By Rachel Harrison
Fans of chic and simple romance are in for an absolute treat today with Elizabeth and Leigh’s nuptials in the South of France. The couple wed at Château De Massillan, Uchaux on the 17th September 2016 and organised a full week of celebrations with their nearest and dearest, who had travelled from afar to be with them.
The venue is breathtaking and really speaks for itself but Elizabeth also did an absolutely incredible job with the very chicest details. She wanted to keep it simple as all of the décor had to travel but I think you’ll agree totally pulled it off. She kept to a neutral palette and a classic style, and you just have to see the mirror table plan, gorgeous wooden signage and laser cut table numbers. This sense of style didn’t come at the expense of fun, as guests were treated to an open air photo booth and selfie sticks under every table.
Elizabeth’s wonderful dress was custom-made by Lenka back in Australia and doesn’t she just look gorgeous? Leigh and his groomsmen wore T M Lewin and the beautiful bridesmaids chose different Dessy dresses.
Huge thanks to Jay Rowden for sharing these light and love filled images.
THE PROPOSAL | Leigh and I had been together for almost 5 years, living in Melbourne Australia. We went to the UK (Yorkshire) to visit my family for Christmas. Just before we left to come home, Leigh decided we would go to the Sky bar at the Hilton Hotel for drinks one evening. He had arranged a private room and had gone to get us a drink. I was looking out of the window admiring the view of the city skyline. I turned around to find Leigh was on one knee… and the rest is, as they say “history”. After a couple of glasses of bubbles, we made our way home and arrived to a surprise engagement party. It was our last night in the UK before flying back to Melbourne. We celebrated and had a great night….
THE VISION | I always dreamed of our wedding being a big party – all our close friends and family in the one place for a big celebration and holiday. Considering that we have family from all around the world, including: Canada, Australia and the UK, this was quite a task. We were very lucky that everyone travelled to be with us for our special day. Like a lot of weddings, it was a once in a lifetime event that brought everyone together in the one place – something which I imagine won’t likely happen again.
I loved the idea of getting married in the South of France – hiring a house with enough bedrooms to accommodate everyone. Finding the venue was tough! We visited so many venues where there were only a few bedrooms and I just wanted everyone to be able to stay together. The idea of our wedding being a one day event made us sad, so we decided to spread the event out over the entire weekend! Doing this meant our guests could get to know each other before the big day so that everyone was “at ease” in each others company – looking back, the guests didn’t take long at all to feel comfortable with each other – the drinks and singing and laughing flowed from the get go.
The palette I envisioned had been lots of white/green/greys, all neutral tones to blend in with the elegance of the Castle and its natural beauty. I decided to splash a bit of gold in to add glamour and show off the French style of the Chateau. I think that using the venues natural elegance and not over powering it with lots of colours truly made it “shine bright” on the day.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | Oh goodness the planning….. I decided to plan the entire wedding myself even though I was in Melbourne. The venue had an events co-ordinator and we worked really well together and was able to get a lot done via email. Despite the events coordinator, I did have to make a trip over to France to discuss the finer details and to taste the food and have a hair trial. The venue had its recommendations for vendors; some we went with and some we decided to go with other options (that I found myself).
The initial trip to France was to choose the venue – Chateau de Massillan was the first venue my mum and I went to (out of a combined total of 13 we visited). We fell in love straight away. We continued to see the other venues but only really to rule them out. There were a couple that came close but due to being too big or not having adequate accomodation they were ruled out.
We had two trips to France prior to the wedding. Everything was organised via email between the two trips. Our final trip was in July 2016. We arranged to meet all the suppliers and have meetings with them. We also booked in for a hair trial and a tasting at the chateau for food and wine.
This was such a great move as I felt much more comfortable after meeting with everyone and being able to finalise everything in person.
Mostly though everything was done via email and it worked quite well. We had a couple of issues with not understanding what I meant by certain wording due to the language barrier but we got there in the end.
I had so many ideas for décor and what I wanted to do with the venue but a lot of it was not possible due to transporting it there or not being able to locate something in France that we might have had in the UK. All my ideas however I managed to slightly adapt and make work on a smaller scale.
I did manage to get quite a bit there though as some friends drove over from the UK and so I had my seating plan on a gold glass mirror, my table numbers and table decorations e.g. golden key bottle openers/selfie sticks, and a wooden “welcome” sign which all went in their car. I also created a make shift photo booth which I packed into their car.
THE VENUE | Chateau De Massillan, Uchaux, South of France
A main reason I chose the venue was because the moment you arrived, it had the “WOW” factor. Its chic French styling was me down to a tee and looking at it from the entrance, it is/was quite imposing, as were it’s grounds. With this in mind I knew styling would be easy…. it is easier when you are working with a canvas that’s already there rather than building something from scratch. With Leigh and I living on the other side of the world, it really did make a difference.
