Having lived all over the world, Australia native Nadia Karkar and Kenya-born Norbert Ng’ethe chose to exchange vows in Paris, the undisputed romance capital of the world. Their search for an idyllic setting ended just steps from the Champs-Élysées, at Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris , an eight-storey landmark built in 1928. “There was no grander hotel, or one with such mythic qualities and sublime flowers, as the George V,” says Nadia. The wedding celebration of this discerning duo, now based in Melbourne, was truly one of a kind—featuring a ceremony in the Cour de Marbre and a reception that lasted until morning (a Hotel first!).
The Scene: In the open-air Cour de Marbre, a canopy of suspended Vanda orchids and Spanish moss was anchored by arrangements of lavender roses, purple hydrangea and black calla lilies—the handiwork of Jeff Leatham, the Hotel’s renowned artistic director. A striking black wedding aisle gave the more than 70 guests a hint of the chic celebration to come. Following the ceremony and cocktail reception, guests were ushered down the candlelit stairway to the Salon Auteuil, where a jazz band played Frank Sinatra–era standards amid a sea of white hydrangea, orchids, roses and mini calla lilies. “We didn’t finish up until 5:00 am, which didn’t give us much time to sleep before the farewell lunch at 2:00 pm the next day!” says the bride of the soirée.
Magical Moment: The groom was unable to hold back tears as a string quartet began playing the processional, Le Cygne by Camille Saint-Saëns. “He says they were tears of happiness, because he knew in that moment that he had made the right decision to ask me to marry him,” says Nadia.
The Bride & Groom: Upon first meeting, Nadia and Norbert’s small talk turned to arguing—not surprising for the pair of lawyers, who met on the University of Chicago campus. “I recall walking away from our first meeting thinking we have absolutely nothing in common: He liked American football and hated Paris!” says Nadia. In Hong Kong (where they lived at the time), Norbert successfully pulled off a spur-of-the-moment Valentine’s Day proposal: While riding the five o’clock train, Norbert decided to propose that evening, and by a stroke of luck, he was able to manoeuvre his way through the city, select a magnificent yellow diamond ring, pick up flowers and snag a table at their favourite restaurant, Man Wah. “The ring, Champagne and flowers came out during dessert, and of course I said yes!” says Nadia.
The Bride Wore: Inspired by Audrey Hepburn’s appearance in My Fair Lady, Nadia wore a couture hand-beaded gown with a tulle cape train by Australian designer Despina Palantinis, a close friend of the bride’s family. The bride completed her regal look with diamond teardrop earrings, a diamond-studded hair clip and satin Jimmy Choo heels.
A Personal Touch: The evening’s intimate air was elevated by unique contributions from the couple’s families. Nadia’s brother wrote a poem about love, which he read during the ceremony. “It brought tears to everyone’s eyes,” says Nadia. During the reception, the groom’s mother and father presented the bride with a traditional Kenyan headdress and necklace, and Norbert was given a rungu, a wooden club symbolizing the warrior status of a young man that is typically presented to the groom at Kenyan weddings.
On The Menu: Wanting to ensure that their guests’ dining experience was as memorable as the destination itself, the bride and groom collaborated with the staff of the Hotel’s two-Michelin-starred Le Cinq. “None of our guests will ever forget the sight of 70 giant ice cubes filled with chilled tomato gazpacho. Of course, it tasted even better than it looked. My chosen dish was the langoustine, and Norbert’s was the hot foie gras,” says Nadia. “To this day, we still fight about which dish was better!”