French Connection

 In Culture, Feature

A fairytale wedding in the south of France was the perfect happy ending for this STL couple.


HOW THEY MET Tom and Genny met in St. Louis during their preteen years when Tom was friends with Genny’s older sister. A few years later, after the Cortinovis family had moved to London, Tom traveled abroad to visit them. As soon as he saw Genny again, she took his breath away—he admits that’s the moment he started plotting his pursuit. Years later, when Genny moved back to St. Louis, Tom invited her to dinner at DeMun Oyster Bar under the guise of casual friends catching up. Tom’s plan worked and the two began dating.

Tom knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with Genny, but when he spoke with her father for advice, his future father-in-law gave him a warning. “She isn’t going to say yes,” he told Tom. He knew his daughter well and was sure she would want time to think before coming to a decision. Nevertheless, Tom’s proposal came Christmas Eve, when he got down on one knee and presented her with a gift—a gorgeous ring and his perspective on their life and love—with a request to continue it throughout a lifetime. She had a huge smile on her face and put the ring on immediately, but just like her father had predicted, she said she’d let him know by her birthday—five months later! Luckily for Tom, he only had to wait two days before Genny came back and proposed to him. Naturally, he told her he’d have to think about it.

ON LOCATION A 12th-century farmhouse in the mountains of Southern France was the backdrop for this jet-setting couple’s nuptials. The Le Galinier estate spanned several acres, with a rustic yet elegant ambiance that was completely in-tune with the bride and groom’s taste and personality. Tom and Genny had 90 of their closest friends and family make the trek, and with a location as gorgeous as theirs, they took full advantage. Designing their wedding as a week-long affair, the couple hosted a series of French-inspired activities and chic parties to thank their loved ones for making the journey, using different locations for each part of their event. The night before the wedding, they held a rehearsal in the picturesque courtyard, and the next day the ceremony took place under a massive 100-year-old tree, with dinner served next to the pool and a cocktail reception held in the garden. Candid photos taken throughout the event captured the wedding week in perfect harmony.

BON APPÉTIT Given Tom’s profession, food is an important part of the couple’s lives, so it played just as important of a role in their nuptials. During the cocktail reception, they served pata negra, shaved to order and presented in parchment cones, foie gras mousse push-pops with cinnamon-apple relish and chef-made bouillabaisse to order over an open flame. For dinner, the menu featured foie gras ravioli, vegetables terrines, filet and an assortment of gourmet cheeses and wines sourced locally from the south of France.

Instead of a traditional wedding cake, they chose a French specialty called croque en bouche, made with hundreds of profiteroles (cream puffs) stuffed with mousse. Their chef assembled the profiteroles to look like a landscape of the countryside, complete with mountains and valleys held together with spun sugar. The pastry was topped with sparkers with the biggest sparkler attached to a Champagne bottle that blew sparks over the flutes while everyone toasted to the couple’s good fortune.

THE GRAND PARADE Immediately after the ceremony, Tom and Genny requested that their guests join them for a parade through the neighboring town. The whole group packed the narrow avenues in celebration. Though they ended up losing about half of their friends and family along the way, they count that moment as one of their favorites of the day.

FAMILY TIES Once they were engaged, Genny set out in search of the perfect gown. For her, the dress set the tone for the entire wedding. So once she ordered her dream dress, a stunning Marchesa gown found at a bridal boutique in Chicago, the rest of the planning could continue. Tom and his best man wore custom-made white tuxedos with black pants and trim. Both Tom and Genny are extremely close to their families, so everyone had an important role in their special day. Genny had her sister serve as her maid of honor, Tom’s brother officiated, and their other brothers and sisters gave the readings. Both Tom and Genny were walked down the aisle by their respective parents and all of their nieces and nephews walked down the aisle as well.

ALL NIGHT LONG For the ceremony and cocktail reception, the couple enlisted an accordionist to play traditional French tunes befitting their location. For dinner and dancing, they had a three-piece jazz ensemble that performed the couple’s first dance to Pearl Jam’s “Just Breathe” and then got everyone moving. Because their neighboring town had strict rules about late night music, the party moved indoors once it got late and continued the dance party continued until 4am to a Spotify list that Tom and his best friend had created.









Photo credit: John Dolan

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