The most perfect weekend. When I first started planning the wedding 18months before I never could have imagined how beautiful it all turned out.
It was the perfect mix of relaxed but formal (given the special occasion). The setting was the dreamiest French château I could ever wish for. I’m not a castle and turret kind of girl so this was where a more farmhouse/rustic style met modern chic.
Jen and Udo
What an honour it is to be sharing Jen and Udo’s utterly enchanting French château wedding, they were married on the 8th June 2019 at Chateau Tourbeille. Their celebrations were the perfect combination of rustic style and modern chic, with every little detail thoughtfully considered. The venue worked really well for their vision as they could use different areas for different parts of their day, their ceremony was held outdoors in the beautiful grounds in front of a magnificent tree and below suspended chandeliers. Such wow factor. They then dined al fresco, beneath a canopy of festoon lights, complete with long tables adorned with candles and greenery. It looked so magical. What a dream!
Jen and Udo looked really wonderful in their chosen attire. Jen chose to wear a lace gown by Floral Bridal and Udo was suited and booted in a custom made blue suit and bow tie combo. Then there were the groomsmen in coordinating outfits and the bridesmaids in delicate sage green frocks. Ohh I just love it all. Do also look out for pretty peony bouquets and a very special car.
Red On Blonde Photography, thank you so very much for sharing these incredible images with us. Such a delight.
I found out I had actually thwarted the original plan which was meant to be on New Year’s Day in Shanghai (where we live) at one of our favourite hotels! Instead it happened in February back home in the UK in the country at my parents’ home whilst on a dog walk! It was the most beautiful day, one of those super crisp cold mornings but the sun was shining and the sky was blue as anything! It was about 7:30am in the morning as we both had jet lag and so no make up on, my dad’s jacket and welly boots we set off on our 1.5hr long walk! Some people might say this was quite a simple proposal but for me it was just perfect. It was in the field just behind my family home (we could see the house from where it happened!) that I had grown up in for my whole life, so it was super nostalgic and meaningful. My dog, Archie, was running around Udo like crazy not sure what was going on when he attempted a half lunge over the muddy ground to ask me to marry him.
I didn’t have a clue! That was the best part, I was totally blind-sided and had no idea it was coming. Little did I know that my mum and dad knew exactly what was happening and were sat like little children in the kitchen when we got home pretending like nothing had happened (I guess in case I had said no!!). Mum had spotted the ring box in Udo’s trousers before we left the house that morning so was beside herself for the time we were out walking the dog.
The vision was to create a 3 days affair that saw us creating a bloody great time for all our loved ones that travelled far and wide. We live in Shanghai, I’m from the UK and Udo is half Australian half German, making it quite difficult to land on a place to get married. France was obviously a natural choice right?! Absolutely zero connection to France, we landed on it for the delicious food, amazing wine and beautiful beautiful countryside.
I wanted muted sophisticated pastel type tones. All the dusky greens/blues/pinks/creams so that everything really blended together. I also wanted to make sure that there was something there that spoke to each of our heritages/backgrounds. Scotland, Australia, Germany and China. I said ‘I’ because my hubby at the time was studying for an MBA and really didn’t have a huge amount of involvement, he really deferred to me and didn’t have any specific desires.
For me I didn’t want a cookie cutter wedding whereby you went to a venue that churns out wedding after wedding and you are just another number. I didn’t like the idea of having to use this florist, this planner, this caterer, that photographer etc. I wanted to create something that was unique to us. I work in events so this was actually a massive hindrance being a perfectionist and wanting to make decisions on all these vendors, but I honestly think it was THE number one thing that made it so special, and every part of the day was totally us. It was everything we wanted it to be and fit our personalities down to a tee.
The Planning Process
Planning from a far was not the easiest and we had no family that lived on the ground in France, so it was a long and challenging 18months, but it was worth every second. My mum was a huge help with both my parents doing a couple of trips on our behalf to France to suss things out. We also had a wedding planner that helped to recommend different vendors etc and coordinate the day. I really did dedicate 18months of all my spare time to getting the wedding off the ground which was a big commitment and a decision that you either have to go all in on, or you decide to make your life easier by limiting your options and not having so many choices to make, by either engaging with a venue for example that provides all your suppliers for you or not being such a perfectionist and pressing go after doing a ‘little’ bit of research.
It was on budget!
