Kimberley Petyt is a wedding planner in Paris.
An expat American Married to a French man, living in Paris and doing what she loves – arranging weddings in the beautiful city of Paris and finding time to write a book sharing her knowledge and expertise.
The Paris Wedding is for brides-to-be coming to Paris or France or anyone who wants to put a little French chic or Oh La La style into a wedding anywhere in the world.
We talked to Kimberley about the inspiration behind her move to France and how she became The Paris Wedding planner…
Where are you from and what did you do before you became a wedding planner?
I’m originally from Chicago. I majored in Theater at school, so like most Theater Majors, I spent a lot of time working in Retail and Retail Management. When the dot-com wave hit, I moved into office administration and eventually project management. From the beginning, though, I’ve always organized fundraisers and special events while volunteering with various non-profits. It’s funny because I think all of this experience is eventually what helped me to become a good wedding planner.
Where did you meet your French husband?
I met my husband in a bar while I was on vacation in Paris. It was actually very innocent – I was out shopping one afternoon, it started to rain, I ducked into an Irish bar that I had been to earlier in the week. He was there watching a rugby game because he didn’t own a television. He asked if I’d like a drink, I said “yes”, but he heard “no” and came back from the bar sipping on his own drink – and the rest is history!
What was your own wedding theme?
Ha! We didn’t actually have a “theme” per se. We planned our wedding in France while we were living 3000+ miles away in San Francisco. I didn’t speak French, my in-laws didn’t speak English, the internet was still called “The World Wide Web” and most communication with vendors was done by fax. So I guess you could say our wedding theme was “Survivor”.
What inspired you to become a wedding planner?
As the old adage says, “Necessity is the Mother of Invention.” I knew when we moved to France that the French outlook on business, success, etc was VERY far from my own. In France, there’s a ridiculous amount of emphasis put on “credentials”, and very little, I feel, on experience. Whereas, in the States, if you’re inspired to do something and you work really hard at it – you have a shot at success whether you’ve received a diploma in that field or not. In France, it’s all about what’s on paper. There’s always some ridiculous “formation” that you’re required to take before you can even try out an idea. I knew that I could never work for a French company at the level that I had been in the States. So I decided to create my own company. I remembered some of the roadblocks that I had come up against planning my own wedding, then used my theater, retail, organizational, project management and special event planning experience- and created Parisian Events!
Was there an “aha” moment in that first wedding when you thought – this is me…?
There was, actually. I remember being so nervous the night before my first wedding, and I kept going over the timeline again and in my head all night. I hit the ground running from the moment I woke up that morning, and stayed on schedule nearly the entire day. I remember the moment that I sent the bride down the aisle with her dad, I looked down at my watch and saw that we were precisely on schedule, and thought, “I’ve SOOO got this! It was just completely natural to me.
How many weddings have you planned?
Let’s just say that I’ve planned my fair share! A few years back I was planning a ridiculous amount of small, elopement-type weddings but had to slow down. I was starting to feel like a human Drive Thru Chapel d’Amour. I rebranded and started planning fewer, but more elaborate celebrations, which allowed me to be more creative and have more control over where my agency was going. Financially, it wasn’t as lucrative to take on fewer clients, but it helped save my sanity (and my family life!).
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I have to say I’m pretty spoiled living in Paris. Paris is such an incredible city, and has so many different facets; you can’t help but be inspired while just going to the corner for a carton of milk. I get inspired by the bunches of flowers outside of a flower shop, I get inspired by the way products are stacked on the shelves in a store – I love the way they stack items at La Grande Epicerie at Le Bon Marché. All the colours and textures- I love it! I get inspired by people-watching in the park on Sundays. I get inspired by the light of Paris, depending on the season, weather or time of day. Or objects I find at the flea market. Really – inspiration is everywhere in Paris.
What it is do you think that makes all us ladies dream of a wedding in Paris?
When you think of quality and femininity – I think automatically, for men and women – your thoughts go straight to Paris. Add to that the elements that any woman anywhere wants for her wedding – elegance, tastefulness, an element of tradition – all of those roads lead to Paris. There are very few other places in the world that can meet that criteria. A wedding in Paris never disappoints, and almost universally (and instinctively!), women know that.
Kimberley Petyt’s “The Skinny on getting married in Paris” except from the book on How to get married in Paris
Find out more on Kimberley’s blog “Parisian Party: Tales of an American Wedding Planner in Paris” or join her on Facebook