A year ago today we had our wedding in Provence. It was actually our second wedding ceremony, we did the first (legal one) in London’s Chelsea Old Town Hall with our closest family and friends, to make things easy. If you marry in France you have to be in the country for 40 days beforehand. To all intents and purposes the ceremony in France was the main one but of course we’re celebrating both anniversaries this year. With this being the anniversary of our French wedding I thought it was about time I got around to sharing some photos and telling you a bit about the day/weekend.
I was never one to dream of getting married in an old castle, in fact I didn’t really give much thought to how or where I would get married until we started to plan it. All I knew is that I wanted it to feel relaxed and that (with the British weather being so unpredictable) it would take place in a warmer country. Fortunately, Dan and I were very much on the same wavelength and it was Dan who suggested the south of France. When I was growing up I spent quite a few summers there and have fond memories. Unlike me, Dan had never been, so it wasn’t somewhere I had expected him to suggest.
We got married in a beautiful chateau in a little village in Provence called Uchaux, it’s just outside Orange. There are some fantastic vineyards nearby (including Châteauneuf-du-Pape), lovely little villages with cobbled streets, fields of lavender and sunflowers, and lots of sunshine. The Chateau de Massillan is a beautiful hotel, mixing old and new in a typically Provençal style. The hotel had recently been carefully restored and renovated with sustainable materials. The chef, Frédéric de Bourlout, is passionate about local, organic ingredients and creates the most delicious seasonal dishes. Food was always going to be an important part of our wedding, my husband has worked as a chef for many years and although he spends more time overseeing the cooking these days he is still passionate about good food. Our wine came from the neighbouring vineyard, Dionysos, and many of our guest went wine tasting the morning before our ceremony.
We took over the whole chateau for our wedding with three days of celebrations, a barbecue on the first night so that those that hadn’t met before could get to know each other and others could catch up, the wedding day and a brunch on the third day so we could spend as much time with our guests as possible. We only had a small wedding of around 50 guests but it’s still hard to spend time with everyone. I was told that the actual day would whizz by and it really did but not so fast that I didn’t manage to take it in.
We didn’t get married until the afternoon when it was a little cooler but somehow the morning vanished quickly. It was stressful at times as I had organised everything and was the only one that knew what was supposed to happen when and how. I’m a bit of a control freak and found it difficult to hand anything over to anyone else, just in case they misunderstood me and got it wrong. Big mistake!! I would recommend you have at least one person that knows everything you have in mind and trust them. I felt anxious and excited in the morning and as the hairdresser did everyone else’s hair I had a bath to chill out. I did my own make-up, using these products.
The big moment rolled around fast and suddenly my dad was walking me up the aisle. We had our ceremony under the cool canopy of some huge old trees, with a stunning arch of green foliage and white roses. Our priest, an Englishman living in France, was a complete diva and said so many things we had agreed he wouldn’t, he even got the story of Jesus wrong. At the time we were gobsmacked but looking back we’re able to laugh about it. He tied our left hands together as part of a blessing and forgot to untie them. He started the string quartet off before my friend had done the last reading and instead of standing behind the arch, stood in front of me, blocking our guests (and photographer) from seeing me. But nothing could take the smile off my face. As we walked back down the aisle together it felt so magical, and right.
After canapés, hugs and champagne; we ran off to have some photos taken, before rejoining the party in the courtyard of the chateau for our wedding breakfast. Our tables were arranged in a horseshoe shape which made it easy for us to look around and take in all our friends laughing and enjoying each others company over dinner. The speeches took place in-between courses and were all incredible, I just wish we had filmed them. Dan gave the most beautiful speech and even had a few of our male friends with tears in their eyes. One of the most special moments was just after our first dance when we encouraged lots of other couples to join us for a dance. Looking around I could see and feel so much love from everyone. The rest of the night was spent dancing and drinking, somehow we stayed up til 3.30am!
Special thanks to our florist, Blandine, who was not only an exceptional florist creating stunning white and green bouquets and decorations but one of the kindest people we met during the planning of our wedding.