A destination wedding maybe your idea of heaven but there is always that added pressure of “…Will anyone come?”
You have to weigh it up, you need to consider who absolutely has to be there then decide if any attendance issues will become a deal-breaker… One of the most touching wedding stories I know is one from own brothers wedding – every single one of his closest friends made the journey to share his big day. In Tokyo!
Danielle and David got married a little closer to home, but the same added risk and potential heart-ache still apply. Let’s find out if their decision to Marry in Southern France was worth the worry…
David proposed to me completely out of the blue when we were holidaying in Australia, and we both decided that we’d like to have the big day in France where my parents have had a house for 15 years. My parents tried their hardest to dissuade us from having our wedding there which was quite an upsetting and stressful time, with them insisting no-one would come to our special day! However we persevered and with the help of our amazing wedding planner Kate from getmarriedinfrance.co.uk, we tied the knot on May 30th in the beautiful Château de Saint-Privat-des-Prés, in South West France and people did make the effort to join us! We hired the spectacular venue for 4 days and filled it with 28 of our friends, slotting the wedding in the middle of those 4 days so we could relax before and recover afterwards!
My dress was from Perfection Bridal in Bromley and was a sweetheart neckline with an A-line tulle skirt and an over-sized bow at the back in Ivory, by Benjamin Roberts.
I got a last-minute appointment and wasn’t thinking about finding ‘the one’, I went more to see what styles suited me and to get a clearer idea of the dress I wanted. I tried on 5 different dresses and picked the Benjamin Roberts one out from those as ’the one’. I loved the delicate lace detailing on the skirt and I felt so feminine and very Princess-like in it! However, I was a bit hesitant and couldn’t believe I’d picked it after just one appointment so I didn’t order it there and then, but I just couldn’t stop thinking about it so I decided to just jump in and buy it. I’m a bit gutted I didn’t get to try on lots of different dresses and make a big thing out of the selection process with my bridesmaids, but to be honest I didn’t have much time to get it anyway with the wedding only 2 months away and I was actually very lucky to find it so quickly.
I wore an ivory veil that fell to my lower back by Richard Designs that I also bought from Perfection Bridal. My dress was quite detailed so I wanted a plain veil, but I also wore pearl drop earrings and a pearl bracelet so I picked a veil with little pearls dotted around it and 2 tiny diamantes either side of the pearls. I teamed that with a Liza tiara worn like a headband which had Swarovski crystals and silver pearls in the shape of flowers.
I knew I didn’t want the standard wedding shoes, I wanted something really WOW – either sparkly or something colourful that would really stand out against the dress, and after traipsing around EVERY shoe shop in Bluewater I finally found the perfect pair in Phase Eight – they were the right height (I wanted quite high heels as I’m a shortie, but also wanted a bit of a platform so my feet wouldn’t hurt too much) and the perfect shade of green to fit with my colour scheme.
A Pro On Hand…
I’m very lucky to have a great friend Louise Seymour who is a professional make-up artist and she came out to France and did the hair and make-up for me and my bridesmaids. We had a few girly weekends beforehand where we tried different looks out but I settled on my original plan of hair down and curled, paired with natural make-up and big eyelashes! For some reason I knew straight away I wanted my bridesmaids to have a side bun and Louise worked so hard on the day making everyone look perfect. She was an absolute gem and had lipgloss and hair tongs on hand to freshen me up when I needed it throughout the day!
Our wedding planner Kate recommended Philippe from Mairie Fleurs in Perigueux to us, so we visited his beautiful shop where I found out most of the flowers I wanted weren’t in season! We told Philippe our colour scheme and he worked his magic to create the beautiful bouquets and table arrangements with our small budget. The bridesmaid’s bouquets were made up of white delphiniums and aniseed green bupleurum, my bouquet had vintage pink roses, vintage rose hydrangeas, avalanche roses and white freesias wrapped in lace, and the table centres had the same blooms as my bouquet but with white delphiniums added too. Luckily our venue was so beautiful we didn’t need to dress it with mountains of flowers, so we only had the bouquets, buttonholes, table centres and then 1 arrangement for the ceremony.
Pink And Green.
Our colour scheme was dusky pink and sage green. The bridesmaid’s dresses were from Mango and it was love at first sight, they were the perfect colour! I then bought some ivory silk and my Nan created sashes for them to wear around their waists and we paired it all with some cream heels. We hired grey morning suits for the Ushers, Best Man and my Dad, and we managed to match their cravats to the dusky pink of the bridesmaid dresses. My handsome man also hired his suit but he opted for tails to make him stand out from his groomsmen. His suit was grey and he paired it with an ivory cravat. He looked amazing!
A Photographer Friend.
My fabulous photographer, Annabel Staff, has been a friend of mine for 14 years and I’ve always wanted her to photograph my wedding, so I was thrilled that she could make it out to France. She did an exceptional job, we literally could not have asked for better shots, she captured the feel of the day perfectly. We had a pre-wedding shoot the day before the wedding and on the day David and I both loved going off on a few occasions for a mini photoshoot up in our bridal suite and down by the lake. It was nice to escape away from the madness and we got some beautiful shots out of it. We particularly love the group shot where everyone is pulling a silly face, it sums up the day and how much fun we had!
A Little Tradition.
