I do. It might be my most favourite place in the whole of Europe, maybe even the world. To get married there would be an absolute dream and I am green-eyed over Kelly and Sam’s elegant, glamorous and sophisticated affair.
I love the simple rustic reception, I love the sun-dappled portraits and the intimate outdoor ceremony.
And I love those mink coloured Louboutins more than cake. And I like cake A LOT.
Kelly The Bride: I used to holiday in the Dordogne region as a child and had very fond memories of the place. When I brought Sam down to the area he loved the pace of life, the beautiful scenery and the great food! We knew we wanted to get married abroad and when we started looking for wedding venues the Dordogne was the natural choice.
The Chateau was actually the first venue we visited on a lengthy list and we fell in love with it straight away and didn’t bother looking at any others!
Natural But Polished
I don’t wear a great deal of make up so, I guess like most brides, I wanted to look ‘natural but polished’, if that makes any sense, throughout the day. For my hair, again I wanted to wear it down so it would look as natural as possible, but without going flat. Jane Emerson did my hair and makeup. She’s British but living in the Dordogne and has a wealth of experience in the fashion industry, so I was very well looked after!
Jane used mineral makeup to keep things as natural as possible and added a few subtle false lashes to the edges of my eyes to add a bit of glamour. When we had the hair trial we just couldn’t quite get the ‘perfect do’, but on the day Jane had a bit of an epiphany and it all came together and the result was great! I had some loose plaits at the side that were pinned back to keep the hair out of my face and Jane added in a few hair extensions just to give some extra body that would last all day long.
I bought a Jim Hjelm gown from the US. I like to make life difficult for myself and unfortunately found a photo of the dress online early on in my search and couldn’t get it out of my head. No dress that I tried on in the UK looked quite the same. When I had an opportunity to go to the US in the Spring I popped into a bridal store to try it on and sure enough, it was ‘the one’!
It took longer than expected, but fortunately I have an aunt that lives near the store and she saved the day by bringing the dress with her on a trip to the UK just a couple of weeks before the wedding. Luckily there were no problems with it and, with a couple of small adjustments by a fantastic local dress maker, it was good to go.
Mink And Grey
As a wedding gift Sam bought me some beautiful mink coloured Christian Louboutin stilettos which I wore under the dress. I was determined not to wear some cream silk court shoes, rather I wanted a little pop of colour and something that I could wear again – and I’ve had loads of use out of them since!
My husband wore a very dapper grey suit from Spencer Hart and a knitted grey tie from Hugo Boss. He had mink coloured Russell and Bromley suede ankle boots which matched my shoes.
Natural And Nude
I had 4 adult bridesmaids, a mixture of blondes and brunettes. I wanted them to feel comfortable with what they were wearing and wanted them to dress in a way that reflected their personality. Again I didn’t want to put them in something they would never wear again. I asked them to find a dress in a natural / nude tone and one by one it all came together. They all wore the same shoes for a bit of continuity.
The best man and groomsmen all wore mid/light grey suits and white shirts. We gave them nude ties and bow ties to coordinate with the bridesmaids outfits.
As you can probably tell by now the colour scheme was fairly natural. We had hessian and white bunting around the venue, lots of plants, hay bales with cream fabric draped over them and we added colour with flowers. The venue itself was so stunning that we didn’t want to distract from that. I was also hoping to achieve a look that would remain fairly classic and timeless. I guess only time will tell if we were successful!
We had an amazing find with the florist. Most florists in the area we got married were rather old fashioned (lots of red roses, ivy, teddies etc), so when we stumbled across Helene and her shop Vert Tilleul in Limeuil. She had a beautiful variety of flowers in her shop and her taste was right up my street.
After a couple of chats in her shop and after showing her a few photos I left her to come up with some bouquets that she thought would suit the style of the day, depending on the flowers that were in season and available that week. She also ordered in some succulents to include in the bouquet and also on the tables. She helped us design a table decoration using a variety of tins jar and glasses and we then took tubs of flowers back to the venue for my mother-in-law and one of my bridesmaids to arrange for the rest of the tables.
