Monday, 14 June 2010

My Wedding - The Venue

This is where I tell you all about planning my own wedding. After all, if I'm publishing all these Real Weddings, it's only fair I share my trials and tribulations. Read the rest of my wedding diary here.

So we'd established we wanted to get married in Provence, now all we needed was a venue. SO much easier said than done! For any  newly engaged couples out there who haven't done this yet, there are two options. If you can afford it, I'd recommend hiring a planner to find your venue for you. They'll do a fabulous job of noting down all the attributes you want, and then they'll create a booklet of the best venues in the area, show you around all of them in one day, and bada bing, you're booked. No stress, no angst, no pain. I even found a company that would do this for me called Dites Moi Oui. They sent me an example of one of their booklets, and it was amazing, with every detail you'd want, including floor plans - I mean wow!

The downside is they charge you about £800 for the pleasure, and in our constant aim to spend less, not more, I decided to take on the challenge myself. It started off fun, at least for the first couple of months. Then it become less fun, as it appeared that what I wanted didn't exist. Or at least, we couldn't afford what I wanted. The budget monster raised its ugly head again, along with a nagging uncertainty of whether to go for a charming farmhouse with lavender shutters {unpretentious, sweet, cheap, unmemorable???} or a beautiful chateau with turrets {pretentious and expensive, but with a real feeling of occasion}. Should we take it for a week, or just one night? Where exactly should it be {Provence is quite a large area}? Many nights were spent surfing the net, and tearing out hair.

This lasted till April - yup, four months. I reckon I looked at every single edifice in Provence, from a shack to a castle. And then, with only four weeks till our recce trip to France, the political campaigning for the British General Election started, and I was swamped at work {my day job is at BBC Radio 4}. So when it came to two days before crunch-time, I'd only booked three venues to visit, and all of them were wrong in some way. That's when an angel in the form of Stephanie from Simply Chateau came into my life. I didn't know it at the time, because she seemed to be suggesting venues way out of my league, but she was determined I should visit two of her chateaux. So I gave in (with hours to go till our flight), and let her book the appointments.

Provence was gorgeous. It reassured us as to why we'd decided to celebrate our wedding there, and we had a truly fabulous weekend of food and wine, and a little too much driving. We visited my venues first {see the list below}, and in the end only one of Stephanie's chateau. As it happens, my discoveries had a lot going for them, and I'd recommend them to everyone, they just weren't right for us. But Stephanie's chateau was The One. At one point, we stopped to admire the view from one of the terraces {yes, it has many!}, and I might have got little tears in my eyes. But don't hold it against me, because the place really is perfect, and I promise, I'm not turning into one of those wet and weepy brides.

We decided to take it for three days, as it made more economic sense than one night or one week, and it means that we'll have the weekend wedding we always wanted. It's a private house rather than a hotel, and it has 11 bedrooms, which means closest family, and my bridesmaids can be on hand for moral support and on-the-day jobs! It was over-budget, but we've had no post-booking remorse, it was perfect, and we'll just cut back in other areas. No pics I'm afraid, because we want to keep it a surprise for our guests, but it has an onsite chapel, pool and tennis court. I'm so excited about it!

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  1. oh my I am positively dying to know which venue you selected!!

  2. I can tell you via email!! xG

  3. Oh you lucky lucky thing - I LOVE Provence!!!

  4. I've just stumbled across your blog and i'm so pleased!!! Yay! I'm dying to know which venue you picked..... I'm getting married at the Mas de la Rose in June, i was sooooo tempted by Chateau de Massillan (OMG turrets!) but it ended up being too far from the village where we live and are getting married...


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