It sounds so cliché but it was the best day of our lives. 1 Year and 8 months of planning and it was absolutely worth it.
I’m using this post as an opportunity to share with you some of the finer detail from our day and of course some tips we picked up a long the way.
We chose the stunning Chateau de Saint Paul in the South of France. The day we viewed it, we knew immediately it was what we wanted. Set in the glorious Lot countryside it has everything from private accommodation, barn, courtyard, swimming pool and chapel.
The owners Karine and Adrian are amazing, always-on hand to answer any questions and were just super hosts.
Tips for finding the perfect venue
- In my opinion the most important – Is it you? Does it suit your personalities? We viewed a couple of chateaus that were beautiful but very medieval and serious – which neither of us are!
- That’s what blogs and review sites are for. Don’t make a decision until you’ve fully done your research
- If budget allows, visit more than once – you have to get that “feeling”
- Keep an open mind – we visited during off-season so there was a lot of work/renovations taking place. This is often the case so don’t let it put you off. Use your imagination
Most of you by now will have seen some of our pictures from the wedding – yes they’re amazing and I feel very smug about it! We literally cannot recommend Harry Michael enough. We met him at a wedding show post our engagement and fell in love with his style. He is INCREDIBLY talented, so much fun and makes you feel super comfortable around the camera.
Tips for finding the perfect photographer
- Ask to see a real wedding: It’s easy to post the best pictures on social media but what about the rest of the wedding
- Get to know your photographer: It’s so important that you feel comfortable around each other otherwise pictures might not come out how you envisaged
- Delivery and details: how long it will take to receive the pictures post wedding and what rights do you have.
- Book early! The best photographers are booked well in advance – and Harry is!
Quite simply the best investment we made. Planning a wedding is stressful, planning a wedding abroad is very stressful. Both of us have very demanding jobs and we couldn’t have done it to the spec we wanted if it was just left to us! We used Marry Me in France, a full service-planning agency. Our planner was Kris Mundell who absolutely deserves a shout out – the most reliable and consistent support through out the whole process. Everything went to plan on the day and it was down to him and his team.
Tips for finding the perfect planner
- Personalities – similar to finding a photographer. You’re going to be in a regular contact with this person for a long time. It’s important you like each other. Prior to finding Marry Me in France we had initiated conversations with a different planner and it just didn’t work out. Be sure to meet them in person, have skype calls etc before you sign on the dotted line.
- Contract – what are they taking responsibility for? Is it just on the day planning/coordination or will they help with design and logisticsl i.e bringing your vision to life as well as taking care of all the organisational bits. Be absolutely clear on roles and responsibilities. If you decide you can take up more jobs that can help reduce the fee – depending on the planner.
- Experience/Recommendations– how many weddings they’ve done before, have they worked with your venue? Contingency planning experience should for example the weather turn, or a supplier not turn up.
OMG THIS WAS SO MUCH FUN. Fortunately our venue didn’t restrict us in terms of the suppliers we used– this meant we could have any chef we wanted. This also meant a lot of tastings! Food is a big part of our relationship and one aspect we definitely didn’t want to scrimp on. We worked with the amazing Event Kitchen, Wife and Husband, Cat and Presley – who were just a total delight. Cat who mainly acts as chief coordinator and front of house was so good at listening and taking in what exactly we wanted from our day, ensuring no detail was missed (including assisting us on a drinking game mid Mike’s speech!). And well Presley actioned all of it to a high spec!
Our top tips for finding the perfect caterer
- Tasting session: Obvs – this goes without saying, you need to taste the food.
- Experience:/Recommendations: have they done many weddings before, in your venue, for up to how many people? Review profiles online.
- Contract: Will they provide tableware, glasses, staff? When will they be there and for how long. Will they make the cake? Can they provide midnight munchies?
- Local produce: We didn’t go to the south of France to eat chicken or beef. We wanted our menu to be full of local cuisine and produce. You would expect if they’re living in the area that’s a given but do double check!
Now I’m not going to pretend that I know a lot about flowers because I really, really don’t. When our florist asked me what my favourite flowers were – I said cherry blossoms (we visited in April – have a guess why I said that!). Our florist Philippe of Fleurs de Famille knew pretty quickly it wasn’t our forté and took a lot of time patiently going through different pictures of flowers, asking us what ones we liked, what we didn’t and then coming up with a vision. It made our lives SO much easier and less stressful. Once agreed, we left it entirely up to him and he really nailed it.
General Floral tips
- Pinterest is amazing but I will warn you that unless you have a HUGE budget a lot of what you see on there is going to cost you a lot of money. You don’t need a jungle, let the venue do the hard work (in terms of aesthetics) and keep it simple (IMO). Show some of your ideas to the florist with a budget in mind and ask them to come back with a proposal on what’s feasible and what isn’t.
