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An Opulent and Intimate Wedding at the Shangri-La Paris Hotel

by Staff

When Jessica Haley and Chris Blanco first met at a speakeasy in Houston, they bonded over cocktails and football. She was a NFL cheerleader before pursuing her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering, while he played in college and now works in the front office for the Minnesota Vikings. When it came to a proposing, detail-oriented Chris left no stone unturned in search of the ideal diamond. “I found the perfect ring at Tiffany & Co. after doing much research,” says Chris. “I purchased a loupe (magnifying glass), an angular spectrum evaluation tool, and books, and used all the knowledge I acquired in my college intro geology course. Who would think it would come in handy?” 

Ring in hand, he began charting how he would get down on one knee. “I was really excited about planning the perfect proposal, but all of my best-laid plans went wrong due to rain, museum closure, unavailability of photographer, and my wife’s plans,” he reflects. “I tried to propose in Texas, Minneapolis, and California.” Then, after two months of holding onto the ring, everything fell into place on a trip to Tulum, Mexico. “I proposed at sunrise under the guise of a sunrise photoshoot. We finished our photos and Jessica turned around to me kneeling with the ring. After many tears of joy, she said ‘yes.’”

The couple are avid travelers, so their wedding—which occurred a year to the day after the proposal—was to be a destination affair. “We chose France for our wedding because we both loved the idea of having a Parisian fairytale wedding,” they share. “We love everything about Paris: the history, fashion, culinary experience, and the arts.” It doesn’t get more Parisian than the Shangri-la Paris, a palatial hotel in the 16th arrondissement that was once home to Prince Roland Bonaparte. It’s there that Jessica and Chris hosted an intimate group of 30 guests for their ceremony and reception. “It was truly a magical place for our family and friends to gather and celebrate our wedding,” they say. 

Read on to see all the grand European details of their June 28, 2022, wedding day, with planning by Madame Wedding Design, photography by Franklyn K Photography, and videography by 3 Petits Points.

Since the couple first met at a speakeasy, they chose to incorporate that detail into their wedding weekend by hosting a welcome reception at one as well. “As cocktail aficionados, we love to find the best speakeasies and cocktail bars during our world travels,” the couple shares. “We had our welcome reception at No Entry in Paris.” 

“I have a passion for fashion that I inherited from my grandfather, who passed away in 2021,” Chris shares. “His favorite designer was Yves Saint Laurent and I made sure to wear YSL throughout our wedding festivities.” For the welcome party, he donned an all-black YSL tuxedo and tuxedo shirt, with glittery derby shoes. 

The next morning, Chris went for a run and did yoga to clear his mind before grooming with a head shave and beard trim. “I have dialed in my morning and evening skincare routine over the years and maintained it religiously throughout our wedding preparation,” he says. “I use a variety of cleansers, exfoliants, toner, serums, masks, and moisturizers from La Mer, Aesop and Kiehl’s.” He donned a sleek white Tom Ford tuxedo jacket and black pants, but kept the YSL touch with patent leather shoes. “As a gift for our first look, my wife gave me beautiful black jade bean cufflinks from Tiffany & Co., which is a symbol of life’s origin,” he shares.

Jessica, meanwhile, had been just as diligent. “I went to the dermatologist six months before the wedding to ensure my skin was flawless,” she says. “I also enjoyed some facial treatments about a month out to ensure I felt beautiful on the big day.” Chris got her hooked on La Mer, too, and she swears by the luxe brand’s Treatment Lotion.

“I’ve always loved curls and big hair—it’s my signature style,” she adds. “On my wedding day, I desired a more polished and intentional look, but didn’t want to compromise on my staple curls. So my hairstylist refined my natural curls—creating the perfect shape—and accented them with Swarovski crystal clips to secure them away from my face.”

She shopped for a dress with the same no-stone-unturned approach Chris took to ring shopping. “I tried on over 100 dresses in many cities, including Minneapolis, Chicago, Houston, Seattle, and Nashville,” she shares. “I wanted drama, sexiness, and classiness. When I tried on Galia Lahav’s Carla dress, I knew it was my dress. I loved the plunging neckline, the trumpet fit, and the long and dramatic train.”

We loved this moment and will cherish it forever.

“We wrestled with the idea of a first look,” the couple admits. “We ultimately chose to share an intimate moment together before the ceremony began. It was the first time in what seemed like endless planning and preparation from the States and busy week-of preparation in Paris that we had a moment of peace. We loved this moment and will cherish it forever.” They used the time to exchange gifts as well. Jessica gave Chris his cufflinks and he gifted her a Tiffany T diamond and turquoise bracelet she had been eyeing for years. “It was a great surprise to get to wear it on my wedding day,” she says. 

The intimate ceremony took place in the lounge at the Shangri-La. The room was already imbued with opulence so they kept décor to a minimum, opting for a sole asymmetrical floral arch. 

My dad walked me down the aisle,” Jessica says. “This meant a lot since he had recently experienced some serious health conditions which could have prevented him from attending. I was grateful to have my dad there with us, both at the wedding and on Earth.”

The couples integrated a unity candle ceremony to their nuptials, while the bride and groom’s brothers did the readings, which included Maya Angelou’s poem “Touched by an Angel” and bible passages from Genesis and First Corinthians. To lend a romantic ambiance to the space, “We had a harp player [perform]; it’s our favorite instrument and so unique,” the couple shares. “She gave lessons after the ceremony to friends and family.”

As guests moved into cocktail hour, they didn’t find signature drinks, but rather signature Champagne: Veuve Clicquot and Moët & Chandon.

The couple’s 30 guests sat around one enormous oval table for the dinner reception. A luxe blue-and-gold paisley linen draped the table, and a lush floral runner tied the décor back to the ceremony arch. 

Even with an intimate wedding, the couple leaned into all the traditional special moments. After a romantic first dance to Snoh Allegra’s “Find Someone Like You,” Jessica swayed with her father to “My Girl” by The Tempations and Chris lead his mother as “A Song For Mama” by Boyz 2 Men played. The evening continued with a cake cutting and a garter toss.

One thing you don’t find at every wedding, though? The Eiffel Tower, lit up in all its brilliance. Escaping onto the terrace with her new husband to take it in was one of Jessica’s most cherished memories of the day. “Your wedding day goes by so quickly,” she reflects. “Take your time to enjoy each other, and your family and friends. Don’t worry about the details—assemble a great team and let them take of everything.”

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