Today we are off to the Languedoc Roussillon region of France for Sarah and Steve’s weekend wedding at Chateau Canet near Cacassonne. I LOVE Carcassonne and its surrounding areas, having spent time in nearby Limoux, exploring the Carcassonne citadel and the beautiful countryside of the Languedoc – it’s one of my favourite holiday memories.
Steve and Sarah also fell in love with the area, and although they were let down by their first wedding photographer, it all worked out perfectly as the lovely Fleur Challis was available to capture their big day.
Bride Sarah takes us through her big day: “Steve and I first met when I was working behind a bar. He had come in for a drink with some friends. It is a matter of contention whether it was him or his friend that broke the glass that led to me wondering over to their group. Whilst I was cleaning up Steve and I started chatting and over the next hour he made it his business to keep me distracted. Before he left he asked for my number and within ten minutes of him leaving the bar he had sent a text asking me out on a date!
After five happy years living together in my home town of Birmingham, we moved to Oxford as I had a new job. It made us realise that we were in this for the long haul and that we were willing to leave our family and friends behind because we had each other. We had become our own family unit.
On one of our first nights in the city we went out early for lunch with a plan to explore our new city. We even had some friends meet up with us who were visiting Oxford at the time and it was a wonderful night. After dinner we were sat in a lovely bar and he whispered in my ear “Will you be my wife?” It was completely spontaneous and I was over the moon. The icing on the cake was that we got to celebrate that moment with some great friends, sipping champagne until morning!
We really wanted a wedding that was a holiday that would be held over a whole weekend and preferably in the sun! We picked the last May bank holiday weekend where we hosted a welcome buffet dinner for our guests on the Saturday night. Our caterers provided the delicious food and we asked our guests to bring a bottle with them. We were in a winery after all! The wedding was on the Sunday and then on Monday we ate and drank all the leftover overs! We are a laid back couple and the whole weekend was relaxed.
Because of the French law we had to legally marry in England and had a blessing in France. This was fine with us, who wouldn’t want two weddings! We married in a registry office in Oxford and I had a beautiful champagne dress from coast. Along with our families, we invited friends who couldn’t make it to France. It was low key but a beautiful preclude for our ‘big day’. We flew to France the next day.
Chateau Canet had the perfect feel for us from the start. It was a family run vineyard and the wine they produced was delicious. It had plenty of space for guests to stay on site (around 40 people), the accommodation was well appointed and the scenery was beautiful, the perfect backdrop for a wedding!
Steve loves cycling and so bikes became the theme of our wedding. We had them on the invites and menus and cycling inspired our table names. We also picked yellow and green as our colour scheme as they were vibrant and fresh and reflected the wide outdoor space and the fact that we were getting married outside and the bright sunshine we hoped would appear on the day!
Steve had two best men and two ushers who all wore their own dark suits but we bought them matching green ties, while Steve had a blue Paul Smith suit and a yellow tie. My bridesmaids were in cream dresses with a silver print over the top (Topshop) worn with a netted underskirt to make them knee length and a green sash. They wore cream shoes (Debenhams) and floral crown (Etsy) to set it off. My shoes were from Rainbow Club at John Lewis. They were ivory satin with a bit of glitter to provide some glamour!
My dress was a Diane Harbridge design. It was strapless with a sweetheart neckline. It was covered in flower shaped lace and my favourite detail was that some of the flowers stood proud of the dress, they were 3D. It had a corseted back and had delicate diamantes scattered all over. I also wore a floral headband across my forehead as part of the floral theme. When I first tried on my dress I loved it straight away, but my mother didn’t, and she was paying! She talked me into another dress which I liked but didn’t love and that night I had nightmares about it. The very next day I booked another appointment with my bridesmaid to see the dress I loved and she confirmed that it was the one. My mother came around eventually…
Our celebrant Christine, was recommended by the venue and she was amazing as was our florist, Sarah. The caterers we found on mariages.net and as they spoke no English it was a little bit of a struggle at times. We were unable to organise a tasting of the menu before our big day so leading up to it we were a little nervous, but actually all five courses were amazing and extremely generous, if not served a little more slowly than we had expected! We provided all the alcohol for our wedding but we bought the wine from the venue at cost prices which kept the price down.
Our wedding cake designer, Danielle from Desiderata, we also found from Mariages.net. She made us the most beautiful three layer cake, each layer was a different flavour. I have to say the cake tasting more than made up for not getting to taste our main meal!
Because I am duel heritage, I found it difficult to find a make-up artist in France that I was happy with. Because of my thick curly hair finding a hair dresser was also difficult. In the end I did my own make up and flew my hairdresser from Oxford out to France for the wedding. Luckily he is French and his family lived near the area so I only had to cover the cost of his flight.
Our original photographer let us down fairly last minute which was very stressful! We found Fleur and Kevin Challis online first. We emailed explaining our situation and Fleur was very sympathetic and agreed to meet with us. We managed to work something out that met our budget and we couldn’t have been happier with the photos they produced. Because there were two of them, they managed to capture so many special moments, especially in the morning when Steve and I were getting ready separately.
My advice to other brides is not to be put off by venues where you have to find the suppliers yourself rather than getting a package deal. It is a little bit more work but you get great value for money and you can find supplies that can really make your vision come alive. Things will go wrong but you have to not let it stress you out, one thing not working out won’t ruin your wedding so try to roll with the punches. It also helps if one of you can speak even a little basic French!”
Photographers – Fleur Challis Photography | Shoes – Rainbow Club | Cake – Danielle from Desirderata | Grooms Suit – Paul Smith | Bridesmaid dresses – Topshop | Bridesmaid shoes – Debenhams | Caterers – LES DÉLICES D’ANAIS | Flowers – Sarah Menager | Bridesmaids floral crown – Etsy | Dress – Diana Harbridge | Venue – Chateau Canet