The Heart Of The Woodland.

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Elena and Neil’s destination French wedding is perhaps one of the most eloquently executed woodland themed wedding I’ve seen on these pages. I’m telling you, once you cast your peepers on the tablescapes folks you’ll be blown away!

It’s clear from looking at all of the delicious details in this big day that Elena poured her heart and soul into all of the planning – from the romantic candle ceremony to the rose chandelier hanging from the trees as she and Neil said I do. Everything has been created with the greatest care and love.

Perhaps my favourite element of this wedding – from purely a decor perspective that is – is the totally bespoke ‘confetti bar’ that the pair provided for their guests. From ‘devotion’ to ‘virtue’ and so on and so forth, guests could choose which ‘blessings’ they wanted to bestow upon the lucky couple. Such a brilliant idea!

What would you choose?

A Woodland Inspired Wedding At Chateau Rigaud In France With A Watters Wedding Gown And A David Austen Rose Bouquet And Vera Wang Bridesmaid Dresses Photographed by Amy Murrell._0001A Woodland Inspired Wedding At Chateau Rigaud In France With A Watters Wedding Gown And A David Austen Rose Bouquet And Vera Wang Bridesmaid Dresses Photographed by Amy Murrell._0002A Woodland Inspired Wedding At Chateau Rigaud In France With A Watters Wedding Gown And A David Austen Rose Bouquet And Vera Wang Bridesmaid Dresses Photographed by Amy Murrell._0003A Woodland Inspired Wedding At Chateau Rigaud In France With A Watters Wedding Gown And A David Austen Rose Bouquet And Vera Wang Bridesmaid Dresses Photographed by Amy Murrell._0004A Woodland Inspired Wedding At Chateau Rigaud In France With A Watters Wedding Gown And A David Austen Rose Bouquet And Vera Wang Bridesmaid Dresses Photographed by Amy Murrell._0005A Woodland Inspired Wedding At Chateau Rigaud In France With A Watters Wedding Gown And A David Austen Rose Bouquet And Vera Wang Bridesmaid Dresses Photographed by Amy Murrell._0006A Woodland Inspired Wedding At Chateau Rigaud In France With A Watters Wedding Gown And A David Austen Rose Bouquet And Vera Wang Bridesmaid Dresses Photographed by Amy Murrell._0007A Woodland Inspired Wedding At Chateau Rigaud In France With A Watters Wedding Gown And A David Austen Rose Bouquet And Vera Wang Bridesmaid Dresses Photographed by Amy Murrell._0008A Woodland Inspired Wedding At Chateau Rigaud In France With A Watters Wedding Gown And A David Austen Rose Bouquet And Vera Wang Bridesmaid Dresses Photographed by Amy Murrell._0009A Woodland Inspired Wedding At Chateau Rigaud In France With A Watters Wedding Gown And A David Austen Rose Bouquet And Vera Wang Bridesmaid Dresses Photographed by Amy Murrell._0010A Woodland Inspired Wedding At Chateau Rigaud In France With A Watters Wedding Gown And A David Austen Rose Bouquet And Vera Wang Bridesmaid Dresses Photographed by Amy Murrell._0011A Woodland Inspired Wedding At Chateau Rigaud In France With A Watters Wedding Gown And A David Austen Rose Bouquet And Vera Wang Bridesmaid Dresses Photographed by Amy Murrell._0012

Elena The Bride:My gown was called Bella by the American brand Watters. I purchased the dress online three months before the wedding without ever seeing it or trying in on. I had been planning the wedding for nine months by then and tried on dresses in Singapore (where we lived at the time), London (where we used to live) and Hong Kong (where we live currently) – but there was nothing I loved.

When I saw Bella online – it was just what I wanted – airy and elegant with exquisite beading trailing from bodice down the length of the dress. Thankfully it fitted like a glove, with no alterations needed. The dress flew with me to Hong Kong then back to Europe for the wedding then I had it with me during our South African honeymoon and finally it flew back with us to Hong Kong. The dress is as international as the couple.

My hair was styled by Laura Cawte; we decided to put my hair up because it was very warm on the day and I would have struggled with my very long hair. Laura threaded some berries threaded throughout my up-do. My shoes were my something old – a trusted pair of gold Jimmy Choos called Lance. 

The groomsmen wore velvet tux jackets by Hackett with burgundy Tom Ford bow ties. The ushers wore braces in a burgundy colour from ASOS with navy Tom Ford bow ties. All bow ties were presents from my husband to his friends. The bridesmaids wore Vera Wang White dresses in burgundy with navy sashes. The sashes were made out of the ribbon that I purchased in Hong Kong.

