Are you ready for an epic wedding in Champagne France? Full of so many wonderful eclectic details, vintage finds, locally sourced products and personalised touches, it is a true wedding of opposites all captured by Samuel Docker Photography. From months of planning to one the day solutions and market finds to couture gowns, but I love this wedding! A bride Carla has some wonderful advice so be sure to check back soon as I share Carla’s post wedding planning tips!
Carla and Jeremy met when Carla was working as a bartender at a Burlesque Bar in Brisbane Australia. They were not an obvious match and determined not to have a ‘serious’ relationship, but 1 year later Jeremy proposed! It then took them around 4-5yrs to actually get around to planning anything!
French Wedding Style – Photography © Samuel Docker
Originally the couple had planned to have the wedding in the tractor shed at Carla’s parent’s property in country Queensland (Australia), but… One night we were having a chat about the wedding, the crazy expectations involved, numbers of guests etc., as well as about the overseas trip we were planning, when Jeremy made an offhand remark, “Why don’t we just get married in Europe instead?” to which Carla replied, “Actually, that’s not such a crazy idea…”
Carla: “A quick Google search later and we were on the phone to our parents to tell them our exciting news! We found the delightfully eccentric and beautiful Chateau De Mairy after a few weeks online researching self-catering accommodation in France. We chose Chateau De Mairy for its beauty, history & eccentricities, as well as because of its ability to accommodate all of guests on one property, and its close proximity to champagne houses, little French villages and beautiful scenery.
The property has several old buildings within its grounds. We stayed in a grand room in the chateau on our own on the first night (so much fun!), and then when the guests arrived the following day we moved down to our own romantic, private tower. Another big selling point was the friendly owners who offer home-cooked catering using fresh local ingredients.
It was really important that our wedding be very “us” and not a cookie cutter, by-the-book wedding. We are not particularly conventional people and a conventional wedding would have felt extremely insincere. We wanted our celebration to be personal, fun, romantic and for it to celebrate not only our love and commitment to each other, but also be a celebration of family, friendship and an adventurous spirit.
Here are some of the ways we made it our own:
- We ignored the wedding “rules”, went with our gut, only kept the traditions we liked and generally did what felt right for us.
- Carla handmade our unique wedding invitations mainly from items she already had. They were designed to make the guests feel like they had discovered a secret treasure when they opened them. Housed inside wooden boxes the invitations were vintage inspired, with vintage laces, fabrics and jewelry strewn throughout. They were wrapped in brown paper packaging (tied up with string) and were covered with vintage French advertisements and pieces of Carla’s grandfather’s old record sleeves from the 1940s & 50s.
- We asked Jeremy’s Aunt, Alison, to be our “celebrant” (non-legal)
- We opted to forego farmed, store-bought flowers in favour of using whatever wildflowers were available when we arrived in France. As we were driving to the chateau it was impossible not to notice the beautiful flowers (mainly poppies) lining the sides of the road. On the wedding day these were collected locally from the side of the road and were lovingly assembled by friends and family.
- We used the beautiful furniture from around the house to set the scene for the ceremony.
- We used teapots and jugs and all manner of things from around the house to display flowers
- We bought a big pile of vintage postcards (so cheap!) at the local markets the day before the wedding. Many had love letters on the back dating back to the late 1800s-early 1900s. We used them as welcome notes in guests’ rooms, door hangers on guests rooms and as decoration on the wedding dinner table.
- We also bought a 1950s French Michelin touring guide of France from the markets. We stuck our ceremony wording into the book for Jeremy’s Aunt to read the ceremony from and then afterwards used it as a guestbook for our wedding guests to write messages and stick champagne and wine labels into. It’s now one of our most prized possessions.
- Dinner with everyone at the same table. We didn’t want anything to be too formal and it was wonderful to have a big long, noisy table, great food and wine and wonderful company in such an amazing setting. It was magical.
