Emily the Bride: We knew we wanted to get married in France – we have both spent many happy holidays there together and as children. We searched for a venue that felt informal but sophisticated enough to feel special. I wanted somewhere that could make the weekend run like clockwork, without it feeling stuffy or forced and when we found Chateau Rigaud after weeks of searching it was like a dream come true; it was utterly perfect. It was even near St Emilion, one of our favourite places in the world. We were invited to stay at the chateau for the weekend to get a feel for it and make some of the key decisions around the wedding including choosing menus and drinks, sampling the in-house spa treatments and discussing flowers. It was such a wonderful couple of days and made planning a lot easier. Everything from the stunning surroundings to the sumptuous bridal suite, to the incredible staff that bought us breakfast in bed the morning after the wedding and attended to every detail without even being asked, was just perfect. 27 people can stay on-site and there is lots of accommodation in the surrounding villages. We booked the chateau for 4 days and you can organise as much or as little as you like over the time you’re there. With the help of our wonderful in-house wedding planner, Emma, we and our guests went canoeing on the day before the wedding and stopped on the banks of the Dordogne for a picnic before wine tasting in the evening. We also had a lovely BBQ and pool party on the Sunday on the Chateau lawns.
Colour scheme & Décor
The very first thing I picked for the wedding (even before the venue) were the bridesmaid's dresses. I had six bridesmaids so I wanted dresses that would work with all of their figures and that they’d feel comfortable and elegant in. I found some beautiful vintage soft-coloured dresses on ASOS and snapped them up. Using these dresses as a starting point I began to build my colour scheme for the rest of the wedding. We wanted a relaxed, dreamy, magical feel for the day. We took inspiration from the hazy colours of Bordeaux and the soft light there during September, as well as trying to channel Midsummer Night’s Dream as much as possible! We envisaged soft shades - punctuated with splashes of bright colour in the daytime and candlelight, festoons and fairy lights after dark.
Our florist, Heidi Lee, understood immediately what we had in mind and put together the most incredibly beautiful, innovative and seasonal palette of colours. She mixed vintage looking ‘Earl Grey’ and ‘Quicksand’ roses with splashes of hot pink peppercorns, berries and foliage – all of which gave a lovely woodland feel with pops of colour. We spend a large part of our budget on flowers and they were one of my favourite things about the wedding. They bought everything together effortlessly without the need for a very rigid colour-scheme.
One of our key focusses when picking a venue and another reason we wanted to get married in France is that food is one of our great shared passions. Chateau Rigaud prides itself on using the freshest quality produce (a lot of it from their own kitchen garden) and creating delicious and exciting menus. The menus and canapés we sampled on our wedding planning weekend were all so fantastic it made it hard to pick favourites and we were pleased we had the opportunity to eat at the chateau for four nights rather than just one! For toasts, we chose a local cremant and we gave our guests a choice of cocktails at the bar. The chateau mixologist made 100 perfect espresso martinis (one of my faves) for after dinner which acted a bit like rocket fuel and had guests dancing until well after 3 am!
Instead of a traditional wedding cake, we went with a cheese tower and the venue sourced our favourite cheeses for us.
Photographer and Videographer
Choosing a photographer was easy for us as my brother’s good friend, Will Patrick, is a fantastic wedding photographer. Will knows us both and it was lovely to have him with us on the day but he was also incredibly professional and I don’t believe anyone could have captured the wedding better. Will photographed all 3 days of the wedding in France and our civil ceremony in London. I’m so glad we asked him to do that as it has given us so many beautiful shots and memories to look back on. We knew the photography side of the wedding was in safe hands but we also wanted to find a videographer who could match Will’s standard. I did a lot of research and watched loads of wedding films and eventually came across Storybox Videographers, run by James and Kylie. They couldn’t have been better. They were an absolute dream from start to finish and the films they produce are of such high quality – they’re just stunning.
The Groom's Fashion & accessories
As we were having a Summer wedding in France, Nick was keen to wear a suit that would keep him cool and look smart without looking overly formal. We chose a Ted Baker Pashion oatmeal linen suit and a white shirt. Nick’s ushers (including his female usher Becky) all wore dark blue and we tied the look together with silk ties, supplied by the brilliant Swagger & Swoon who perfectly colour-matched the ties to the bridesmaids' dresses, the colours of the roses in the ushers’ buttonholes, and my bouquet.
I designed my wedding stationery (after much Pinterest surfing and with the help of my Maid of Honour who is a talented illustrator!) I used printed.com to print them all as they had some lovely paper choices and were competitively priced. I really enjoyed doing it as it allowed me to make the stationery completely bespoke without spending too much money.
The Bride's Fashion & accessories
I wanted my dress to have simple lines, be comfortable and feel glamorous. I’d tried on lots of dresses and was wondering if I’d ever find what I wanted when a friend suggested I try Elizabeth Avey’s vintage wedding dress shop in Greenwich. I loved it as soon as I walked in and was offered vodka and bitter lime – it was so different to every bridal boutique I’d been to and so were the dresses. Because they are vintage you get to see so many different styles and details that just weren’t available in any of the other bridal shops I’d visited. The last dress I tried on was 100 years old and looked very unpromising on the hanger but I was attracted to it because of its beautiful silk. The minute I put it on I knew it was the dress for me. Unfortunately, it was a size too small and falling apart at the seams but luckily Elizabeth had just started creating copies of vintage dresses and she asked if I would be willing to trial the copying process with her. Elizabeth engaged a wonderful pattern cutter and seamstress and they set about creating a bespoke copy of the dress in James Hare ivory silk. The whole process took 12 months and it was so exciting to have a beautiful silk dress hand made for me.
I choose a gold and crystal necklace from Kate Spade to go with my dress and my Maid of Honour’s grandma, Doris, lent me her beautiful gold pearl drop earrings. Nick gave me a gold and crystal bracelet on the morning of the wedding. My veil was another ‘something borrowed’ - I originally bought it from Pronovias as a gift for one of my bridesmaids when she got married and she wanted me to have it for my wedding day too. My shoes were from Rachel Simpson.
Guests arrived around 3 pm and had drinks in the sun on the Chateau Lawn accompanied by a wonderful harp and flute duo. We had originally planned to have the ceremony on the lawns of Chateau Rigaud but, as the weather was being a bit temperamental, we decided to move it to the barn where the reception was being held so that there wasn’t a risk of any of us getting rained on. The team at Rigaud decked out the barn in hundreds of flowers and lit it by candlelight. It was so thoughtfully done and beautiful it’s making me well up with the memory of it! It took my breath away when I walked in - that and my lovely husband standing at the end of the aisle. Nick and I have been together for 17 years and we wanted the ceremony to reflect all of the love we have for one another as well as all of the fun we have had together. We had the best celebrant a couple could wish for – my brother – who delivered an extremely personal ceremony with lots of humour and sincerity. We had three readings – one from Shakespeare (I’m an actress), one from His Dark Materials (which we both love) and ‘I Like You’ by Sandol Stoddard Warburg. Our good friend Fiona, who is a beautiful songstress and fronts the band Cable Street Collective, sang me down the aisle to Sam Cooke’s ‘You Send Me’ and closed the ceremony with ‘You’ve Got the Love’. I love hymns but, seeing as we weren’t in a church, we chose to ask the guests to sing along to ‘It Must Be Love’ by Madness with us. It was really good fun and lots of friends have said that was one of their favourite parts of the ceremony. We also asked our Mums to light a unity candle for the two families. We thought this was a nice way to give both Mums a role in the ceremony and celebrate the fact that our families have been joined in friendship for so many years, as well as the union of Nick and me.