For today’s real life wedding Chateau de Fayolle Dordogne, I am handing over the blogging quill to newly wed Cat from Cat Made This. Cat and her fiance Jimmy had a little budget and big dream when they started looking for their destination wedding in France.
Cat shares her opinion on destination weddings and why they are becoming cheaper than you think. Over to Cat:
“Destination weddings are largely an unknown quantity. Having been popular in the States for years, the trend is slowly migrating over the Atlantic. And why not? Who wouldn’t want guaranteed sunshine, gorgeous locations and perfect picture opportunities? Well, the answer, until now, has always been simple: anyone who wants to have a stress free, reasonably priced wedding that all their friends and family can go to. Until now.
First up, let’s tackle the biggest problem with destination weddings: the term ‘destination wedding’ itself. It makes my skin crawl with pretention and it makes me want to rip the smug grin right off brides’ faces as they coo and gush about their paradise wedding drenched in sunshine and, how ‘it’s really great too because you don’t even have to buy wedding shoes if you do it on the beach.’ Yes, we’ve all seen the idyllic pictures of tanned couples wiggling their perfectly manicured toes in white sand as the four members of their family who could afford to go, look on through their sunglasses.
These paradise beach weddings, whose trend peaked in the 90s, were largely influenced by the American trend. Of course, us Brits forget that most Americans are within a short, internal flight away from their nearest paradise beach. Asking all their friends and family to go to a wedding on a paradise beach is not much more than asking your own family to travel to Cornwall…not beyond the realms of possibility. But, of course, asking your family to travel all the way from Blackpool to Mauritius starts to limit you somewhat. And one thing a bride doesn’t want on her wedding day is to be limited. So what’s the alternative?
Well, the new century has seen an explosion in businesses in the UK and on the continent catering to those who want something more from the UK wedding industry than a marquee or a stately home. Don’t misunderstand me – there’s nothing wrong with either of those things, but if you are a bride looking for something a bit different, until recently, you may have struggled.
France and Italy are fast becoming the leading experts in this field. It won’t take long poking around on Google for you to find independently run properties that offer to organize every part of your wedding for you for one complete price. And, trust me, that price is not as bad as you think it’s going to be.
In January of this year, I was a bride on a mission to try and find somewhere different to get married. We had very little budget and very big dreams. We wanted a property in France that we could hire for a week, that slept up to 23 (to cater for both our families) and where we could host a wedding in the middle weekend for 80 guests. It was an impossible request…until we discovered Chateau de Fayolle.
One weekend visit in January to Chateau de Fayolle in the gorgeous Dordogne village of Riberac, was all it took. Once we’d signed on the dotted line before heading home we had holiday accommodation for 20 people booked, the venue for ceremony & reception sorted, the catering ordered, the drinks were covered, the flowers done, the accommodation for the other guests reserved, the decoration decided and, in the form of Gerry & Janet de Bathe, the owners, our very own wedding planners…and all for the price of a regular wedding day in the UK. After many emails and phone calls establishing colour schemes, flower preferences, timings, children’s menus, and all the other little details that crop up we were done.
‘What about your guests though?’ I hear you holler. Well, apart from the fact that most of them had to fly Ryanair (we are still apologizing) it didn’t cost them much more than it would if we’d asked them to go to Edinburgh or Cornwall for a wedding. In fact, most of them decided to make it into a holiday and booked rental properties for the week. We couldn’t go into the local town or restaurants without bumping into friends and family and, as we were there for a week, we were able to spend time with all our guests at some point, which took the pressure off the wedding day. Plus, I’m from Yorkshire, my husband is from Birmingham and we live in London…there wasn’t one place that jumped out to us as being easier than any other.
Ok…there were some logistical headaches but nothing that any other wedding day doesn’t suffer from and honestly, as I write this now, I can’t think of many. I suppose it wouldn’t suit all brides. You can’t be too prescriptive about what you want centre pieces to look like, or what linen will be used, or even what your own flowers will look like but if, like me, you’re happy giving general direction about colour schemes and flowers and then trusting in the knowledge that whatever happens, it’s going to look gorgeous (I was lucky enough to be able to trust in Janet de Bathe and her taste and style entirely)…then you’ll be fine.
What remains with me are memories of a stress-free week filled with family, friends, laughter, wine, cheese and sunshine. I remember the late night card games that my nephew always cheated at, the breakfast Bloody Mary’s provided by my brother and brother-in-law, the children running around in the sunshine all day and a wedding day that took place in an idyllic, French-coloured bubble that was all ours.
Oh god, I’m starting to coo and gush. I better rip that smug grin off my own face…hadn’t I?”
Thanks to Cat for sharing her destination wedding day experience and I look forward to hearing your experiences of planning your wedding abroad..