- We planned to buy wedding rings in Paris, and then if we didn’t find any, we wouldn’t worry about it for the ceremony but would buy rings on our honeymoon. However, Carla’s parents decided to bring along her Great Grandmother’s engagement ring and she was surprised with it during the wedding ceremony. A very special moment. They told Jeremy about it the night before the wedding so, not speaking any French, he had to go find a ring for himself on the wedding day!
When it came to wedding suppliers, especially because we were heading to the other side of the world, we wanted to make sure that we considered the impact of our other choices and tried to choose as responsibly as we could.Franz and Michelle, the owners of Chateau de Mairy were incredibly helpful. Michelle emailed back and forth with Carla for months answering questions and helping out where she could. She was truly incredible and I’m not sure what we would have done without her!
By far our favourite vendor was Samuel Docker Photography. It is likely that it is completely mad to book a photographer on the other side of the world who you have never met to take photos on one of the most memorable and important days of your life; but we loved Sam’s work and Carla’s gut said “go for it!” so we did and we’re now thanking our lucky stars!
Sam was an absolute joy to have around and will be remembered as one of the favourite parts of our wedding day— not something everyone could say about their photographer! He worked tirelessly from breakfast until well into the night (when we told him to go to bed!) and the photos he took captured the day honestly and perfectly. We have cried and laughed and smiled so much looking through the pictures together. We just can’t recommend Sam highly enough!
We chose to get Carla’s dress at Karen Willis Holmes, not only because it was “The One”, but also because of their genuine, friendly, helpful and non-pushy staff. Carla really didn’t enjoy dress shopping at all until she walked into their beautiful Paddington boutique and met these lovely ladies.
On the day of the wedding at Jeremy’s request and to his dancing glee, the ceremony began with “Somebody’s Getting Married” from the movie The Muppets Take Manhattan. Jeremy walked down the stairs and makeshift aisle with both of his parents to “The Book Of Love” (as performed by Peter Gabriel). Carla walked the same path with both her parents at her side to “La Vie En Rose” (instrumental, Louis Armstrong).
Alison, Jeremy’s Aunt, was our celebrant and this made it feel much more special and personal. Carla’s brother Max, and Jeremy’s brothers Luke and Tyler did the readings, which included lyrics from the song “If I Should Fall Behind” by Bruce Springsteen (Jeremy had the same lyrics tattooed on his arm for the wedding and Carla danced to the song with her Father later in the night).
Following this we had an informal Vin d’honneur of sorts in the courtyard of the chateau. The sun very kindly popped it’s head out for a little while during this part of the day, adding to the lovely atmosphere.
The cake we had ordered was set to be a simple, elegant Croquembouche, with lavender cream and maaaybe a couple of sprigs of lavender. Carla mentioned this to Sam, and having seen it he suggested she go take a look…
It was the ugliest, brightest and most revolting-looking Croquembouche you have ever seen! But what could we do but laugh?! Someone with impressively bad taste was obviously sitting around eating the most “boring” cake they’d ever seen, and goshdarnit— that ugly cake was absolutely delicious!
We stayed up well into the night eating cheese and drinking wine with friends and family.”
Did I not tell you that it was an epic wedding! Thank you to Sam Docker for submitting and find a full wedding suppliers list below.
Venue: Chateau de Mairy
Photography: Samuel Docker Photography
Jeremy’s suit & shirt: custom made by Wil Valor
Jeremy’s braces: Bought as a souvenir in Paris
Jeremy’s Bow Tie: Custom made by Wil Valor
Jeremy’s Shoes & cufflinks: From Elio Moda, Elizabeth Street Brisbane
Carla’s gown: Karen Willis Holmes, Paddington boutique (Qld, Australia).
Carla’s veil: Her Mum’s wedding veil
Carla’s shoes: Dolce & Gabbana from Maryon’s, (Brisbane, Qld, Australia)
Makeup: Bride is a Makeup Artist and did her own makeup using non-toxic, mineral makeup.
Hair: Intended hairstyle was lost in translation, so the hairstyle created by hairdressers had to be taken out and the bride did her own hair 30mins before the ceremony!