Friday 29 May 2015

My Secret Garden Wedding in a Provence Chateau - The Reception

Our wedding reception passed in a flash! I think every bride and groom feels that their big day passes too quickly, partly because you have to step away at one stage for your wedding photographs. We were thrilled with our portraits by Chloé from Caught the Light, and it's definitely worth making time for your photographer. You'll see in this blog post, all the little extras that I added to personalise our big day. We chose a Secret Garden theme, as we hosted our reception in an historic walled garden. Our colour palette was soft grey, pink and sage green, and I chose a key motif, which appeared on all the stationery, place-markers and we gave each guest a vintage key as a wedding favour. I bought grey and white striped straws, and made little drinks flags to go in our signature cocktails. Looking back - I can't believe how many details I managed to squeeze into one day! These are the reception pictures, you can see the ceremony pictures here.

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.

The walled gardens inspired me to choose a secret garden theme, with a key motif. Our colour palette was soft grey, dusky pink and sage green.

We chose a local florist called Stéphane Tévenin to create our wedding flowers. My wedding bouquet was a massive bunch of pink peonies, tied tightly together with white ribbon. My sister gave me a Tiffany key on the morning of our wedding, and I sewed it into the bouquet.

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.

My husband wore a linen suit we bought from a shop in Bicester Village in Oxforshire. It was a huge bargain! He teamed it with one of his white work shirts, and a grey and white striped tie from Mr Start in Shoreditch.

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.

The venue was so beautiful, we didn't need many more decorations - we just added white bunting, large white helium balloons, DIY'd tissue pompoms, and huge clouds of baby's breath. 

We placed garden games around the reception area to keep our guests occupied, while the grazed on canapés, champagne, and our signature cocktail Georgia Peach Bellini. 

We saved pennies by buying all our champagne and wine from a local supplier, La Cave Aixoise {Puyricard: 04 42 92 06 83} discovered by our wedding planner, Kerry from Lavender & Rose Weddings. She saved us a fortune! 

We had tonnes of DIY projects. We were on a budget, but I was determined to have as many wedding details as possible. The wedding stationery, the fortune teller menus, the white pompoms, the place cards, the programmes - everything! 

As a wedding present, my sister bought me a polaroid camera and a beautiful album. We encouraged all our guests to take a shot of themselves and write a message in the book.

Our table plan was a bit of a last minute decision. It's an Ikea frame, with vintage vegetable wrapping paper, and handprinted lists. I named all the tables after vegetables, in keeping with our garden theme, and created the table plan on the morning of our wedding!

My husband's brother made all our wooden signs, and our lovely wedding planner, Kerry, bought and arranged the baby's breath for the chapel. My family and bridesmaids and their lovely boyfriends helped decorate the venue, and I'm eternally grateful for their pompom pouffing, candle placing and bunting hanging.

We were so lucky with the weather - it was warm enough to eat outside, and our incredible wedding caterers, Marrou, provided everything we needed for a sit-down dinner.

I tried to keep the budget for our wedding flowers down as much as possible, by choosing all white blooms. These were put in a mixture of tiny vases. I chose white peonies and roses, along with cheaper hydrangeas and baby's breath. I couldn't have been more thrilled with our florist, Stéphane Tévenin

I bought grey and white striped straws, and made little drinks flags out of grey gosgrain ribbon to go in our signature cocktails - it's an easy DIY - check out my blogpost on drink flags here.

For place-markers I bought little blank wood tags and stamped them with the name of each guest using a roller stamp. I printed keys with a stamp on the other side. The napkins were tied with green gosgrain ribbon.

Our wedding favours were a labour of love! Every person had a vintage key and a fortune teller at their table place. The fortune tellers contained fun facts about me and my husband, and folded inside was the dinner menu. You can read the blog post on how to DIY fortune tellers here.

Everyone also had an envelope containing an invitation to the drinks party the next day, and a fake stick-on moustache. The moustaches were a hilarious ice-breaker - we had everyone wearing them by the end of dinner. 

We also gave all the girls grey pashminas at the start of dinner to ward off any chill. I managed to find a job-lot of them on eBay! We wrapped these in white ribbon, with a key tag. Everyone also had an envelope containing an invitation to the drinks party the next day, and a fake stick-on moustache. The moustaches were a hilarious ice-breaker - we had everyone wearing them by the end of dinner. 

I didn't enjoy the whole process of planning my wedding. I got really stressed at times. The evil Icelandic ash cloud nearly ruined the wedding by stopping all flights out of London, but luckily it stopped spouting ash just in time. Also we had problems with the owner of our venue {who has now sold the Chateau}. 

That said, planning my wedding was also a fantastic experience. I discovered a creative side to myself which I didn't even know existed, and my husband discovered he is very good at making pompoms!

My advice to brides planning their big day? Read the wedding blogs! Scroll through tonnes and tonnes of real weddings and save pictures or make notes about your favourite wedding ideas and details. Then try to narrow them down to one unifying theme or colour palette. Then get creative! You'll be amazed at how much fun it is doing wedding DIY projects. Rope all your friends and family in to help you out, and try to stay organised. 

Finally, have a real think about how to make sure you enjoy our wedding day. You don't want to have a headache or a tummy-ache, or to be worrying about when the caterers are going to arrive, or to forget to eat. If necessary, hire someone to coordinate your wedding day. But make sure you enjoy yourself!

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