If you're planning a destination wedding in France, then I highly recommend you read through this wedding with a notebook and pen, as Bride Amy has tonnes of great advice for tackling the difficulties you may encounter. Even if you're not getting married abroad, I think we can all appreciate the beautiful blooms and decor here... Amy looked incredible in Jesus Peiro, she tells us that this dress was miles away from what she imagined she'd end up choosing, so don't be afraid to try on ALL the dresses, you never know which gown will end up being 'the one!' And if you're looking for a destination photographer who will shoot your wedding in a natural, romantic style, then Sebastien Boudot is your man. Amy and Dan found him right here on Rock My Wedding when looking at real weddings, so lets continue the circle! You can get in touch via his website.

Our Destination Wedding

Amy the Bride: With roots in the South of France, we jumped at the chance to celebrate our marriage in sunnier pastures. Our wedding really was a team effort and we can’t thank our families enough for their time energy and enthusiasm, especially our parents. Organising a wedding abroad certainly has it’s stresses (language barrier, geographical separation), but the reward is so great for all involved. It was a pleasure to see the wedding come to life and celebrate the role that each of our loved ones played, thank you a million times over.

The Bride

Never in a million years did I think I would end up wearing a dress like this (pretty sure every bride says that), but now I can’t imagine a more perfect dress to celebrate my everyday style. All thanks to my sister (and maid of honour) Sophie for making me try it on despite the search briefing. The original search started with a criteria of ‘boho’ and ‘lace’, it goes to show how important it is to keep an open mind and be adventurous with the variety of dresses you try, Morgan Davis Bridal were incredibly helpful and Annie’s fitting service was faultless, a superb boutique. Jesus Peiro has a knack for designing brilliantly tailored dresses, infusing modern lines with a classic chic style. The plunging neckline contrasted with the high collar and low back gave just the right level of sass and sophistication, a truly sartorial dress (equipped with pockets!) The BOW...the bow was a real battleground between my mother and I, right up until the last fitting I was planning on wearing a different belt, however, on this occasion I’m happy to admit my mother was entirely right, it was FABULOUS! The full laced edged veil (from Britten Weddings) was so romantic and answered my initial desire for lace, while softening the more revealing parts of the dress for the ceremony. In the evening I draped my shoulders in a cropped gold sequinned jacket from ASOS, such a wonderfully playful cover up. With size 9 feet, shoe shopping was rather challenging, but I finally found the Charlotte Olympia Desiree pom pom shoes on The Outnet, such a find. The gold and pearl headpiece was created by the incredibly talented Joanna Reed Bridal, such a treat to wear that I wore it at both the legal ceremony in London and in France. Finally and by no means least, my father in law, Peter, did my hair beautifully, it was an honour to have him by my side during morning preparations.

The Groom

This is one of the few occasions where the guests were as excited to see what the groom was wearing as they were about seeing the bride. Dan works in the fashion world and is an incredibly snappy dresser and boy did he not disappoint! His navy chequered suit from Hardy Amies on Saville Row was absolutely knockout and fit to perfection (the in house tailors there are incredibly talented). His grey seersucker double-breasted waistcoat from Favourbrook gave the outfit an incredibly traditional look with a modern sartorial twist. The classic cut away Eton shirt was paired perfectly with his royal blue Drakes tie, highlighting similar tones in the check, it all came together beautifully (I basically ran down the aisle to give him a kiss!). People say, ‘you can always judge a man by his shoes’ and in this case I certainly bagged myself a goodun, his Trickers blue suede and leather Oxford brogues were sensational. Before leaving the UK, Dan and I treated ourselves to fragrances from Le Labo, Iris 39 and Santal 33, perfect for mixing and matching throughout weekend and on our honeymoon.

The Venue

Finding the venue took a similar vein to shopping online. Being stuck in London for work commitments and aware that most venues were booked over a year in advance, I put my shopaholic skills to the test and created a shortlist of the top venues to share with the family. We actually put the deposit down on the Bastide St Mathieu before seeing it in the flesh. If this is your only option, it’s best to put your detective skills to the test and look at other weddings that have happened there on Instagram, look at Facebook ratings and see if any blogs have featured the venue. The Bastide was a sensational venue, housing both families comfortably for three days and offering a truly French backdrop to a late summer wedding. It was important to us that there was a real flow to the day and that our venue could host all elements from ceremony right through to dancing. In that vein, we really recommend keeping an eye out for these logistical elements: curfew of the venue (lots of French venues have a curfew of midnight in built up areas), local access and transport for guests, a good supply of local accommodation and access hours for set up and break down, it’s easy to get caught out on all of the above. On the wedding day, we decided to have a wonderful wedding planner to keep everything in motion, Jenna was an invaluable pair of hands to have on site and meant that the whole wedding party could enjoy the day that much more. The day after the wedding we hosted a BBQ where the BBQ and boules court were put to good use, the giant inflatables were a huge success.

