Goodness me hasn’t this week gone quickly! And what a week it’s been. There have been some gorgeous weddings to swoon over and just in case you’ve missed anything, here’s my pick of the best from the last five days…
Inspiration this week came curtesy of this atmospheric shoot in the French mountains. The combination of dramatic scenery, gorgeous fashion (hello kilts, leather jackets and chunky scarves) and industrial styling made us go weak at the knees.
It’ll make you want to wrap up warm, grab your boy and head off on an adventure – promise. (Especially if there’s a whisky bar waiting for you at the end!)
You may have noticed over the last couple of months that we’ve showcased a veritable display of French Weddings. From Cecile and Kevin’s chic Parisian soiree to Olivia and Marc’s dreamy provencal do, we’ve really been a little bit spoilt with all this loveliness.
Spoilt and inspired too…
Which is why this week’s inspiration post is inspired by the chic nation that is the French.
Rather than taking the luxurious route reminiscent of Versailles fashion, the moodboards below are suggestive of a simpler, more understated provincial charm.
Les Belle Dames
Lighthearted and bright, ‘Les Belle Dames’ is all about adding a modern twist to elegant classics. Simpler silhouettes are the watchwords here with the look less about the volume and more about finely crafted materials and tailoring.
French brides prefer freer flowing fabrics with silk and crepe being the most popular materials of choice. Add a touch of lace draped softly over the shoulders and down the back and the look is pure elegance.
One or two key accessorises are all that’s needed to compliment the look. I particularly love a knotted veil, a string of small seed pearls knotted down the back or a delicate headpiece. Beauty looks are simpler too with a soft rosy hue and neutral eyes being the order of play.
Top off the look with a soft chignon or a loosely woven fishtail plait.
Campagne chic is all about looking as if you’ve spent a lazy Sunday afternoon at a Paris flea market and picked up a a few glorious finds in the process.
From forgotten watering cans to flaking washbowls and loved, worn tables, it’s all about finding understated charm in simple everyday objects. If this is your style then it’s so easy to integrate these props into your home decor after the big day is over too making them a real investment for your married future.
Props always help to really bring a theme to life; scrawl French phrases onto decadently shaped blackboards, prop up village bikes complete with baskets full of baguettes or opt for calligraphried invitations in a style similar to French script.
Channel Marie Aintoinette by creating salon styled seating areas for your guests using elaborate chairs, French cushions and sweet love seats. Finish the look like stringing reclaimed chandeliers from the ceiling or even from nearby trees.
I particularly love the idea of gifting padlocks to coupled up guests as wedding favours inscribed with their initials and finished with a ribbon flourish. Leave them a key so they can secure their love locks somewhere close to their hearts.
Les Jolie Fleurs
Did you know that it’s a French tradition to offer sprigs of lily-of-the-valley to your loved ones on May Day. Now that’s exactly the kind of tradition I adore so I couldn’t resist including a sweet posy of this flower as part of this moodboard.
If lily-of-the-valley doesn’t float your boat or if you’re looking to inject a bit of colour into your day then Lavender just screams French provencal charm. Try adding it to your table centrepieces to add both a visual punch as well as a beautiful scent to your surroundings. Alternatively why not place a few stems at each guest’s setting for them to take away as a keepsake of the day.
Try thinking outside the flowerbox when it comes to housing your beautiful blooms. Sourcing antique milk churns, bike baskets and old planters or even wrapping plant pots in brown paper and string are all fantastic ways of achieving this look. I particularly love the idea of a ‘flower table’ pictured in the moodboard above full to bursting with a myriad of different jugs, pots and vases. You can just smell those blooms from here can’t you.
Lastly, why not wrap the ends of your bouquet in antique French velvet ribbon as a subtle nod to your ‘something old’.
Sur La Table
This concoction of pretty was influenced by an image that I’ve been cultivating in my imagination for some time. You see for me, a French wedding revolves mostly around the culinary delights offered at the reception so I wanted to recreate a scene that I feel epitomises a perfect Gallic knees-up.
