Belle and Alex had an intimate French destination wedding and I love it because they’ve simply gathered their very best friends and family and thrown a dinner party under the stars. They got married legally in the UK, meaning that they could have a personal, intimate outdoor ceremony for the French wedding.
The couple found their photographer, Marine Marques, right here on RMW which always makes us happy! Marine’s work is so natural and softly shot, I think you’re going to love it too…
Lenora Gown Wtoo By Watters
Belle & Alex: I chose my dress after visiting only one boutique. This was not my original intention as it put quite a bit of pressure on me to make a decision, but I just didn’t realise how long it would take to make a wedding dress! From engagement to wedding day was only 7 months so when I went shopping for the dress 6 months prior to the date, it was actually my last opportunity to order a dress. Thankfully the dress I found was perfect and 100% the one for me!
Having to make a choice so quickly was not easy as I didn’t really know what I wanted; I just knew what I didn’t want! I’m sure this made me a tricky customer to the lovely team in Lace and Grace, Keynsham, Bristol. But alongside my mum and bridesmaid I found the gorgeous Lenora gown from Wtoo By Watters. It really was exquisite. The authentic lace, capped sleeves, subtle pearlised beads, exposed back made this dress the perfect lightweight, floaty, feminine dress that I knew would work beautifully in our Southern French Chateau setting.
I also wore a beautiful veil, which was also made by the team at Lace and Grace. They took some of the same lace of my dress and added it to the trim; it was beautiful. Shame I only got to wear it for 3 steps down the aisle before my toddler son ripped it from my hair!
My hair and makeup I did myself, being a bridal makeup artist and working in the cosmetics industry for the last 14 years it seemed only natural! (and not to mention a big money saver!)
The ties were actually the biggest nightmare of the whole wedding! I genuinely believe that more time was spent looking at, picking out and ordering ties than anything else I organised. I think over the course of about a month, nearly 50 ties came and went from our house as we tried to find the right colour. The colour I wanted didn’t seem to exist! Something that caused my husband to not only tease me mercilessly but almost break off the engagement. I wanted what I described as a “soft pewter gold, with not too much yellow and not metallic looking” true to form; I knew what I didn’t want! Eventually and thankfully, if not slightly irritatingly, Alex ended up finding the ties himself when he went to pick up his suit from having it tailored at Hugo Boss. By that point I was at the end of my tether, and frankly could not face looking at another tie (and not to mention time had run out to keep looking!) so regardless of cost Alex was instructed to purchase immediately for himself and the groomsmen.
Destination Wedding In France
When Alex proposed we were on holiday in Portugal with our best friends. As this included my bridesmaid we naturally spent the rest of the week talking weddings! It may have been our location while talking weddings, it may have been the copious amounts of wine, but we (my bridesmaid and I!) decided Southern France would be the perfect venue!
The actual venue itself I found during the many hours spent scrolling through anything wedding related on Instagram. Chateau de Redon was the first possible venue that I loved that made my list. The beautiful old chateau is in the Dordogne region of Southern France, and is a venue that can be hired out for parties, holidays events etc. I could see enough from the pictures to know that this place was worth taking a look. When we visited it was a dreary wet and windy, grey November day, but even with the overcast weather and dull skies, the potential of this place was undeniable and we knew instantly that we wanted to get married there. It was the perfect location for our intimate wedding party of our nearest and dearest!
Anita, the owner of the venue can also be hired as your wedding planner, and seeing neither my hubby to be or myself could speak a huge amount of French we definitely thought this would make it easier to liaise with suppliers! Anita did a fair amount of sourcing and arranging our requirements and provided us with a good selection of suppliers to choose from. Anita was completely charming and helped us enormously to create our vision and we are eternally grateful to her for making everything so wonderful and going above and beyond expectations.
Naturally Beautiful Wedding
One of the main reasons why we were so drawn to having our wedding in France was that it was really important to us to do everything outside. This is one of the many reasons why we fell in love with Chateau de Redon as the extensive gardens and the view of the valley were simply breath taking. Being such a beautiful venue set overlooking the valley of lush green country side, it simply felt to me that it didn’t need much decorating! And when it came to choosing flowers and decorations I actually wanted to keep it really simple. I felt that fussy flower arrangements would’ve been lost and just wasn’t needed with all the natural beauty of the place. I simply wanted to reflect all the nature and for that to flow into the table decorations and bouquets.
We had the ceremony and drink reception under the shade of the trees of the orchard facing out over the stunning view of the valley. The chairs we hired were in a soft pale wood which complimented the cool tones of the stonework in the building, Faith decorated these chairs with foliage. We later moved to the other side of the chateau to where the wedding breakfast was set up under the larger more majestic trees in the gardens of the chateau. We had two long banquet tables set up which fitted our small party of 33 perfectly.
