In September of 2019, as I was visiting my fiancé in Hawaii, he proposed to me on the beach and it was so special. When I went back to France a couple of days later, my family and I almost immediately jumped into wedding planning. It was pretty tough because I was studying in the South of France, my fiancé was in Hawaii, his family in Georgia, and my family – also where the wedding was originally supposed to take place – was in my hometown, on the French west coast. That made the wedding planned NOT an easy process, especially since we were on a tiiiiight budget, given that I was still a college student.
I’ll spare you the planning details, but we had booked a beautiful vineyard venue next to my hometown, had bought my wedding dress, planned all the food, drinks, booked the caterer – we wanted a very local wedding so we had booked a galettes & crêpes food truck because it’s traditional from my region – and Steven’s family had booked all of their tickets from the US, accommodations, and rentals in France.
But, like anybody who had planned a wedding in 2020, ours did not go according to plan, at all. We obviously had to cancel the whole thing, especially since the borders between our 2 countries were closed. We originally thought we were simply postponing it but we honestly still don’t know to this day when or if we will be able to have our French vineyard wedding.
When we realized we had to cancel it altogether, that’s when we decided to apply for a fiancé visa for me to move permanently to the US and get married there. At this point, we’re in April of 2020. Little did we know that this process – which usually takes 5 to 7 months – would in fact take 13 months and that I wouldn’t be able to move to Vegas until June of 2021.
We eventually got legally married at the Las Vegas courthouse in August of 2021, because we legally had 90 days to get married – the same visa as the show 90-day fiancé – and we had to get started on my green card paperwork asap. It was just us with no family, only 2 friends as witnesses.
When the US borders opened to the rest of the world in November of 2021, that’s when we really started talking about a wedding again. We knew it was gonna be extremely intimate, just my immediate family and his. But since we were already legally married, we would have had to do a vow renewal.
My family flew in from France on February 5th, 2022, and stayed in town for 3 weeks. Steven’s parents also made it for a long weekend and it ended up being the weekend of our 5th meeting anniversary! That’s when we settled on a date: February 12th, exactly 5 whole years since we started talking for the first time.
Okay, I’ll admit it, up until two days before the wedding, we were still torn between a chapel wedding in Vegas and doing it outdoors. Why? Because a chapel wedding would mean no planning on our part – our families were in town and it was the first time they were meeting so we had our hands full – and because it really reflected life in Vegas, you know?
But one night, Steven gave me a serious reality check: I love the outdoors, and so does he. Plus, none of us is religious. And we live so close to such amazing places, where we would literally do all of this for free. Moreover, that week was the best weather-wise in Vegas, which was a really good surprise for February.
So here we are, the day before the wedding, only knowing we want to do it at Red Rock Canyon – see this blog post to learn more about Red Rock -. But where exactly? How? What time? Who’s gonna “fake” officiate it?
I ended up writing the whole ceremony script both in French and English and had my friend Vina officiate it because she speaks both languages. I looked for non-religious scripts online, and vow renewal ones, and I just mixed them and adapted them to our situation and families. I looked at maps of Red Rock, and decided that we were all gonna meet up at a specific parking lot – the second one after the gate – and that… we’d go from there?
On the morning of February 12th, 2022, my husband went and met up with my dad, brother-in-law, and his parents, while I stayed home with my mom and sister. All I wanted to do was to get ready with my two favorite women in the world – 3, if we include my dog Youka, of course -. I bought my wedding dress over two years ago so I was hoping I would still fit in it! I did.
I was also worried I would ruin my dress,
scared that people were gonna stare at us,
and concerned about the ceremony script I had written.
Let me tell you, though, it was perfect.
As soon as I got there, all my worries magically flew away.
We were in the parking lot and looked down on the hike, there was this perfect little spot “off track” right by a big red rock, so we would have amazing scenery, it was only an easy 5-minute walk down, and we wouldn’t have tons of hikers passing by.
I just still can’t process how much the universe was in our favor that day. The park was completely full – you need a reservation to get in that time of the year and at this hour on a Saturday, it was completely sold out – and yet only a couple of hikers passed by.
My friend Vina set up my tripod and recorded the entire ceremony so I would be able to send it to the rest of my family in France – couldn’t do it live because there is no service in the park -. There was a big flat rock where our families could sit, and we stood in front of them and proceeded with the ceremony.
It was filled with laughter and love. And I am SO grateful to Steven for having pushed me to do it outdoors despite all my fears and anxiety about my dress and people staring at us. Because when I look back at it, I’m now certain it wouldn’t have felt right for me to get married in a Vegas chapel.
We got the closure we needed for this wedding. So did our families. Both of us had our parents there and that might never happen again, given that we live so far away from them. After over 2 years of postponing, uncertainty, back and forth trips between France and the US, administrative papers and visas that seemed to take forever, and ending up getting legally married alone, this was such a relief for us all.
Moral of the story: trust your gut, do what feels right for you and what feels like YOU, not what people expect you to do – e.g. get married in a chapel in Vegas lol -.
BONUS: we got the most amazing wedding photos.
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