For Sukey and Johnny, who live in London, a wedding in France ticked many boxes for them and allowed them to express their creativity and love of doing things differently. Read about their wonderful celebration in the sun – oh, and the gorgeous pix? They’re taken by the fabulously talented Caroline Nilson.
One really important thing for me was for our wedding day not to be that traditional wedding afternoon/evening, for all that planning, time and money to be over within a flash. I wanted to be able to spread that special time across a few days at least. With England being its normal pricey self, we didn’t think we could achieve what we wanted to within our budget so we started looking further afield. A private house was going to be the way forward for our perfect place but we wanted to keep it accessible for our guests travel to and for it to have that holiday feeling about it.
We started our search online and found a great looking French chateau just south of the Loire Valley. It looked like a good size for accommodating as many guests as possible and was affordable too. Johnny and I took two trips over to the chateau for planning before the wedding but we knew on our first visit to Chateau St Julien L’ars that it was the perfect place for us and our close family and friends to spend a long wedding weekend in the sunshine!
I found my dress in the first boutique we went to. I knew it was the one for me. I’m pretty obsessed with clothes and fashion and have been since a little girl so although I didn’t have my heart set on a big white dress initially, I knew what I liked, what suited me and reflected me. My dress was by the designer Lusan Mandongus. I loved the way in which the dress looked almost couture-like in the detailing. There were beautiful wide lace straps echoing the lace covering the dress and all over the bottom of the skirt were huge handmade georgette lace rosettes. It was classic in its ivory colour and lace fabric, but it had this really unusual twist in its finishing details. I wore simple pearl earrings necklace and had wedding shoes with a silk rose bud on each foot.
I work in London for Paul Smith and Johnny is a design teacher in a secondary school close to where we live. We met nearly ten years ago when Johnny had first started teaching and I was on my Art Foundation course. Johnny has waited a long time for me to be ready for marriage and I’m so pleased he did
Our vision for the day was just to have a beautiful and very relaxed wedding that brought together family and close friends for a mini weekend in the French sunshine. We wanted to have great food, good music, plenty of wine and lots of contented happy guests.
It was a huge thing to organise but all in all I think we achieved what we set out to do and I know that all the guests had a fantastic weekend away. On our invitations we invited our guests to our ‘French Wedding Adventure’ and it certainly lived up to its name!
The day before the wedding, my mum, sisters and I went on a flower sourcing mission to the local towns market, we came back with some beautiful flowers and along with some amazing hydrangeas that we had permission to use from the 56 acre gardens, my very talented mum, sisters and mother-in-law created our beautiful bouquets, decorated the 6 flights of stair banisters and made the pretty little table centres. We cut expensive corners were we could by using talented family and friends to do things that you would pay professional lots of money to do no better. My bouquet was mainly a mixture of white roses and hydrangeas in colours that ranged from white to very pale pink and green. My bridesmaids, Chloe and Tora, wore dresses we found from a high street store that were strapless dresses in pink and blue floral with the fabric having a lace finish. They went perfectly with my dress and picked up the floral and lace aspects of my dresses design.
The floral décor was perfect for the style of the wedding. Nothing looked too stiff or ordinary; it was all very free and sat perfectly in the setting of the chateau and its gardens. We had a ‘look’ which ran through from my dress to the bridesmaid dresses and flowers and into the ribbons for the napkin rings and pretty white table centres, but apart from that it wasn’t a traditionally matching and themed wedding. All elements were considered and thought about but we didn’t become too rigid in what we wanted.
We decided on a menu that reflected the laid back style of the wedding and didn’t have anything too formal. After the ceremony and instead of traditional canapés we had fresh crepes cooked on the terrace with a choice of sweet fillings. It was a fun little, typically French, thing that Johnny and I had wanted to do since we first booked the chateau 14 months before the day.
Words of Wisdom
Do exactly what you want to do and don’t feel like you should do traditional things.
If you do take on a DIY wedding like Johnny and I did I would advise you to hire in a wedding planner type person to take control on the actual wedding day.