Tuesday 18 February 2014

A Rustic French Wedding with a Flower Market Theme - The Second Ceremony

I can't tell you how excited I am to bring you the second part of this incredible wedding. The lovely Kerry Bracken runs her own wedding planning company called Lavender & Rose Weddings in the South of France, so her big day was always going to be pretty special, but in truth, it's slightly blown my mind! Kerry hosted her wedding in Grasse, famous for its history of making perfumes, so she chose a French flower market theme, featuring tonnes {and tonnes} of flowers, plus plenty of vintage perfume bottles. You wait till you see the abundance of flowers and vegetables, and the incredible ceremony venue - set in a French olive grove - it's amazing! I love so many of Kerry's wedding details, it's hard to pick, but I'd start with her pretty flower-accessorised up-do, her Dad's cool floral shirt, her bridesmaids' flower crowns, and the lovely vintage bench that Kerry and her groom, Gregory, sat on during their ceremony. Enjoy these stunning photographs by Alban Pichon, and be sure to click back later today for the fabulous reception details. Don't miss Part 1 and Part 3 of this gorgeous 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 live in Cannes in the South of France and most of my husband’s family do as well. My English and Irish family love the South of France and I knew they would jump at the chance of coming to a wedding in France. The South of France is just the most perfect location for a wedding with fantastic food, stunning scenery and beautiful weather. The French Riviera being THE place for parties and luxury entertaining has some of the finest wedding vendors in France.

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.

I had three wedding dresses - all from Minna. One for the civil ceremony, one for the symbolic ceremony, and one for the dancing party. My second dress for the symbolic ceremony was the Jada gown - a maxi-length, vintage-inspired, ivory silk dress with lace paneling.

My third wedding dress was the Pippa gown. It's a cute, fun, lace dress with mid-length sleeves, and a nice full skirt that twirls when you dance! I wanted another short dress for the dancing party so I could dance freely.

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.

For my hair-style, I chose a low elongated bun, decorated with lots of flowers. I added a tulle and vintage lace, short veil from Minna.

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! 

I had three little flower girls. Their dresses were from Zara - a real bargain and the colours of the floral pattern matched the flower market theme of our wedding perfectly. My mother-in-law found them, and knew straight away they would be perfect - and they were!   

The bridesmaids also wore cute floral crowns to match their dresses. Our three little pageboys wore bow ties and grey trousers.

I didn't have a maid of honour as such, but two of my best friends Devon and Lizzy were my right-hand women on the day, and got ready with me at the venue. They also stayed over with me the night before, and helped me get all of the last minute touches ready. Devon did a reading at the ceremony which she wrote herself, and Lizzy {Parks} who is a singer / songwriter, performed at my drinks reception with my dad accompanying on the guitar. 

Our symbolic ceremony was held in the gardens of our wedding venue amongst the olive groves. The ceremony was conducted in French and English by a bilingual Pastor / professional wedding celebrant called Peter Madan. The ceremony followed a similar format to that of a Christian protestant ceremony but had a lot less religious content.

Our ceremony was just perfect, so personal and moving. Much more personal than any church ceremony, and having it conducted in French and English meant that all guests understood everything perfectly. An outdoor symbolic ceremony is not the normal type of ceremony to have in France so it was a real first for many of the French guests.

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 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 I wanted them to take centre stage at my wedding, and I knew Wayne would exceed my expectations, which he certainly did!

The ceremony was the most important part of the wedding day for me so I wanted to make it the focal point of the styling and décor. I wanted it to look like a real life French farmer's market and flower market. Wayne used a mixture of cut flowers in vases, plats in pots and even some vegetables and aromatic herbs, carefully arranged to add to the look. He used a mix of zinc and ceramic pots along with rustic wooden crates.

I went to the professional flower market in Nice with Wayne a few weeks before our wedding, and hand-picked all of the flowers and plants. I chose a huge variety of seasonal blooms from sunflowers, heather, gerbera, baby’s breath, baby rose plants, blue and white delphinium and celosia.

It was really easy for us to decide what song I was going to walk down the aisle to; it was one of our favourite songs 'La Ritournelle' by French artist Sébastien Tellier. I knew I wanted a live version of it so turned to a band I book regularly for my clients; a group called Spyglass from Nice. 

The boys did an amazing version with keys, percussion, guitar and bass. I fought back the tears all the way down the aisle on the arm of my dad. It was such a beautiful moment that I remember actually saying out loud to my dad while we were walking towards Gregory that I didn't want it to end. It also made lots of the guests cry! 

We used a dressing table for the altar and a white iron garden bench for Gregory and I to sit at facing our guests. We also had a wrought iron paravent, decorated with trailing greenery behind the altar.

The boys from Spyglass also played a song for Greg to come down the aisle with his mum 'Feeling Good' by Nina Simone. It's tradition in France for the groom to have his own processional on the arm of him mother before the bride's processional. 

They played 'Something in the Way She Moves' by James Taylor during the signing of the wedding certificate and a Vampire Weekend song 'A Punk' for the recessional! We spontaneously danced back up the aisle, as it's one of our favourite groups. Spyglass really did the song justice. 

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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