Where to begin with Charlotte and Sam’s wedding day?! This duo are both super creative and obviously rather stylish, so naturally their wedding day follows suit. Lucky enough to call this French chateau home, it was a joy to bring it to life with a wedding celebration. Having a French address also meant that Charlotte and Sam could legally marry at their local mairie, which obviously meant another epic outfit change for the pair.
Images come from The Shannons, make sure you look out for ‘Le Station du Jazzification’ otherwise known as the glitter station…a must for all weddings as far as we’re concerned 😉
Charlotte the Bride: For Sunday’s main shabbang, I really loved the old hollywood look with the bardot neckline and went to try my favourite one on in Richmond with my chicas to make sure the look actually would suit me. I only wanted to spend £1000 on my outfit, so I thought if I got it made by this brilliant seamstress in my local village, Signature, in Aubeterre in the Dordogne, it would be much cheaper! It was even better than I thought, as it meant in the end, I got 4 looks and still came in under budget including 8 mix n match pairs of lingerie for the honeymoon too!
For the intimate / family legal ceremony on the Sat, I found a vintage 80s simple yet very chic number in my local Octavia Foundation charity shop in Tooting. I matched this with an 80s bolero jacket for £15 from Etsy. It was really important for me to dance properly and not be inhibited by a tight dress, as I love jumpsuits so much, I knew a bridal one was a must! I wanted something a bit sexier that was really comfortable and elegant at the same time – it was also time to swap my gold shoes for silver to match my bridesmaids. I ended in the early hours in a wonderful 70s white and silver sequined dress I found with one of my bridesmaids when visiting her in Madrid. It was €40 and reminded me of Diana Ross, and never again will I have the excuse to wear a sexy retro floor length halter sequined number!
Sam is a larger than life character and dons smart wear all the time when playing in his various shows and bands. I felt that it was important for him to pop as much as his personality so suggested he went for an all over patterned suit that could overflow into his wolf pack with their ties / pocket squares. It’s not always just about the bride! He did all the research and we bought a load of different options as you never can tell with a suit offline. In the end Sam had 3 outfits. Two years ago when we were in Udaipur in India, when we first starting talking about getting married, Sam had a brocade jacket tailor made (from the same tailor Judi Dench + Bill Nighy went to when they were filming Best Exotic Marigold Hotel!), which he was saving for the first dance and beyond at our wedding!
My parents beautiful home in Juignac on Dordogne border in South West France; they bought it 40 years ago when they lived in Holland. We’d spend every Christmas and Summer at Les Grands Coups, as it’s a simple drive, they always knew they’d retire there…it was very special indeed to open our doors to all our family and friends and bring the house alive with the sound of music.
I thought I was going to have all the colours of the rainbow and more Mexicana style, but we were engaged for nearly 2 years and in that time, I kept gravitating towards violets, teals, blues with small pops of yellow. So decided to have that colour theme which I kept referring to as “Wild Forest Fruits”. I grew up going to bric a brac fairs every weekend surrounding myself with vintage objets trouvees, I knew I wanted the outside to feel cosy and have lots of seating areas for everyone to rest their paws. Luckily my mother has an eclectic range of furniture, we had rugs, an antique day bed covered in vintage toys, trunks, a wagon bar (how or why my mother owns that, I have no idea, but it looked fantastic!), cushions in wheelbarrows, frames hanging up for photo ops, props, some of which I brought over from London to add some cheekiness and framed family photos dotted around as if you were in our living room. A highlight was Le Station du Jazzification where people filled their faces with gems and glitter (although I forgot to leave out some balm!). I wanted it to feel like a big family secret garden party that would go on all night! And it totally did!
I wanted artichoke hearts in all the bouquets as I think they’re really beautiful and add a focal point. Our local florist made up my bouquet with thistles and stunning purple and deep pink flowers. We asked her to give us some more of the same so we could make up the bridesmaids bouquets with them and add foliage from the garden – all 8 of their bouquets ended up costing only €40!
We focused more of the spend towards plants, as my mother would be able to plant them in the gardens after. We popped colourful orange, yellow and purple plants in vintage coronation mugs that my parents have collected over the years and popped them along the tables. Succulents in the lounge areas and massive purple Night Sky petunias that look like small galaxies in all the urns dotted around the garden.
