Patricia The Bride:
Nick’s family had lived in Vendee, France for many years. It’s a lovely region and held happy memories for us, so when Nick proposed it didn’t take us long to decide that it was where we wanted to get married. We were keen to keep many elements of a typical French wedding, from the ceremony itself to the food, and were keen that it felt relaxed and informal for both ourselves and our guests.
The mayor of St Cyr en Talmondais gave us permission to have the ceremony at the local Marie, just around the corner from the family home. Nick knew how much it meant to me to have my dad walk me down the aisle, but since there wasn’t going to be one at the Marie, he and his ushers arranged for our guests to make an aisle by lining the pathway in to the mayor’s office when I arrived. It meant that all my friends and family smiled and waved me into the ceremony – it makes me happy every time I think about it.
The Chateau de la Chevallerie
was the first reception venue we looked at and we fell in love with it instantly. There has been a chateau on the site since the 17th century, and the beautiful dining hall, rustic stone work and stunning gardens made it irresistible. Eugenie, the chateau owner made everything so easy, and the fact that they had fitted part of the chateau with accommodation and camping meant that many of our guests who had travelled over from the UK were able to party and sleep in one place.
We made many of the decorations ourselves - my mum made the bunting (which has now already been used for other occasions) and I made all the signage. I’ve never thought of myself as particularly crafty, but I think with so much information online you’d be surprised how quickly you can learn to make something. We hadn’t decided on a specific colour theme, more a general hue of pastel pinks, blues and lavender, but I felt clear that I wanted a lot of flowers (real and fake) throughout the day and we both like a vintage/rustic feel, so these were our guiding principles. We sourced the wine (a lot of wine!), caterer and the florist locally - again, trying to keep things as French as possible.
It’s such a cliché, but I knew I’d found ‘the dress’ when I couldn’t help but shed a few tears the first time I put it on. I wanted something with plenty of lace, and the Watters
dress I ended up finding was everything I had hoped for. Tilly Trotter’s Brides
in Warwickshire provided an exceptional service.
Because the wedding was abroad, I did my own make- up and hair. I treated myself to some really decent products and had a make-up artist in the UK walk me through how I might do it. The advantage being you end up with a brilliantly stocked make up bag for months after! I wore earrings from my grandmother, a necklace from my husband and a bracelet from my parents - it’s those sorts of things that make you really feel special, and remind you what it’s all about.
I think it helps if, as a couple, you both decide on what parts of the day really mean a lot to you and then divide up tasks accordingly. The photography was particularly important to me (you’re going to have those pics forever!) and when a friend pointed me in the direction of Frankee
I knew I’d found what I was after. Her style and approach really matched what we wanted, and I couldn’t be happier with the results. Nick was really keen to get the right band that would play the sort of music we liked and keep everyone entertained. He found Rip-It Encore
, an English band working in France who played a great mix of indie anthems and floor-fillers.
I think one of my favourite detail was having small, polaroid-style pictures printed of all our guests and using these as a place-holders. The idea was to pick pictures that were a happy memory of us with that guest, and pulling them all together actually made us reflect on each person attending and how much we’d shared/how much we loved them. However, I think the absolute highlight had to be the cascade de champagne (another French tradition we were keen to adopt!) and the fantastic croquembouche wedding cake Nick’s uncle had made for us as a wedding gift. The band started playing as we poured the champagne and they presented us with the cake- it felt like a dream!