We have a delicious destination for you today folks. And they don’t come much more delicious than the Chateau Rigaud, Mouliets et Villemartin in south-west France.
Situated between Bordeaux and Bergerac it was the perfect location for Rock My Wedding readers Kate and Greg to tie the knot as they both have a love of all things French.
Photography today is by Especially Amy.
Married In France
Greg and I have always really loved France – the food, the wine, skiing in the mountains! – and have spent loads of holidays there. We’d always had an idea of getting married in France, more laid back, the lovely food/wine, having a holiday with our friends and family, while still only asking them to take a short flight to get there. We looked at six venues in Hertfordshire (where we’re from and where we would have got married should we have gone for the UK) and six in France. The French options just blew us away! We ended up hiring Chateau Rigaud for four nights and the day before the wedding our guests went wine tasting or canoeing on the Dordogne River (in glorious 30 degree sunshine!) and for a meal on the river’s banks the evening before.
By the time the wedding came people had got to know each other quite well and everyone was really relaxed. We then had everyone back for Sunday brunch and for a dip in the pool – the perfect end to a perfect weekend!
The dress was Japonica by Ian Stuart. I bought it from the White Boutique in Bishops Stortford after looking in a number of places. It was one I’d tried on early on, my Mum and friend (and bridesmaid) Sam loved it and I kept thinking of it and comparing other dresses to it. I then took my cousin and bridesmaid Rachael to see it and try it on again and the decision was made! I didn’t want a strapless gown though – I feel I suit having a strap much better – and so we added the ivory silk straps on later (luckily Sam’s mum is a seamstress and was on hand to help!). I’d always wanted a lace dress – I’m not into sparkle or bling, but didn’t want something too plain, so felt lace was perfect. Plus it was French lace and I felt it was really in keeping with our vineyard setting. I just loved the fishtail shape of it – to me it felt much more elegant and womanly than an A-line gown, though I did love some of the ones I saw. I never wanted to look like a princess, I wanted something a bit more sophisticated (but not evening gown like or vampy!).
A couple of interesting things about the dress:
- My little brother bought it for me! My dad died in 2005 and when we got engaged I asked Mark to give me away. He said he’d like to buy me my wedding dress. I was incredibly touched and moved – it made the whole thing feel all the more special.
- The White Boutique called me just before Christmas and said they were having some repairs done to the shop roof. We’d planned for them to keep the dress until nearer the wedding when I’d go back for alterations, but the lady who worked there asked us to take it home for a month saying we could bring it back when the work was complete in the new year. When I called back in the new year though it seemed the shop had closed down – and it’s never reopened since. Thank goodness I got the dress and had Sam’s mum to step in and do alterations! Such as shame as the shop and lady who owned it were lovely.
I kept my jewellery really simple and just wore a pair of pearl drop earrings which I picked up in John Lewis. I just thought they fit with the vintage feel of the dress. I didn’t think I needed a necklace or bracelet, the dress and lace were so pretty themselves that I was keen to make sure I didn’t overdo it or take away from the dress. Plus I of course had my engagement ring to sparkle!
In my hair I wore a sparkly comb from Not on the High Street – it kept my hair looking pretty when I removed my veil later in the evening. I decided to go for a chapel length plain ivory veil and I’m so pleased I did! There was a slight breeze on the day and it meant Amy got some great pics. It also just made me feel really special – as soon as I tried one on I knew I had to have it. The look just felt complete when I had it on! I’d intended to go back and buy my veil from the White Boutique but as I couldn’t I bought it online.
I opted for high slingback ivory silk peeptoe shoes with a small sparkly buckle – very simple. Again I didn’t want anything to take away from the dress! I wore them until the first dance when I changed into some gold stilettos with an ankle strap (the same as the ones my bridesmaids wore) as I was worried the slingbacks would fall off when dancing.
Alright On the Night
I went for a make-up lesson at Becca in South Kensington with my bridesmaid Sam a few weeks before the wedding. They gave me some great tips and I bought some lovely products. I also decided to get some false eyelashes which were done by Blink in Canary Wharf – I trialed them on the hen do to make sure they wouldn’t irritate me and loved them! They were fab as all weekend my eyelashes looked great and I didn’t even need to think about mascara! They really make such a difference. I’d decided to do my own make up assisted by Sam (who was amazing!) but on the day it all ended up being a bit of a rush… you think you have bags of time and then suddenly it flies!… so I don’t think I followed every step the Becca lady taught me! Still, it was alright on the night. I wanted a fairly natural look and it seemed ok!
I decided to have my hair half-up, half-down and this was done by Laura Cawte who is English and trained at Vidal Sasson but lives and works out in the area. She also did my bridesmaid’s hair, blow-dried the mum’s hair and did a set for Greg’s Grandma! She was great!
The colour scheme for our wedding was pinks and champagne and I really wanted pink ranunculus as the main flower. It was touch and go as to whether they’d still be in season but thanks to the chilly spring we’ve had they were still around. The bouquets were made from these and lily of the valley which were my Grandma’s favourite flowers and always make me think of her (plus smell amazing!). These were combined with pink peonies and hydrangeas to make the floral decorations which looked great on the tables and I especially loved the rattan cones outside the barn door. The flowers were all done by Hayley at Chateau Rigaud who I was in regular contact with in the months running up to the big day.
I bought the bridesmaid dresses from Marks and Spencer for £90 each – I’ve heard some horror stories about finding dresses everyone’s happy with so was really pleased to find dresses so easily which all the girls liked. I just emailed them a pic and we went for it! They were champagne 50s style swing dresses. I then bought fuchsia pink fabric (I managed to track down exactly the same fabric as the ushers’ ties) and Sam’s mum made sashes for them all. Each sash was slightly different which I loved – it made them all a bit individual and suited their style. Loads of people complimented them on the day – obviously it helped they were worn by such gorgeous girls as well!