Chateau Tourbeille – just the dreamiest of places I’ve ever seen. It was utterly perfect. We had all our family and my bridesmaids in the house for the week and the venue was big enough to have each day situated in a different part of the grounds/chateau, without it feeling grossly oversized. For me it felt homely, it had stunning views right on the river and the owners were just so lovely. This is a place I’ll hold close to my heart for years to come, everything about it was just so us!
Your Outfits & Accessories
I had a real rough ride trying to find a dress as I’m super pale, making it hard to find something that didn’t totally drain me. I had seen this dress on pinterest within my first few weeks of planning that I absolutely loved, so I hunted down the designer which was Flora, an Israeli designer, and the only place I was going to be in the coming 6 months that stocked that collection was in London. So, I had to wait until I flew back to the UK 6 months later to try it on. That was after trying on a 100 odd other dresses in the meantime in case I found something different. Safe to say I didn’t and when I finally made it to Blackburn Bridal in London I totally fell in love, it felt like it was made for me, the style really suited me which was a first, as when I was hunting for my dress the ‘in thing’ was a plunging V neckline which didn’t do any favours for me!
My experience with the team at Blackburn Bridal was honestly the best I had in any city I tried dresses on! (Melbourne, Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, Winchester, Bangkok!) In fact, some of the shops I went to in Australia were actually really quite bad. I’d say that trying on a dress is sort of built up to be this incredible experience and such a fun process, but I wasn’t so lucky when I first set out, so don’t worry if you also don’t have this ‘ideal’ experience as it is quite an overwhelming process to go through.
Living in Shanghai I found it quite hard to find outfits for the day before and after but I lucked out when I was in Hong Kong and hit Club Monaco, one of my favourite brands where I bought a couple of bikinis and a cute white linen dress for the Friday evening drinks before our wedding day. We also had our pre-wedding shoot that evening, which essentially was like an engagement shoot, which Red on Blonde also nailed!
The Readings & Music
Finding readings and music for our ceremony was one of the harder tasks but one evening (after I had already done quite a bit of research) Udo and I sat down and read out some readings to see what we liked and there was one that was an excerpt from Winnie the Pooh, both of us burst into tears at the table in our apartment and that’s when we knew that was the one!
We also had Love by Roy Croft that our celebrant, Moira, actually recommended and my mum read that for us. We really liked the words behind it.
This was hands down the best decision of the entire wedding. There is absolutely no point in going to all that effort if you can’t then look back on all the details of your day through amazing photos.
Red on Blonde documented our day perfectly, not only were Hannah and Toby such a lovely couple to be around, they produced some killer (!) photos! We loved every single one.
When we received the photos we felt like they let us in on a whole other part of our wedding that we didn’t actually see, as we got to see OUR wedding from so many different perspectives. You only ever get to see it through your own eyes, so to have the luxury of what it would have felt like to be a guest, was incredible and Red on Blonde nailed this.
My brother actually did a ‘homemade’ video of the weekend, and it was just perfect.
I bought the bridesmaids dresses from Jenny Yoo. We got 2 of them in London where they are stocked at the Wedding Gallery and then I got 1 of them in a shop in Hong Kong with my bridesmaid who is based out of Singapore! It worked out well, I loved the quality and feel of the dresses, they were a little pricey but the girls looked stunning in them and I wanted to make sure they were comfortable with them. The dusky sage green colour was one that I had in my mind from the very beginning that fit with the muted tones. They all wore their own shoes and simple jewellery. Again I didn’t want things to look TOO manicured and perfectly matching, yet it needed to be well thought through and go together.
My bridesmaid and I had a light spray tan a few days before the wedding by a lady who lived in France. Long story short I ended up having to jump in the shower 3 times whilst she re-did my tan as her spray gun wasn’t working! It was a little stressful at the time but I just laughed as there was nothing else I could do… we ended up getting it fixed and it came out better than I could have expected! I loved it and it just took the edge of my super pale skin and we were both super happy with it!
I actually decided to do my own make-up on my wedding day. I decided this about 3 months before despite having booked a make-up artist for myself etc, but I just felt I really wanted to be comfortable and look exactly how I envisaged on my wedding day. I was happy to do this, and it was actually quite a therapeutic process, we had heaps of time and I wasn’t stressed trying to get it done.
