Picture the scene… Nice, in the South of France – it’s early September so the sun is warm and welcoming but not scorching. Olivia and Sam prepare for their humanist ceremony, a quiet and intimate affair held at Sam’s parent’s house. Afterwards guests load onto a double decker bus for a tour around the Côte d’Azur and Sam and Olivia sneak off for some alone time and prepare for the grand entrance to their reception on Paloma Beach… By speed boat.
Olivia The Bride: Our wedding was held in Nice France, a place very close to our hearts. I had always wanted to get married abroad and having spent so much time there together as a couple it was the perfect setting. Over the course of the weekend we organised several events so that we could make the most of seeing all our family and friends. It was the most amazing few days and it was so special to share it with the people we love so much.
The ceremony took place in the garden of Sam’s parents house in Nice, France. Sam’s family worked tirelessly to make ensure that the house looked fantastic on the day. The flowers played a huge part of the decoration in the garden, I adored the archway the florist created and our home made rose flower pots which were dotted a long the garden walls and terraces.
In order to transport the guest from the ceremony to the reception venue we hired an open top bus and provided our guests with a small tour of Nice before a stroll along the coast to reach the beach. The reception was held at Paloma Beach and it was chosen for a number of reasons. Firstly Sam’s family had been going for a number of years and it had always been a special place to go to whenever all the family were all together in the South of France. Another major reason for having the wedding at Paloma was that we got engaged on the beach in the summer of 2013.
The Paloma Beach staff were incredible, their organisation and tenancy for getting the evening reception organised was incredible. The beach benefits from panoramic views anyway, but the attention to detail to ensure that the venue looked perfect on the day was brilliant. Also with such perfect weather on the day and again simple decoration, such as candle lit paths, lanterns and tea lights, it meant that the outdoor venue looked stunning and very atmospheric.
For food, their was a selection of cold starters that included: crudites, tomato and mozzarella and an artichoke salad. For main course their was a choice between sea bass, chicken or a vegetarian option. We opted for a Cheese wedding cake, which we thought was the perfect way to complete the wedding breakfast especially as we were in France. However, the caterers had never seen this before so we decided to provide it and even smuggled the Appleby’s Cheshire (Sam’s favourite cheese) from the UK.
Au Nom de la Rose was recommended by Sam’s mum, Lesley. It is a small pretty florist in the centre of Nice, with scattered rose petals at the entrance and beautiful arrangements, it was the perfect florist. Catherine, the owner spoke reasonable english and we communicated via email in the months leading up to the wedding. I had pulled together lots of ideas for the flowers/bouquets/archway in preparation for our meetings too so I was quite aware of what I wanted and the look I was trying to achieve. Although Au Nom de la Rose, specialise in roses they were happy to incorporate hydragenas into the arrangements. Catherine was also really thoughtful and suggested we used ” Rosa L’Anglaise’, meaning the English Rose which I thought was a really lovely idea.
Finding my dress was easier than I thought, I had an idea of the style I wanted but kept my options open trying a variety of silhouettes and designs, which I would recommend every bride to do. It’s interesting to see what suits you and also what is appropriate for your day and the venue. My dress was from White Rose Bridal, a design stocked at The Wedding Shop in Alderley Edge before it closed. I loved the covered buttons which ran all the way down the back of the dress and the scalloped hem line which matched my veil from Joyce Jackson, which I absolutely loved wearing! My shoes were from L K Bennet and actually the only pair I tried. I loved the hint of sparkle and the fact that I can wear them again without them looking really bridal.
Hannah, my sister was my only bridesmaid and to begin with we really struggled to find her a dress that she liked, we had looked in the all usual places but wanted something a little bit different. As she was the only bridesmaid we also decided to opt for ivory, we thought any other colour may have looked a little random. We arranged an appointment with Emma Beaumont a dress maker based in, Knutsford Cheshire and she designed and made Hannah’s dress. Emma was fantastic and a pleasure to work with. She is hugely talented and created a beautiful silhouette that Hannah was thrilled with. Emma also looked after my wedding dress alterations, she was meticulous and took care to ensure my dress was just right. Emma kindly helped to pack all of the dresses in a carry on suitcase to take on the flight to France.