Greg had been an usher/best man a number of times – he has a really big group of close friends and, though he chose his friend Ian (better known by his nickname Hannibal- don’t ask!) as best man, he couldn’t choose between his friends for ushers. Therefore he opted to have them all! So we ended up with 11! We therefore decided to just hire suits (dark grey tails) for Greg, the best man and my brother, and decided to just hire ties for the ushers and give each of them a buttonhole. We asked them each to wear a dark suit and a light shirt (which they all did bar one who turned up in a purple shirt!). It worked really well – as the colour was quite bold it was easy to identify them.
I also have a lot of really good girl friends and couldn’t have them all as bridesmaids so I asked Hayley to make them all wrist corsages which was a nice touch and was well received.
Smart And Handsome
Greg wore grey tails hired from Waterers in St Albans (who were brilliant in helping us have the suits for a longer period due to having the wedding in France) and a tie the same champagne colour as the bridesmaid dresses. He’s 6 foot 1 and slim and so really pulls off tails – he’s normally quite scruffy (in his industry he doesn’t wear suits etc) so it was lovely to see him smart and handsome on the big day!
The Right Choice
We chose Especially Amy after looking at her work on RMW and arranging a meeting. We were really impressed with the beautiful shots she’d taken of other weddings and she was so lovely and relaxed, we thought she’d really fit in on the day. She has a lovely style – assertive enough to get people where she wants them but not bossy! Amy really understands that you’re there to enjoy your wedding day, not just to pose for photos. Everyone commented on how great she was – we definitely made the right choice!
When In France…
I am a bit of a strange girl in that I have no sweet tooth at all, so we decided to go for a cheese cake for the wedding. It was made from English and French cheeses (to reflect the Anglo-Franco nature of the wedding!) I had a cake topper made to look just like Greg and I – eye colour, outfits etc – and they looked great! We also had a macaroon cake for those with a sweet tooth – very French! Plus pain au chocolat were served at midnight, so nobody was hard done by!
Music For Everyone
We has a local band called Hicksville for the wedding – they were fantastic. Three English guys who live out in France, they played classical music during the ceremony, led a rendition of Stand by Me (v funny and lightened the mood after the emotional ceremony) & accompanied my cousin Rachael in playing one of my Dad’s favourite pieces on the clarinet. They then played jazz/rat pack stuff during the drinks reception and more dancey tune for the evening. There was Mowtown etc and more modern stuff, so something for everyone! Then we had a DJ come on to take us into the early hours!
Time Of TImes
We danced our first dance to Time of Times by Badly Drawn Boy, a song we both love. We had a few lessons before hand by the fabulous Anessa at Mister Wonderful dancing (a present from our lovely best man!) which allowed us to have a few moves when we hit the floor. It wasn’t a very polished version of the rumba but it was better than shuffling and it made the pictures of the dance more interesting!
From the Heart
For favours we gave a British Heart Foundation badge to each guest in remembrance of my dad who died of a heart attack. I wrapped these in brown paper and fuchsia ribbon with “From the new Mr & Mrs” written on it. We also gave everyone a wire heart picture stand with a picture of themselves and Greg or I in it. It look a lot of work to source the pics but we found some classics and people seemed touched by the effort we’d gone to. It also provided a great talking point on tables where people didn’t know each other too well.
Candles And Ribbons
We has a beautiful display of candles along the back of the barn, hessian and pink ribbon runners on the tables and ribbons around the napkins. While people were having dinner the venue also arranged for candles to be lit around the grounds and they lit candles in birds nest holders I bought to hang in the trees. It looked beautiful.
Also worth mentioning is the pompoms I bought to hang in the trees in various shades of pink and ivory. We made them up on the morning of the wedding (we had a big production line in the kitchen!) and Hayley hung them in the trees. So simple but so effective!
We had an amazing fireworks display guests enjoyed after the first dance. A surprise gift from my mum – incredible!
People Didn’t Want To Leave
I think what made our wedding so perfect for me was just how relaxed everybody was – we’d all been canoeing on the Dordogne River or wine tasting the day before and out for dinner to a local bistro, and we had everyone back for Sunday brunch. People really got to know each other and were really happy! Everyone said they didn’t want to leave!
My advice would be to start getting ready earlier, I felt a bit rushed on the day in the end – I spent too long checking everything was ok and not enough time to be calm myself and check I was happy with my hair/make up etc. I’d also say be prepared about how much emotion will hit you – Greg and I had totally underestimated this. We’re both quite relaxed (and had actually had to do the legal ceremony before in the UK) and so thought we’d be really chilled on the day. But the emotion really does hit you in an overwhelming wave – and it took us several days of digesting it all before we could even begin to feel normal again.
Otherwise just enjoy every minute! It’s the most fantastic day.
Venue – Chateau Rigaud
Flowers – Hayley at Chateau Rigaud
Make-up – Becca
Photography – Especially Amy
Band – Hicksville
Dress – Ian Stuart
Hair Comb – Not on the High Street
Groom – Waterers
Maids – Marks and Spencer
I am personally a big fan of pink, especially when used with green – so the shots from the dining room totally blew me away… the pink florals and green stems with all of the ivory white candles, chairs and then the hessian thrown in for a bit of rough luxe contrast. Amazing.
If you do have your heart set on an outdoors ceremony then you may well want to consider a destination wedding just to have that extra bit of weather based luck on your side. I for one, having seen Kate and Gregs big day, am completely in love with the Chateau Rigaud.