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Posted by Hannah Faulder on 8 March 2021
A few years later, Tony was planning to pop the question, although it would seem he’s not the best at keeping secrets. “We went on a short getaway to Bavaria,” Fabienne says. “I’d seen it coming a mile off; I even warned my girlfriends that I might return engaged!” That didn’t spoil Tony’s wonderful proposal though. On a hot afternoon, they climbed to a ruined hilltop castle where Tony got down on one knee. “One sweet detail I hadn’t seen coming was that he’d arranged to have champagne put on ice back at the hotel,” Fabienne smiles. “When we walked into the reception, the staff cheered and fetched the bottle!”
The couple set the date for 21st September, 2019, and there was never any doubt that they would tie the knot in their home city. We caught up with Fabienne to find out more…
Proud to call the Blackheath and Greenwich area home, Fabienne and Tony were keen to get married as local as possible. "When researching London registry offices, I happened upon Woolwich Town Hall," Fabienne tells us. "It was simply magnificent and only a ten-minute bus ride from our home. It was very important to us that the ceremony space had gravitas to reflect the seriousness of our commitment; its massive domed interior, stained-glass windows, marble floor and sweeping staircase exuded class, grandeur and history."
When it came to their reception, the venue couldn't have been more different. "Craft London is a contemporary restaurant," Fabienne explains. "It has floor-to-ceiling windows, a hip cocktail bar and a London view to die for, with the iconic O2 next door and the lights of Canary Wharf glittering in the distance. We got a real kick out of juxtaposing tradition and modernity."
The day was a love letter to London, not just in location, but in touches throughout. "We decided it would be fun to pay tribute to our home city," the bride says. "I got ready at InterContinental London - The O2, which had glorious views over the Thames. I arrived at the Town Hall in a black cab – a white one, no less – and our order-of-service featured specially commissioned illustrations of the London skyline." The twelve tables were named after places the pair had lived in London, from Archway and Maida Vale to Brixton and Lewisham.
When it came to decor, Fabienne and Tony felt that less was more, letting the venues speak for themselves. "The settings were stunning as they were," Fabienne explains. "We basically just added some balloons and bubbles! Our favours were wildflower seeds, reflecting our love of nature, and we put hundreds of blank romance-themed postcards on the tables so guests could write us messages." They also had the great idea of asking their guests to contribute date ideas into a jar. "We now have a list of more than 100 things to do – as soon as restrictions are lifted!" Fabienne says.
Hosting their reception at Craft, a high-end restaurant, the pair knew their catering was in safe hands. They also had a delicious chocolate cake with a white chocolate exterior. "Why have fruitcake when you can have chocolate?" Fabienne laughs.
Never much of a girly girl, princess dresses and long trains were never going to be right for Fabienne. "I found myself drawn to an aesthetic of elegance and glamour – I'm half French so maybe that's why!" She says. "My look had a vintage feel, from the slim-line Monsoon dress and Hollywood-wave hairdo to the family jewellery dating back to the 1940s."
When selecting a bouquet, Fabienne wanted bold colours and geometric shapes. She let the talented Harley from Harley's Flowers come up with a unique arrangement, which included Singapore orchids, bright pink calla lilies and tropical foliage. "I had a wonderful time getting ready with my closest friends in the morning," Fabienne remembers. "Hannah Monk Hair and Make-up did a stunning job on my look and she was a wonderful person to spend the morning with – calm, friendly and fun."
As Tony plays with the world's best orchestras, finding amazing musicians to perform live was never going to be a problem. "For the ceremony, we had a group of Tony's colleagues – a string quartet and a harp – along with our close friend, Sandy, who is a professional soprano," Fabienne says. "We knew a soprano voice would soar in the large resonant acoustic, and it brought tears to everyone's eyes. The Woolwich staff told us that they had never heard such beautiful music in the space, and many of our guests, who weren't classical buffs, were clamouring to thank and praise Sandy afterwards."
The newlyweds had a surprise up their sleeve for guests, with an after-dinner performance from their friend William, who is an actor and international cabaret artist. "William is a showman in the truest sense of the word," Fabienne says. "He had the whole room in the palm of his hand! It really meant a lot to us to be able to showcase our enormously talented friends."
We just had to ask the newlyweds what their favourite memories of the day were. Tony says, "We pre-booked two coaches to take our 80 guests from the Town Hall to the restaurant. During this time, we snuck off to have photos taken by the river. It was an impromptu decision; our photographers, Jeff and Sarah, encouraged us as the weather was so outstanding. It ended up being one of our favourite moments of the day. We had the chance to revel in the sunshine and glow of being newlyweds. The radiance shines through in these photos and we adore their urban nature."
Fabienne was thrilled that so many of their loved ones could join them. "Tony's family and friends are based in Australia and the U.S., while mine are half French, so we had people flying in from all over the world," she explains. "We hosted a pre-wedding family day at Charlton House and a post-wedding lunch at the Intercontinental. On the day, the beautiful warm evening meant everyone could spill out onto the terrace to enjoy cocktails."