My husband bought his Dolce and Gabbana three piece tux in Singapore, it was perfect for the magical, elegant affair that we both envisioned. All the boys had herbs and berries boutonnieres. 

Amy Murrell was our photographer, we chose Amy for her ability to capture the moment and emotions. Deneemotion filmed the day.

To entertain arriving guests and for the ceremony we had the local duo of musicians playing harp and flute. For the cocktails and the party we had the English band “Tomorrow” – the guys were absolutely fantastic!! For our first dance the band played our favourite song “I won’t give up” by Jason Mraz. 

Living in South East Asia, Neil and I very much missed cooler European woodlands, hence the choice of venue and the date. Actually, when I chose beautiful Chateau Rigaud having found it online, I had never been to France. As I love wine and cheese I was always going to love it so I was not worried. The stunningly restored Chateau had it all – the history, the vineyards, the forest and the extremely capable team who runs it. 

My florist Heidi Lee is part of the brilliant Rigaud team and brought the heart of the woodland into our decor with elegance and finesse. I did not want to have a colour scheme as such; I wanted big blooms in pastel colours as focal points with foraged foliage from the surrounding forest, as well as grasses and berries. We used David Austen roses and hydrangeas in blushes, nudes and taupes with foliage that was mostly green with hints of autumnal colours. The bouquets were also a reflection of the woodland theme. 

A real emphasis was put on the meaning of herbs and the wishes for the the bride and groom – through the confetti bar. Guests were invited to fill their own confetti cones prior the service based on wishes they would like to send to us. 

During our outdoor ceremony we had a couple of props – the rug we stood on is now in our home in Hong Kong and is a daily reminder of our beautiful day and the vows we took. The slim elegant table for the candle ceremony was provided by the chateau. We also had a stunning floral chandelier hanging from one of the trees outside – with roses, berries, grass and ivy trails, which made for a very beautiful backdrop. 

Our celebrant was our best friend Luke, who did outstanding job conducting the ceremony and being such a rock for Neil and I during it. The words and order for the Ceremony were all done by me. The readings we had were “On Marriage”, from the Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran, “A Moment of Happiness” by Rumi and a fun piece by Louise Cuddon “I’ll be there for you”.

Instead of a traditional guest book, we asked our guests to sign the border of an antique Hong Kong travelling poster which we brought from Hong Kong; this now framed and hangs in our apartment.  

The barn had hessian runners, chandeliers with roses, berries and ivy again and wine crates for centrepieces with foliage and flowers. The look we were going for was a sense of a forest clearing on a starry night – over the dance floor we had hundreds of twinkly lights. 

My advice is to put your heart and soul into what is most important to the couple, on the big day all the little things will come together and make for the most memorable day of your lives. Think of the overall look and feel of the wedding and stick with it. When you wake up on the day of your wedding remember to enjoy every second of it!!

Above all, we wanted our wedding to be enjoyable for our guests – we had phenomenal food and free bar for everyone to enjoy. And of course great music! With eco consciousness in mind, both Neil and I wanted to keep paper usage to a minimum. As such, the menus and seating plan were written on chalkboards by the local calligrapher. Instead of place cards we had our guests names written on tree leaves. 

For most of our wedding stationery I used Etsy. Our Save the Dates were designed and printed in California, the invitations in Germany and our Order of Service was designed with the help of my husband’s brother and printed in London. 


Photography by Amy Murrell
Venue Chateau Rigaud, France | Dress Bella by Watters | Shoes Jimmy Choo | Groom’s outfit Dolce & Gabbana | Hair Laura Cawte | Florist Heidi Lee at Chateau Rigaud | Bow Ties Tom Ford | Bridesmaid dresses Vera Wang | Videographer Deneemotion.

Author: Lauren Gautier-Ollerenshaw
Lolly is a self-professed frustrated florist and styling maven with an endless passion for all things pretty.

14 thoughts on “The Heart Of The Woodland.

  1. Ummm WOW.

    I don’t think there’s anything that I don’t love about this wedding.

    What a beautiful, beautiful day.

    Fern x

  2. I love Chateau Riguard, such a stunning venue and was the perfect back frop for Neil and Elena – congrats on such an elegant do. Love me a bit of Tom Ford and D&G (tres swish) and so pleased you found your perfect frock (and with such ease in the end!)

    I know i am biased (!!!), but weddings in Europe (France especially!!) are just something else!!!

    Love the confetti bar too, hope you stay on your happy cloud for a lifetime

    xxx

    1. There’s something so chic about weddings in Europe isn’t there Nicola – I think it’s a combination of provincial charm and the soft light which makes everyone and everything look so beautiful!

