Call me a Francophile, call me a wannabe, but my love of all things French weddings runs deep. Luckily this Bride shares those feelings and set out to plan a destination wedding her guests would remember forever. Once she found the venue, Chateau La Durantie while Internet browsing on her lunch break (see: How to Wedding Plan and Keep a Full-Time Job) the rest fell right into place. Caught The Light came along to capture, and The Vault is your got-to for every last bit.
From The Bride…Sitting here trying to write about the happiest day of my life has created both a mixture of writer’s block and the potential for a novel. There aren’t words to truly describe how incredible you feel the day you wake up and realize you are about to marry your best friend and for all your favorite people in the world to share this with you.
I was never one who dreamed of my wedding as such, but the evening Tim got down on one knee and I realized what was happening after a decade together, I was in shock! Not only for the proposal but at how eventually my inner bride-to-be was unleashed. Working as a Personal Assistant with a background in art, I felt I was fully equipped for the job but wow Wedding Planning in my opinion, is a full time job (especially for you fellow perfectionists out there). What an incredible job it is!
Having shared so much already, both experiences and friends, it was easy for us both to agree on ultimately what the main word for our special day was to be centered around: FUN. We weren’t necessarily interested in themes as such, but I knew in my heart growing up with a mother whose love for flowers was infatuating, that flowers had to be a major star of the show. Spring and the month of May was decided pretty much instantly and off we went, driving around my favorite area of the UK (Devon) and actually where we had got engaged that Boxing Day. We focused ultimately around the idea of the day having the potential to be a long weekend and as I began turning into a Pinterest addict, I realized very quickly how I longed for a romantic and floral wedding in a setting that had grounds and space, but not overly fancy. Nothing seemed to hit the mark until on a fleeting visit, one of Tim’s ushers remarked that he had always imagined us getting married abroad in Europe. Tim and I looked at each other and that was it, Bonjour France! (Tim had lived and worked there for two years whilst I am a full-blown Francophile). A long weekend for our nearest and dearest, guaranteed sun, good food and no stress! (…little did we know!).
When Chateau la Durantie appeared on my screen one lunch break at work I gasped – with only two dates remaining that year, we secured our May Bank Holiday weekend without even visiting! When we did visit a few weeks later, it was love. The Chateau (I felt like Belle from Beauty and the Beast when we entered), the stunning grounds, vineyards, it was perfect. We could totally envisage the garden party style setting that felt like a home from home (the accommodation on site hosts up to around 45!). The planning from them on in terms of colors, décor, flowers, small touches was easy. The building and grounds were so stunning I did not want to be overly fussy and fight with its beauty, but compliment it. Lisa from French Flower Style just knew exactly what my mother and I were thinking when we talked flowers: lily of the valley made up my whole bouquet and was heavily featured all over the venue and in our marquee. I kept the color simple, just white and green and well, romantically fresh I guess? We had stunning displays wrapped around the marquee poles and clusters of spring flowers placed in vases all over. When we walked into the marquee the smell was incredible and I can honestly say it was unbelievably stunning. Lisa really was my flower godmother. I kept the tables classic again with mirrored centre pieces, sprigs of rosemary, and stationery in grey and white with hand written calligraphy place cards. We had small mirror hearts hanging on the chairs and small crystals to echo to beautiful marquee chandeliers dotted around too.
Coupled with flowers and an open bar (ha!), from very early on in the planning stage photography was an incredibly important element for us. I had stumbled across Chloe Browne pretty much within week one and had fallen in love with her stunning style of capturing emotions, details, just love in general. When we met up I fell in love even more. Both Tim and I are not the most naturally relaxed in front of the camera, so not only did we want that perfect person to capture our story, but to also laugh with us and feel like a friend. Chloe did not only do that, but also kept our spirits high and smiles beaming through the bad luck we had with weather. The day before the wedding when we had to set up, it was pretty much a monsoon. The day of our wedding started with cloud and then rain. However, I want to reassure you brides-to-be that this does not mean disaster! No lie, we had not prepped AT ALL for rain, being slightly naïve to the fact that actually the Dordogne region of France is very similar to the UK (rain was likely). My vision of drinks, canapés, garden games and speeches on the grounds was stolen, but this in turn allowed for everyone to stay together, to mingle, laugh and to actually take in the beauty of the Chateau. I also think we have some really unique and special photos with the rain (huge thanks to my wonderful mother for using her head and stocking up on pretty white brollies). I can hand on heart say it did not change anything about the day, I honestly believe it made it even more fun – I don’t think either of us have smiled or laughed more and the whole day I felt like I could burst with love.
I could literally carry on writing and re-living every gorgeous detail from our day, but I will end with some of my favorite and unforgettable moments. Ladies, cherish the one on one intimate moments you share together – I felt like we were the only people in the world when we were sat together with our Priest at the front of the church, it really is magical. Then again when we journeyed from the church to the venue, squashed into our classic car together, champagne in hand, rain lashing down but giggling and feeling on cloud 9 together tucked in the back. Those were the times that I remember so vividly from the day. I also could not believe how calm I was on the day (I put this down to bridesmaid dresses getting lost en route prior to fittings and French Air traffic Control strikes threatening to cause the whole wedding to be unable to attend!) so getting ready with my mum and best friends in the morning really was special. The look on my father’s face when he came to meet me, the FOB speech which had not only me but grown men sobbing, when both Tim and I slipped down the stairs outside of the church, and our first dance to ‘A Sky Full of Stars’ by Coldplay as Tim free-styled to the max and our lack of any pre dance planning showed (I can hands down say it was the best first dance in the history of first dances, thank goodness Tim did not get his way with his suggestion of ‘I’m a Scatman’).
Any advice? Be wise and always have a plan B for rain mainly to avoid last minute stresses in itinerary updates. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – you are going to need it whether you want it or not! Remember, these are literally your most loved friends and family, they will cherish being involved. However do not worry about a thing as whatever happens, it really is the perfect day. And if you do have a mini meltdown the night before? Make sure you have solid bridesmaids like myself equipped with cucumber slices and reassuring words (such as ‘what would Beyonce do?’)
Photography: Caught the Light | Floral Design: Lisa Gatenby | Wedding Dress: Balta | Ceremony Venue: St Thomas Church In Excideuil | Reception Venue: Chateau La Durantie | Bride's Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Dessy Collection By Vivian Diamond | Hair + Makeup: Kerri Langfield | Groom's Attire: Marks & Spencer | Groom's Shirt: Burberry | Groom's Shoes: Faith from Debenhams | Groom's Watch: DW