Today’s wedding sees us head across to Nottingham for this ‘Festival Feel’ Woodland wedding that...
Happy Monday everyone and welcome along to another fun packed week on the blog. I hope you all had a good weekend? To start the week in style I have this beautiful destination French wedding for you, courtesy of the lovely Gavin from Gavin Forster Photography. I do love a destination wedding and this French wedding really is lovely. The rain came down but this didn’t stop Sarah and Joe from having an amazing day. Sarah’s parents own a beautiful house in France so the couple decided what better place to hold their wedding. The went about creating lots of the different elements themselves and the results are wonderful. A truly beautiful wedding with some very special moment s captured perfectly by these stunning images.
Sarah and Joe were married on 2nd May 2015 at their parents’ house, Beynac, Dordogne, France. ‘We considered a lot of options: Yorkshire near where we live; the U.S. where Joe’s parents and lots of my family live. In the end we decided to keep it very small and make it a ‘destination wedding’ for everyone. We felt a bit restricted by some of the packages offered at traditional venues and realised we were crazy not to make the most of the beautiful venue we already had available to us. My mom was thrilled because she was already dreaming of family weddings when they bought the house in France 5 years ago! We had a total of 40 guests. We got engaged in August 2013, so planned it gradually over a year and a half. It took us a while to figure out what kind of wedding we wanted to have.
How they met
We met working together in London. Joe was a consultant working on a project at the company where I worked. We got together in August 2012. We sat at desks about a metre away from each other, but managed to keep our relationship a secret from our colleagues for months!
It was our first anniversary and we’d just arrived on holiday in the U.S. We were staying with Joe’s parents in North Carolina, but he took me on a surprise weekend away to Wilmington and asked me in the hotel before we went out for our anniversary dinner. It was perfect because it was just us (big spectacles aren’t really our thing!) and because we could share our news while visiting friends and family during the rest of the holiday.
How did you allocate your budget
We tried to do as much as possible ourselves and avoid paying extra for things just because they were wedding-related, because we both objected to the principle of that! Compared to most weddings, we probably saved on the venue, the music, the flowers and our outfits, but spent on things we knew we couldn’t do as well on our own: food, the photos & my hair/makeup.
How did you choose your photographer
Gav (Gavin Forster Photography) is a good friend of Joe’s, they went to uni together. We already really loved his work, so never even considered anyone else. We were really glad when he was willing to traipse his family to France for us!
The dress was from Monsoon. The earrings were my ‘something borrowed’ – they belong to a dear family friend who was unable to make it on the day. The shoes were my ‘something old’ – they were the shoes I wore as a bridesmaid in another close friend’s wedding years ago.
The Suit and Bridesmaids
It was Great British High Street all the way! – suit was from Debenhams, my sister’s bridesmaid dress was from Coast.
Theme or Colour Scheme
After I found my pale green dress, my inspiration was, loosely, the 1998 version of the film Great Expectations, (with Ethan Hawke & Gwyneth Paltrow) which I love for a lot of reasons, not least because everyone wears green the whole time. Then we threw in a bit of purple & pink to contrast.
We had pale pink hydrangeas decorating the room, which came from the local garden centre that morning! My bouquet was a mix of roses, thistle and greenery. The table flowers were all slightly different bouquets using similar colours. I went to a florist in the local shopping centre 2 days before the wedding, found one of their pre-made bouquets I liked and asked them to make 7 more like that to collect on the morning of the wedding. We didn’t tell them what it was for! May 1st in France is called La Fete du Muguet (festival of Lily of the Valley) when traditionally you give a little bouquet of lily of the valley to those you love to wish them happiness and good luck in celebration of the arrival of spring. So, I had a sprig of lily of the valley in my hair
I saw a Japanese wedding tradition where you make 1,000 paper cranes ahead of your wedding to bring good luck, and once I’d seen it, I had to do it! Everyone thought I was crazy, especially since I only saw the idea a few months before the wedding. But I managed to convince a few helpers, and it was worth it when they were all hung up on the day.
Traditional food of the region in France – fois gras or salmon to start, followed by duck, and then lots of little desserts.
We had a traditional French croquembouche for the sweet cake (a tower of profiteroles), plus a savoury ‘cheese cake’ made of layers of different French cheeses.
We wrote a 20 question comedy ‘how well do you know us’ quiz, which we did after dinner.
Buy or DIY your Stationery
I made the Save the Dates. They were lavender-stuffed fabric heart ornaments stamped with our initials and the date, with an accompanying postcard from Beynac with details. The invitations and RSVPs were from The Charming Press. I love their designs and chose the Lavender collection to echo the lavender of the save the dates & the French theme. They were really non-traditional, with a black background (which is Joe’s favourite colour, so he was convinced).
We also sent out a DIY info card about a month before the wedding, with more details of the schedule, plus a CD with some songs that would be played at the wedding, so everyone would recognise them on the day.
Personal or Handmade Touches
My brother led the ‘ceremony’. Instead of traditional vows or readings, we made a film filled with old family photos to tell the story of how we’d reached that day. The soundtrack was the CD we’d mailed out to everyone ahead of time.
(We were legally married in Leeds at the registry office the month before.) We gave out little sweet bags of popcorn & haribos for people to munch on during the film. I made the confetti, & paper cones to put it in, from tissue paper and dried lavender. The paper cranes. The Save the Dates. The quiz. Joe is a big golf player so the place names were golf-themed: mini terracotta pots filled with turf from the garden. I ordered personalised golf tees on ebay with our names and the date, and then wrote everyone’s names on golf balls. (Can’t claim this was my idea – saw it on Pinterest!) Joe did all the music, he put a lot of thought into the playlists!
Seeing the room transformed from my parents’ living room to our dream wedding venue. It was a little hectic in the final few hours and then suddenly it all came together and looked amazing, thanks to a lot of family helpers. Walking in to all the guests, with my dad by my side and Joe waiting for me at the end of the aisle. Seeing everyone’s faces laughing and crying during our film. Seeing my dad & Joe both breeze through their speeches with confidence. I was nervous for them! Seeing how much it meant to family members who hadn’t all been together for a long time to have a reason to reunite.
Advice to other couples
Do whatever you want to do, and don’t feel like you have to do any of the traditional ‘wedding’ things if they don’t suit you.
Joe enjoyed having his photo taken, for the first time ever! And that we managed to pull it all off without a hitch!