I think we need to talk about Ilona’s hair. How pretty is that twisted updo adorned with flowers?! And also her eyelashes. Serious eyelash envy going on this morning. And cake envy too – because that’s definitely a thing.
This is a very gorgeous wedding indeed people and it almost didn’t happen…ok that’s a little dramatic, but our lovely couple decided to pull out of their UK venue due to spiralling costs and I for one am SO glad they did. The French venue they ended up with is an absolute dream – there’s even a magical wine cellar filled with fairy lights!!
And it just goes to show that it’s never too late to change your mind if you’re not happy with something wedding related. Apart from your fiancé of course 😉
Ilona The Bride: I wanted a dress that would suit the warm climate and allow me to wear flat shoes. Luckily I found my dress quickly, with the help of my friend Sian Goff. My parents bought me my veil from Pronovias as a gift, which my sister picked for me. I am so glad I went for a veil as I will never again get the opportunity! Finding affordable flat wedding shoes was almost impossible, but in the end I found a great pair from Peacocks for £16! Granted not that glamorous, but it meant I was able to justify buying some beautiful jewellery!!
My hair and makeup was done by Jane Emerson. I absolutely loved my hair. We dressed it up with the same flowers we used on our table centrepieces. During photos later in the day a little bumble bee was very grateful for the flowers and kindly pollenated each one!
Adam wanted something light, comfortable and preferably something he could wear again. He especially wanted a waist coat, so that when he took his jacket off due to the heat, he would still be smart and stand out from the guests.
My parents moved to France about a year before the wedding. Adam and I had all but paid the deposit for our “UK” wedding when we decided that the costs had spiralled. We were having to compromise on so much and we were frustrated by how expensive everything was. On a spur of the moment decision, I flew out to France to stay with my parents and see what options may be available to us there. A British couple my parents had befriended offered us the use of their home, Hotel De Cours de Thomazeau, a National monument and we agreed to go ahead with the French wedding instead. It has a small courtyard, large salon, downstairs cellar and lake…yes lake, all based within the picturesque town centre, 30 minutes from my parents’ home and the local Mairie where we would legally get married, meant we had a truly unique and intimate venue for our 50 guests.
We’re not a fan of uniform weddings so we picked a few complimentary colours. We had peach/blush tones, mint greens, light blue, gold and cream. We actually had three florists for the day. A local florist based in Castillonnes did our bouquets and boutonnieres. We incorporated some leftovers from my Mom’s veil on all of the bouquets etc which was really special. Another local, market florist made our table arrangements with in-season local fresh flowers. Doing it this way meant to were able to have lots of flowers as it worked out much cheaper. Lastly, a retired florist, who is friends with the venue owners made our ceremony and venue flower arrangements. They were exquisite and really unique.
The Wedding Party
As with the colour scheme, we didn’t want the wedding party to be in uniform colours. For the girls, I found a selection of dresses I loved. It was quite difficult with one bridesmaid pregnant and another in South Africa, but in the end we found dresses that worked for everyone. The Groomsmen wore slightly darker suits than Adam, and their ties were all different shades of blue.
We gave the girls personalised bracelets in little macaroon cases as a gift to say ‘Thank you’ and the groomsmen had personalised pocket watches made for them.
The boutonnieres and bouquets were made up of lavender, wheat and a tiny bit of my Mom’s veil tied together. My bouquet had in addition to this, blush roses and babies breathe.
Our celebrant sent us both questionnaires in advance of the wedding which meant it was filled with personal touches including special memories from our first date, our engagement and beautiful words for the future.
We also decided to break up the traditional toasts at dinner. Adam’s brother introduced us as Mr and Mrs for the first time after the ceremony as his best man speech. My Dad did the father of the bride speech at the end of the canapés and Adam did the grooms speech at the end of dinner and announced the start of the dancing! The feedback from ALL guests was that they LOVED this!