After the feast the party flowed to a small courtyard in front of the converted barns. For the evening-do this area was decorated with hanging festoon bulb lighting, little candle lights in the trees, and large barrels that were used as bar tables.
We last minute asked the band to set up outside in front of the big barn doors, under the bulb lighting. This was one of our best spontaneous decisions we made as this really made the party so special for us. We had concerns that our small party would look a bit lost in the large party space of the barn, so the change of plan meant our guests were all in the small place and we were able to enjoy the great outdoors some more! It really was very magical dancing under the stars!
We were highly recommended a florist fairly local to our venue, Faith of Le Coeur Sauvage. Faith is an English speaking florist so there were no communication issues explaining exactly what we wanted, and she understood perfectly! The beautiful bouquets and garlands were just what I imagined. We mainly wanted simple greenery for decoration and I requested the exquisitely beautiful protea flower to be in both of the bouquets. We wanted the foliage to look slightly wild and effortless, and we particularly wanted a simple foliage garland running the length of the table for the wedding breakfast and little arrangements for the chair ends. Similar button holes were made and crowns for the flower girls. I was so pleased with all of Faith’s creations using different grasses, olive and eucalyptus leaves and protea flowers all finished with hand dyed silk ribbons.
Outdoor Wedding Ceremony
As we were unable to have a legal wedding in France we choose to have a symbolic ceremony in the gardens of the chateau (and had a legal civil ceremony in Winchester a few weeks before with only two witnesses). The symbolic ceremony was so special as it was completely unique to us a couple. After searching high and low to find an English speaking celebrant in the region, I came across Unique Ceremonies. We found them to be a wonderful team of fun people. We had Richard as our celebrant, he delivered such a special ceremony using information he had gathered about us from multiple Skype conversations and comprehensive questionnaires we each had to fill out about ourselves). Richard really set the tone of our truly magical day. His approach, his words and the genius information he had collated from us both, he shared in such a thoughtful and extremely humorous way, it made me shed many happy tears throughout!
We had two readings during the ceremony one from my brother and the other a best friend of ours. My brother read a Buddhist prayer: A Blessing for the Journey by Sensei Wendy Egyoku Nakao. The other ‘Love is a Temporary Madness” from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.
After the ceremony we enjoyed a drinks reception with canapés under the shade of the trees in the orchard in the gardens of the chateau. Grown ups were served peach Bellinis and the children were served tropical fruit cocktail.
The band we hired was the biggest gamble of the wedding! We never got the chance to see them them perform before the big day so we had to put all our trust in them! We were continually reassured by the helpful management of the talent of the musicians and boy he was right! We were so impressed! They understood our musical preferences and they learnt and practiced our first dance request of Van Morrison – Someone Like You. They nailed it! We also asked last minute if one of the musicians would be able to play during the drinks reception which they happily accommodated.
All food was supplied by Finesse Cuisine. They provided an extremely tasty selection of canapés for the drinks reception, and then cooked up a posh barbecue feast for the wedding breakfast finished with a spread of yummy desserts.
Our wedding cake was a two tiered Chocolate Guiness cake which my brother and sister in law made the night before the big day. This ridiculously luscious cake recipe has been a family favourite for years and years and is made for most celebratory occasions so it seemed only fitting this had to be made into our wedding cake as well!
Our amazing photographer Marine Marques we funnily enough found through a RMW blog post which I am hugely grateful for; I came come across it just at the right time and the photographer fortunately happened to work in the right area of France. It was a short piece written by Louise on planning her wedding in France. She had written about Marine and was recommending her talent, the brief description of her approach and her style in the example photographs massively appealed to me so I immediately got in touch!
Alex and I are incredibly awkward in front of the camera and we really didn’t fancy traditional posed wedding photographs, we instead preferred the idea of more casual taken from afar shots! Not only are the pictures Marine captures beautiful but she does such a wonderful job of capturing all the emotions and atmosphere of what is going on! She also uses the light in unusual ways and incorporates the natural beauty of the surroundings. We love Marine for how we can look her pictures and re-live the feel of the whole day.
The Wedding Stationery
Between my now mother in law and myself we made all the wedding stationery. Coming from a creative background and being a huge appreciator of ‘the handmade’ I really wanted to take part in making what I could for my wedding. Taking inspiration from a patten on a tissue box! I began designing and creating the invites, menus, etc. I made what I described as ‘drippy inked papers’ and my mother in law did all the calligraphy. Luckily we had a fairly small number of guests or we would still be making them now!