The Decor

The natural beauty of the venue and the surroundings really were champion for us and we were very aware not to distract too much from its splendour. The colour scheme was less focused on one colour, more on a pastel palette, with the bridesmaids in pastel pink, our poolhouse lanterns an array of wonderful colours and the table flowers championing natural Provencial hues. Once you’re quite far down the line with planning, the décor budget certainly gets smaller and smaller, so we selected key areas to focus on. One of our favourite decorations was the hanging flower arrangement from the trees as the backdrop to the ceremony, so magical. The table decor was such fun to create, opting for a personalised ‘Over The Moon’ matchbox for the sparklers and a photo strip of each guest. It was rather painstaking to create 140 individual photo strips, but so worth it to see the joy it brought out guests. The hoop table plan was such an effective way to list banquet style seating and looked so impressive in situ, we really recommend having at least three table plans along the guests journey to their table, saves congestion and a lot of hanging around. In the tent area, we had a fishing line along the stone wall, offering a space for guests to hang their hats up, a practical solution creating a wonderful image. The lighting in the stretch tent gave such a warm ambience and really came to life as the sun set, with pea lights lined across the tent canvas and plenty of candles on each table, it was so romantic.

The Flowers

The flowers brought the venue to life and local florist Euginie at Au Bonheur Des Dames and her team were superb. After trawling for hours of inspiration on Pinterest, we shared a folder with her, outlining all the arrangements we wanted for each area. Our overall desire was for the flowers to be classic with a rustic edge. I was really keen to void the over pruned look, opting for a rather large waterfall bouquet, rich with greens, cream and the odd pop of pink to compliment the bridesmaids. All the other arrangements took inspiration from the bridal bouquet and came to life beautifully on the tables, the small arrangements in mismatched glass jars were very playful and made sure guests could see everyone on their table (nothing worse than wanting to move the flowers as soon as you sit down). A real highlight were the olive branches that we cut from some wild trees and attached to the tent poles, it gave a real midsummer nights dream feel and brought the Provence nature into the tent décor.

The Wedding Party

I’ve always been a fan of the mix and match bridesmaid look, and feel it’s important to celebrate my friends’ individual styles. What works for one bridesmaid might not necessarily be loved by the others, so to save some painful conversations, I recommend working on a case by case basis with each person, it’s important they feel great too! I should have taken shares out at ASOS because we ordered so many different dresses, all in a similar pastel pink, some were horrendous and others fantastic, but the end result far surpassed my expectations, our gorgeous gals smashed it (helps having such good looking pals). The incredibly talented Marie Mallozzi did hair and make-up. We opted for uniform hair up dos and wonderfully natural make-up, so stunning, all of them. For the groomsmen, we chose some Liberty fabric (a nod to London) and had their ties and matching pocket squares made bespoke. It was a far more cost effective way to achieve what we wanted without buying pre-made Liberty ties, they were great gifts and worked so well with the bridesmaids. We requested that the groomsmen where navy blue suits, but be warned, there are plenty of interpretations of blue, don’t worry about being too over prescriptive with what the right blue is (it will pay off in the pictures). Our niece Olivia was such a sweet flower girl, wearing a dress from Monsoon and a bespoke gypsophila crown, adorable. We paired Olivia and our nephew Freddie to take the unison walk down the aisle, safe to say it was wishful thinking, but they gave it their best shot and Freddie gave Dan a run for his money in his bow-tie and braces, such a cute little man.