We had a jazz band for canapés, they also played my entrance music to walk down the aisle which was stunning. We also had a DJ for the evening, who was great and played most of our & the guests requests which we sent him in advance of the wedding. We also had some unexpected entertainment in the form of a huge thunder and hail storm! As if on cue the storm broke right at the end of my Dad’s speech! We had to run through the village to get to the back of the venue – it did mean a few ruined hair do’s and it also flooded our reception venue a little but it’s considered good luck on your wedding day! Luckily we had umbrellas on standby but everyone thought it was hilarious. Luckily I started running first and managed to get inside before the rain and hail really started!
We wanted to keep as much of our suppliers local. The Hotel & Restaurant opposite my parents’ house did our catering. The food was delicious and un-fussy which was exactly what we wanted. We also wanted majority vegetarian options, so our canapés were fresh and in season. Les Entrees – cranberry and cheese filo pastry with salad. Main – tomato & goats cheese tart, chicken breast in a mushroom and onion sauce with buttery potatoes, sauteed green beans and green salad. Dessert – lemon Meringue Pie served with pistachio ice cream.
For our wedding cake, I found a British local nicknamed The Cake Fairy who bakes delicious cakes for the local shops and cafes. We had originally contacted a local French boulangerie but the French don’t traditionally make sponge cake.
As a Makeup Artist, I work with a lot of photographers and I was very fussy with the style I wanted. Gemma and Philippa at Cotton Candy Weddings not only produced stunning photos but were such a joy to have with us. We both agree it was by far our best decision!
I had fallen in love with the work of Vision on Fire and pretty much stalked their website non-stop. When we decided to have videographers, I didn’t want anyone else. I honestly recommend to everyone that they have a videographer as it is really special.
Destination Wedding Advice
Planning an overseas DIY wedding is not for the faint hearted. Especially when you don’t speak the language! Although I did have my Mom and Dad over there to help it was still very difficult and at times we all wanted to give up but without the help of our families and friends, I don’t think we would have gotten everything the way we wanted it.
Even if you DIY your own wedding, having someone who is solely in charge on the day is invaluable. I was able to relax and when things were slightly going awry, Laura would sweep in and resolve it.
Find clever ways to make your money go further – I bought our lace table runners by the metre from a local fabric shop, which worked out much cheaper than buying or renting tablecloths. To decorate our tables, my Mom spray painted the tips of wheat for each place setting in gold and made hula hoop fairy light decorations which we hung on the walls and all the decorative glassware we found at markets and local stores. Our aisle decorations were white wicker hearts which I found at the 99p store. We added flowers to them to make them a bit more special.
To personalise the venue, we had a photo of each of our parents and grandparents weddings in rustic gold frames (from the 99p store) (with names and dates on the back for guests) next to our guest book. It felt really special having them all there and the guests loved guessing who was who and seeing how the fashions have changed. We now have the photos up in our house.
Adam and I wanted to have an open bar for the whole day. Luckily, good wine is cheap in France! We stocked up on a variety of different drinks but quickly ran out of fridge space. Luckily, with the help of Adam’s Uncle Dan Sanger, who is an engineer, he rigged up a system for us to cool some of the drinks in the underground lake.
Photography by Cotton Candy Photography
- Venue Hotel de Cours de Thomazeau
- Celebrant Celebrants In France
- Wedding Planner The French Wedding Company
- Furniture Chapiteaux
- Videography Vision On Fire
- Dress & Veil Pronovias
- Boutique The Wedding Dress Shop
- Jewellery Debbie Carlisle
- Groom Moss Bros.
- Ties William Hunt
- Bridesmaids Coast
- Shoes No1 by Jenny Packham
- Tassels Bubblegum Balloons
- Wedding Day Sign The Contemporary Home
- Confetti The Wedding Of My Dreams
- Bunting Ginger Ray
- Cake Topper Modern Blooms
- Groomsmen’s Watches Tipo’s Creations
- Bridesmaids Bracelets Fashion Gurus
- Favours Wildflower Favours