It’s June 2012. We’re at the beautiful Chateau de Saint-Privat-des-Pres, about an hour and a half north east of Bordeaux. The village itself is tiny and set in absolutely gorgeous countryside – rolling hills, woodland, rivers, quaint country villages, and of course the beautiful French sunshine!
Seventy-five of Jez and Helen’s friends and family have traveled from all over the world to join them and celebrate their wedding-holiday.
On hand with the camera is M&J Photography. Interested….? Or course you are.
Here is Helen with all the delicious detail.
My dress was suitably French: by the Paris-based design team Cymbeline, the style is Fadela; a combination of delicate ivory lace, deep v-neckline without being too revealing, with a corseted body underneath. The dress suited my shape beautifully, it felt light and delicate, and just had that sort of French easy chic to it that I just loved.
Blackheath Bridal Boutique was my last stop on my big wedding dress hunt, we’d come back to the UK from Dubai to give our notice of intention at the registrar’s office and I’d booked in a week of dress appointments. I’d falled in love with another dress, which was completely different and would have needed a lot of alterations to make it work, but when I slipped into the Cymbeline number I knew that the search had come to an end!
A Crafty Veil
I loved the sexy/shy look of the birdcage veil, so being surrounded by crafty girls we bought a length of netting from a fabric shop just off Oxford Street, and we took the lace flower off the front of my dress. On the day of the wedding my girls literally crafted the veil onto my head, stitching it into my hair.
Jewellery-wise, I went for antique pearls – necklace, delicate bracelet and earrings on loan from my Mother. They were my Grandmother’s and were a lovely way for me to remember my Granny on my wedding day.
The Perfect Pair
I don’t do heals, I live in the heat and wear Birkenstocks everyday. My sister-in-law, Jo, would never allow me to get away with Birkies on my wedding day! I do love the look of heals and was in no doubt that I would be wearing heals on my wedding day, but I spent hours and days and weeks looking for the perfect pair – Dubai, London, the web – to no avail, everything was wedge or skyscraper high and I really didn’t want to fall over on my wedding day!
I had my eyes on a few designers, so when Rachel Simpson and Two Birds Bridesmaids launched their collaboration just weeks before the wedding, I saw the perfect pair – beautiful pale blush pink suede and soft gold peep toe heels. They were lovely and just the right height for me, saying that, I kicked them off about an hour after the ceremony and slipped into some way more comfy Havaianas!
Everyone Looked Stunning
I’m a very natural girl and wear minimal make up (aka mascara!), so the idea of being painted-up to look like something/one else really didn’t appeal to me. I wanted to look like me, just a bit more polished.
I was introduced to make up artist, Carolyn Gallyer, in Dubai by a good friend. Carolyn took me under her wing; we went shopping, picked up some goodies and I instructed me on exactly what to put where!
I’m very lucky that one of my best girlies, Heather, is a fabulous hairdresser and she very kindly offered to do all of our hair for the big day. Needless to say, she did an amazing job and everyone’s hair looked stunning.
A Big Fat Posy
My Mother does wedding flowers, so it was obvious who would be doing mine! I had very fixed ideas about what I wanted: big soft roses, hydrangea, peonies, and lots of them, with a sprinkling of herbs. One big fat posy for me, smaller versions for the girls, simple button holes for the boys, something a little fatter for Jez.
Tables where simple; lots of vases –big & small – with a mix of roses, hydrangea, peonies mixed up with potted herbs which we hired from a local garden centre.
I just gave my instructions and left my Mother to it! She had the flowers delivered to the chateau from a wholesaler in Holland.
My girls wore Two Birds Bridesmaids dresses in slate, it was such a flattering dress, and the colour shimmery almost two tone. With no real colour scheme, I was totally open about what the girls wear so long as they tied in together and made them look and feel special…and then I found the Two Birds dresses and the deal was sealed! The girls wore sparkly silver heels from Debenhams, a bargain at £20 a pair!
My gorgeous niece, Summer, wore the flower girl version of the Two Birds Bridesmaid dress in ivory with matching slate sash. The dress is absolutely perfect for twirling!
My Mother made Summer a matching doll as a gift, dressed exactly the same as Summer. The girls at Two Birds were great, sending over enough fabric to make the sash for the doll!
We actually ended up with two flower girls, as there was no way we could leave the gorgeous Edie out! She and Summer struck up a firm friendship and by the end of the long weekend were inseparable, it was so cute to see.
