Cote d'Azur WeddingbyTravel Girl©
This is a true story which happened while on a business trip to Europe. Doing a favor for a business colleague turned into an opportunity to explore an unknown side of elegance, culture and fantasy of which I will never forget.
I am about as far from being a snob as you can imagine. I was the first in my family to attend university and I have never forgotten my roots. I travel on business frequently and one of the perks I enjoy is traveling to interesting places, staying at nice hotels and going to high quality restaurants. I always appreciate it, and never is there an attitude of entitlement.
I go to Asia usually two or three times a year and less frequently to Europe. This is a little reversed from when I started traveling, which was mostly to Europe. As the world economy has shifted to Asia, much of my travel has changed accordingly. While I adore cities such as Hong Kong, I freely admit the charm of European cities is beyond compare and it is always a treat when I have another European trip on the schedule.
The work itself is satisfying. I am good at what I do as a scientist and manager, and now also getting more and more involved in business development, negotiation and legal matters.
It was the latter, a license enforcement issue relating to patents, which brought me back to Europe. In this case, one of our key patents was being challenged and there would have been a significant financial impact if we lost. The hearings were set at the Munich patent office, the center of European patent actions. I am the technical representative for my company and I was joined by lawyers headquartered in Europe.
The hearings were going very well and we got a break when during a recess, the other side's company representative asked to talk. It was not clear who would win or lose the hearing yet, but apparently the other side blinked and decided the slam dunk they thought they had was too much of a risk.
Settlement terms which had been on the table previously were still acceptable to both sides. We informed the patent office we would be reaching an agreement and the opponent would be withdrawing their patent challenge. We were fortunate the review panel did not decide to continue the case anyway, which was their right, and everyone left happy.
I got to be the hero at my company by calling in the good news and got my fair share of recognition. The other bit of good news was that I would have some free time on my hands as it had been anticipated the dispute would go on through the following week.
My boss was very generous, asking if I wanted to return right away or come back after the weekend. Let me just say for those who have not been to Munich in the summertime, there are few places better on earth. Dinner outside with people passing by is found many places throughout the continent, but Munich has some very elegant indoor/outdoor restaurants, a vibrant nightlife as well as rich cultural pursuits. Also common to Germany in general, Munich also has very open attitudes toward nudity in the parks and spas. I have enjoyed these aspects of Munich on many occasions.
Tonight was going to be a celebration of our success. Jurgen was making the arrangements to have dinner at one of Munich's finest Italian restaurants; a very old, family run establishment with fine food, wine, and ambiance. I have been there before and have even seen some celebrities. I knew it would be excellent.
There were four of us present. Jurgen was our lead attorney. He was a very powerful figure. I would say he was in his late 50's, handsome, smooth, the whole package. He reminded me of another Jurgen, the former head of Daimler - Jurgen Schrempf. He lived and was headquartered in Geneva and visiting his firm was the main reason I have also had the chance to visit Geneva on occasion. He was assisted by two of his colleagues, Peter and Vincent, both about 30 and being brought up through the ranks.
This night we saw the ice skater Katarina Witt at the restaurant. This is not important in any way other than to convey the quality and the aura of the place.
We had champagne to begin and I then enjoyed a multi-course meal where every dish was superb. Jurgen was in charge of the wines and never failed to choose wonderful selections. This time we were drinking Tuscany wine. I was enjoying all aspects of the celebration.
I am sure the guys also enjoyed my company. I am not trying to be egotistical, but I am pretty with blond hair and blue-green eyes and in good shape from running. I have a lean 115-pound build on my 5'7" frame, but still have enough 34-23-34 curves to draw attention. I was 32 years old then, but people would have generally placed me in my mid-to late 20's. This night I had on my slick business outfit, a charcoal grey skirt and jacket combo with a white blouse; the quintessential power suit.
We were having a very nice time and everyone seemed very satisfied by the time after dinner drinks came around. I was sipping limoncello while the guys had cognacs. No one seemed to be in any great hurry.
