This is breathtaking. Like totally stuck in a hurricane take your breath away. Ali and Tom fell in love over a shared passion for outdoor activities and mountains. They married in an alpine meadow deep in the French Alps (I mean, I could just stop there couldn’t I?!). The wedding lasted two days and in the run up family and friends scaled rock faces and hiked up glacial lakes, all before standing in the pouring rain (some in bin liners!) to witness the beautiful wedding of their favourite people. The love is boundless. Enjoy.
Ali The Bride: Tom and I met through our university kayak club, spending our weekends falling in love on freezing Scottish white-water. We continued exploring the world with our kayaks, visiting Europe, Scandinavia, Asia and Africa. One sport leads to another and before we knew it our spare time was filled with ski touring, climbing and mountaineering. Our passion for the mountains meant that last year we made the step of moving to Grenoble, France to be in the heart of the mountains. Although a scary prospect to start with, we’ve never looked back and this is now our home.
Tom proposed just before Christmas 2013 – on top of a mountain of course, and we decided that we wanted to get married as soon as possible, giving ourselves 6 months to organise the wedding.
We started searching for wedding venues: the UK or France? A barn, villa, chateau or chalet? What actually mattered more than anything else was to have it somewhere where we have an affinity for. This was our opportunity to share our love of the Alps with friends and family. We eventually found the Lauvitel Lodge, and what a find it was. Situated in La Danchère, a small hamlet on the edge of the Ecrins National Park, it provides an excellent base for holidays and gatherings. We arranged a visit with the owner Caroline Purkhardt. The visit was a snowy January day and the place was magical. We were giddy with excitement after visiting and decided immediately that this was it. Weddings happen once a year here, and we knew this was not a venue where everything would be organised for us, but this was never our style and suited us well. However, we needed Caroline to be crazy enough to say yes to the wedding, and she did.
We arranged to stay in a gorgeous alpine chalet in the village with our families for the week prior to the wedding which was organised though BikeLodging.
Family and friends started arriving on the Thursday and everyone was hands on deck, whether it was hanging our homemade paper birds, decorating the marquee, laying tables or moving haybales to the meadow.
Tom’s Mum Lindi meanwhile was finalising all the flower arrangements, bouquets and flower crowns made from wild alpine flowers she’d been picking throughout the week. She had an incredible vision about the day and how to bring this out in the flowers. They were simply stunning.
The Great Outdoors
The day arrived and it was pouring with rain. Not an issue if you are getting married indoors but we had decided to get married in an alpine meadow come rain or shine. We just went with the flow. Sunglasses were swapped for umbrellas, summer shoes for hiking boots and trainers. I chose cowboy boots to wear with my beautiful dress by annasul y lusan mandongus. Tom opted for something he felt comfortable in and wore a simple sleek blue suit.
An amphitheatre had been cut into the meadow to seat our guests. I remember walking down into it and being blown away with how atmospheric it was with the mountains shrouded by clouds. I also giggled seeing some of our guests wearing waterproofs made out of bin bags.
We’d asked Caroline to take our ceremony as she’d become very much part of our lives; and we wrote our own vows and readings. The whole thing was extremely emotional. We all cried, soaked in the rain, but nobody cared.
After the ceremony, we all walked back through La Danchère, where Tom and I were given presents and kind words by the villagers and were reminded that a mariage pluvieux, was a mariage heureux (a rainy wedding makes for a happy marriage.).
Caroline’s fantastic team then hosted the most delicious dinner in the marquee beautifully decorated by our guests. The food was out of this world, starting with seafood delights, followed by an exciting mix of Moroccan dishes, and finishing with a Croquembouche, the classic french wedding cake. Oh and each course was followed by a palette cleanser. We would highly recommend both Stuart and Alison who each run their own catering companies.
Then for the party which was really important to us both. It kicked off with a ceilidh followed by a silent disco which we’d spent hours compiling our own mixes. It was an absolute hit. We ate cheese, drank our home made liquor and danced under the full moon until sunrise.
Millie and Jo of Mille Benbow Photography captured far more than what I could describe here. I knew they’d be good but they really were exceptional. They are two extremely talented people. We’ve come away with not just memories of our day but two more friends.
Be brave and adventurous. Have your wedding somewhere special to you, even if it’s unusual for your guests. You certainly won’t forget it, but neither will your guests.
Recycle and reuse; jars, reclaimed wood, books to make cut out garlands- it’s sustainable and will save you a fortune.
Your friends and family are integral to your DIY wedding, so get them involved. More than anything, it’s a chance to spend time with them.