Eloping to Paris? It really does happen. Here’s how

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Eloping to Paris? It really does happen. Here’s how

Twenty-three-year-old Jaymee Martin’s parents don’t know she’s married. Neither do her five siblings. “I think about it in the shower,” says Jaymee, “when I’m going to tell them.” Not that her family hasn’t met Nicolas, the man she eloped with in April; not that they doubt he’s “the one.” But her brother is getting married in August so, according to Jaymee’s father, it’s “not her year.” He also stipulated that he didn’t want to find out about his daughter’s marriage “after the fact on Facebook.” Perhaps C-VILLE can break the news more easily. We’ll begin with the love story.

Jaymee Martin and Nicolas Mestre
April 12, 2009
Photo courtesy Martin and Mestre

In 2004 Nicolas was a first-year student at Hampshire College in Massachusetts. He was concerned that friends would interfere with his studies. “My mindset was ‘I’m going to hibernate in my room and read books,’” he says. So he was both dismayed and flattered when Jaymee, the Californian who lived directly below him, began knocking on his door and leaving him notes. “I would track him down,” she says.

Although Jaymee was seeing someone, the two felt an implicit, magnetic attraction. The only hitch was that they both hated Hampshire. Jaymee ended up transferring to UCLA to study art, and Nicolas to UVA. Eventually, he left to help launch Williams Corner Wine, an importing business. Meanwhile they wrote each other letters. “I didn’t want to cheapen anything by e-mailing,” says Nicholas. “Those letters,” says Jaymee, “It was the first time I felt I could be honest.”

Years went by during which they saw each other only rarely: Once Nicolas drove from Harrisonburg to North Carolina to spend two hours with Jaymee; another time Jaymee flew to Eugene, Oregon, for six days when Nicolas was there for a conference. The timing was always fortuitous and slightly absurd. At one point Jaymee landed at LAX after spending two weeks in Korea only to receive a cell phone call from Nicolas five minutes later—he hadn’t even known she was out of the country.

Last September Nicolas called Jaymee from Charlottesville. He knew that she had been miserable since graduating from UCLA’s School of Art and Architecture and he “just wanted her to know that there was somewhere in the world where she was welcome.” Jaymee sold her car and flew to Virginia a few days later. Although the relationship didn’t become romantic for several weeks, when the two friends finally got together “it was like VOOSH,” says Jaymee. “Everything had been there the whole time….Things made sense.” Says Nicolas, “Our relationship has always been so much about timing.”

And last April the time was right to fly to Paris, a few weeks before Jaymee launched Try & Make, a brief community art experiment in Charlottesville. Nicolas had found cheap plane tickets so he facetiously proposed on their way to Sunday brunch. “If we’re going to travel all the way to Paris,” he said, “it might as well be our honeymoon.” Reverse logic told them that they’d have to get married to go on honeymoon, and the idea of eloping was born.

A few weeks later, on a beautiful Easter Sunday in France, the two drank Champagne in a park behind Notre Dame, ate 20 Euros’ worth of cake from Nicolas’ favorite patisserie, then sat on the grassy bank of Montmartre and surveyed the city. While an acoustic guitarist serenaded Parisians with pop songs, Jaymee laid her head on Nicolas’ shoulder. “Let’s do this,” he said. The two sat by a saint at the altar of the Sacre-Coeur Basilica. Nicolas read a William Carlos Williams poem. Silently, they consecrated their own marriage. It wasn’t exactly a Las Vegas elopement. The two later made it official in the Charlottesville Sherriff’s Office, but as they both say, “The date that matters is April 12.” We hope Jaymee’s parents approve.

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