life and the couple took their first steps down the aisle as newlyweds to Marvin Gaye’s - How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You. The couple chose Stand By Me by Ben E. King for their first dance.
ENTERTAINMENT: Boutique Souk - in-house Dj; Dj Imad. Brendan takes his music very seriously and he curated all playlists for the entire wedding weekend. We knew our guests love to dance so we chose a mix of new and old but threw in a heavy mix of nostalgic beats that are reminiscent of our years at business school because we knew those were the songs that would keep the party going!
FOOD & BEVERAGES: While we snuck away for a couple’s photo session, guests enjoyed a cocktail reception watching the sunset over the Atlas Mountains while nibbling on goodies from long trestle tables laden with Moroccan snacks, Mediterranean bites, and an array of dips and canapés. Our favorites were the artichoke carpaccio and the toast points made of Moroccan but-but bread. Hours of dancing ensued and the party wrapped up with many guests swimming in the pool to cool off! Late night revellers refuelled with a Moroccan BBQ and the return of the famous toasted but-but bread with hommus, cheese, and dips.
HONEYMOON: Right after the wedding weekend, we took a minimoon to Sicily to visit Mount Etna and the seaside town of Taormina. We loved our stay at Monaci delle Terre Nere on the slopes of Mount Etna. It used to be a monastery and each room has its own, unique style. The food is out of this world as all the produce is grown organically on the property and the pasta is all made in-house.
Hiking up the volcanic slopes of Mount Etna is not to be missed – it’s like visiting the moon (or a black soil version of the Sahara dunes)! The landscape is incredible. We are off to Raja Ampat in West Papua (Indonesia) for our official honeymoon in December. We are avid scuba divers and Raja Ampat is known to have the best diving in the world due to the richness of biodiversity and almost inaccessible nature of the islands. We’ll be sailing on the 5-cabin Alila Purnama for a week in the northern region and then spending another week at the Misool Eco Resort in the southern region. It takes 48 hours to reach from the US but we think it’s going to be the trip of a lifetime!
GIFT REGISTRY: Living in NYC means sacrificing on space so we opted for a Honeymoon Honeyfund. For the more traditional guest, we chose Simple Registry for the usual home furnishings. Memorable gifts: windsurfing lessons and a helicopter tour.
CELEBRANT: Our officiant was my Stanford classmate and the friend responsible for introducing us to each other. Since Rock was the one who started our journey, it felt only fitting that he be the one to close one chapter and help us open the next. He always told me that he expected to be a bridesmaid at our wedding but I figured he’d look better in a tux!
READINGS: We both wrote our own vows for the ceremony. Here is a snippet: 'I promise to grow old gracefully with you, and even though we may lose the spring in our steps, I will always hold your hand as we take our after dinner strolls. And while we fall asleep. And through whatever twists and turns life may bring to us. I promise to be yours, just as you are mine. I promise to love you just as you are, for all that you are, and for all that you may become.'
ANY OTHER SPECIAL DETAILS: The three-day event started in Marrakech with a visit to the main square – Djeema El Fna Unesco Site – for a traditional Moroccan mint tea followed by the couple’s modern version of a Chinese tea ceremony on the terrace of an ancient riad in the Medina where we (assisted by the maid of honor) served tea to the parents of the bride and parents of the groom. A rehearsal dinner followed under the trees of the open-air courtyard in the same riad. What really made the ceremony special for us was the involvement of our family and friends. In preparation for the wedding day, we asked our parents to write us letters with their hopes and wishes and advice for us which we would read on our wedding day and reread on each anniversary. During the ceremony, we took a moment to acknowledge our parents and they were invited to come forward and place their letters in a Thuyawood box (these trees are native to the Western Atlas mountains). Our wedding bands (and my engagement ring!) were custom designed by March Jewelry, founded by one of my bridesmaids.
SOURCES OF INSPIRATION: Before I sat down to plan, I thought back on the best weddings I’d ever been to and realized that effortlessness and fun were the common ingredients. For every decision we made, I asked myself “Will this be easy for our guests? Will this be fun for our guests?” Our first and foremost goal was to host an unforgettable party for our family and friends in a gorgeous setting. I’ve always shied away from the spotlight so I didn’t want the day to be all about me! Instead, I tried to reflect my personality and style in all the little details from the food all the way through to the fonts so that on our special day, the focus would be on full bellies, full glasses, and full hearts. Pinterest was very helpful when collaborating across time zones and oceans, especially for stationery design and tablescapes.
I literally hunted the world to find my wedding dress (San Francisco, Boston, and New York) but my guiding inspiration was always Carolyn Bessette Kennedy’s Narciso Rodriguez silk wedding gown.
A MEMORABLE MOMENT: Despite a tussle with Moroccan customs control, we managed to bring white, paper and bamboo parasols for all guests as a respite from the summer sun during the ceremony and we filled a basket with black and white flip flops for tired feet as the dancing continued into the wee hours. Of course we also brought Summer 2015’s most in-demand accessory to Morocco: a giant, white swan float. The swan made its debut at the Friday bridal party pool party BBQ and returned on Saturday as the guest of honor for the wedding afterparty in the pool!
ONE THING I WISH I KNEW BEFORE I STARTED MY WEDDING PLANS... The wedding day passes by faster than you could ever imagine. Make sure you plan enough time to have some quality moments with your parents before the whirlwind takes over.
IF I COULD GIVE OTHER BRIDES TO BE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE.. The best piece of advice I got for my wedding day was: relax, enjoy your party, and make sure you get to try the food! I definitely took those words to heart.
PRISCILLA & BRENDAN’S CONTACTS:
PHOTOGRAPHER: Andreas Holm
BRIDE'S DRESS: Inbal Dror
BRIDESMAIDS SHOES: Schutz
JEWELLERY & ACCESSORIES: COATT
HAIR: Philippe Laurent
MAKEUP: Marian Filali
STATIONERY/INVITATIONS: Becca Halev
CAKE: Le 16
CATERING: Le Palais Paysan
CELEBRANT: Rock Meng (Friend of couple)
WEDDING VENUE: Le Palais Paysan
HONEYMOON DESTINATION: Sicily, Raja Ampat (West Papua, Indonesia)
ENTERTAINMENT: Boutique Souk