Jurgen toasted, "Congratulations Beth, I think the settlement is quite an achievement."
I responded after the toast that it was a team effort and conveyed the best wishes of my boss back in the States. It was a great trust they had placed in me to represent the company on this matter, although I think if we had known a settlement offer would come, I probably would have been joined by others from my management.
Truly this had been a team effort, all pieces coming together.
We talked about how everyone's plans would be shifting around to leave Munich and head back. We returned to our hotel and had another round of drinks. I was feeling good; not drunk but definitely in a good mood.
Peter and Vincent headed back after one round at the hotel bar, leaving Jurgen and I alone. I had known him for around four years. He was always a very imposing figure. His firm was well known and apparently he also had money through inheritance, but I did not know all the background. Let's just say he was a mixture of courtesy, taste, tailored suits, expensive accessories and knowing all the finest places. When you were in his company, it was going to be first class.
I was undecided about my plans over the next couple of days. A good sleep-in day sounded good, but maybe hitting the spa would be in order. I was trying to weigh my options thinking to take advantage of a few days in Europe without obligation. I would have Friday through Sunday now completely free and had the approval from my boss to come back the following week, a completely unexpected treat.
I was thinking through my various options while talking to Jurgen when he threw out a total surprise.
"Beth, how would you like to attend an elegant wedding in the South of France on Saturday?"
I looked rather surprised at the suggestion, but he continued, "Good friends of mine are having a wedding party in Nice on Saturday. I am invited, but I would rather not attend alone. Why don't you join me if you have time?"
I replied, "Jurgen, that is a very nice offer, but I am not sure."
He continued, "It is a black tie affair, I promise you a very charming time and something I know you would enjoy."
I saw my excuse and said, "Well, I am not sure about getting down to Nice and I certainly brought nothing appropriate for such an affair."
He replied, "Ah, what if I took care of both those problems, what then?"
I had to admit he was a good lawyer and I recognized I was under a friendly interrogation.
I smiled and replied, "I know you are used to getting your way, but just for the sake of conversation, how would you do that?"
He saw I had not really answered his question, but I had deflected it a little.
He said, "Good, I like the challenge. For now, just know I would get you to Nice and arrange for proper clothing. What then?"
I said, "What then? Just tell me what this is about."
He looked at me and let down his guard, saying, "I would be in your debt. These are good friends who care and worry about me. If I came with someone they would be happy for me."
I knew that shortly after I had met Jurgen his wife had passed away from some medical condition. I had not known the details. Apparently his friends were concerned for him.
I sat there quietly, listening and thinking. I sipped my drink.
He continued, "I would consider it a favor and I guarantee you would have a good time."
I said, "Jurgen, actually the idea is not that bad. That kind of wedding party sounds pretty interesting. But I cannot fly down to Nice and charge back the company and I truly did not bring any clothing suitable for such an event."
I pointed at what I was wearing and said, "This is the best I have with me."
He answered, "But I already told you not to worry about those things."
I was still not really on board with his proposal and he could probably tell I was reluctant.
"Beth, let me be honest. Not only would you be doing me a favor by having me not attend alone, but you would also make a lot of my friends very jealous."
Ah, so there was another aspect to this plan.
He continued, "But you and I would know there was nothing going on, that we would simply be together as friends. But I will be candid that would not be something I would tell anyone else. And if they assumed I was attending the party with a young, beautiful companion and their imaginations run wild, well, who am I to correct them? What do you say?"
I was listening and thinking to his explanations. I liked at least that he was now being very candid about his intent.
As if he was reading my mind, he said, "I will buy the plane ticket, set you up with a hotel room, and get you the correct clothing."
He then let the pause linger as I thought about things.
I questioned, "Are you sure you want to do all that?"
Without hesitation, he said, "Yes. Absolutely. You would be doing me a great favor. Really."
I replied, "Jurgen, just promise me something please."
He looked inquisitively, "Of course. What?"