I loved that it was quiet if you stood still all you could hear were the sound of birds in the trees and the wind blowing through. There was a lake in the middle which has a swing you could sit on and I just imagined Leigh and I sitting there with a glass of champagne in hand enjoying our day.
The venue also had a organic vegetable garden at the back and a field with very tall green Cyprus trees which I love. They remind me of Italy actually but I just knew it would make a fantastic spot to have pictures.
I Imagined all our guests relaxing by the pool or playing boules at the back whilst having a beer and then in the evening us all coming together for a BBQ before the big day. I always think as soon as you see a venue and start imagining all the things you will do there you know you have picked the right venue for you.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | My dress!!! I wish I could wear it everyday – I loved it so much! My mum and I went dress shopping a month after I had given birth and I saw a dress I liked but after much searching I decided to have a bespoke dress designed so that I could have input and this was the best decision I made. I can say that literally the dress was “made for me” I loved loved loved it.
The dress was made by Lenka. She is a local Melbourne designer and I couldn’t speak more highly of her if I tried. I had tried a dress on that was very similar to what I wanted but somehow not quite right… I added a split in the dress and we altered the back so it went in a triangle shape rather than straight across at the back. We added some beading to the lace as well.
I wore a cameo ring on my right hand, which was my Auntie’s who sadly passed away and having it in a lot of the pictures and wearing it on the day made me feel like she was with me even down to the little clicking noise it made as I walked down the aisle.
I wore chandelier earrings to add a bit more sparkle.
The shoes were “Nine West” and a golden colour to match the tulle under the dress. I chose a heel with a bit of a platform at the ball of your foot, which meant I stayed in them all day and night. I didn’t want to be taking them off mid way through.
My rings – of course…. After the ceremony I added my engagement ring to my wedding band. I just adore my engagement ring. The diamond is from the UK and we had the setting designed in Australia together – that way there is a bit of each country in it.
FINDING THE DRESS | I have to say finding the dress was one of the easiest tasks. My parents come over from the UK at the start of 2016, just after our daughter Milla was born. It was hard to drag a newborn baby around with my mum dress shopping, although she has always been a good baby – nonetheless, it wasn’t easy. A friend of mine bought her dress from an Australian designer “One Day Bridal” so I went there first. As it turns out the first dress I tried on was the one I liked. I went to 2 other dress shops and saw some lovely dresses but they wern’t quite right. Another friend of mine had her dress bespoke made by an Australian designer called Craig Braybrook. I decided that this was the path I wanted to go down but for me Craig was quite far away to drive to for appointments with a newborn. After much more research, I found Lenka. She is a local designer in my area and as luck happens she used to work at “One Day Bridal”. As soon as I met her I knew she was the one to make my dress. She literally got everything I said and I knew that it was the easiest choice I would make in the entire planning process. I never once stressed over my dress and it was everything I could have ever wished for and more!
GROOM’S ATTIRE | The Groom and Groomsmen looked very “dapper”. They all wore suits by “TM Lewin”. The shoes were an Australian high end brand called “Aquila”. Leigh wanted to stand out so he wore a Versace Waistcoat and Versace Tie. The Groomsman wore Pale pink textured ties which I have to admit were very hard to find. I finally had luck on Etsy. Leigh love’s textured linen ties the silky ties look too shiny for us anyway. They suited the style of the venue as well.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | We had two readings during the ceremony. I didn’t want to have readings that were too long as I find people lose concentration very quickly. I also wanted to have at least one that was personal to us. The first reading was a children’s book that I read a lot to our daughter Milla. I wanted to include her in the ceremony and the words truly reflected how we felt about each other as well. The book is called “Wherever you go my love will find you” by Nancy Tillman. I modified it slightly. The second reading was “I carry my heart” EE Cummings. It is a poem that I have liked for a long time and even though I think it would be used in weddings a lot, I chose it because it was meaningful to me.
I walked down the aisle to “A Thousand Years” (Boyce Avenue – Acoustic). I know this would be a popular choice but when I listened to this particular version I knew it was perfect for our day. Leigh said when he heard this version it made him tear up, so I thought it was defiantly the one and went with that.
As the ceremony ended, we walked out to “You’ve got the Love” (Florence and the Machine) literally one of my favourite songs. I have loved it since it was used in the finale of Sex and the City series. For me it embodies a completeness and happiness and feeling of love for friends and family. Hearing it makes me instantly want to get up and dance and I figured that was exactly how I would want to feel after the ceremony.
During the canapes our DJ played a variety of relaxed music across the grounds. We included artists like; Ed Sheran, Sam Smith and Adele. I also included some French artists as well because after al,l we were in the South of France. My favourite is “La Mer”. Even though we were busy having pictures taken, I heard it and couldn’t help but smile. That’s the key to your music, it should make you smile!
