Oh my gosh, this wedding is SO beautiful. Have you seen the monolithic ancient ruin church yet? It. Is. Simply. Breathtaking. As is the drinks reception in the village square and the final destination Manoir de Longeveau. All locations make the loveliest of backdrops for photographs captured by Annabel Staff Wedding Photography. With the image of the bride and groom on the cliff literally making my heart sing. The fact that everybody looks effortlessly chic also adds to the charm of this destination wedding. Bride Kate totally rocks her Limor Rosen 'Ariel' gown, as do her maids in blush bespoke skirts and sequin Coast tops. With Marry Me in France on hand to add their advise and styling expertise. I have a feeling you're going to absolutely LOVE the elegant flower stems in vase centrepiece, and if they're not quite your thing why not check out our centrepiece inspiration post for more ideas.
The WeddingKate the Bride: We wanted a classic French wedding and to ensure it was extra special, we tried to follow as many French customs as possible. I found a wedding planning service called Marry Me in France which provided a list of venues across the country. We picked a former cognac estate called Manoir de Longeveau, located near Aubeterre Sur Drone in the Charente region of south-west France, as it felt relaxing and could house all our guests. We were completely bowled over by the beautiful small village and decided to make it part of a day whereby Marry Me in France helped facilitate having the ceremony take place in a 1,000-year-old former Church (think a scene from Indian Jones), called Eglise Souterraine Saint-Jean. After the service, we led our guests up to the village square whilst applauded by locals and greeted by the Hotel de France with drinks, canapes and a local accordionist in their section of the square. Back at Manoir de Longeveau, we arranged starter stations in the courtyard, followed by the wedding breakfast and dancing in an adjoining period barn and an after-party in their clubhouse. French traditions saw the wedding cars tooting horns through the village, our guests swirling napkins to music as we entered the barn, delivering my speech in French which I had leaned specifically as a surprise, my husband and I toasting from a silver cup called a coupe de marriage and our cake being a croquembouche with small fireworks. One truly memorable part is taking it all in with my husband while being driven through the beautiful countryside in a vintage Citroen car, drinking a glass of champagne and just having a very special moment together of feeling incredibly happy.
The DressI bought the dress form Luellas Bridal in Wimbledon Village, a lovely boutique shop holding a fabulous collection of vintage and elegant dresses. I opted for a dress called Ariel by an Israeli designer Limor Rosen but I was certainly spoilt for choice on the range of unique dresses to try. Luella's were great at ensuring I had the exact dress I wanted by liaising with the designer to lower the back at no extra cost and provided useful advice on creating more of a train with the style of the dress in mind. They also provide a seamstress service. The website Etsy became my best online friend in the lead up to the wedding as it’s filled with hundreds of independent businesses selling gorgeous unique and handmade items at reasonable prices, to which I bought my earrings from Saving Face Jewellery. I found my shoes from Crispins who cater for ladies with big feet and bought a pair of sparkly Stuart Weitzman which were really comfortable.
The Grooms FashionMy husband wore a navy-blue suit from Ted Baker. We struggled to source blush pink ties through high-street brands (something we thought should be relatively easy) but again, Etsy saved the day and we found a perfect match through an independent Canadian business called Tie Obsessed (allow 4 weeks to arrive).
Colour Scheme/DécorWe kept colours to blush pink, gold and blue.
Flowers/FloristTo be honest, the flowers were the least of my priorities and I kept these costs to a minimum. It turns out many florists in France are happy to provide cut flowers as well as arrangements and I ordered, through a local florist in Montmoreau called Les Fleur de Lor, a mix of blush pink and white flowers for the table; which were positioned in different size cut-glass tumblers and vases. I opted for a range of Hortensia, roses, eucalyptus and lisianthus. I wanted to keep my bouquet simple and purchased a bunch of calla lilies which complimented my style of dress. For the bridesmaids, again, I kept it simple by having a bouquet of white flowers as their outfits provided the colour.
The Wedding Party FashionI wanted something completely different for my bridesmaids and I knew it would be a two-piece outfit. I bought sparkly silver sequin crop tops from Coast and actually had fifties-style blush pink flare skirts made to order as I couldn’t find anything on the high-street with a high enough waistband. Word of advice, if you need to get something made go to someone outside of London as the prices are significantly cheaper. My husband and I decided that we would let the groomsman pick their own mid-grey suits so they were comfortable with the style and could use again. The groom wore navy blue to stand out as, after all, the bride gets too!
CeremonyWe had a relaxed and fun service. The limestone walls and forty-foot-high ceilings of the former church made for great acoustics and provided a very unique experience. A friend delivered the service and one of the readings was lyrics taken from the Huey Lewis song ‘The Power of Love’ which got a lot of laughs and helped us feel relaxed. The whole congregation sang ‘Happy Together, by the Turtles which replaced a hymn. To get the best out of this we had the track played by a speaker to accompany the sound and gave some of our louder guests a special choir badge to help lift the song, which worked very well. We wanted to have something symbolic during the service and we felt having my mother and mother-in-law hand over a Lillie to add to my bouquet, really represented two families coming together. I ordered some customs made cards for the order of service through Connie And Joan who hold some beautifully created adaptable templates at very reasonable prices.
EntertainmentOur wedding planner found a local accordionist to entertain our guests in the village square and secured an English band called Tomorrow at a fantastic price which included an acoustic set in the church, the courtyard and formed as a 5-piece band in the evening. They put their own stamp on songs and had everyone dancing.
FoodWe had canapes in the square and the in-house caterers created three starter stations on top of wooden barrels in the venue courtyard (Foie gras, cured meats and vegetarian). For the Wedding Breakfast, we had Gazpacho as a refresher course, Confit of Duck (near the Dordogne after all) followed by Mille-Feuille. All wine was local and we ensured dessert wine was on offer. The next day we offered a creperie van but this could also work well for evening guests.
PhotographerThe awesome Annabel Staff, who is based in the UK and highly experienced with not only weddings but celebrity events. Annabel was an absolute pleasure to be with all day, her prices were reasonable and she has provided us with some incredible photographs. Her portfolio clearly demonstrated to us that she could capture our day naturally and we certainly felt she caught every important moment. Not only have we gained some incredible and memorable photographs, we’ve actually made good friends with her since our wedding. Given you spend most the day with your photographer it is really important to find someone you can feel relaxed and, more importantly, laugh around.
TipsA parasol works wonders for helping the photographer with any light issues and they look good in pictures too. I’d suggest having both an umbrella and a parasol on hand, as you can never predict the weather.
Dress Designer: Limor Rosen - Ariel | Bridal Boutique: Luellas Bridal | Earrings: Etsy - Saving Face Jewellery | Bridal Shoes: Stuart Weitzman | Grooms Suit: Ted Baker | Tie: Etsy - Tie Obsessed | Bridesmaid Tops: Coast | Wedding Planner: Marry Me in France | Venue: Manoir de Longeveau | Church: Eglise Souterraine Saint-Jean | Drinks Reception: Hotel de France | Florist: Les Fleur de Lor | Stationery: Connie And Joan | Entertainment: Tomorrow