We had a traditional French wedding cake, called a Pièce Montée and it was YUMMY! A tower of profiteroles filled with chocolate or cream with caramel around the outside…my mouth is watering just thinking about it now! It was a fair bit cheaper than a standard wedding cake so it ticked all the boxes. We couldn’t do the traditional ‘cutting of the cake’ although we pretended to, and it almost fell over, however it looked amazing and we were thrilled with it. It was just as nice the next day for breakfast too!
Back To School.
My Dad reformed his old school band 13 years ago and they’ve been performing for friends and family a few times a year ever since, singing all the classic 60s Rock n Roll and Motown hits. Having them perform was the one thing I knew would complete the day and we were so lucky that they agreed to fly out for the wedding. It took a lot of planning and favours from our guests driving out who took various speakers, microphones and guitars with them so we didn’t have to hire anything. I’ve performed with the band before and wanted to serenade my new husband so I sang a few songs, including Be My Baby and River Deep Mountain High! They performed for about 90 minutes after which I put my pre-made iPod playlist on that had taken an age to put together! We all danced non-stop, it really was the best night of my life!
The Last Time.
The first dance was actually the hardest thing to choose. We don’t really have ‘a song’ so I made a first dance playlist with most songs being vetoed by my fiancé (particularly all the Bublé choices) but the ones left didn’t feel right and they’d been done to death. Then after having my iPod on shuffle, a beautiful song called The Last Time by Eric Benét came on when we were both driving home one night and I started to well up! It was perfect, with great lyrics, a beautiful, romantic melody and it also wasn’t the bog-standard choice for first dances. I could just imagine dancing to it on our day, so quickly booked a 2-hour dancing lesson so we could choreograph a simple routine. There was a bit of stress on the day when we took ourselves off for a little practice in my dress and found out it was going to be harder than we thought to do the twirls and certain steps and we kept getting caught up and tripping over! But we plastered nervous grins on our faces and battled through and it went perfectly – we just wish someone had filmed it so we could watch it back!
The Château was absolutely stunning and an amazing backdrop that didn’t need much dressing, however we had some great guys from Luminous Event Lighting who did a spectacular job of lighting the grounds and the barn where we ate and danced, with hundreds of candles, hanging paper lanterns, metal lanterns on shepherds hooks and LED black boxes, which together created a beautiful atmosphere.
To personalise our day and to save on costs, we made the name places using cream luggage labels, a lace hole-punch design, stick-on pearls and pink and green ribbon. We also made a big blackboard with a silver frame for a menu board and smaller framed blackboards for the table plans and rounded up some frames for a little photo area that guests could play around with.
We named the tables after our favourite places around the world that we’ve been to together and bought silver frames in which we printed out the place name, a description of why it was special and a photo of us there to put on each table. We borrowed some antique plates, bowls and cake stands from a friend to use on the dessert table and our wedding planners provided the vintage clocks to tell guests the timing of the ceremony, cocktails and dinner.
Family And Friends.
I loved that our wedding was a very ‘friends and family’ orientated day – the photographer and make-up artist were both good friends, along with the band being my Dad and his friends, so it all felt very relaxed and meant we had great people that we trusted around us. Being a small wedding, everyone got to know each other and new friendships were made as well as old friendships renewed during the days we all spent together. It really felt like a 4-day celebration, with our favourite people around us in a beautiful part of France, we feel so lucky that we could experience that.
Advice I would give to other brides-to-be is not to worry about the weather! It hadn’t rained in that part of France for 3 months, but typically, thunderstorms were forecast for our special day and I was panicking big time as the ceremony, drinks reception and meal were set to be outside! Everyone was telling me it wouldn’t rain and if I hadn’t have been late, our ceremony would have been a dry affair, but being a typical girl, I ran 30 minutes behind schedule and it started raining during David’s sister’s reading with all the guests getting soaked! So we had to move locations halfway through so people could take cover, however, we ended up moving to a better location and had a very dramatic sky for our backdrop with rumbles of thunder as we were saying our vows – every cloud…silver lining! It honestly didn’t upset me that we had to stop, it all added to the day and made everything so memorable! As my wedding planner kept telling me, you really can’t control the weather, it’s not worth looking at the forecast until the morning of the ceremony.
Advice I’d give to anyone considering getting married abroad – hire a wedding planner! Ours was invaluable, not only being fluent in French and helping us to find a venue, caterers, florist, lighting specialists and explaining the legal side of the marriage, but also getting my parents on side when they were being difficult! We communicated over email and only had to go over to France twice before the big day – once to pick venues and once to see the venue again and meet the florist, caterers etc. She was so great, I just wish she could plan my whole life!
I would also advise to stick to your guns as it’s YOUR day, don’t let parents or anyone else deter you from doing what you want, we almost did but I’m so glad we got married in France. And just try to enjoy every moment because it’s all over so quickly. I’d give anything to do it all again!
Boutique Perfection Bridal
Dress Benjamin Roberts
Make-up Louise Seymour
Flowers Mairie Fleurs
Yeah, yeah. I know, they are both ridiculously good looking – but if any of you lot start going on about the ‘six pack’ then I am going to have to retaliate with stories of the ‘garter shot’…
I think we can all agree though, this is a stunning wedding – I was in the pink-and-green-should-never-be-seen camp but this wedding has made me do a 180. Also, how on earth have they made the South of France look like somewhere firmly routed in the Southern Hemisphere? I think sometimes we can forget how beautiful our (fairly) local surroundings can be…
P.S Paper lanterns are the single cheapest/best decor item ever…