“Le Carrelot” is a French farmhouse my parents bought back in 2007 in rural Gascony. Ali and I, over the years, have had some of our best times at the house; relishing the opportunity to gorge on heavenly French delicacies, drink from dusk til dawn and simply be with the people we love the most. Sadly, my adored Dad died two years ago. We were so close and I never imagined I would get married without him being there. I always knew I wanted to get married at the house but since his death, it is one of the places I feel most close to him. He absolutely loved it there, putting his heart and soul into the property, so whenever I’m there, I feel his palpable spirit everywhere. Luckily, there was no qualms about where we were going to get married as Ali couldn’t imagine anywhere else either. My Auntie and Uncle own the house next door so they very kindly let us use their garden and outdoor kitchen for the vin’d’honneur and garden games. Ali and I are very relaxed and really wanted the day to feel like a big summer garden party with loads of food and booze, a day to 100% represent us.
I really enjoyed wedding dress shopping but was slightly overwhelmed with the amount of choice and nothing I tried on really felt like the perfect one. I started following lots of boutiques and designers on Instagram and one day came across a boomerang of a girl twirling in the most stunning Leanne Marshall dress, I knew immediately that it was my dress. I tracked down one of her stockists, Heart Aflutter in Hackney… They were an absolute dream and ordered in the ‘Rémy’ dress from New York for me to try. I was so nervous when it arrived, as I so wanted it to be everything it was in the pictures. Luckily it was and I felt absolutely incredible wearing it on the day. It was floaty and bohemian but also pulled me in all the right places with a slight 70s feel, my dream dress.
I’m a very sentimental person so wore gold bangles given to me by both my Grandmothers, a gold chain which had been a present from my Dad to my Mum and a friend who couldn’t come to the wedding gave me a locket with a picture of my Dad and I hugging which I tied around my bouquet.
My shoes where gold/nude flats from Sézane. I’m 5ft11 so didn’t need any extra height and I have worn them over and over again since the wedding.
One of my best friends did my hair and makeup for me. It was perfect to have someone you completely trust helping you get ready and loved that time with my bridesmaids before everything kicked off!
Ali’s suit was from Suit Supply. He actually found a suit he liked from a wedding featured on RMW and tried to track down something similar. He was very close to my Dad and wore one of his ties which has little elephants printed all over (my favourite animal) and one of his silk pocket squares. He looked so handsome and I was so excited and proud to walk down the aisle to him.
We used the local florist in the nearest village. She was a lovely lady who sourced all the loose flowers and created the bouquets and flower crowns. I’m obsessed with macrame hangings and have a few in our flat. She created 20 different plants and flower baskets to hang in the macrame hangers I bought. We hooked them up to the beams in the hangar and they looked absolutely stunning!
My Grandad sadly slipped away 2 months before the wedding. He loved roses and had masses growing in his garden. My Mum asked him if she could pick some and use them like confetti. He loved the idea so we mixed lots of his dried rose petals with smaller confetti for the day. It made that moment extra special.
Colour Scheme / The Decor
I really loved this part of wedding planning - it was so much fun getting inspired by Pinterest, magazines and of course this blog! We didn’t have a theme but just tried to incorporate lots of elements which were special and reflected us as a couple. However, we did try to loosely stick to yellows, golds and lilacs for the overall colour scheme. We used lots of Persian rugs from the two houses for the aisle and borrowed hay bales from a local farmer for our guests to sit on during the ceremony. The hangar/ outdoor barn is so beautiful so we didn’t want to distract from any of the features, just enhance them. We bought lots of festoon lighting and hung up the macrame hangings. We got engaged on Isla Holbox, an island off the coast of Mexico. At the time, the island was covered in ‘papel picado’ bunting which we both loved. So as a nod to our engagement and our love of all things Mexican, we ordered lots from Etsy and hung it in the hangar and around my Auntie and Uncle’s outdoor kitchen.
