Inspiration

Brighton-based Anna and Will got married at the green and rustic Chateau Rigaud in South West France. It looks like the perfect intimate and relaxed wedding, steeped in personal touches and beautiful blooms. Not to mention the picturesque surroundings and all the excellent French cuisine that was on offer. I love the off shoulder detail on the bridesmaids midnight blue dresses, and Anna's incredibly sassy split she incorporated into the tulle skirt of her custom made wedding dress. Finishing off their outfits perfectly with oversized bouquets full of delicious peach florals and coral peonies. Everything just oozes elegance, captured beautifully by Fern Edwards Photography and culminating in a heaving dance floor and delicious looking croquembouche wedding cake.

The Dress

Anna the Bride: I started looking for dresses around 8 months before the wedding, and visited around 4 different bridal shops. I'm not into traditional or obvious bridal wear and struggled to find something that I felt like myself in, that was also within budget. I found a dress maker in my hometown who was able to work on something from scratch, so I went in with a load of ideas and we pieced a design together from them over about 4 fittings. I always had a very strong idea in mind (something that Will wasn't expecting!) with a strappy back and a slit in the skirt. I wanted to feel like me! It turned out slightly more 'bridal' than my original vision, but I absolutely loved it. I paired it with a simple veil and strappy shoes from Office, as I knew they'd get trashed! At the very last minute I decided to have my hair in a top knot as it showed off the lace details on my dress neckline, and went with simple make-up – it was important to me that I looked like myself and not too overdone!

Grooms Fashion

Will went for the traditional French style of mixed jacket and trousers. After looking in a number of high end stores, he ended up getting most of his outfit off-the-peg from the high street and was really happy with it all.

The Venue

One of the first things that we decided upon and had discussed beforehand was that we would love to get married in France (Will's parents live there so it was an easy choice to make!) Chateau Rigaud was the first venue we found and we fell in love with it immediately. It couples stunning surroundings and a beautiful historical building decorated/furnished in a contemporary style with incredible food - a major priority of ours! We also wanted a team that we felt confident would be able to handle things from overseas. We knew when we met them that they shared our taste and vision and were willing to find ways to do everything exactly as we wanted! We stayed there with 30 of our family and friends for 4 days and were truly spoilt! With air strikes threatening to throw a spanner in the works (called off the at the last minute!) it was such a relief to see everything come together and have everyone who we loved around us in the most beautiful surroundings.

Colour Scheme/Decor

We didn't have a specific theme. We loved the house and the surroundings and wanted to keep the decor simple, rustic, with no particular structure. We incorporated colour pops into the floral arrangements and gold initial balloons for the dance floor. 

Florist

The flowers were one of my favourite elements of the day, they were unbelievable! We used Heidi from Flowers in the Vines and she was amazing. She really understood and was excited about our vision and it only took a few Skype calls and Pinterest board to finalise everything. We wanted a rustic, overgrown feel, lots of greenery but with bright colour pops. Our wedding was in June, the perfect time for peonies, which are my all time favourites. We mixed these with thistles and wild flowers to make it feel less formal. There was lots of coral and hot pink to provide contrast with the green surroundings and dark bridesmaids dresses.

The Wedding Party Fashion

  Simple, classic shapes, yet not too formal. There was always the potential that it would be hot, so nothing too big or heavy! The groomsmen weren't initially going to be coordinated as we wanted a relaxed feel but it all fell into place with navy suits as the majority were planning on wearing them anyway. The girls all wore simple navy, off the shoulder dresses. They all have different skin tones and body shapes and the colour suited everybody, we also didn’t want them in anything too formal or girly. We had five groomsmen and the best man, who was Will’s dad Greg and five bridesmaids, including my maid of honour, Emily. One of my favourite photos from the day is the boys and girls all lined up together with Will and I.

Ceremony

We got married outside, in the garden of the Chateau. Whilst getting ready, I could see everyone arriving from which was exciting and nerve wracking in equal measure! I somehow managed to be 20 minutes late, even though I just had to go downstairs. We wanted a simple, secular service and found a celebrant based in France who wrote the service with us via email and Skype. My cousin Sam played the processional (Nina Simone's version of  'Here comes the sun') and recessional (the Beatles 'Here, there and everywhere') which made the service feel more personal. We wrote our own vows and managed to keep it together until the last moment! My uncle Ged did a reading from a book that he wrote for my sister and I when we were younger about palindromes - this turned into mine and Will's first ever conversation when we met 8 years ago and in turn was also the theme for our table names. 

Entertainment

We had a local accordionist play while we had our first glass and canapes, then had a DJ after dinner until the early hours of the morning.

Food

The food was a massive highlight of our whole time at Rigaud. On the wedding day we had a selection of canapes  including fresh rock oysters, seared scallops, consomme, and local sausage which was served at the back of the house overlooking the surrounding fields. For the main meal, we had confit pavé of salmon with a lovely fresh salad for starter, followed by fillet of beef with foie gras and vegetables for main. Dessert was an assiette of chocolate, which included a white chocolate and lavender milkshake, a beautiful ganache and the best salted chocolate brownie I've ever tasted! We then had a croquembouche as our wedding cake (with three fillings - vanilla, chocolate and coffee) which is tradition in France. Instead of cutting the cake, we knocked the top of the croquembouche off with a champagne bottle, which was interesting after a few glasses of prosecco! This was followed by a huge cheese board in the evening (which was actually a door) and midnight hot dogs!

Photographer

We met Fern through my sister. Upon looking at her website we knew that she would capture the day beautifully. She instantly made us feel relaxed and knew our guests would feel the same. It was really important to us to have lots of candid shots of our friends and family rather than lots of formal shots and she did an amazing job of capturing these. She took a great deal of time ahead of the wedding to meet with us and get a really clear understanding of what we wanted.  

Stationery

We designed the invites and wedding stationery ourselves with the help of Will’s graphic designer friend, Paolo. We kept them very simple, embossed gold text on a textured card. We carried this design through to the table names and order of service. As a wedding present Will commissioned another of our friends, Tom, to design a picture of us on the Chateau grounds – I was so blown away by it! This in turn became the front of our thank you cards, which we sent to guests along with a photographic portrait of themselves taken at the wedding.

Written by Lorna Shaw

Dress Designer & Boutique: White Leaf Bridal | Bridal Shoes: Office | Venue: Chateau Rigaud | Florist: Flowers in the Vines | Stationery: No Look Lilac | Tom Clohosycole | Reprint Brighton | Bridesmaid Dresses: Jarlo | Groomsmen Suits: Reiss

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