Monday 17 February 2014

A Rustic French Wedding with a Flower Market Theme & Three Wedding Dresses

I've been waiting and wanting to publish this incredible wedding for MONTHS!! I know when a wedding planner gets married, that it's going to be a pretty special affair - but when that wedding planner happens to have been MY wedding planner, my excitement level goes through the roof! Kerry Bracken started her fabulous business, Lavender & Rose Weddings in the South of France, just before I got married. I was one of her first clients, and it was clear from the start that she was going to be hugely successful. Creative and efficient, Kerry is the best in the industry, and I can't recommend her enough. As soon as I heard she'd got engaged, I shot over an email asking to feature her wedding on Before the Big Day, because I knew it would be incredible. In fact, it's so good, that I've had to divide it into not two, but three separate features - not least because Kerry wore three different wedding gowns. I'll let Kerry's answers to the Before the Big Day Bride's Questionnaire speak for themselves, but suffice to say, my favourite details are Kerry's stylish birdcage veil, her brilliant coral nails {every detail matters!}, the cute 2CV wedding transport {so French, so vintage, so perfect!}, and Greg's super-smart outfit from The Kooples. Big love also to Alban Pichon for his AH-mazing wedding photographs. Don't miss Part 2 and Part 3 of this amazing wedding.

We celebrated our wedding on 13 September 2012, with two ceremonies - a civil ceremony in the town hall {the only legally recognised type of ceremony in France}, followed by a symbolic outdoor ceremony at the a Provencal villa called Bastide St Mathieu, in Grasse.

I had three wedding dresses - all from Minna. My first gown is called Nadine, and it's a cream, vintage-inspired, short lace dress with pink floral belt detail, short sleeved cream vintage inspired fitted lace dress with pink floral belt detail. I wanted a short dress to contrast with my official wedding dress, and also something I might wear again.

Minna was the perfect wedding dress designer for me. I love their vintage-y, reasonably priced gowns, and they're all made of light fabrics - important in the heat of the South of France! It was also important to me to find an up-and-coming designer, with a similar sense of style and aesthetic to me.

My wedding shoes were brightly coloured, with bright pink sole, from Italian designer Luciano Padovan

For our civil ceremony I chose a birdcage veil with pearl and diamanté clasp from Minna. I kept my hair in loose curls, and my friend and colleague Sophie Kililan did my makeup - retro style thick black eye-liner and a bit of pale pink gloss. 

I also wanted really long eyelashes so I went for false ones. I had bright orange / coral colour nails too. I love bright colours! 

We hired a vintage, blue Citroen 2CV car to take me to the civil ceremony with my two friends, Devon and Lizzy, and then the same car took Gregory and I to our main wedding venue.

As a wedding planner in the South of France, {Lavender & Rose Weddings} I knew all my favourite wedding suppliers - many of whom are great friends. The venue, our florist, and our wedding photographer are all great people who I've recommended to my brides.

Gregory wore an amazing three-piece suite, and a smart shirt from The Kooples in dark blue. I loved his smart waist coat and pocket chain, and his dark blue tie {also from The Kooples}. Gregory's shoes came from Zara as he never wears shoes - he's more of a trainers man - and he didn’t want to spend a lot on them. 

Our wedding florist was Wayne Riley. Wayne is one of my favourite wedding vendors. I practically only work with two florists when I plan weddings for my clients in the South of France and he is one of the two. 

Wayne knows me so well and I knew 100% I could trust him with what was for me THE most important part of the wedding. I love flowers and think they should have an important role in the styling of a wedding. I wanted the flowers to take centre stage, and I knew Wayne would not disappoint but would exceed my expectations, which he certainly did.

My bouquet for the civil ceremony was a simple selection of stunning mixed roses, in pastel colours. The buttonholes were made out of yellow craspedia and lavender.  

In France, the civil ceremony is a very short affair. The mayor recites the civil code relating to marriage, and the bride and groom say 'Oui, je le veux', to indicate they accept the civil code. 

They then sign the marriage register and are given a 'Livret de Famille' – a booklet with lots of empty pages to fill with the names of the bride and groom's future or current children! France is still very much a Catholic country, and has one of the highest birth rates in Europe behind Ireland so there is lots of emphasis on family in the civil code relating to marriage. 

The civil ceremony held at the local Town Hall is the only legally recognised type of ceremony in France, which is why most couples do a second ceremony. This is either in a church or other place of worship, or a symbolic one like ours {this is not at all the norm but is becoming more popular}.

Gregory and I met in Cannes, in France, in January 2006 while I was on a year abroad from university, teaching English in a high school. We met in a bar called Sun7 on the dance floor – both cutting some crazy shapes! The bar was at the time owned by one of our dear friends Thomas - who was DJ at our wedding.

We then bumped into each other several times in Cannes, and eventually met up for a proper date. Getting to the date point was not all that easy because of the language barrier - but we got there in the end! I had to go back to the UK to finish my final year at university in September 2006 which was a really really hard separation. I spent most of my student loan that year on Easyjet! 

In June 2007, the day after my last exams, I moved to be with Greg, and we've been together ever since! I got a job in a luxury event management company in Cannes a few weeks after my move, and then set up my own wedding planning company a few years later. We've now been together for seven years.

We hosted our symbolic wedding ceremony and reception at Bastide St Mathieu in Grasse. The first time I visited the venue was for my work as a wedding planner, way before I was engaged. But I knew that if {when!} Greg and I were to get married, it would be there. 

I fell in love with the rustic charm of the venue - the blue Provencal style shutters, the exposed stonework, the fig trees and olive groves, the stunning pool, the huge bedrooms and eclectic interior design. Its location is also super practical at only 30 minutes from Cannes where I live. The owners - Bill and Soraya - are a British couple, and lovely people.

Our wedding photographer Alban Pichon is not only one of my favourite vendors, but a real friend - I love his pictures of our wedding. 

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