I did have my hair done and also all my bridesmaids had their makeup and hair done by Nikki and Karen, who were perfect. Such a lovely couple of ladies who made everything run very smoothly. The girls looked beautiful and I also adored how my hair turned out. I wanted it to be something different to my usual look but not too manicured, so the ‘rough’ updo with some curled hair strands hanging down, gave an effortless loose look, but it was actually super secure and I didn’t worry about it or touch it all day.
Udo had his suit made at a tailor in Shanghai called Germain and he also then got the 4 groomsmen’s suits made at the tailor market in Shanghai too. It was tough finding the right shade of blue but he was really happy with it and it was something that we actually made together, choosing all the buttons/cut/label/lining etc, so it was a special process to be able to go through together.
One of the main reasons for getting married in June was actually because of Peonies!! I love the soft loose nature of peony roses, they are just gorgeous, so I knew from the beginning that these had to feature. We also had a touch of Scottish in there with a thistle type flower, along with lots of leafy greenery. Faith from Le Coeur Sauvage put together some beautiful bouquets that worked really well with all the other décor we had in place. We also had fresh rose petals lining the aisle! This was probably a step too far in hindsight but it was very pretty.
The Details & Décor
We were very lucky that the venue spoke for itself, but I did put a lot of attention to detail when it came to the décor. Candle light for me was one of the top things on the list, along with a shit ton of fairy lights as I feel it just creates such a beautiful setting.
We decided to have our dinner in the courtyard of the venue which hadn’t ever been done before but I had my heart set on having this be the venue for the meal.
One of the most beautiful things that we had was 7 chandeliers hanging from the dress which we got married under, covered in greenery. I had said to my wedding planner that we didn’t want a classic ceremonial arch, but wanted something different, we whittled it down to this and even managed to get the chandeliers then moved inside to the barn area so we could have them above the dancefloor later! This is definitely one things I’ve never seen before and it did turn out very well.
We are yet to go on our Honeymoon, but the plan at the moment is to go to Tanzania in Africa for a safari.
We did a minimoon straight after the wedding with a few nights near Bordeaux and then up to Paris which was very cliché but such a beautiful city. I had never been before despite being from the UK and it surpassed all expectations!
It’s so hard to choose as there are many, but these are my top.
Walking down the aisle and the whole ceremony was obviously a massive highlight, seeing all our friends gathered there and it all really happening was such an amazing feeling.
Post ceremony Udo drove us up to the La Tourbeille vines in a vintage Jag, for some photos which was a total surprise and so special. My dad’s best friend had driven it over from the UK, so a lot of people had gone to a huge amount of effort to make that happen.
Finally walking into the courtyard for our dinner I was blown away with how it looked, I remember I couldn’t help but just say ‘wow’. Again you talk about it for months on end, refining all the little details and imagining what it might look like, so to see it was really satisfying.
And finally finally, our saxophonist on the dancefloor collaborating with the DJ was the second best decision (after the photography!) of the whole wedding. He brought SUCH a great energy and created the perfect party vibe. Everyone loved him!
This was a team effort, we had a tiered mars bar crispy cake, which is a childhood favourite of mine and the most deliciously morish thing you have ever tasted. It was perfect for those midnight munchies. Everyone from my aunty to my sister, my mum and all my bridesmaids had a hand in making it. It was then beautifully decorated by my sister and one of my bridesmaids. They spun sugar, popped flowers on the top, had gold leaf shards of chocolate poking out of the sides and it sat on top of a huge Chinese bamboo steamer to have a little bit of China thrown in there!
Our cake topper was actually made from a mould of two monkeynuts that my sister cast and then covered in gold leaf. Udo and I call each other peanut and so it was super special to have such a unique cake topper made by my sister, and something we can keep forever.
I loved eating a plate of it in bed the morning after… so many good memories.
Advice For Other Couples
You can be stressed and challenged during the planning process, but as soon as the day/week/weekend (whatever you decide on) starts… let go of it all. This was very important for me to make sure that after all the time and effort spent that we just let everything be and really enjoyed the fruits of our labour.
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Red On Blonde Photography
Oui Mon Coeur
Le Coeur Sauvage
The Event Kitchen
Just so beautiful, I do love a destination wedding. I am certainly dreaming of summer right now!
Jen and Udo, huge thanks to you both for sharing your very special wedding story with us xo Lou