For my beautiful flower girl, Esme, I chose a dress from J Crew. I wanted to make her feel very special so we arranged a tea party so she could try the dress on and pick her favourite shoes. The only changed we made was to the colour of the sash from black to pale gold so it tied in with the colour scheme. She looked adorable on the day and I love the photos Julie took of Esme’s dress and accessories in the wardrobe.
The groom along with the two best men and usher wore suits from Austin Read. We knew that the weather would more than likely be very hot so it was important that suits were chosen that would not be unbearable on the day. From an early stage we had decided that we wanted to have navy suits and wanted to keep the theme fairly classic. After a long time trawling various shops, the quality of Austin Read and the price meant that we had soon decided that these were the suits for us. The ties were purchased from Suit Supply, influenced by the colour scheme. For the shoes we went for brown suede brogues, these were purchased from Samuel Windsor and again after a lot of deliberation due to price and quality they became the preferred option. The white shirts were purchased from TM Lewin.
For Harry, our page boy we chose a navy cotton/linen suit from John Lewis, I loved the fact that we got a suit with shorts. I was conscious about the heat and wanted to make sure he would be comfortable throughout the day a well as looking rather dapper! Harry’s shirt and shoes were from Zara Boys and perfectly complimented the groomsmen attire, with matching pocket square too.
After reading a number of internet blogs and websites, it soon became apparent that Celia was both highly recommended and would be the perfect person to be our wedding celebrant. Our initial meeting early in the year confirmed this, as Celia detailed how the ceremony would be carried out. We wrote our vows, which at the time seemed like quite a daunting task but with Celia’s guidance made the ceremony very personal and unique to us. On the day the ceremony was flawless as Celia ensured the event ran smoothly and perfectly.
The Hair & Make up
I was a little sceptical about hiring a hair/make up artist in France, I wasn’t sure if they would understand quite what I wanted and those I did find and researched weren’t offering the look I was after. Luckily, a family friend recommended Vicky Quinn, I had seem some photos of previous brides and the looks she had created were lovely. I don’t tend to wear masses of make up so I was very conscious about wanting my make up to look natural whilst also lasting in the heat. We had a trial appointment and again I many images of what I wanted to try and achieve. Vicky fortunately was happy to travel France and we (the bridal party) were absolutely thrilled with our hair and make up on the day. She did a fantastic job and made us feel so relaxed and special on the day. I loved my false lashes too as well, they add a little drama to the day!
Choosing a photographer for any event is a difficult process. When it comes to a wedding, there’s a lot of pressure to ensure that they capture the moment in the finest detail and we can safely say that Julie Michaelsen fully met our brief.
Sam has known the Michaelsen family for a number of years albeit this was not a reason for simply selecting Julie as our photographer. In fact you could argue that this almost added an extra pressure to Julie as there was a high expectancy on her to deliver the photos that we wanted!
On the day Julie was exceptional, her professionalism shone through as she organised and sorted out the shots that we required. Alongside her partner Ross, they caught the special moments and worked tirelessly to ensure that nothing was missed.
Entertainment came in the form of a surprise and last minute visit from Alexander Stewart, he charmed the audience by serenading the ladies and impressing with his immaculate jazz and contemporary lounge music repertoire
Our wedding invitations were from Cardlab, we loved the simple yet sophisticated design. The pale gold ribbon ran throughout the rest of the stationary; save the dates, order of service, table plan all of which we made ourselves. As our wedding was abroad, I wanted a subtle theme of travel to run through elements of the wedding so we opted for luggage tag save the dates and table plan cards. The order of service fan idea, came from something I had seen on Pinterest. I thought they looked so pretty and were very practical too.
Photography by Julie Michaelsen Photography
- Bridal Gown White Rose Bridal
- Shoes L K Bennett
- Veil Joyce Jackson at Rainbow Club
- Bridesmaid dress Emma Beaumont
- Flower Girl dress, J Crew
- Groom & groomsmen suits Austin Reid
- Groom & Groomsmen Accessories Samuel Windsor
- Entertainment Alexander Stewart
- Celebrant Celia Ford Drummond
- Hair and make up Vicky Quinn
- Flowers Au nom de la rose
- Evening venue & Catering Paloma Beach
- Stationary (Invitations only) Card Lab