- Waste/Budget – on that note, particularly if you’re having a destination wedding. You ain’t gonna be able to keep all the flowers. We gave ours to the cleaners and neighbours as a thank you (and sorry for the noise!). Think about how you can reuse some of your flowers from the chapel at the reception. Almost all of ours transferred over meaning we saved some £!
Many of you will know by now that my dress was by Essense of Australia and I purchased it from Angelica Bridal in Angel. I tried on A LOT of dresses but this was actually only the 2nd dress. It was similar to the type of dress I had on my Pinterest board! I had been told that the type of dress I wanted might not be the one I would go for so I kept an open mind and decided to go to a few more boutiques before making a decision. It also meant more champagne to drink!
Top tips for finding your dream dress
- Budget: Tell the boutique from the outset what your budget is and ask them not to show you dresses that are out of scope (This should also include tailoring costs which can be anything from £250 upwards). The majority of boutiques will charge for an appointment and usually start from £25 upwards. This can eat into your budget quite quickly so something to be considerate of. * The cost is usually redeemable against the dress if you purchase from said boutique.
- Take your time: Finding a wedding dress is stressful and tiring. Don’t feel like you need to make a decision straight away. The WORST boutiques are the ones that try and offer you a discount if you put a deposit down on the same day. They do not have your best interest in mind. Stay clear!
- Consider your venue: Will it suit the setting of your venue? How heavy is the material particularly if you’re getting married in a warm country.
- Take videos: When trying on dresses, take videos. They’re the best way to capture every angle. * Do ask boutiques for permission, as some don’t allow it (rolls eyes!).
- Ask for thoughts: Not from everyone – the only ones who saw my dress before the big day were my bridesmaids, mum, mum in law and sister in law. Ultimately you need to love it but often they can help reinforce your decision if you’re stuck.
Mike had such a great experience purchasing my engagement ring at Solitaire Jewellers (Hatton Garden), that it made sense to purchase our bands from there too. (Also you do get a discount if you buy both!). I had no idea what I wanted and also knew nothing about diamonds. They spent SO much time explaining everything from clarity to cut. There was no sales pitch and they were just genuinely so helpful. I’m now obsessed with diamonds, which isn’t great news for Mike!
Tips for finding your perfect wedding band
- Budget: You absolutely need to have a budget in mind or you will be stressed and become overwhelmed. Similar to buying a dress – only ask to see what’s in your budget
- Keep your lifestyle in mind: Yes there are lots of lovely rings on Pinterest but it needs to fit seamlessly into your day to day. Both of us are very active so we went for Platinum, which is extra durable.
- Think long term: Similar to the above, just because one style is trendy now doesn’t mean it will be in 20 years. Simplicity can often be better.
- Quality: The 4 C’s – Colour, Clarity, Cut and Carat and I would add certification too. This is a really great blog that goes into the detail https://blog.brilliance.com/diamonds/5-ways-to-check-the-quality-of-your-diamond
My Shoes (super low heel and very comfy!)
Beautiful simplistic jewellery. I absolutely loved them.
This bag I will have for life. It has the cutest quote on the inside
Flower girl dresses
My hair and make up
My hair and make up was done by the fab Karen and Nikki – both English and located in the South of France. I get my makeup done a lot in the UK and to be honest I was so nervous about trusting someone I wasn’t used to. However, I had to be budget conscious and realistic. Flying someone over from the UK was just not feasible. I’m so glad that I didn’t because honestly Karen and Nikki done an amazing job. I did of course have a trial when we were out on our final visit to the chateau, which goes without saying every bride should have. They were SO professional and incredibly speedy! They used all the products I was used to and having given them some boards from Pinterest they knew exactly what I wanted.
Hairpiece – spotted on Pinterest, bought on Amazon
Those who have read my piece on microblading will know that I have so much love for Natasha of Borciani London. She is a total Queen when it comes to semi permanent make up and skin treatments. I wouldn’t trust anyone else to look after my skin in the lead up to my big day.
Two treatments I had
Dermaceutic Milk Peel
Natasha says “ This is a great peel for anyone looking to freshen the skin, it’s safe for all skin types with no downtime so perfect to use before a social occasion”
It’s great for
- Great for restoring a radiant complexion
- Stimulates the epidermis
- Regulates oily skin and dilated pores
- Evens Skin Tone
I personally LOVED this the most and saw the results immediately. Natasha uses a surgical grade scalpel to gently scrape away the top layer of the skin, removing trapped dirt, peach fuzz hair and oil leaving the skin glowing, dewy and incredibly soft. Dermaplaning is a great option for anyone looking to have flawless looking skin with or without makeup. 4 weeks since the day and my face is still as smooth as a baby’s bottom!
I got my tan before I left on the Tuesday. I always use Secret Spa as they come to your house and I can avoid the British weather. Teresa is ALWAYS my preference; she’s in demand though so I advise if you want to book in specifically with her do so WELL in advance.