"If you are ever representing the other side against me in court, that you will take it easy on me."
He busted out laughing, and sensed a break, "So, if I agree, does this mean we have a deal?"
I took my glass and toasted, "I think so, but there could be a dozen things which could pop up which I haven't even thought of yet........"
He replied, "I'll fix them all."
Frankly, I thought he probably could.
We talked about the mechanics of how this would work. I have been to Nice before. Nice is a lovely city on the French Riviera with an old section full of great clubs and restaurants and a magnificent pedestrian section. And being right on the Mediterranean was fantastic.
The biggest obstacle was timing. He said we could get me clothing in either Munich or Nice. We talked about logistics and decided the best approach was to stay in Munich tomorrow (Friday), get my things organized, and then go to Nice on Saturday morning.
One downside to the plan was my sleep-in day on Friday was now shot. We would go out in the morning and get the proper clothing. So when we came to that conclusion, we both drank up and called it a night.
As I got back to my room and thought about what had just transpired, I was both disoriented and a little excited. I really did not have a good handle over what was coming, but I had agreed anyway. This was quite a departure for me, as I am usually a control freak.
I got up around 9 a.m. and got ready. We met in the lobby at 10 o'clock and were soon on our way. Our hotel was right in the middle of the Munich high caliber shopping district on Maximillianstrasse and we headed off to get me set up.
"Beth, I want to again express my gratitude for you helping me. I really appreciate it."
I said honestly, "I am actually excited by the prospect. This is something of an adventure throwing all this together at the last minute. Not my usual way to go."
He replied, "I said I will take care of everything. You already have a flight out of Nice at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow. You have a hotel reservation all set up."
I was impressed by what he had accomplished already so early.
"Beth, the only snag so far is that I am planning to go back to Geneva tonight to retrieve my things from home and meet you in Nice. I will arrive about 1 p.m. and that means you need to only get to your hotel alone by taxi."
"That is not a problem."
I was really getting into the adventure. We headed off to the dress shop first thing. We walked in and were greeted by the manager who called Jurgen by name.
Apparently this was also already planned out. I was impressed further that he had pre-arranged this aspect of my care.
They were both speaking in German when Jurgen saw my expression, saying, "Sorry, we were trying to plan out everything before we begin. But we should do that in English." The manager was female, probably in her mid 40's, very stylishly dressed. I got the impression she saw there was a lot of money to be made today.
She was looking me over, which was a little disconcerting at first. But she was nodding favorably as though I was suitable clay. At least that was better than cursing under her breath.
I had selected a black skirt and sleeveless cream sweater for our shopping. I was not wearing jewelry; simple black heels with no stockings and worn my hair down. Simple but not bad.
She asked a couple of questions over what I had brought along, to which I said basically nothing, as this was not planned.
She said, "We can definitely look at dresses, get it fitted properly right away, no problem. But you need to plan out her day, so you can get shoes and jewelry organized. But the big questions are whether you want to get your hair done or not."
I replied, "I can put my hair up myself. I think all we need is the dress and shoes."
Jurgen jumped in, "No, no. We also need to get jewelry today. That is arranged. And if you want your hair done, we have time. But I think your hair looks great."
Angela nodded her head in approval of everything.
So we began to look at dresses. I never saw the price to anything, but it was clear Jurgen was prepared to shell out decent money to make me look appropriate.
Angela asked questions about the event, as even though Jurgen mentioned black tie, apparently that left a lot of latitude as to what was appropriate. Apparently this was not an actual wedding ceremony, as that had happened some months back as I am told is a typical Europe custom. This event was more of a wedding reception. It was planned for the main ballroom at a swanky hotel in Nice.
Apparently, ladies could wear long dresses or something short, but elegance and swank were the main objective.
Angela brought out a variety of styles before I tried anything on, to gauge what I liked and to get Jurgen's view as well. She clearly was skilled diplomatically, knowing I had to be pleased, but that Jurgen was ultimately the cash source. She was good.
