Georgina and Amal’s Wedding Reception at the Cercle de l’Union Interalliée
The mother of the bride called me to ask if I could photograph her daughter’s wedding reception at a beautiful venue in Paris, France – Le Cercle de l’Union Interalliée, and naturally I accepted. What a thrill to penetrate the halls of such a venerable institution as this and for a perfect reason; to photograph a young couple about to engage in the vows of marriage. Indeed the real wedding will take place in India, so this Parisian event was the only moment that friends and family unable to travel to India could celebrate the bride and groom to be.
A little history. The Union Interalliée was founded in 1917 at the point when the United States entered into the war. The founders conceived of a place where officers and personalities of the Allied nations could rejoin and give each other moral support and share resources. Receiving support from many, they were able to acquire the hotel Henri de Rothschild in 1920 and thereby encourage diplomatic relations between the allied nations. The building is situated on rue Faubourg Saint Honoré, just down the street from the Elysée Palace and is in beautiful condition.
I arrived early, as usual, and began to take photographs of the dining room bathed in warm afternoon sunlight. In golden tones, the laid tables and flower arrangements by Maison Vertumne struck a harmonious chord for the upcoming event. I was pleased to get a shot of the stepfather of the bride peacefully laying out place cards at the tables, evidently at home in this lovely building which he has frequented as a club member for years.
Little by little, guests began to fill up the halls and cocktail room and spill out onto the balcony overlooking a lush green garden below. Champagne flowed, petits fours followed just behind, and I leapt at the opportunity for group portraits of family and friends come from all over the world including Singapore, India and the United States. British-American-French Georgina and Indian-American-Singaporean Amal met at business school in England and are definitely globe trotters from polyglot families. As the evening advanced, a chance encounter between a French and Indian guest revealed that they had known each other in university “What a small world!” was heard not once, but at several intervals.
Dinner and speeches followed, as well as a lovely song by the bride’s musician brother-in-law and his spouse. It was amazing to see such a mixture of people melt into one happy family; but that is how it felt in retrospect. One might venture to say that the founding spirit of the Union Interalliée was pervasive during the reunion of this exceptional family, lending force and emphasis to Georgina and Amal’s future together. The evening left me wondering, dreamily, what the wedding in India will be like.