Those of you who have followed me for a while will know I use URBAN for my running recovery massages and general wellbeing TLC. They’ve started to expand their catalogue of treatments, with nail treatments being one of them. I had my nails done at 9.30pm the night before we left, as I wanted to ensure all packing was done and I could just relax (and not break a nail!) in the comfort of my own home.
We done the majority of the styling by ourselves and honestly this was one of our favourite activities. Etsy is YOUR BEST FRIEND. We bought almost everything off the site. Just to give you a feel for the types of things we went for.
Personalised Guest Slate/ (Book) by TheHouseofPallets (Etsy)
We wanted something a little different to your normal guest book and we can hang this up! ( Someone did try and draw a penis, hence the scribble!!! —> I won’t name, names!)
Signs (ALLLLL THE SIGNS!) by OnceUponaPrintUk (Etsy)
I had signs everywhere! Some in the toilet, by the flip-flops and the guest book. If you need anything specific, Rebekah is just so lovely she’ll be able to assist in any way she can.
They don’t come with frames but we bought super cheap ones from ebay and they looked perfect.
Instagram Wooden Signs by HandmadeByRoseStudio (Etsy)
Place-cards (we had menu choices printed on the back) by EmmaPaperDoll (Etsy)
You would be surprised by the amount of people who forget what they ordered. So I highly recommend having menu selections printed on the back of placecards! Emma is amazing, really reasonably priced, super speedy delivery and the designs were fab.
We had the local patisserie make two different flavours of macroons as our favour. We didn’t want to give something people would just throw away – and no one will say no to French pattiserie! We popped them into these super cute Merci favour bags
Sweet Signs/BBQ Sign (this was for the following day) by Dust and Ink
Personalised Sweetie Bags by MadeByMatildaCo (Etsy)
We had these specially made by the talented Abbi from Dust and Ink. I had all the Dragibus in the world and Mike had all the sauces!
Window Panes by Megan and Claude
We used these to write our table names – which were irish sayings. It was quite hard to be original but I think we nailed it. I doubt any wedding table has ever been called “Fluthered”. We rented these via our planner from a place called Megan and Claude which is also available in the UK .
Kids Colouring Book by BizzyHeartsWeddings (Etsy)
Personalised colouring books that kept the girls busy during the speeches!
Giant Games by Big Game Hunters
Whilst alcohol is a great form of entertainment we did want some competiveness over the weekend – because well, I’m a very competitive person. It was actually quite hard to find some that didn’t cost an arm and a leg but we got these amazing ones from Big Game Hunters . They were SO much fun and were probably loved more by the adults than the kids!
Order of service by PearlyPaperDesign
We downloaded this fab OOS from Etsy, found a frame and an easel and bobs your uncle, less than £15!
We didn’t do any gifts to each other as we felt the wedding itself was a pretty big gift and rather it went to our wedding party and guests! However, one thing I will say we did was buy a new perfume/aftershave that we only wore on the wedding day. Scent is such a strong trigger for memories so now when I spray my perfume; I can close my eyes and take myself back to our special day.
On arrival, all of our wedding party were treated to a little welcome gift, of sweets and wine. Neither of my parents drink so they got a bottle of Nosecco (which I have to say is actually quite nice) and they both have a sweet tooth so I treated them to these premium fudge and biscuits from Cartright and Butler (Sainsbury’s plug – now available at Sainsbury’s!).
On the wedding morning, my bride tribe were treated to a little goodie bag which had
- Jewellery – by Junk Jewlz. Zoe specialises in jewellery gifts for bridesmaids and I just loved the knot on the bracelet and the message inside the boxes.
- Dressing gown – WOW these were tough to find. There’s so many really poor quality gowns on the market. I bought a couple of samples off ebay and they were just falling a part. Fortunately Debenhams do such a good range of satin gowns! Who knew!
- Personalised champagne flute and goodie bags by EverAfterDesignRuth (Etsy). Ruth specialises in gift sets, favours and signage. The girls loved them and looked fab in pictures.
- Personalised makeup bag by DuteKreations (Etsy). Unfortunately Lolas shop has now closed.
- Hanger charms by CloudsAndCurrents (Etsy). I had never seen something like this before and just thought they were the cutest. My sister said she’s going to put hers on the Christmas tree – which I LOVE.
- Flower girl bracelets by BlueJaysDesigns (Etsy). These needed to be simple, because lets be honest the girls most likely will break them soon. Cute and they loved them.
I think/hope I covered the majority of things people have been asking me to share. Feel free to comment below or message me directly on IG with any other questions. I will gladly talk about my wedding from here on out!
Thanks for all your beautiful messages, it has meant so much to both Mike and I. We’ve had the most amazing time celebrating and can’t wait for our 2 month trip to Mexico in the New Year! If anyone has been to Mexico, send me all the taco recommendations, please and thanks.