Jez wore a really beautiful dark charcoal three-piece suit from Charles Tyrehitt on Jermyn Street, London. My mother and I went with Jez to pickup/choose his suit (a week before the wedding!) and after much hoo-ha and faffing, Jez, walked out of the dressing room all done up and I turned to jelly! He looked gorgeous! He wore a white textured shirt and pale blue tie both from CCharles Tyrehitt…grrr!
Instantly In Love
Jonny and Morgane at M&J Photography were suggested to us, along with others, by the team at Get Married in France, our wedding planners. I fell instantly in love with their photos, their use of light, the colours and compositions were just stunning. They were such a pleasure to have around and we’re so pleased with the photos, everyone has commented on how beautiful they are and how well they capture the feel of the wedding.
You hear so many stories of couples being less than happy with their photographer and the results, I think we were really lucky.
All About The Cake
Mmm, cake! Being uber talented, my Mother made our cakes. Jez and I wanted carrot cake and chocolate cakes, I passed on to my Mother a recipe for our favourite carrot cake from the Lime Tree Café in Dubai and Nigella’s Guinness Chocolate Cake recipe. The decision making process around the cake decoration caused a few heated debates; Jez wanted Malteasers everywhere and I didn’t! I was also super keen for my Mother to be able to use her skills to the max.
We ended up with our carrot cake covered in vanilla butter icing with a heart on top made from raspberries, our Guinness chocolate cake again covered in vanilla butter icing with a heart on top made from Malteasers (marriage is all about, compromise!). My Mother also sneaked in a two tier fruitcake, iced and decorated with hearts with two rather silly bears sat on top! Everyone raved about the cakes, they were absolutely delicious, even a week after the wedding… Possibly the best cake I’d ever tasted!
Too Good To Be True
For entertainment we had Tomorrow band, a recommendation from our planners. The guys were great, they played a real mix of hits and the dance floor was rammed all evening. A good friend, DJ Duncan, then entertained us loooong into the night/next morning!
Oh and I was serenaded by Jez and his backing boy band to the sound of ‘You’re too good to be true’! I absolutely loved it, Jez has such a fab voice and we both love that song! I couldn’t help but dance along, I was totally mesmerized!
Twist And Shout
What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong played by our band, which played into Twist and Shout, which was a great way to get everyone on the dance floor for a boogie! They’re just classic songs that we both love.
In keeping with the lighthearted approach of our invites, we decided to produce wedding memorabilia mugs, like the Charles & Diana ones but with our cheeky faces on them as favours. That way, when everyone has their breakfast cuppa they can remember our amazing day! The design, along with all our other stationary, originated deep in Jez’s brain but was made real by the super talented Jodi Magi, an artist, graphic designer and good friend of ours.
Inside were a Pukka Herbs ‘Love’ teabag and a little bundle of macaroons, made by the local macaroon specialist. Needless to say we made sure that there were a few extras macaroons for the bridal suite!
We didn’t feel there was much we needed to do as the chateau and grounds were so beautiful and the sun was shining. We just added flowers; pots of hydrangeas hired from the local garden centre, along with other blooms dotted around the place in old milk jugs, and flower heads in the fountain. The place just looked perfect.
Saying that, we had a lighting crew at Luminous decorate the place from top to toe in lights – from fair lights, to up lighters, candles and globes hanging from the trees, it looked truly magical as the sun went down.
We kept the furniture for the reception really simple – teak wood, white table clothes and parasols.
Laid Back Life
We’ve both got a very laid back approach to life and therefore we wanted our wedding to be an occasion that everyone could make into a holiday, with bonus wedding!
I think our mix of humor; expressed in the invites, favors and other stationary, and prettiness, everything else, worked really well together in the chateau setting.
We really couldn’t have done a wedding abroad without the input of our planner, Kate at Get Married in France …we’d have ended up eating pain au chocolat with frogs legs and snail salad served with warm beer!
Photographer – M&J Photography
Maids – Two Birds Bridesmaids
Dress – Cymbeline
Make-up – Carolyn Gallyer
Groom – Charles Tyrehitt
Planner – Get Married in France/
I think making your wedding day into a holiday is one of the best idea’s ever.
Not only do you get to throw a massive party for all your loved ones, but you also get to do it in a place where the weather stands a better chance of behaving on the big day!
Thanks to Jez and Helen for sharing this delicious destination with us.