Ali and I met in Whistler during a ski season nearly 9 years previously so we had lots of nods to this too. We bought vintage skis off eBay for everyone to sign; they are now proudly hanging up in our flat and we love rereading all the messages. Our table plan was an old piste map of Whistler and our table names were named after our favourite runs. We scattered flowers in glass Coke (my Dad used to work there) and Fever Tree (we both love gin!) bottles around the tables. We really wanted each place setting so be personal so we printed off mini Polaroid pictures of each guest some with either Ali or I with them and their names were tied around dried lavender. For our favours, we bought miniature Armagnac bottles for the men, lavender oil for the ladies and I made goodie bags for the kids. They all went down a storm!
Ali’s Dad is a real handyman and made us all the signs and painted the most incredible photo board of Ali and I skiing in Whistler, he even matched the colour of our ski clothes perfectly! He also made us a shot ski which finished off a lot of our guests in the evening!! My cousin, Sarah loves props sourcing (Instagram @propscorner) and found lots of lovely trays and crates in the local brocante which she styled perfectly. She also made us a surprise Whistler lift photo board as a wedding present which worked perfectly with the one Ali’s Dad made. We bought a tepee for the kids to play in which they loved and some fire pits which we lit in the evening. It was so sad clearing everything up after the wedding, we wanted to keep it as it was forever!
Going along the yellow, gold and lilac colour scheme, I asked my sister's boyfriend Tommy to illustrate a sunflower & lavender wreath which was then used across all our printed stationery. I am really lucky to work at a Branding agency with a team of super talented Graphic Designers. They designed absolutely everything for us from the invitations to Armagnac labels. Another one of my Aunties also painted a beautiful picture of the house which was used on the Order of Service. It was so lovely and personal to have both her and Tommy’s illustrations used. I am a sucker for all things gold so tried to get gold foiling on most of the stationery and got everything printed from Gee Brothers and printed.com.
The Wedding Party
My sisters and cousin were my bridesmaids. They all looked stunning in their white dresses from River Island, Oasis and IKKS. I let them choose whatever they felt the most comfortable wearing as they are all such different shapes and sizes.
The ushers' waistcoats were from Moss Bros and they all wore their own white shirts and navy chinos with brown shoes.
I borrowed my godson, Wilf and his big brother Teddy to be our ‘best boys’. Their Mumma is one of my best friends and works in the fashion industry so I bought her some Liberty fabric and she made their pocket squares. She also used the same fabric to design and stitch a ‘Dog of Honour’ neckerchief for Archie, our 12yr old golden retriever. He is the other love of my life and follows me around like a shadow. He walked down the aisle with Mum and me and sat by our side throughout the entire ceremony, posed perfectly for photos and was such a huge hit on the day. He absolutely nailed his role!
The ceremony was my favourite part of the day. It was so special and personal to us as a couple, we both absolutely loved every second. My Mum and I walked down the aisle to ‘Stay Alive’ by José Gonzalez with Archie following behind us.
Two of my best friends chose a surprise reading which happened to be “Love you to the Moon and Back” by Sam McBratney which is one of my favourite books as a little girl. We sang “Can't take my eyes off you’ by Frankie Valli (a song I used to sing with my Dad on chairlifts when we went skiing!) and it was just the most special moment looking around seeing all your favourite people belting out an absolute classic and a song that means so much. Then one of Ali’s best friends, Tom read “What I learnt from love, I learnt from my dog”, Author Unknown. We adapted it slightly but it’s a perfect reading and it was so special to have Archie lying by our feet as Tom read it out. We walked back down the aisle to “Young Hearts, Run Free”, an absolute belter which had our guests clapping and cheering along.
