Anna & Charlie's Big Day at Fairmont Le Montreux Palace
“The most magical and spectacular day!”
Congratulations on your wedding! What made you decide on having your wedding with us at Fairmont?
Charlie and I spent much time Switzerland, and wanted to celebrate our wedding in this magically beautiful place. After having settled on the town of Montreux given its sprawling vineyards, backdrop of Alps and rich history, the Fairmont was an obvious choice! Stepping into the ballroom and onto its terrace, we were absolutely smitten!
Where did you have your ceremony?
We had our wedding ceremony in the nearby town of Vevey. In the 19th century the town of Vevey was very popular among the Russian aristocracy, including Dostoevsky and Tchaikovsky, so it was decided to build an Orthodox church here. Although built by local craftsmen, the architectural plans and most of its paintings and icons came from Russia.
The service was very traditional, as the religious wedding ceremony is considered an ancient rite full of symbolism, in which God blesses the union. There are two parts to a traditional Russian Orthodox ceremony: the betrothal and the crowning. 100 people gathered inside the small church, adorned with crowns and holding candles, Charlie and I were blessed by the priests to the beautiful songs of the choir. It was truly a beautiful, unforgettable and spiritual moment!
Tell us about the flowers you chose. Did you go traditional or contemporary?
For our centerpieces, we chose roses in a variety of delicate pink and peach shades, white orchids and hydrangeas over cascading greenery. To complement the look, crystal accents hung from the vases and cream candles in crystal candleholders of various heights surrounded the arrangements. Fairmont Le Montreux Palace did an excellent job with making our floral dream a true reality!
Tell us about the meal you served your guests. What type and flavor cake did you have at your reception?
We served asparagus ravioli in white wine sauce and foie gras, seared scallops, roasted sirloin of beef and grand cru chocolate mousse (arranged beautifully with a pink sugar heart!). Our wedding cake was three tiered adorned with pink sugar roses and sprinkled with pearls.
Where did you go on your honeymoon? Tell us about it.
We spent our honeymoon in the beautiful, serene and remote Maldives where we were pampered for 10 days!
What element(s) did you add to make the wedding uniquely 'yours'?
Charlie is American and I am Russian, so we wanted to blend our traditions. To satisfy the American side, the unifying theme for our wedding was the American 1920s era. We arrived to the venue in a vintage car, while our wedding party arrived in a vintage 1920s bus, our tables were named after the era's famous artists, composers, actors and musicians, a trio played live New Orleans Jazz, Mint Julips were served, our photobooth was 1920s themed, and the bridesmaids and I even performed a Charleston!
We were greeted at the reception in the traditional Russian way with bread and salt. The idea is- whoever takes a bigger bite of the bread will become the head of the household. To everyone's surprise, including mine, my bite took down half of the bread loaf!
In Russian tradition, the bride & groom kiss when guests scream "gorko!" meaning bitter. The idea is that the kiss sweetens the moment. To play off this idea, we set up "gorko! kissing menus" where guests had to perform tasks to see us kiss. For example, my Godmother performed a traditional Russian Dance and had the whole room dancing with her! Our bridal table also performed the Bohemian Rhapsody as an ode to Montreux's long standing resident Freddie Mercury.
We also wanted to keep the wedding lively and unexpected. To do this, we arranged several games. During the Face Game, first guests guessed "Anna" or "Charlie" to a series of questions (Who eats mayonnaise with a spoon out of the jar? Who throws hysterical fits when hungry?) and then Charlie and I played with our backs to each other (Who is a better kisser? Who looks in the mirror more?). The answers were provided by holding HUGE paper cut outs of our faces!
Another integral part of the day is the wedding dress! Tell us about what you chose to wear.
I must have tried on 50 or more wedding gowns. So many that all of them started to look the same, until I found The One in an instant WOW moment. Originally I expected to find myself in a simple, modern cut and sleek dress, but ended up choosing the one that had it all-- lace, glitter and volume! So my advice, ladies, is to keep an open mind when choosing a dress!
What was the first song you danced to as newlyweds?
Our first dance was to Nat King Cole's "L.O.V.E." We had our dance choreographed and practiced arduously for months. When the Big Day came, we definitely had a few hiccups on the dance floor! Luckily no one noticed and now we just laugh about it!
Now that you are married and have had time to reflect on your wedding day, what was your favorite moment?
Thinking back on the day, I absolutely cannot choose a single moment to describe as my favorite, because the entire day was beyond picture perfect!
How did you plan your day from afar?
I will admit that planning from afar is extremely stressful! The key is to have a team that you can fully trust. For that I thank the wonderful Fairmont Le Montreux Palace's event team, my wedding coordinator, and my amazing mom who orchestrated the whole thing from within Switzerland.
Tell us about what it is like traveling with your dress!
Traveling with a wedding dress is cumbersome, but you would be surprised at how sweet and sentimental people get when they find out that you are carrying a wedding dress in that garment bag! Everyone at the airport registration, security, and onboard went out of their way to delicately handle the prized possession!
Do you have any advice for brides planning on having a destination wedding?
Planning a destination wedding is difficult work, but remember to enjoy the preparations! Remember to take a deep breath and smile! This is the most exciting time of your life!