We are so delighted today to say Happy Anniversary and welcome back FWS Belle Bride Fiona to the blog, as she looks back on her 1st year of marriage and gives her advice for planning a wedding in France.
Welcome back Fiona: “Bonjour tout le monde! It’s been a little while since you heard from me, but when Monique got in touch about a follow up post, I couldn’t resist coming back to say hi 😀
On 29th August, Barry and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary. As it happens, I write this on the plane back to Bristol, having just spent two weeks in France at my parents, which is also where we got married last year.
Since our big day, we went to Australia over Christmas to see my sister, but also for our honeymoon. We got to stay in an amazing treehouse near Maleny for a few nights just before Christmas which was amazing.
The rest of our trip was incredible too, and as we stayed with my sister and brother in law, we truly settled into the Aussie lifestyle beautifully. Arriving back in London on a grey, January day was rather depressing afterwards! But the memories we created there were absolutely gorgeous, and the kids loved it just as much.
This past year I have often thought back on our wedding day. Barry has too, as he will often talk about the wedding day and how amazing it was. To this day there isn’t a single thing neither one of us would change about it.
I’ve also realised that by getting married in France, it has changed my perspective of France. Having grown up there, I took a lot of things for granted. Most of all, just how beautiful a country it is. By getting married there, I truly got to see the area I grew up in through the eyes of my guests, and it made me fall in love with it all over again.
This was particularly obvious this summer, when walking around the village with my mum on our evening walks. Instead of just walking around, mindful of where dogs would be hiding ready to pounce of me (I have this thing with French farm dogs, even though I grew up here… ), I would stop every 10 seconds to take a photo of a somewhat derelict, typical farm house, or a gorgeous white wooden shutter with heart details, or a row of walnut trees against the sunset… It made the walks not as active as my mum was used to, but I saw beauty everywhere I went and couldn’t get enough of it!
We also got to pop over to the venue briefly, long enough to take a photo. It looked as beautiful as we remembered, and will forever hold a very place in our hearts.
In terms of being married, as my friend once said: it hasn’t really changed anything, yet it has changed everything.
Since my last post, my dress is still hanging in the hallway… I initially told Barry I was thinking of selling it but he wouldn’t have it! If anyone has any ideas on what to do with it, I’m all ears!
I haven’t yet decided what to do with my name either. All my friends had their names changed on Facebook pretty much the day after the wedding, and went on to change their name officially after. I have done neither. I remain very attached to my name. I have grown rather fond of it over the last 32 years and can’t imagine going by any other name.
The only thing that bothers me a little is that I don’t have the same name as my children. For this reason alone, I might take on Barry’s name as well as mine, so that officially I “match”, but I can still use my maiden name. The other reason for delaying the change is purely that I can’t face the paperwork of dealing with my name change. I already know I’m likely to ask a company to do it for me. Having had to deal with the French paperwork for the wedding and the kids’ nationality I am happy to keep any further paperwork as simple as possible!
This year has also been a big year of change for Barry and I. As well as getting used to speaking of the other as husband and wife (which I still love!), we have both made big changes professionally. My floristry business Emerald and Jade is growing, and I seem to be growing along with it. It’s becoming a way of life, encompassing my philosophy in life to live a beautiful life.
I feel as though this is the start of something truly exciting and life changing, representing my true self. I still strongly believe that this all began throughout our wedding planning and the various routes that followed from it, such as writing posts for French Wedding Style and giving way to my creativity. It is amazing what wedding planning can do to you. I said in one of my earlier posts that I had never been a little girl dreaming of getting married in a big white dress. Yet I can say without a doubt that wedding planning has changed my life, both professionally but also on a more personal level.
On a similar path, Barry has also left his role as a lawyer to follow his passion and become a landscape gardener. He also has dreams and plans to develop his passion for garden design further, and I’m really excited and proud to see this all develop.
At the present time, there aren’t any concrete plans to move to France. But making our wedding abroad happen has reignited our passion for travelling and discovering new (and old) cultures. We used to travel all the time before the kids were born, mostly city breaks but always exciting. Now the children are a little older, we plan to share our love for travelling with them.
The past weeks were spent at my parents, but we also spent a week in Spain, south of Barcelona, stopping to Gordes, Bonnieux, Roussillon, Isle sur la Sorgue, Pont du Gard and Collioure. It was a mini road of trip of sorts, although we hadn’t booked a hotel for the second night which meant we were forced to travel over the border to Spain. But the kids loved it and were great throughout.
At work, I realise now how strongly our wedding planning has influenced the type of work I love best. Mainly that the type of work I like the most, is work that represents who I am, and which shone on our wedding day too. Namely weddings that a little unconventional, and that feel truly personal to the bride and groom.
I have also had a friend say to me recently that they really loved our wedding, and getting married abroad in the way we did would be their perfect wedding. It was so important for us to show our guests a good time, this is an amazing compliment to receive.
All in all, it has been a pretty amazing year, and my only wish would be that we could celebrate the wedding in France year after year!
On that note, I’m off to celebrate my wedding anniversary! But thank you for sticking by me these past two years (!). I hope you enjoyed my journey, and that I helped inspire you a little, whether with your own wedding planning or simply through journaling about beautiful France!
When writing this post, I asked Barry for any pearls of wisdom… he came up with a few classics (“make sure you marry the right person”; “don’t do it”)… before finally settling on:
- Aim to keep it local. Don’t seek out to have an English wedding in France, embrace the local way of doing things where possible to create a truly unique experience for you and your guests.“
Thank you so much to Fiona for coming back to the blog.