Nadia and James married in Lyon, France. Nadia had two dresses and being a lady with a petite frame she looked immense in both of them.
With a gentle colour palette and infusing her Scottish heritage with James’ British heritage but staying true to French style, this is a very eclectic wedding.
Drinking, Dancing And Celebrating
Nadia The Bride: James and I were blessed husband and wife in a tiny village near Lyon, France. On the 11th of August 2012 we said our personal vows (embarrassingly I cried – a lot) in the church where my uncles were christened, where my aunt got married and where we lay my late grandfather to rest. From the church we moved onto a rural manor house to start the vin d’honneur – drinking, dancing and celebrating followed.
We wanted our day to be rustic, elegant and fun. There was no strict colour theme and no talk of ‘carriages at midnight’. We opted for colours that felt natural – greys, greens, blues and neutral earthy tones. Wherever possible we tried to have a (con)fusion of classic English and French touches.
Throughout the day there was a healthy amount of DIY paraphernalia: wicker heart pew ends laced with rosemary, lavender confetti, a huge old wheelbarrow filled with old-school beers, dozens of paper pompoms, and an abundance of hand painted signs painfully put up at the last minute (thanks Mum & Dad!) to help people navigate the rural roads.
A Little Lady
Dress shopping wasn’t easy being a little lady of 5ft nothing. And having our blessing in a Catholic church, in a conservative rural French village meant my shoulders were expected to be covered. Quickly enough I found a lace number designed for destination weddings. It was a light, crease-resistant dress. And with a few alterations my patient dress maker added loose, floaty sleeves. But I felt like I’d rushed into buying my dress. I really wanted something backless and more original.
Six weeks before flying out to France I found ‘The Petal’ by Belle and Bunty. In record time the lovely ladies there managed to make a mini version to fit and off I trotted to France with my two dresses. A classic dress for the church and the backless dress for the reception – a party till 4am.
I wore a bespoke birdcage veil by Gillian Million. I wanted something to add interest and drama but delicate enough to not interfere or overpower the floaty sleeves on my dress.
For the church I borrowed the shoes my sister wore to her wedding. They were a pair of (mega uncomfortable) Faith peep toe shoes with ridiculously high heels. For the reception I changed into comfortable Dune wedges.
I did my own make-up. I’ve done wedding make-up before so I knew a few tricks to make sure it would stay put for 12 hours. Sitting out on the balcony at my parent’s house in the late-morning sunshine, doing my make-up (plus my sister’s and mum’s) with a glass of champagne was a relaxing way to get ready.
Our wedding car was a soft top MGB and so a bullet proof hairstyle was required. After a couple of hair trials with a lovely local hairdresser we opted for a high bun. With a lot of backcombing and a million Kirby grips ‘the do’ stayed put until I got to bed in the early morning.
Our flowers included ferns (to represent New Zealand where James proposed), thistles (for Scotland, my home country) and roses (to represent England for James). We also had an abundance of blue hydrangeas (a flower that always reminds me of my childhood in France) carrot flower, mint and even garlic – tres francais.
I was quite involved in all things floral; from picking the individual flowers for the bouquets and button holes, to creating the centre piece on each table. My mum and I also attacked her garden hydrangeas to fill old wine bottles, battered metal buckets and distorted watering cans – some DIY ‘Rock my Wedding’ inspired ideas!
James wore the same suit as the rest of the chaps but with a navy tie to match our page boys and flower girls. He also wore a Longines watch – a surprise present I’d given him that morning.
My sister was our bridesmaid. She wore a pale grey dress and matching bolero from Damsel in a Dress. The boys hired suits from Jo McLaren, a formalwear specialist round the corner from us. I’m not sure why but I’ve never been a fan of morning suits. Good thing too otherwise the boys would have melted in the 29C heat we had on the day! Instead of tails we chose slate grey three piece suits in a light material with a high silk content, making them softer to touch and more comfortable to wear. They wore pale grey linen ruche ties to match our bridesmaid’s dress.
We convinced our cousins to be our adorable helpers. Our page boys wore navy, linen outfits from Debenhams and our flower girls wore navy, cotton dresses from River Island. I wanted the kids to be just that – laughing, yelling, playing, happy kids. It was important they didn’t end up dressed up like stilted miniature adults.
Finding a photographer in such a rural area of France involved a lot of Google research. We chose Hubert Genouilhac of PhotUpDesign. He was friendly, unpretentious and discrete. We liked how he favoured natural expressions over forced shots.
Our guests ate, drank and danced, and the photos captured our favourite people beautifully. The photo studio at the end of the evening turned out to be particularly popular, with frames and moustaches on sticks making the pictures all the funnier.
Capital Of Gastronomy
Having our wedding celebrations near Lyon, France’s so called “capital of gastronomy” meant the food always going to be important. My favourite bit was the ‘piece montée’ – a traditional French profiterole tower. It was all the more gorgeous with my handmade peg cake toppers – complete with ginger hair for the groom.
Our favours were ‘chocolate olives’ – almonds covered in chocolate and coloured so that they look like olives. They were presented in small pillow boxes made using Kraft eco paper, tied together with natural jute string. Each favour box acted as a name place. I made and attached labels with each guest’s name hand-stamped on. The kids got a little colouring-in pack to help keep them entertained throughout the meal.
Bagpipes In France
The Scot in me thinks every wedding needs bagpipes. So, we flew over a piper to play before and after the blessing – this turned out to be quite an attraction for the local French villagers! After the church we moved to the manor gardens to relax in the shade whilst listening to a fab acoustic jazz band.
A DJ got the dancing going from midnight onwards. I’m happy to admit I’m a massive fan of euro pop, so when the disco part of the evening kicked off I danced (to a lot of Chakira) until the early morning.
Our first dance was Elton John’s ‘Your Song’. It’s a song we’ve loved since we saw Elton at a one-off intimate gig at Union Chapel.
Go With The Flow
I think you get a feel for an event from the minute you see the date in writing, and so our stationary was really important to me. My close friend created a suite of stationary with the brief ‘rustic elegance and keep it personal’. The end result included a mix of textured recycled Kraft card and crisp white paper. Everything from the font to the mix of French and English wording was just as I wanted.
I also loved using my dad’s vintage cars for transport. It was a budget friendly option and fitted the ‘keep it personal’ vibe. My dad drove us to the church in his VW camper, and James and I sped off (after stalling!) to the reception in my dad’s pride and joy – his red, 1972 MGB roadster, complete with a roaring V8 engine.
I had a lot of help to get our day right, from James’ Mum organising the logistics of family getting in from New Zealand and my Mum turning wedding planner, but there were lots of things that didn’t go quite as I’d thought. But you have to just enjoy having all your favourite people together, and as my bridesmaid kept advising “go with the flow”.
Bagpipes…in France? How brilliant is that!
Make sure you look through the gallery to see more photos of the cape Nadia’s dressmaker made for her for during the blessing. It is so delicate and beautiful.