I recently read about the growing trend in France for an English inspired wedding with some interest. It seems that in breaking away from traditions the french are beginning to opt for a more Anglo/American inspired big day. We on the other hand love a bit of classical french influence and with planning companies like Marry Me in France around it is easier than ever to fulfill your dreams of idyliic Chateaus full of french fancy.
Angela and Andy lived that dream. The event was beautifully documented by Jacqui McSweeney
A Three Day Love-In
Our wedding was on September 30, 2012 at Marry Me In France’s Fairytale Chateau in the Dordogne region. We found the venue through two lovely ladies, Kate and Beth, who run a wedding planning service in the Dordogne called Marry Me in France. Not only did they help us find the venue, but Kate coordinated all of the suppliers and was there on the day, ensuring everything went off without a hitch. She was an absolute godsend!
We chose the location because we had recently come back from a year of travel (a late-in life gap year). The Dordogne was where we first decided to embark on that adventure, so seemed like a nice way to wrap it up. It also forced everyone to travel to the wedding – my family and friends from Canada and Andy’s from across England. In the days leading up to the wedding, the chateau became a hangout for those not staying there, and a home for those staying with us on the grounds. We had a day of canoeing on the Dordogne river, and a brilliant BBQ the night before the wedding, which allowed everyone to get to know each other and to enjoy the area. We were thrilled at how well everyone got on – it was like a three-day love-in.
I found my gown while we were in Sydney. It is by an Australian designer, Johanna Johnson. Her gowns tend to have a vintage quality about them, which I thought suited the venue perfectly. I knew that gown was “the one” the moment I slipped it on – it seemed I stood a few inches taller. The expression on my friend’s face confirmed it. As it turned out, the lace detailing is French, which I thought tied things together nicely.
The gown has some rather ornate jewelled detailing, so I thought it best to not have any accessories so I didn’t wear anything else, apart from my wedding band.
Satin Strappy Lovelies
I my feet I wore some gorgeous, sky-scraping, champagne-coloured satin strappy lovelies by Karen Millen. A bit of challenge negotiating the pea gravel on my walk down the aisle, but well worth it!
For the hair and makeup, I was inspired by a wedding I came across on the Bleubird Vintage blog. I love how everyone looked so natural, with lovely dresses. We decided to do the same. As we were in rural France, it also made things easy, as we did our own hair and makeup.
I had one request for flowers. I really wanted antique hydrangeas as my bouquet – I love them, and thought they would be perfect with the gown. As they are everywhere in the region, it was an easy request. My bridesmaid had a similar bouquet, with a few roses thrown in, and my adorable flower girl had a pommander which she loved twirling around with. The boutonniers were greens, and Andy’s had a touch of colour which looked perfect. Apart from that, I thought lush, seasonal flowers from the area would be most suitable, and quite liked the idea of small arrangements on the tables in an ecclectic collection of vases. Kate from Marry Me in France worked with Mairie Fleurs in Perigueux to make this happen.
We bought everything. The bridesmaid dress was from Coast, and I thought looked fantastic on Monique. Being from Canada, Monique was pleasantly surprised by how lovely the dress was. It’s not often you get thanked by your bridesmaid for choosing such a beautiful dress that she will wear again! My niece Eva, who was our flower girl, wore a dress from Monsoon, which she loved, as you can see in the images. Sam, our best man, brought his own suit, which we asked be midnight blue. We purchased his tie and pocket square – bright pink to tie in with the flowers.
Interestingly, we did were not specific regarding attire with other members of the bridal party (Andy’s father’s partner, who gave the reading during the ceremony, my brother Dave, who gave a speech, and James, our MC), yet they all wore hits of colour which worked perfectly.
Not to be outdone, Andy had a bespoke suit made at Gresham Blake in Brighton. I only asked that the suit be blue, as I thought that would work best with the yellow stone of the buildings at the chateau. Andy chose everything else: the bright blue pinstripe in the wool, the pink shirt with floral accents and the bold tie. He borrowed some fabulous cufflinks from his father’s partner (who gave the reading during the ceremony), and his shoes were by Antonio Brecos. His final, and possibly favorite, accessory was a slightly tacky floral hipflask, filled with Armagnac. The male contingent of the bridal party were all given one and were imbibing throughout the day.
A Member Of The Family
Jacqui McSweeney was our brilliant photographer. Jacqui shot our friends’ wedding in Brighton, and I absolutely loved her style, and the way she captured colour and light. During the planning of our own wedding, she was really the only photographer we considered. We booked her while we were still traveling, so had not met her until a few months before the big day. She is great fun, yet very professional. She understood exactly what we were looking for in our photos, so it was easy to put our trust in her. She did a pre-wedding shoot with us, which was great, as it helped us all get comfortable with each other. While in France, she captured the entire weekend, going way above the call of duty, and became a member of the family in the process.
A Candy Bar
We chose not to have a cake. Instead, we had a candy bar, with British and Canadian candy Andy and I loved as kids. These included Pineapple Chunks and Refreshers for the Brits, and Popeye Cigarettes and Tootsie Rolls for the Canucks. We designed custom stickers for the candy bags, so guests could stock up for their journeys home the following day.
We decided to keep it simple for the reception and have our friend Michael play some of our favorite music. As long as he kept people on the dance floor, we were happy. What was unique was the accordionist we hired to play during the drinks reception, following the ceremony. He played French classics by Edith Piaf among others, which complemented the feel of the venue beautifully.
Can’t Take My Eyes Off You
We had a tough time choosing a first dance. We have songs we consider “our song”, but they weren’t suitable for a first dance. We decided on a classic – Can’t Take My Eyes Off You by Frankie Valli, which worked perfectly – our guests belting out the chorus as we danced.
Other favorite songs we used were You and Me by Penny and the Quarters as I walked down the aisle, and To Love Somebody by Nina Simone as Andy and I walked back up the aisle.
Lights, Camera, Action
The venue was so spectacular it really didn’t need much in terms of decor. We hired a lighting designer to add the landscape lighting, which made the chateau feel magical once the sun set. Other than that, we trusted Kate from Marry Me in Franceto work her magic – adding props like blackboards and clocks as she saw fit. We did request the frames, where were fantastic props for photographs. My brother is a photographer, so while Jacqui was taking our posed photographs, Dave wandered from group to group, capturing all of the guests in the frames.
Far And Wide
I would say what made our wedding most special was that our loved ones traveled far and wide to share the day with us – from London, to Toronto, to the Bahamas, to Buenos Aires. It really meant so much to have them there.
The advice that I would give to future brides is to hire someone to coordinate everything on the day. If that is not possible, be sure you have someone who is not in the bridal party, who can troubleshoot on the big day. Kate was amazing – she worked her magic, making it look easy the entire time. The other piece of advice would be to relax and enjoy the day – it flies by so quickly!
Venue – Fairytale Chateau
Photographer – Jacqui McSweeney
Planner – Marry Me in France
Groom – Gresham Blake
Maid – Coast
Wow, this venue actually does look like the setting for a proper fairytale. It’s great to not have to think too much about decor when your venue is so key and so totally “the look” you want. I think it is a really wise choice that Angela and Andy made to have it professionally lit too.
Lighting really can work wonders and transform a venue, reflecting different moods and different times of day.
Thanks for sharing guys.