DAVIS ISLANDS — Basia Irzyk and Edwin Velez were just out of high school when they began dating 17 years ago. She had an eye for couture; his ear was tuned in to the music scene. Career goals overtook romance as they chased their dreams, until they realized that getting married, in Paris no less, was the ultimate fulfillment. • "Everything we've done, we shared together, even when we were apart,'' Basia said.
When Edwin met Basia at a movie with some mutual friends in 1991, he co-owned Blue Chair Music in Ybor City, played guitar and imagined becoming the next Bill Graham, the legendary concert promoter. The Brandon High grad booked bands almost nightly at the popular record store hangout.
"I put on almost 1,000 concerts throughout the '90s, shows like Run DMC and Green Day, who became huge," said Edwin, now 36.
As driven as her musician-entrepreneur boyfriend, Basia studied mass communications at the University of South Florida to further a career passion. Growing up in Germany and Belgium, the daughter of a Green Beret, Col. Andrew Irzyk, Basia pored over French fashion magazines, idolized Catherine Deneuve, raved about Balenciaga and Lanvin.
"At 16, I was shopping in Paris on the weekends," she said. "Then came Brandon." Her father's transfer to MacDill Air Force Base brought the sophisticated shopper to Florida, where she was happy to find Edwin.
"Edwin was the most interesting person I met," she said.
He was thrilled for her when she landed a job in New York in 1997.
"It was always my dream to work in fashion public relations," says Basia, now 37. Soon she was outfitting Oscar celebs and calling Vogue, W and Harper's Bazaar to extoll luxury Italian retailer Bulgari. She was an Anne Klein spokeswoman, then directed People's Revolution, the hip agency referred to on the MTV reality show The Hills. Since 2004, she has been a senior account manager for the Susan Magrino Agency.
The couple kept in touch, sharing each other's accomplishments long distance until a 45-city European tour with his band rocked Edwin's perspective.
"After playing in 12 countries, I was satisfied I had achieved my goal,'' he said. "I was ready to go to school and get my degree."
And to reunite with Basia.
Edwin moved to her Manhattan apartment in 2000, earned a finance degree at Baruch College and worked in real estate development. Together again, they soaked up New York's offerings: art, restaurants, museums and, of course, music. At the same time, they endured a citywide blackout and the horrific attack of Sept. 11.
His sister's death to cancer and other family pulls brought the couple back to Tampa in summer 2005. Old skateboard buddies and musician friends welcomed his return. Basia's employer encouraged her to keep her accounts and work from Davis Islands.
"We love the city, but it's a JetBlue away,'' said Edwin, now a senior financial analyst specializing in multifamily acquisitions at Cushman and Wakefield.
With their pace slowed considerably, the two wanted to marry.
"Finally it was the time,'' Basia said, and Paris would be the place. She connected with a U.S. wedding planner on the Internet to arrange the Oct. 15 ceremony at Chapelle Ex-Paitoire, a neoclassical chapel dedicated to Marie Antoinette. The bride wore Nina Ricci and carried peonies and roses. About 15 friends joined them from New York, London, Berlin and Paris.
Their globetrotting guests piled into vintage Citroen CV cars for a city tour, popping through sun roofs and honking along the Champs Elysses, through the Arc de Triomphe, to an haute cuisine lunch at Les Bouquinistes, a chic bistro on the Seine created by chef Guy Savoy. The piece de resistance was a towering meringue croquembouche from the famous Laduree confectioner.
A honeymoon in Versailles and Barcelona was just their style.
Amy Scherzer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3332.