We set up a few garden games during the vin’d’honneur which included ‘golf ball in a bucket’ (Ali’s creation!), ping pong and boules which all went down really well. I’m obsessed with temporary tattoos and glitter so bought loads of each and set up a dedicated tattoo and glitter table. It was SO much fun seeing everyone covered in glitter & tattoos (especially the older generation!)… all our guests really embraced it and looked incredible. Our band was called The Fuzz and came from Toulouse. They were brilliant and their energy was amazing. They were so generous with their time, lent us their speakers for the ceremony. They let one of my closest friends sing a few songs with them and even let us mess around on the instruments in the early hours of the morning. The pool, right by the dance floor also provided a lot of entertainment throughout the evening ;)
So this was the one thing that didn’t quite go to plan! We had a wedding meal tasting in Easter, all the food we ate was perfect and we were so excited for our guests to have it. However, on the day it was an absolute shambles!! The Head Chef was at another wedding so sent his second team. They didn’t bring enough staff, food or even the right ingredients for everyone. I’m a veggie and was meant to have halloumi skewers but ended up being served tofu which was so vile I couldn’t eat it. The whole situation was so ridiculous it was like something out of Fawlty Towers! We had to laugh about it at the time but we were so disappointed… we are massive foodies and it was so important to us that our guests were stuffed full of booze and food, especially as they had all travelled so far for us. It was joked about in the speeches and everyone realised there had been a massive cock up and didn’t seem to mind. This was probably because the lack of food resulted in one of the booziest weddings ever. I’ve never seen so many people so pissed by 7 pm!! This was also down to the cocktails served during the vin’d’honneur. Our neighbours in France, who make a mean cocktail, invented the ‘EmAli’, a passion fruit based cocktail… It was so delicious but absolutely deadly! We are still waiting for an explanation or apology from the Caterer but don’t think we’ll ever get one, unfortunately. The silver lining was that my third Auntie (who is the best baker ever) made the most epic cakes. They were Gin, Pimms and Spiced Rum flavoured and tasted absolutely divine, just wish I had managed to eat more!
Patricia from Country Weddings in France was an absolute star. There was no way we could have pulled everything together without her support. She helped us source and organise everything from the Celebrant (lovely Karen) to hiring all the tables, chairs etc. and finding the band. DIY weddings are really hard work, you have to think about absolutely everything. Who knew you have to hire a refrigerated van to keep all your drinks cold?! Without her and my Mum’s wonderful help and support (and the fact they both speak fluent French!), there was no way the wedding would have happened.
Marcos – what a guy! He arrived on the Thursday night so we got to spend a bit of time with him before the big day. We are so thrilled with our photos. He absolutely nailed it and captured beautiful candid moments between Ali and I and all our family and friends. He was so so generous with the amount he gave us and he shot some incredible photos from the Welcome Drinks on Friday night too. We are struggling to choose just a few to put up in our flat as there are so many we love… It’s a great problem to have though!! We can’t recommend him more highly enough and we’ve had so many compliments on our photos
Lee and Dawn from Shutterbox Films were an absolute dream too. We met them at the Welcome Drinks on Friday and they felt like old friends immediately. They were so discreet and perfect on the day. Lee gave me lots of little tips on timings and was such a pro. Our video is amazing and the mixture of HD and Super 8 film captures the day perfectly. We can’t stop watching it with massive grins on our faces and will treasure it forever and ever!
Walking down the aisle with my Mum and Archie and seeing Ali waiting for me
Everyone singing ‘Can’t take my eyes off you” during the ceremony
Walking into dinner with everyone waving their napkins in the air to Journey’s ‘Don’t stop believing’
When everyone joined us during our first dance to ‘Home’ by Edward Sharpe
All the speeches were incredible, my Mum’s was especially amazing… there wasn’t a dry eye in the house!
Playing ‘I am Spartacus’ drinking game after Matt’s (Best Man) speech
Multiple shoulder rides on the dance floor and nearly getting thrown in the pool!
Ali and I sitting by the fire pits until 5:30 am refusing to admit that it was all over!
If you’ve lost a parent or loved one and are really anxious about them not being there, I promise it will be okay. In loads of photos taken by Marcos and friends, there is the most beautiful ray of light beaming down on different photos of my Mum and me. I have no doubt he was with me, guiding me and willing me on every step of the way.
Don't worry about things going wrong - even with the catering fiasco, we still had the best day ever!
If you’re getting married aboard, try and make a weekend of it. Ali’s parents hosted Welcome Drinks in Avezan Village on the Friday night which was a great way of seeing everyone before the big day. We then had everyone back to the house on Sunday for a BBQ & Pool Party. The perfect way to nurse sore heads and laugh & share memories of the day before. The whole weekend felt almost like a festival.
Google docs are the best invention ever!
Accept and ask for help. There is so much to organise and family & friends love to be involved in something so special
Oh and if you’re pulling together a DIY wedding, everything took MUCH longer than we predicted! Give yourself loads of time so you don’t end up doing lots of last-minute jobs the night before (whoops!)