A French Affair
A match made in St. Louis plays out with Continental elegance
A Proposal in Paris
It’s hard to spend any time in Paris without the city putting you in a romantic state-of-mind—and Jason Nichols and Jim Concannon, together for five and a half years, weren’t immune: As the two crossed a bridge on the Seine after a beautiful dinner in stylish Le Marais, Jim slipped Jason a Valentine’s Day card beginning “A husband is…,” then dropped to one knee to propose. Et voilà! “We spent the next week traveling around Paris and London before returning to the real world,” Jason says. The proposal took place halfway around the world from where they’d met, at a bar near Saint Louis University. Two weeks later, they had their first date at Franco in Soulard, and they’ve been together ever since. They still return to the restaurant on anniversaries and special date nights when they return to town from New York City, where they both now live.
Vive La France
Although the couple held their official ceremony in New York City’s Central Park (same-sex marriage was not yet legal in Missouri), Jason and Jim knew from the beginning that they also wanted to have a wedding in St. Louis. “While we spend most of our time in NYC, we knew that we wanted to have our wedding in St. Louis where we met, own a home and enjoyed so many wonderful years together with our family and friends,” says Jim. Rachel McCalla from Lucky You Productions assisted the two in planning the wedding, a huge help especially because the couple was largely putting it together remotely. Selecting the venue was an easy start to planning: The grooms knew from the beginning that the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis was the natural choice for their personal style—modern and minimal. A few simple touches of black, gold and white transformed the venue to fit the wedding aesthetic. “It was important to us that the wedding be masculine and fashionable, yet inviting with personal touches to the entertainment and food,” Jason says. “We wanted everyone to immediately enter the venue and be present in our love.” It also made for a seamless transition between celebration, ceremony and back again.
Guests from out of town were given a St. Louis welcome in the form of a rehearsal dinner, catered by Pappy’s Smokehouse and Ted Drewes, that took place in the grooms’ friends’ Central West End garden. And despite all the planning, Jason had a few pre-wedding jitters: “Jason was definitely the nervous one of the bunch,” says Jim. “He is a perfectionist and had a hard time getting settled until just before the ceremony. I was quite calm and held Jason together.” But it was going to be a splendid night all along. French 75s, the signature cocktail of the evening, and Champagne greeted guests at the pre-ceremony cocktail reception before attendees were led to the museum’s patio, with 20 voices from the Metropolitan Community Church of Greater St. Louis heralding them in with upbeat gospel. “It was such a hit and immediately set the tone for the event,” Jason says. “Everyone raved about it.”
The 30-minute ceremony began in the courtyard with paper lanterns swaying overhead. The grooms had donned their matching traditional J. Crew tuxes from the brand’s Ludlow line early in the afternoon in their Chase Park Plaza suite, and the wedding party, made up of family, picked their own outfits to coordinate with the simple black attire of the soon-to-be-newlyweds. The grooms’ parents walked their sons down the aisle, an emotional moment for all. “As soon as the music began, we were tearing up,” says Jim. “We weren’t expecting the ceremony to be so emotional, but it ended up being quite a tear-jerker.”
A moment of silence—a whisper of Jason’s Quaker heritage—marked the beginning of the vows, and the grooms lit a memorial candle in honor of their deceased grandparents and other family and friends who had passed. Jim’s sister-in-law, Adria Concannon, as well as Jason’s cousin, Tiffany Powell, did readings at the ceremony, some of which incorporated Jim’s Catholic faith. The two exchanged vows, written individually, as well as rings made by their good friend Melissa Joy Manning, a jeweler well-known in the fashion world, who looked on as the two were wed.
Une Grande Fête
Guests headed back inside for the reception, which occurred in the performance space near the 60-foot Project Wall, sitting at tables topped by calla lilies in large vases with floating candles and set for two dozen—an effort from Jason and Jim to “maximize mingling,” says Jason. Hollyberry catered the event with French flare: Dinner guests had hints of the Continent as they enjoyed boeuf bourguignon and onion galette. A small traditional wedding cake from The Cakery Bakery was served after the meal, but a highlight was a bar with more than two dozen types of small desserts.
Between tracks played by a DJ from Rockstar DJs, family members gave toasts to the couple—a highlight of the day for both Jason and Jim. “Our fathers, my brother, John, and Jason’s brothers Jerome and Jordan, all made fabulous, heartfelt speeches,” Jim says. “Each in his own way brought laughter and tears to the guests.”
After the meal, though, the spotlight was on friends and family: All 170 guests sang “Happy Birthday” to Jim’s niece, Katie, who was turning 8. The father of Jason’s childhood best friend and Jason’s own father teamed up to arrange and sing the couple’s first-dance song, an acoustic version of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together,” as well as the mother-son dance to “Unforgettable,” by Nat King Cole. The party continued with Top 40 and dance music to get guests out on the floor.
The CAM festivities ended at 11:30pm but not the night: A trolley from Gem Transportation, also used to transport wedding guests from their rooms at Chase Park Plaza to CAM, took attendees to Mandarin Lounge in the Central West End for a late-night after-party, where they danced until 1:30am. “Everything came together perfectly,” says Jim. “We just loved celebrating our love and making that commitment in front of our family and friends.”
Photo credit: Brea Photography