She brought out several long gowns; black velvet texture, red chiffon. Some styles with spaghetti straps, some strapless, some with plunging necklines. We also looked at some shorter, more cocktail style type dresses.
At one point, Jurgen picked up the phone and called the bride to get some tips. Apparently, any of those general styles would work, but she guessed most of the women would be wearing long gowns.
That became the plan. I tried on a couple of the dresses and both Angela and I felt they did not flatter my shape well. So I did not wear them out for Jurgen to take a look.
I tried on a couple of the dresses and Angela smiled and said, "Well, I think we will have to think about the lingerie a little bit too."
I laughed in response. She was referring to the fact the bra I was wearing is what you would call standard style, with the problem being it showed on several of the dresses due to either the straps or the cut of the neckline. It was also clear when I tried on one without the bra that some of the dresses would not come off classy that way, but a little sleazy.
I wore out the red chiffon dress for Jurgen to look at. Angela and I both though it had possibilities. It had a plunging neckline and showed some cleavage, which apparently was 'typical".
Jurgen smiled the second he saw me come out, "Ah, we have a winner."
Angela and I both laughed. It did look nice, but there were some other possibilities he had not seen yet. She said, "I think he will be easy to please."
I undressed as Angela handed me a shimmering blue cocktail dress. It had spaghetti straps and I removed my bra to try it on. I was standing there in my panty alone as we looked as I slipped it on.
Angela said, "You know, if I had your breasts, I would be looking to show them off a little."
She was petite, and while she was wearing a sharp jacket-skirt combo, I could tell it was true she was not very large on top.
The cocktail dress was beautiful. I could easily see it was super for multiple occasions. Jurgen liked this one too, despite the deviation from the long gown look we had agreed upon. Yes, he was going to like everything. I could imagine he was envisioning how we would look together as a couple and he already had concluded there was no way to lose.
I again undressed and stood in the changing area in my panty. Angela was looking me over head to toe. She smiled, "All my life I have envied women with a body like yours. Let's try this one."
She had brought a long black gown. It was strapless with a v-neck. It was tight across the waist, but smooth and flowing at the hips. It had a slit up both sides, high but not sleazy. As Angela helped zip me up in back, she commented, "You could never be wrong with something like this."
As I looked in the mirror, I could tell she was right. I also thought with my skin color and blond hair this dress was super. Sometimes you just know when the selection process is over.
It was a little funny as we looked in the mirror. She placed her hand under my breast and lifted up a little. I was without the bra again with this dress. My breasts are natural 34 full C cups and always drive men crazy. She had not said anything, but she was right -- a little support would be helpful.
But the dress fit well. Maybe there would be some minor alterations, but essentially I could have worn this out the door.
I walked out and Jurgen was beaming.
He said, "Angela, I think we can stop now."
Funny how that happened, that while there were so many nice choices, each of us in turn had seen the light and knew this was the dress.
Angela said, "The heel on these shoes is too low. Something a little higher is needed."
She looked over at Jurgen and said, "This dress requires something special underneath. And you must have some sort of dazzling necklace."
But Jurgen could not stop smiling and simply nodded his head.
So part one was done.
Angela and I went back to undress, but she stopped me first, looking carefully at the neckline. I understood she was trying to figure out the right kind of bra.
She placed her hands on my sides, "You need a corset. Something coming down a little on the waist for support and a half cup."
I knew what she meant and thought she was probably right. I also knew I would be showing a lot of cleavage with this dress. It was not something I was typically used to, but this was a unique situation and it was a little exciting.
She looked at me playfully, "Let's go."
I loved what was happening to me, it was all a whirlwind though. I got undressed and Angela looked me over again. She lifted up my breasts while she looked at me and smiled, "Like this."
I smiled back and laughed. Truly I was in her hands.
She left some instructions and markings for her staff regarding minor things to the dress. We came back out into the main area where Jurgen was waiting. This entire exercise had not taken very long.