  3. What a beautiful day! I love outdoor ceremonies, especially those set under a tree – such a warming idea that you are exchanging promises to love each other under a wise old being.

    Every time I read about a couple choosing one of their friends to be the celebrant, it makes me so happy and to be honest a bit relieved! We have gone this route almost by accident after having our hearts set on an outdoors wedding which apparently in the UK isn’t a valid way to commit yourselves legally! We have asked a friend to carry out the ceremony and have the legal bit done a few months before – I am slightly nervous that the family won’t be happy with this non-legally binding wedding, but I know for me personally that that moment with my loved one will be so much more special for having a close friend carry it out. I know there is the option of the Humanist ceremony, but this idea just completely grabbed hold of us and my husband to be got so excited at the prospect of having a mate wed us 🙂

    1. Hi Alexia!

      I have just read your comment and wanted to give you a bit of insight as my husband (!) and I have just returned from France where we hosted the same type of ceremony as Neil and Elena – it was outside, under a tree with a beautiful chandelier and a friend was our celebrant.

      I can honestly not recommend having a friend as a celebrant enough. Our ceremony was super special – both for Jacko and I and all our nearest and dearest who were with us on the day.

      We had SO many compliments and exclaims of “wow that was amazing, that was so personal, that was the most emotional ceremony we have ever experienced… (and many more of that elk)” which was HUGELY down to our celebrant friend, Vicky being completely AMAZING but also because as you say it was more special having someone you both love marrying you!! Our friend was faultless: she didn’t get any nervous giggles or blub her way through the proceedings (she was very nervous she would do both), most importantly she didn’t “try” and be someone she wasn’t – she was herself and when she got to the part where she spoke about how the three of us were friends and then the bit about Jack and I as a couple, i honestly don’t know how someone who doesn’t know you can do it with such sentiment (not taking away from anyone who doesn’t have friend/family as a celebrant – its a very personal choice).

      We wrote an outline of what we wanted and sent it to Vicky. She then tweaked and filled in the gaps. We said that we didn’t want to see the bits that she was going to write or see the final tweaks as it was SO AMAZING to hear it for the first time on the day – it really was amazing.

      Also, the skeptics, don’t worry about them! My parents never uttered a word about whether or not they thought it was a naff idea or not (bless them, they were actually awesome like that throughout the whole planning) – but i think deep down they were a bit skeptical about how “real” our wedding in France was going to feel. We ended up doing our legal bit in Vegas (2 weeks before) and i can honestly say we didn’t feel any different but after we had out wedding, in france with our friends and family and where we made our promises, said our vows, had readings, signed our promises with our mums as witnesses – any skeptics GOT IT. Like a eureka moment – there was no doubt that what we had all experiences meant the world to me and jack as a couple and to everyone as our friends and family.

      There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Again, Vicky was amazing, such a pro and many people asked if she would marry them (not in a proposal way, as a celebrant!! ha ha) – maybe that was the whiskey speaking at the end of the night, but in all seriousness, i am sooooo happy for you. I would defo recommend writing an outline that you would like to stick to and then trust your friend to tailor and personalise and enjoy it on the day!

      Good luck and congrats on your engagement
      xxx

      1. Thank you so much Nicola for all your amazing and beautiful insight!! I read your comment out loud to my other half and we both had massive smiles on our faces at the end of it! Your friend sounds like an absolutely fantastic celebrant. We will definitely follow your advice about the outline but keeping a lot of it a surprise for the day! Also I’m so relieved to read that people “got it” – I’ve had a couple of “Oh, that’s quirky!” or “That sounds eccentric!” comments so far and they’ve made me wonder if people will be distracted by their perception of it being outlandish on the day… but you’ve utterly reassured me!

        And Vegas… excuse me, I have to go find my fiance right now and look up flight prices.

        xxx

        1. ha ha – yay to Elvis and Vegas!!!

          So pleased that you and your future hubster feel reassured, sounds like those smiles did all the reassuring you need though – you know in your heart of hearts it’s right for you guys. Its your day, your way remember (other real bride, Sarah wrote about that in her final post a few weeks ago – she is totally right!).

          Do you know what, I suppose it can appear a bit eccentric and a bit quirky, but not at the cost of being totally sentimental, utterly romantic and absolutely fantastic – how awesome is it that you will have a ceremony that is all of those things 🙂

          Best of luck, hope to hear how it goes on here one day

          xxx

  4. Thank you Rock my Wedding for publishing our Big Day!

    Ladies thank you so much for your lovely comments! X

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