Oceans could not stop today’s real couple, as they met in India, had a long distance relationship between Europe and Australia, before finally moving to Australia and then planning their destination wedding in the Dordogne area of France! Renee and Guillaume’s dream day was a wedding at Chateau Durantie in the Dordogne area of France, nestled in several acres of lush gardens.
Bride Renee takes us through their wedding planning: “Guillaume and I met in Rajasthan, India in 2010 while we were working for different non-government organizations. We attended a party of a friend of mine and from the moment we laid eyes on each other we were inseparable. I left for Europe a few weeks later and Guillaume stayed on for two more months. We continued a long distance relationship commuting between London, where I was based, and Nantes. In August 2011 I returned to Australia to take up a work opportunity and Guillaume joined me in May 2012.
About 18 months later I arrived at my childhood home for Christmas break and Guillaume prepared a beautiful French dinner for everyone and shortly after while we were relaxing on the terrace together he knelt on one knee and asked me to marry him. I was shocked with surprised and was so touched that he had planned his proposal at such a personally meaningful location and without a moment hesitation I said YES.
We decided to divide the celebrations between our native countries. We planned our Australian celebrations around an engagement party at my family home and we chose to have our wedding in France. We both love of fine food, wine and cheese and we wanted the region we chose to hold our wedding to reflect these loves, so naturally we settled on the Dordogne, and to create the opportunity to unite our close friends and families over a long weekend, we needed a venue that could accommodate as many guests as possible, with ample accommodation in surrounding areas.
After a month of scouring the region for venues, we found and settled on the fairytale of Chateau La Durantie, nestled amongst several acres of lush gardens on the edge of picturesque Lanouaille. La Durantie ticked all the boxes; the Chateau provided an incredible backdrop for the ceremony and reception, elegant accommodation for our guests located in three buildings – the Chateau main, the old stables and the orchard cottage, and ample accommodation in the surrounding area.
I wasn’t a bride who dreamt about ‘THE’ dress, so I surrendered myself to the lovely ladies at Marry Me Bridal to find a style that would match the day. I wasn’t led astray and it was an easy decision when I tried on Wendy Makin’s Amelie in ivory with its fitted silk bodice and a full flowing skirt with feathers hand sown into the tulle.
To add to the modern elegance of the dress, I added a hand stitched belt from Spain in ivory silk and milky white beads. To complement our colour scheme of navy, orange and white, the bridesmaids wore a backless navy dress from Bridesmaids Only and carried bouquets of white hydrangeas, while I chose a bouquet of orange roses to offset the ivory of my dress. Guillaume and the groomsmen were dashing in suits of light grey and the groomsmen wore Akubra hats, an iconic Australian hat and present from Guillaume.
I’d always dreamt of holding a party or special event in a marquee and I was not disappointed to discover that Chateau La Durantie provided a marquee for receptions. As it was a warm summer’s evening, we opened one side of the marquee, which provided a relaxing outlook out over the garden and additional dancing and entertainment space in between courses.
For Guillaume and I one of the most important elements of the reception was the wedding meal, we wanted our Australian and French guests to be treated to some exquisite local French produce. We were fortunate to secure local restaurateur, Jean-Michel from La table d’Aline, whose commitment to sourcing locally and creating delicate flavors won us over, and we paired each meal with wines selected from a cellar near Guillaume’s hometown.
In a diversion from tradition and to capitalize on being in France, we chose to have a cheese tower in lieu of a wedding cake. We worked with the lovely Trudy Hasker, who went above and beyond in designing our cheese tower and table, pairing our chosen cheeses with an additional cheese from Guillaume’s home region and showered the table in an ombre orange backdrop, which perfectly matched the table decorations.
All of these details and the festivities of the day were captured by David Bacher, who expertly moved between the bridal party and groom’s party before the ceremony, appeared to be two persons during the ceremony making sure each magical moment was captured from several angles and stayed late to capture all the excitement of the reception.
We always wanted our wedding day to be a fun celebration of our love, as well as moment to honour all the amazing people who had supported us throughout our journey across several countries. The ceremony was performed by our friend, and his beautiful wife sung Amazing Grace opening with the first verse in French, which instantly reduced us all to tears.
We had readings from Guillaume’s grandfather, my oldest friend and a family friend of ours. The reflections continued throughout the canapés reception with speeches from the Australian side held in front on the sprawling back steps of the Chateau where all the guests were seated and the French continued with fun and witty animations throughout the reception. Everyone danced until the very early hours of the morning, with music provided by Eric Casabonne.
Planning a destination wedding across two cultures could be extremely taxing and stressful, but Guillaume and I were fortunate to be closely supported by our wedding planner, Charlotte Holmes, who provided invaluable advice on the details of the Chateau, assisted us to select local vendors and helped to shape in us the confidence that our the day’s events would run smoothly.
Guillaume’s parents in France, made an additional journey to the venue and met with regional caterers to supply food for the additional days. My family in Australia, took time out of their holiday in France to visit the Chateau and meet with Charlotte and helped to coordinate the logistics for our family and friends who were travelling for Australia, UK and Norway. Our celebrations would not have been possible without their support.
People told us the day will go by so quickly, but we felt present in every moment and were deeply touched by the love and generosity of our family and friends. Our wedding couldn’t have been more perfect and it is one of our most treasured experiences together.”
Wedding Venue – Chateau La Durantie | Wedding Planner – Charlotte Holmes | Wedding Dress – Wendy Makin (Australian Designer) | Wedding Shoes – Wittner (Australian made) | Bridesmaid Dresses – Bridesmaids Only | Makeup and Hair – Kerrie Langfield | Photography – David Bacher | Canapés and wedding meal – Jean Michel Maquet from La table D’Aline | Cheese Tower – Trudy Hasker | Wine and Whiskey bar – Ets Olivier Hodebert | Flowers – French Flower Style |
DJ -Eric Casabonne ([email protected]) | Honeymoon – Iceland |