As dinner was served the bridal party were introduced to “You Can’t Hurry Love” by The Supremes – such an uplifting song. I wanted to kick the party off before we had eaten. We love Motown (and don’t know anyone that doesn’t) so this just slotted in perfectly for us.
Our first dance song was “All of You” by John Legend. We had dance lessons two weeks before the wedding – we had dance lessons at the start of our relationship too (much to Leigh’s disliking….haha). We chose a Rumba, which was our favourite style when we first started to learn.
I did make a list for our DJ as I wanted to make sure there was something for everyone but I also asked him to take requests. My dad is Irish and so there were a lot of Irish songs as well, which always gets a party going! I had thought about getting an Irish band in to play but again just the budget made it difficult.
Our DJ was very good – he spent the entire afternoon the day before setting up lighting around the courtyard and the interior dance area as well.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | My bridesmaids were amazing and looked absolutely beautiful.
Each of my bridesmaids had a different shade of colour dress (The Dessy Group) and slightly different dress styles. We did not plan this initially but in the end it worked out for the better. I loved how the different tones went together. I also thought it made each of the girls look unique which in turn made me feel a bit more special. I wanted them to all look and feel amazing and not just that they were given a dress they had to wear.
I had gift bags made for them to keep as a memento and gave them each a bracelet, which had a charm with their initial on it. They wore these with their dresses and each picked their own shoes. I just said they all had to be a golden colour like mine were.
I also wanted them to choose how they each wore their hair and didn’t mind that they were different. I wanted them to feel like themselves on the day not hate how they look. Hopefully they all did!
THE FLOWERS | My florist Blandine and I had a few discussions but she understood exactly what I wanted from the start and knew the venue well. She knew what would work well and she was also ready to try new things to make our wedding unique!
In my bouquet we used David Austin white roses. I originally wanted Peonies but they were out of season. We also used olive leaves for the greenery.
The bridesmaid’s bouquets were smaller versions of the same and I just loved the white and green together.
The venue had a swing that we decorated with flowers as that was the main feature at the top of the aisle. It looked amazing and just added to the setting. I also chose things that could be reused during the dinner and dancing as well.
We had rose petals down either side of the aisle and olive leaves hanging from the chairs again to contrast the green with the white.
We had two urns with flowers at the bottom of the aisle and these were re used behind the main table at dinner. We also had an “E” and ‘L” made up and these were placed either side of the chateaus door where I walked out and then again our initials were used during dinner and the speeches. This was so helpful for my budget! We used lanterns to light up the fountain and the swimming pool and flower petals sprinkled in there as well.
THE CAKE | We chose not to have a cake and just have the chateau include a dessert instead. Later on in the evening we had a cheese platter to keep the guests’ tummies full whilst drinking. I love wedding cakes but honestly during planning the budget was stretched and I had to make cuts and decide what was more important for me personally. I think if I had been able to take the cake home I may have had one but the idea of it not been eaten and then having to leave it just helped my decision.
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | Our photographer and Videographer were just wonderful. They both worked so hard and a lot more hours than necessary to get what we needed. It was effortless, they made it so easy for us. I honestly feel like they were guests as they just mingled in capturing our moments as the day went by.
My Photographer was Jay Rowden who flew over from London. We had previously met at the wedding of one of my bridesmaids Sarah. He is amazing and I can’t rate him highly enough! Not only did he take pictures on the wedding day but the night before at our BBQ. He literally was there the entire time and I couldn’t thank him more.
When I envisaged my pictures I wanted a lot of natural light and for the images to be very natural capturing the moments rather than “posed” pictures. From the initial discussion with Jay I knew he was perfect for us. On the day I didn’t feel like anyone was intruding – he made the day feel seamless.
YOUR VIDEOGRAPHER| Our Videographer was Gione De Silva. I actually hunted quite a bit for a videographer to suit our style. I wanted to find someone who could tell a story rather than just shoot the day. I found Gione on a wedding blog and made contact to have a look at his work. It was love at first sight! I loved how he captured the day and how he used this to tell a story. He seemed to understand how to pick out memorable moments and make them standout. I hadn’t met Gione prior to the Friday before the wedding in France but we had communicated a lot via email.
Just like Jay, Gione was amazing he blended in with the guests and at one point on Friday evening one of my guests asked where I knew him from as they believed he was a guest.
Gione also brought a drone, which I really wanted to show the “epicness” and size of the venue. It was able to capture shots that set the scene well.
All of our guests commented on how lovely Jay and Gione were and we couldn’t agree more. We would recommend both of them in a heartbeat and they worked fantastically together. I think it’s quite difficult to find someone who has to be a part of the most intimate moments of your day and feel relaxed and comfortable around them. So amazing really that we found two.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | Our day was all about family. Family is really important to Leigh and I and living on the other side of the world is something we struggle with daily. Our daughter Milla was only 9 months old at the time of the wedding so we wanted to celebrate her being with us for such a special day as well.
