I promise you after this feature you will be dreaming of your summer holidays.
Sophie and Charley whisked themselves and their loved ones to Normandy in May for their romantic wedding. They wanted a weekend which was relaxed, intimate and homemade. They dreamed of an outdoor ceremony by the river, with a rustic barn reception to follow. They made jam for favours, rustic signs and candle holders.
Sophie looks stunning in tulle with a lace bolero, while Charley opted for a relaxed Hugo Boss suit without a tie. Beautiful.
Thanks so much to the amazing Craig George for sharing his photographs with us today.
The Proposal… We wrote our ceremony ourselves and it was conducted by Sophie’s uncle – Greavsie. It was so beautiful and special and there’s a short bit about the proposal in there, here Is the quote:
Sophie and Charley had known for some time that being married, starting a family and living together forever was a dream they both shared. But it wasn’t until Charley found a book on the tube called ‘One Day’ that his plan to propose took shape. Feeling unsettled by the book’s sad ending Charley decided there and then not to waste a minute longer.
They headed to San Sebastian, their favourite place in the world, to celebrate Charley completing his first marathon. It was a rainy Friday afternoon in northern Spain and after a few glasses of wine and some steak, Sophie and Charley headed to the beach front. Charley began to talk to Sophie about how they always thought that grown-ups must feel like grown-ups but as they had grown up themselves they’d come to realise that no-one ever really feels like a grown-up; you just give life your best shot.
As Sophie gazed out to sea Charley told her how he had known for years that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her and asked whether she would like to try being grown up with him? When she turned to face him Charley was bent on one knee with an engagement ring in his hand! Needless to say they spent the rest of the weekend celebrating and indulging in their favourite things – steak and wine.
The Vision for the Day… Sophie has been coming to Normandy for 15 years with her family so it is a special place and Charley has been there with her since many times since they started dating, it is here he became part of the family . When we got engaged we knew instantly we wanted to get married in Normandy as it is such a special place for us. We found this 12th century barn that was so beautiful, rustic and French we loved it instantly. We wanted the guests to feel as though they were on holiday and could enjoy all the things we love about Normandy. The food, wine, the French-ness of it all… we made so many little touches from the welcome bags in the rooms, to the signs everywhere and homemade jams. We wanted the wedding to be intimate, relaxed, and full of fun with the drinks flowing all day and night. Our dream was to have the next day – Sunday where the guests come back and have a second party, more relaxed now they all knew each other. It couldn’t have turned out more perfectly. It was just incredible. I have spent many holidays in Normandy where it will rain for weeks but this time it rained on the days around the wedding weekend but then was absolutely stunning for the 2 days over our wedding. Just amazing. All the locals couldn’t believe how lucky we were.
We wanted an outdoor wedding ceremony, in the garden with the breeze flowing. When I got out of the car and saw all my favourite people in the world there with their sunglasses and sitting there looking out to the river waiting for me to arrive, it was a moment to never forget. I couldn’t have imagined it as perfect as it was.
The barn was so beautiful we didn’t need to decorate. The whole wedding was a group effort from our families, a true replication of what Normandy is and means to us.
We didn’t have a ‘theme’ for the day, it was just about love and fun.
The Planning Process… Well… the week after our proposal Charley decided to start a new business and Sophie went off on two big cycling adventures so we didn’t really get started until before Christmas! We had one very fun weekend in Normandy with our mothers in Feb where we looked at different venues, tried lots of food, wine, and patisseries and sat by the fire brain storming late into the night. What a chore! We both agree we have mothers and mother in laws from heaven! They were incredibly supportive and understanding throughout. We couldn’t have done it without them.
The Venue… The venue was a 12th century barn where people used to go to pay their taxes. It only cost £500 for the whole week and Eric Demoy who owns and lives in the adjoining farmhouse picked Sophie and her brother up in his car – a 1930 Citroen as a favour and was all dressed up in a bowler hat and suit. Very special. His car is part of his war memorabilia. He also let us use his front garden for the ceremony and take our photos amongst his cherry trees. The venue was so beautiful inside and out that we barely needed to decorate it. We filled it with fairy lights, pillar candles and hay bales on the stage. The first moment when I walked in there after the ceremony when the caterers had set up all the tables and lit the candles took my breath away. It was truly spectacular.
The Dress + Accessories… The dress was from tara keily with a lace bolero for the ceremony and reception followed by a quick changeover into a gorgeous belt with a big ivory flower and diamontes. I loved the feeling of having a more formal look and an evening one.
Finding the Dress… We went to many shops but when I tried this one on, I felt as though I could get married in it! I loved it, there was nothing I could do apart from get married in this dress and I loved that feeling. My mum cried when she saw it! It was a big wedding dress so I was nervous after I had bought it, but looking at the photos and how I felt on the day it was definitely the right decision. My friends were playing with it all day and getting into the material. Go for a big dress it won’t disappoint!