She also made some beautiful arrangements to hang on the chairs going down the aisle – although I think I may have knocked one of them off with by veil as a walked past!!
We had already had a low-key ‘quicky wedding’ at a registry office in the UK due to the legal requirements of marrying in France (i.e. you can’t without living there for 40 days!). Neither Sam or I are particularly religious so it made sense to go for a humanist celebration. We used Sue Ward from Celebrants in France. We had a couple of SKYPE sessions to get to know one another and exchanged emails on ideas for the wedding.
Sam’s brother, Adam, read ‘Advice, just like youth, probably just wasted on the young’ by Mary Schmich – or the lyrics to Baz Luhrman’s Sunscreen, which is such a great peace of writing.
I thought I might be quite emotional at the wedding, but in the end I was so excited to be marrying Sam and to be with all my family and friends that I spent the whole day smiling so much that my face ached!
A French Touch
We didn’t have a first dance as we both have two left feet. At the drinks reception, or ‘Vin D’Honneur’ following the wedding we had a fantastic gypsy jazz band serenade us whilst drinking Kir Royales, Ice Teas and Elderflower drinks. That felt like a really French touch! The band were call Les Peres Peinards and really got everyone in the spirit.
We had a DJ after dinner who, in all honesty, was a bit ropey (too many Europop classics), but we were fairly limited with options in the area. In hindsight I think we would have had a live cover band for the evening reception.
We had plenty of food!!! I have been to a couple of weddings where my stomach has been rumbling noisily during the long wait between the ceremony and the wedding breakfast – so we wanted to make sure our guests didn’t ever feel hungry! A good friend of a friend, called David Oliver, has his own catering company and did all the food. He arrived on the Tuesday before the wedding on Friday and our friends and family helped him with prepping the canapes and desserts. We wanted everyone to feel involved and as though they had played a part in the wedding.
We had beautiful canapes of gougeres, fois gras on brioche and cherry tomato tarts. For dinner we kept with a very French theme and had grilled goats cheese salad, followed by bbq lamb with a variety of salads and then a dessert table of our favourite puddings including chocolate pots, creme brûlée and some little english summer fruit puddings! For a late night snack we had french onion soup with cheesy croutons. It was a feast!
A Week Long Wedding
We just loved our wedding day and the fact that all our friends and family were able to be involved during the entire week leading up the wedding. We had people rallying around collecting ice and limoncello and sourcing props from the local brocante. As a group we also went on a canoe trip down the Dordogne river a few days before the wedding to give everyone the chance to relax and enjoy the stunning scenery. Everyone enjoyed the preparations and we loved sharing the excitement and build up with everyone. As it was an overseas wedding we kept the invite list quite small, but the more intimate style suited us. As we had spent much of the week with our guests it meant that on the day itself we could spend more time together rather than ‘working the room’ which made things very relaxing.
The Best Investment
Our amazing photographers were Rik Pennington and his assistant Rachel. It was great having two photographers who were able to capture special moments in both Sam and my preparations on the wedding morning. We were keen not to have the staged ‘line up’ shots and wanted those ‘in the moment’ images. Rik really did justice to the wonderful scenery and we were thrilled with the results. Every time I look at the photos I love them more and my favourite shot keeps changing!
My advice to any bride would be to hire a great photographer who uses the style that you like and remember that you get what you pay for. I think that a great photographer is a good investment, as after the day itself, the photos (and your husband!) are the only real souvenirs from the day!
We also used a wedding planner to help source some of the hard to find items in Dordogne, such as catering equipment, waiting staff and hay bales! Jo Burgess was a great help and particularly vital on the day when she took all of the stress out of our hands to ensure that the day ran smoothly and to schedule.
Venue – Chateau De La Bourlie
Brides Gown – Jim Hjelm
Brides Hair Jewels – Glitzy Secrets
Grooms Suit – Spencer Hart
Band – Les Peres Peinards
Planner – Jo Burgess at Dream French Wedding
Photography – Rik Pennington
I couldn’t resist the cute flower girl with the whole slice of ham act, I think she was aiming to outshine the bride 🙂
You want to steal Kelly’s shoes too right?
Big Dordogne Love