The Wedding Party
The girls were in a mix of 80s jumpsuits and ASOS block colour dresses in various purples, greens and a blue. I wanted them to wear something they felt confident and sexy in and would wear again, I didn’t want them all wearing the same outfit either as they all have different style. They were united with metallic silver shoes and mini bud bouquets made from the same faux flowers which I made with one of my girls. The lads were in navy blue suits and mix match floral ties and bowties and pocket squares made from 2 vintage floral scarves.
We both work in Theatre, I used to be an actor and am now a Prop Buyer / Art Director and Sam often plays bass in Musicals, so Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116 and Bob Marley’s Letter on Love were perfect readings on the Sunday – esp. as Sam’s band recently supported The Wailers when they were in the UK on their tour. Our good friend Emma Topolski, behind the band Saint Clair, sang one of my favourite Stevie Wonder songs, If It’s Magic. It really was magical listening to her soulful jazz rendition under the trees accompanied by birdsong. Saturday’s civil ceremony had Fools Who Dream, a song from La La Land as a reading by Sam’s future brother-in-law, which could not have been more suitable to us, esp as our love story is very similar to La La Land’s apart from the fact we didn’t break up when Sam was offered to go on tour to China for 5 months for The Bodyguard!
Soul Beat rocked the party hard. As Sam runs Articulate Music with one of the Best Men, of which Soul Beat is one of their party band options! We carefully curated the music to have a good range of disco, funk, motown and 90s – it even included us getting up with Sam’s mum and one of his ushers for a bit of Five’s Got the Feelin’. So many of our guests commented on how fantastic the music was with loads of crowd interaction!
We love going to this delicious local bistro for lunch so we thought to ask the chef, Nicholas, if he’d be up for doing a hog roast sharing platter 3 course meal for 150! He’d never done anything as big as this, but he more than rose to the occasion. Canapes were a mix of Nicholas’ cherry toms, mozzarella balls + olive sticks, smoked salmon salad mini clubs, a couple of pastries filled with goats cheese / mushrooms and a French friend who loves to make these savoury cakes filled with various delights like courgette and feta, pesto and prosciutto ham.
For the sit down – we had Melon au Pineau Charentaise, the local Pineau was given to us as a wedding present by one of our French family friends. Which was accompanied with local cured hams, homemade pork terrine and this incredibly delicious fluffy goats cheese mousse. The patisserie we got our profiterole tower at made these massive sourdough boules of bread with our named stencilled on with flour which I had never seen before, so we had them along the tables for everyone to break bread together, family style.
The hog roast was infused with garlic and garden herbs, and we had poached salmon and vegan moussaka for the non-meat eaters accompanied by Dauphinoise potatoes, quinoa with Mediterranean veggies, chunky Greek salad and apple compote. Four favourite French cheeses with fig jam followed. The piece de la resistance was really the trio of mini puddings we had; tarte au citron, mousse au chocolat with raspberry coulis and this divine dark chocolate and citrus banoffee tart.
The Pizza Party came out at 1am along with any leftovers for the munchies.
The Photography & Film
The Shannons and Wild Stories Photo Caravan with the best personalised logos! We couldn’t be more thrilled with the documentary style photos The Shannons did for us – WOW. We couldn’t imagine anyone else photographing the day any better.
Hannah Aldridge – Hannah Films, a friend of a friend who just has the best taste and style when filming and had a brilliant vibe on the day, coming up with really cool shots for us to do then going back to documentary style to capture cute moments between out guests. She was seamless throughout the whole day and quickly got to grips with the drone we bought!
The Jazzification Station, full of glitter pots and gems!
Jenny, one of my bridesmaids, had a balloon lift off surprise before we all sat down for dinner. Everyone had to write a little favour they’d do for us if the balloon was found (ie cook a meal) and sent to our house in London. We’ve had 2 so far from a couple of farmers about 30km away from our home, which kept the spirit of the wedding going for the following couple of weeks.
Another of my bridesmaids, Pauline, who’s French, hosted a traditional French wedding game, jeu des douze mois (game of 12 Months), between the cheese and pudding. It’s a bit like musical chairs, but each round the 12 guests have to race to grab things like a pair of shoes, or a bowtie, a champagne glass with the other guests helping and shouting words of encouragement. The last person back is out and has to get one of us a cool present for that month, like a massage or manicure – ingenious (not sure we’ll end up getting any, but that wasn’t really the point of the game). It was a great way for the guests to get to know others and also rally for their area on the tables – we picked a range of guests who we knew would relish in the competition from across all the tables!
I’ve worked with colour smoke bombs a lot when I’ve worked on shoots – I finally wanted to play with them myself infront of the camera as I think they’re a really fun and vibrant addition to any photos or video!