Groom’s Attire… Charley bought his suit from Hugo Boss, we wanted people to wear what they felt comfortable in so we said lounge suits.
The Readings + Music… Ceremony was conducted beautifully by sophie’s uncle, readings by Charley’s brother Joe ‘A farewell to arms’ Ernest Hemmingway and Sophie’s best friend, Alexis ‘Oh the places you’ll go’ Dr Zuess. Music – Variations on the Kanon by Johann Pachelbel – George Winston for walking up the aisle and ‘Signed, Sealed, delivered’ stevie wonder for down the aisle. We had DiscoWed do our music, Jason was amazing!!
Beautiful Bridesmaids… As Normandy is such an important family place, I took the decision to have all my female cousins as bridesmaids. We are 20 people in the Normandy house at holidays and growing so a big family… I had 6 bridesmaids, 1 flower girl and 1 maid of honour which is a best friend Faye. The dresses were all from Asos. The bridesmaids did all their own hair and makeup.
The Flowers… The flowers were pretty much a surprise! We worked with the local florist who collected grasses, ivy and flowers from the local fields she also placed pots of flowers everywhere around the venue for free. I had shown her pictures of the kind of thing I liked and she made what was in season, fresh, romantic, and rustic. We all loved them. She also gave me some flowers for my hair.
The Cake… We had a table of delicious French cakes from our local bakery! We had sparklers lit on the cakes and it looked fabulous. What a brilliant idea. The chocolate own was devoured immediately.
Your Photographer… The wonderful Craig George! He had been fantastic from the first email right through to the moment he left. We only wished he could have stayed longer and enjoyed the rest of the party. We have had a huge amount of compliments about the photos, it was like having a friend there – we couldn’t recommend him enough. The best part was that he seemed to be loving it as much as we were.
The Details + Decor… The details were all homemade. My mum made pots of jam for each person with ‘spread the love’ labels. I made individual welcome bags with our favourite goodies from the local area for each guest with a personalised thank you note and placed it in their bedrooms. Many guests arrived last on Friday night when they were hungry and loved the treats. My mum made so many special signs. My uncle Chris made these beautiful Ecalyptus tree candle holders, all individual all handmade. The table numbers were our favourite places in the world and a description for each person of why it’s a special place for us – London, Paris, Normandy, Sebastian, Pamplona and Chamonix. We had an old family typrewriter and a vintage family suitcase for cards. We had a bath tub from the local antique shop and filled it with beers and ice. We kept it very simple inside, using the fairy lights and candles to light up the room. It didn’t need much else.
The Honeymoon… We are planning trip to South America in December to climb mountains, eat steak and drink wine – our favourite things! After Normandy we came to Chamonix where we are beginning a new life of running an online business that means we can be mobile, explore the world and enjoy the mountain life. Sophie is training for an ironman and we both mountaineer together so we are loving being here.
Memorable Moments… The whole thing! I felt so relaxed and happy throughout the whole day. I had the car ride with my brother who walked me down the aisle and gave me away. I think he was more nervous than me! The ceremony was so special, we loved being able to tailor every word to our story, what marriage means to us and things we wanted to say and commit to each other in front of everyone. Afterwards everyone was crying and told us how much they loved it. The dancing! We had a table in the middle of the room for just us but had a spare chair so every course we would have a different person come and sit with us and chat. So fun. My Mum did the ‘father of the bride’ speech and she put so much time and thought into it. Being married to the man of my dreams!
Advice for Other Couples… Stay relaxed, in the weeks before the wedding people told me I would be so stressed but I enjoyed all the preparations and didn’t want to waste that time being stressed so I made sure to enjoy it all. At the end of the day, it all works out perfectly because its your wedding. Be happy.
Credit Where Credit is Due…
We had an amazing wedding planner – Annabelle who was a superstar. A lot of the vendors were local French so Annabelle was crucial in making sure they all knew what they were doing and it meant we could get on with organising everything else. http://www.reportageby.co.uk
We found her 3 months before the wedding which was also when we found our caterer, venue and got everything nailed down.
Photographer: Craig George www.craig-george.com
Venue: La Grange Dimiere, Heurteauville – Mon et Mme Eric Demoy 02 35 37 10 17 – prefers portable – 06 32 33 03 74
Wedding Ceremony: Being written by One Life Weddings and performed by Sophie’s Uncle – Andrew Greaves http://www.onelifeweddings.co.uk/home/
Florist: Lilium fleuriste – La Mailleraye sur Seine
Wine: Local wine shop in Caudebec-en-Caux or Nearby E.Leclerc. Maison LeRoi – vin – Caudebec en Caux. Frank – Mon LeRoi
My grandmother’s house where all my family stayed and we had the garden party on the Sunday http://www.lamaisondesgrandsarbres.com
Incredible, you can just imagine the sunshine and breeze from these gorgeous images. I so love the idea of a central table with spare chair to chat with guests during the meal too. Thanks so much to Sophie and Charley for sharing their beautiful wedding with us today XOXO Lou