"My beautiful girlfriends, who flew halfway around the world to celebrate with me, also fulfilled their unofficial bridesmaid roles perfectly by joining me for a champagne breakfast and helping with make-up and hair," Kaitlin recalls.
Kaitlin's family rented an apartment in the St. Germain neighborhood, where she got ready. Her dress was by Carolina Herrera. Kaitlin says, "I loved the elegance and simplicity of it, and with a few small changes I was able to make it my own."
Kaitlin and Aaron took photos around Paris, making a stop at a café they frequented during their week stay in the city for the wedding.
They decided to take the photos together before the ceremony. And, the newlyweds and their parents kept the location of the ceremony and reception a secret, asking guests to meet at Place de la Concorde, before the groom led them to the hotel.
"Aaron proposed in Paris and we were living in England at the time," explains Kaitlin, so Paris seemed like the perfect place for the wedding.
"Both of our immediate families made the huge effort to travel to France as well as our closest aunts and uncles and some great family friends," says Kaitlin.
The couple stopped by many iconic locations in Paris on their wedding day, including Pont Alexandre III.
And of course, the Eiffel Tower.
After their picturesque Paris wedding, Kaitlin and Aaron honeymooned on "the southern coast of Portugal for a week of bliss at a beautiful bed and breakfast on a cliff." They then met up with friends in Lisbon for a final week of fun. Kaitlin says, "We had heard wonderful things about Portugal and it certainly lived up to our expectations. Beautiful people, gorgeous weather, delicious food, and incredibly cheap!"
"We let the Hotel Crillon speak for itself for the most part," Kaitlin says. Cutting back on decor details made the logistics of a destination wedding much more manageable.
"I walked down the aisle to Nick Drake's 'Northern Sky,'" Kaitlin tells us. "We kept both the ceremony and our vows short and sweet — 'I will love you forever, you and no other' and asked our friends to read Bob Dylan's 'Forever Young' and one of my favorite Pablo Neruda poems, 'Sonnet XVII.'"
"Aaron is originally from New Zealand and has some Maori in his blood so we had a Maori prayer said during the ceremony," Kaitlin says.
"After the ceremony, we moved into the Marie Antoinette room and enjoyed drinks and canapes on the balcony," Kaitlin remembers.
Kaitlin describes the location: "The wedding was at Hotel Crillon in Paris overlooking the Place de la Concorde. With my family in the US and his in Australia, we figured one of our families would have to travel either way so why not do it in the middle somewhere, give people an excuse for a holiday in a beautiful city?"
"We were living a fairly nomadic lifestyle at the time," Kaitlin explains. "So to have all our friends and family from around the world in one place for a week-long celebration was incredibly special."
"Thankfully," according to the bride, "everyone got along so wonderfully and enjoyed establishing new friendships and new excuses to travel to Australia and America."
The wedding was a chance for Kaitlin and Aaron, who were living far from home, to catch up with friends they hadn't seen for long periods of time.
Aaron's family traveled from Australia to France, while Kaitlin's made the trip from the Chicago area.
"We chose our own music to play throughout the ceremony, dinner, and drinks but a few hours before guests were meant to arrive, the hotel staff realized the sound system wasn’t compatible with an iPod," Kaitlin says of their minor big-day hiccup. "The hotel’s hospitality was incredible though, and within minutes there were new top of the line speakers being unpacked from their boxes!"
"The rooms were gorgeous and we had a great florist for the table decorations," Kaitlin explains. "The flowers were meant to be a deep red, but arrived an orange-red which in the end, I actually preferred. They were beautiful."
Kaitlin sat next to her mom, and Aaron next to his dad, during the long meal.
The newlyweds shared a sweet moment during the dinner.
Kaitlin says the meal was an experience that will forever live in her memory, calling it "a gorgeous French menu accompanied by some of the best wine I've ever tasted."
Kaitlin and Aaron both decided to give short speeches during the reception dinner.
"The Ourcroquembouche cake from Laduree was also divine," Kaitlin says. We don't doubt it!
Sparklers flew off the already gorgeous cake.
Kaitlin and Aaron shared their first dance to "Spirit on the Water" by Bob Dylan.
"After dinner we returned to the balcony for white port on ice with lime, chocolates, and dancing," says Kaitlin.
Guest from Australia to America enjoyed the setting.
The romantic vibe on the warm Paris night rubbed off on other couples, too.
The guests enjoyed themselves in the beautiful hotel.