Think rustic chairs and tables scattered outside under the trees adorned with mismatched plates of cheese and wine. Candles or festoon lighting providing the perfect amount of illumination and the prettiest of napkins to lay on your lap.
If you’re after a more luxurious feel opt for opulent chairs, exquisite tableware and lots and lots of flowers. Leaving gifts at guests’ settings adds to the luxe look too – squares of dark French chocolate, a exquisitely wrapped mini baguette or handmade soaps all work equally well.
More than anything it’s about creating an atmosphere rather than a specific look. If you’ve got the right ambience then nothing else really matters.
If there’s a nation that raise cakey treats to an art form then it’s the French.
You name it, they’ve made it – macarons, fruit tartlets, gateaus and the piece de resistance – the croquembouche. There’s literally something for everyone.
Why not serve small portions of gateau for dessert or even small fruit tartlets with a pot of lavender infused cream and a rustic napkin. If you’re looking for something that pushes your feminine buttons then choosing a sweet cake stand piled with macarons in candy shades topped with a bow is a surefire way to tick that box.
Presentation is just as much a key to this look as the savoury delights of your treats so allocate a portion of your time to styling the look. Garnishing the cakes themselves as well as their surroundings with florals in keeping with your wider theme is one way to do this; sourcing antique French cake knives and slices is another.
I love the idea of sourcing vintage cake knives for each of your tables, allowing guests to serve themselves whilst engendering that community feel at the same time.
So folks, what do you think?
Does the Gallic way of doing things float your boat?
Interestingly, I read an article not so long back written by the BBC which discussed how the French were looking to the Brits for inspiration for their big day. Apparently they like the fun and light-hearted elements that British brides incorporate into their nuptials and are beginning to emulate it themselves.
Who knew? If the beeb says it’s true then who are we to disagree…
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!
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.
I have a lot of girl crushes. And I’m not particularly loyal to be honest – it changes literally week on week.
There are a couple that never waiver however, and that’s Vanessa Paradis and Audrey Tatou. They just have “it” – the chic, that perfectly groomed ( without looking like they try very hard AT ALL) glossiness, that quirky edgy allure that is so endearing.
I figure it’s because they are French. And somehow French girls can just do that whole elegant whilst appearing ever-so-slightly mysterious and at the same time being very very sexy thing.
Yup. Some days I would gladly swap my 50% Brummy 50% Welsh genes for a few of the Parisian variety.
And maybe that’s why I was immediately attracted to the engagement shoot of Alecia and AL photographed by Milda Vasile. It looks like a classic French movie, especially in the black and white images.
It makes me want to twirl around the city in the prettiest dress. And lie on the pavement holding shiny red balloons. It makes me want to buy a very sophisticated beige belted mac. And do some spontaneous kissing with my boy and not care who’s watching….
How much do you want the dress on a scale of 1 to 10?
It’s an 11.
Milda Vasile: I studied absolutely different subject until 2004 as I wasn’t sure which direction I would like to pursue long term, but then I touched my first decent camera!
So after studying photography at the University of Westminster I rushed into fashion photography. Since then my work has been published in several magazines including Sublime, Material Girl and Random Magazine.
I love creating my own stories in images but after some time I realized that this wasn’t all I want to do. I wanted to capture the stories of real people. I tried this once and loved it, which led to wedding photography! I photograph my weddings the way I see them and believe (and hope :)!) I’m good at it.
Alecia and Al are a happy and beautiful couple! They are getting married and moving to Australia in 2012 so Alecia suggested we capture the parts of London that are special to them and get some real “London flavour” in the photos. I also wanted the pictures to have the feel of a classic French movie.
Together, I think we managed to encapsulate both ideas. It was also great fun for me doing the shoot and I think you can tell from the images that they had a good time too!