Thursday 28 May 2015

My Secret Garden Wedding in a Provence Chateau - The Ceremony

As promised, I'm marking our fourth wedding anniversary by republishing our photographs from our French wedding. It's crazy how quickly the time has gone! Although this wasn't our legal wedding, it's the one that felt most real. We invited ninety of our closest friends and family out to Provence for a three day party, and I loved every minute. As a wedding blogger, I spent many days agonising over which theme to choose. In the end our stunning venue, with its walled grounds, led me to pick a Secret Garden theme, and a colour palette of soft grey, dusky pink and sage green. We had a key motif which appeared on all the invitations, place markers, programmes and pashmina favour tags. There were endless wedding details, all captured perfectly by our brilliant wedding photographer Chloé from Caught the Light and my friend Jemma Harding Photography. Four years on, it's true what they say - your pictures are the lasting memories of your wedding day, so it's worth hiring the best.

We celebrated our wedding on 28th May 2011 in a tiny French village called Puyricard, just outside Aix-en-Provence. We hired a private house called Château Grimaldi for three days.

We really wanted a garden wedding, where we spent most of the day outside. In England, the weather is too much of a risk, so we chose a destination wedding in France. We'd spent several holidays together in the south of France, so the area around Aix felt like the right choice, even though we didn't have any particular link to the city.

I spent hours and hours researching different venues online, and eventually narrowed it down to four equally beautiful venues. But as soon as we arrived at Château Grimaldi I got goosebumps - this was definitely 'the one'!

It had the most incredible swimming pool, set among the ruins of the old house, and a stunning little chapel in the grounds, where we could hold our marriage ceremony.

The walled gardens inspired me to choose a secret garden theme, with a key motif. The venue was so beautiful, we didn't need many more decorations - we just added white bunting and DIY'd tissue pompoms, plus huge clouds of baby's breath. Our colour palette was soft grey, dusky pink and sage green.

My dress was designed by Delphine Manivet. I found it really difficult to choose a gown, but I felt gorgeous on the day. Shortly after buying the dress, I had huge buyer's remorse. I'd never intended to spend that much, but after trying on dozens of cheaper dresses, and even travelling to New York in my quest, I kept coming back to the 'Anatole'. 

It also felt appropriate to be wearing a French designer's dress to my Provence wedding, and I loved the little train, tiny buttons and pretty tie back.

My shoes were Halston Heritage, a bargain buy from The Outnet. I loved the touch of gold glamour, and I stuck 'I Do stickers' to the soles, as a secret 'something blue'.

I kept my jewellery very simple - just my usual diamond studs, and my engagement ring. My 'something new' was a Tiffany key that my sister gave me on the morning of my wedding - it fitted perfectly with my Secret Garden theme. 

I had my hair done by a local hairdresser, Joel at Kératine in Aix-en-Provence. I took him a whole load of pictures, and he recreated the look perfectly. There were a lot of pins hidden inside! I did my own make-up, using Chanel products recommended by a make-up artist friend of mine - Julia Bowden. See her blog post on the best bridal beauty products here.

Delphine Manivet gave me one of her stunning cathedral-length veils as a present. It's beautiful - edged with handmade Calais lace, and it paired beautifully with my simple gown. I've saved it as a family heirloom.

We DIY'd all our own wedding stationery, which saved me a fortune. We chose a font called 'English', and made sure we used it for everything. I bought grey card from Paperchase, and printed out the order of service on my computer. We then tied it with grey and white baker's twine, and stamped the keys with a special punch. Time-consuming but easy!

I was determined not to turn into bridezilla, and I couldn't afford to buy my five bridesmaids dresses, so instead I asked them to pick a dress of their choosing in soft grey. This was a fatal decision! None of their dresses were the same shade of grey, so it didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped. If I had my time again, I would have insisted on the same dress!

We decorated the church with hundreds of candles from Ikea, and florists vases filled with baby's breath, bought from a market that morning by our amazing wedding planner, Kerry from Lavender & Rose Weddings.

I walked down the aisle to Pachelbel's Canon in D Major. We hired an amazing string quartet called Quatuor St Jean to play during our ceremony, and for two hours of the champagne reception. They added so much atmosphere to the day - I really recommend live music, if your budget allows.

We chose a local florist called Stéphane Tévenin to create our wedding flowers. The buttonholes were simple little clouds of baby's breath, tied with sage green gosgrain ribbon I ordered from the US! My husband's included a little vintage key, in keeping with our theme.

We wrote our own wedding ceremony, following the lines of the traditional church service, but with less prayers and hymns. You can read all the details in my blog post.

We walked back up the aisle as man and wife to The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba by Handel. It's such a celebratory piece of music, and it's one of my favourites. 

Our wedding florist provided us with petals for confetti. It's worth choosing brightly coloured confetti, because it shows up better in the photographs!

I can't even remember how I found Chloé from Caught the Light, but she was our best decision ever! It's scary when you book your wedding photographer, because it's often one of the first wedding things you do, and it's an expensive step. Chloé was worth every penny.

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