Our wedding was intimate and a big thing for us was making sure the guests could socialise. We liked the look of the long length tables but we decided to go with round tables instead so the guests could see everyone and be able to interact more easily. For our table we opted for the long length table. This allowed us to modernise the look a bit more and give the setting some contrast in terms of look and floral arrangements.
For the guest tables, we placed vintage keys (that I sprayed gold) attached to a tag with our monogram on it – again to tie us in with the decoration. The keys doubled as bottle openers so the guest were able to take them home as a memento.
We had selfie sticks attached underneath each table and we had a sign to let guests know. These were a great inclusion and everyone had so much fun with them. We were able to get some great pictures just from people tagging us in them rather than something like a disposable camera
I made an open air photo booth and had a polaroid camera as well as a selfie tripod to take pictures – we are going to put together a guest book with these and there are some photos and precious memories. For us a picture tells 1000 words and it really does make us smile when we see how much fun and laughter we all shared in one weekend.
Our seating plan for dinner was done on a Gold Mirror and we had the guests names and tables printed on. It was one of my favourite items at the wedding. We sat the mirror on an easel the venue leant to us. Leigh actually was the one to say how he wanted the seating plan and at first I didn’t think it would be feasible being that it was glass and we had to transport it with us. We made it work as a friend was able to put it in their car and drove over from the UK. Our plan is to hang this in our house as a momento of our day.
We also had a large wooden “welcome” sign made for outside the door of the chateau. I thought this would be nice for the ceremony and pictures as well. Although I wanted to use it in the group shot with everyone in it and have it at the front and completely forgot on the day!
I couldn’t fault our food! It was quite important to the both of us that the guests were served tasty food. My mum and I had a few tasting sessions which I couldn’t recommend enough. You have to know what your guests will be served and also how it should be served on the night. The Chateau has an all organic fruit and vegetables garden on its grounds and so everything was freshly prepared. The beef literally melted in your mouth and we had a Crab ravioli to start which was to die for. We had a raspberry macaron with basil sorbet for dessert and it was sweet followed by tarte and the macaron just fizzed and melted as soon as you put it in your mouth.
I put together bridesmaid bags, which were personalised. I wanted to show the girls how much I appreciated their help. I had organised personalised hangers for their dresses, a dressing gown and also an initialled bracelet as a thankyou for everything they had done. I literally could not have gotten through the day with out them.
Lastly we moved all the flowers from the ceremony to dinner and then into the dance area to re use and decorate again. In the dance area we had gold wooden laser cut names stood up. One for Leigh, One for me and one for Milla. Hers is now in her bedroom at home. We had them on the bar with tea lights around which looked pretty.
THE HONEYMOON | It was a little different for us because we were already in Europe. We also had our 9-month old daughter with us – having Milla actually made it more special for us. In saying this we did get away – we went along the French Riviera and through Italy to Venice and then down to Positano.
We had a lot of friends and family travel to be with us on our special day so the week after the wedding we hired a house in France where our immediate family stayed. Each night we had friends over if they were still in the area. It was so lovely for our families to spend time together and also to get to know Milla. We live so far away that its nice to finally all be in the same house even for a short time.
It was just a continuation of the wedding really but way more relaxed. We visited places or hung out around the pool. During the evenings we would have any guest around that were still here. One of our family friends plays the guitar and so we would gather around the fire outside and sing songs and there were quite a few rounds of beer pong to go along with it. A very special time, which we won’t easily forget.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | Wow there were so many… Literally the best time of our lives. I can say one that stands out was just after the ceremony when we were having pictures taken. My mum passed Milla over to me to hold so we could have a family photo and Leigh and I both were looking at her. This was our day but looking at her and having her be with us I just remember thinking how lucky we were.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | One of my main focuses was not to stress over the small things. Not everything goes to plan on the day and so everyday leading up to the wedding I would repeat this to myself. I wanted to take in every moment and enjoy every second. You only get this day once! It is so easy to let the day fly by and stress over everything being perfect. I can honestly say we did that! We remember everything and will cherish the memories and moments for the rest of our lives.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photographer | Jay Rowden
Venue and Catering | Chateau De Massillan
Wedding Dress | Lenka of Melbourne
Shoes | Nine West
Grooms Suits | TM Lewin
Grooms Ties | Frederick Thomas
Stationery | 3 Eggs Design
Engagement Rings/Wedding Rings | GN Design Melbourne
Bridesmaids Dresses | The Dessy Group
Personalised Hangers | TwoStoriesGifts
Florist | Blandine Viry
Videographer | Gione De Silva
Celebrant | Malcolm Dodd
Music/ DJ /Lighting | Vincent Roussel
Thank you ever so much Elizabeth and Leigh for sharing your chic special day. Rachel x
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