The Ceremony

Our ceremony was such a special moment, made incredibly personal by our celebrants approach to crafting a truly unique humanist service. I walked down the aisle with my wonderful step-father to ‘Here Comes The Sun’, played beautifully by Dan’s dear friend Joe on classical guitar. Our celebrant, Celia, really focused on the story of our relationship that lead us to marry and looked to the future with great positivity. We had a couple of skype sessions in the lead up to the big day and worked with Celia to answer a set list of (rather thought provoking) questions that would help shape her address, Celia then wrote a script for our approval and the first time we read it we cried with joy. Celia was full of suggestions on how to bring our loved ones into the ceremony, from my sister lighting a memory candle in recognition of our late father, to helping select our readings, ‘The Most Wonderful of All Things in Life’ by Hugh Walpole, for Dan’s sister Nicola and ‘Hour’ by Carol Ann Duffy for our dear friend Fran. Our order of service was printed on brown paper bags stuffed to the brim with Mum’s home made confetti, accompanied with small paper fans to keep guests cool in the heat of the sun. The ceremony was sprinkled with laughter and full of love, a real celebration of our marriage. We walked back up the aisle with cheers to Ray Charles blaring from the PA, a moment we’ll never forget.

The Entertainment

The drinks reception quartet played French classics and kept the vibe perfectly chic and upbeat, with the sun shining down and a glass of bubbles in hand, we really were in heaven. This was a key time to do the rounds and say hello to as many guests as possible, many had made a huge effort to join us in France, travelling a great distance to be with us. It really can be a challenge booking entertainment abroad, many bands are extremely expensive and there are lots of hidden costs. Thankfully we came across Simon and his band 4 Play, they were slick with communication and always keen to help where needed. 4 Play kept the dance floor packed all night and played a wonderful rendition of our first dance, ‘Moondance’, Simon then went on to DJ into the early hours of the morning. We were quite picky over the songs that were being played, so Simon kindly suggested we give him a long list (40 tracks) for him to play from and it worked brilliantly. Lots of guests made great use of our DIY photobooth, donning props galore and posing infront of our ‘YAY’ balloon for a Polaroid to stick and sign in our guest book. The images are so funny and it really was a much more affordable version of the hi-tech photobooths on offer.

The Food

Our caterers deserve a medal, I still can’t quite fathom how they served 140 people with such a slick service, from the home made canapés to the seven hour slow cooked provincial lamb, it was all delicious! From day one, Lori was very open and honest about what would and wouldn’t work and we can’t thank her enough for her guidance. Originally we wanted family style service where guests help themselves, however, in banquet style seating this is a real challenge as there is very little space on the tables. It’s always great to listen to the experts and keep a flexible mind set when crafting plans, saves a lot of heartache further down the line. Our actual menus and place names matched the design of our invitations, created from a super template on, I highlight recommend them for all stationary elements. Dan and I are well known cheese fans and what better place to make our ‘Tower of Cheese’ dreams come true than France. The cheese was presented just after speeches with a sea of sparklers ignited by our guests and put out for to tuck into a little later on for midnight munchies with an array of sweeties and biscuits. What would a wedding be without wine? We had a wonderfully boozy day trialing the different local vineyards and have a great tip to start with finer bottled wines on the table during dinner, then switch after the meal to a carafes of bag in box wines, really helps on cost.

The Photography

We came across Sebastien’s work on Rock My Wedding and knew he was perfect for us, his style is timeless and his portfolio makes your hairs stand on end. After an initial skype and a few emails, we invited him to London to come and stay with us and had such a fantastic weekend showing him the East London sights. It was a super opportunity to get to know each other and for Dan and I to grow easy in front of the camera. Sebastian has an incredibly gentle and kind approach, while working quickly to not miss a beat on photo opportunities. His energy and enthusiasm lived onto the editing stage where he made sure no stone was left unturned to get us the final images we wanted. With a beautiful physical album included in the package and hundreds of photos for digital download, Sebastien’s service is second to none and has left us with images we’ll treasure forever.
Fern Godfrey

Written by Fern Godfrey

Bride: Jesus Peiro | Boutique: Morgan Davies | Head Piece: Joanna Reed | Veil: Britten | Jacket: ASOS | Shoes: Charlotte Olympia | Groom: Hardy Amies | Favourbrook | Shoes: Trickers | Fragrances: Le Labo | Wedding Planner: JPR Events | Venue: Bastide St Mathieu | Tent: Ten by Fifteen Structures | Favours: Cheerz | Matches: Portmanteau Paper Co | Flowers: Au Bonheur Des Dames | Bridesmaids: ASOS | Make Up: Les Ciseaux De Marie | Celebrant: Getting Married In France | Flower Girl: Monsoon | Entertainment: 4 Play | Catering: Chef a Domicile | Stationery: Papier
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