It’s finally here – the real wedding in the French Alps of Belle Bride Fiona! I first met Fiona back at the start of 2014, when she applied to be a Belle Bride and it has been such a joy on a personal level, getting to know Fiona and watch her change and grow (both personally and professionally). That includes in the middle of wedding planning, a career break, a career change and a starting a brand new business Emerald and Jade.
So for one last time here is Fiona:
“Well… Here we are. The post-wedding post! I can’t believe the wedding was already over two months ago! Where did that go?! Looking back on my wedding planning, I remember getting worried about where to get married, England or France. I worried about my dress, changing my mind a few months before the wedding and getting a new one. There has been family politics, as always with weddings it seems. It had truly been one hell of a journey, but wow, the finale was absolutely perfection and I’m really excited I get to share this with you today!
Before the wedding, I remember saying we were really happy with the venue, except for the fact that it did not have accommodation on site for everyone to stay there together. However, all our guests stayed within a ten-minute radius from my parents’ house, and so we still got to see them loads. Some came for two weeks, some for the weekend. My parents were incredible hosts, happily having people round for drinks and dinner every day for the whole time. We had many day trips with our guests, whether with the children in random local parks or amazing ones like Le Parc de La Tete d’Or in Lyon. We also met for lunch with some, childfree. We therefore got to see our guests loads, and so when the wedding day came, we felt as though we could relax and enjoy the day.
One of Barry and mine’s favourite films is “A Good Year”. And for the full two weeks we were there, it felt like we were living a similar story to that. All the stereotypical clichés of France were there, and our guests and I loved it.
It was also extra special in that I grew up in that part of France. And I loved seeing how impressed our guests were with the area, making the most of day trips and sightseeing, soaking it all up.
We weren’t the most organised of bride and groom to be. Even towards the end, we spent the first week being tourists and enjoying our holiday. Then we realised we still had to finalise a few things… you know like paying the venue and deciding on the setup for the day, the flowers, decorations and feeding the guests before and after the wedding. Minor things really! *cough*.
We are lucky to have met some incredible suppliers, who were all so professional and great at what they did. It really helped meeting the suppliers face to face, especially as we had things a little differently to the way French weddings are held. We raised a few eyebrows with our requests but in the end they were happy to comply J
The French were also generally very relaxed about everything. It wasn’t until the week before and even of the wedding that we finalised everything, such as paying the venue, the DJ and the flowers, as well as making final decisions on everything.
We also trusted them in their expertise, which led to some pretty unique events! Whether it be the Mayor, who had planned the whole ceremony in English as he knew we came from the UK, even though we hadn’t asked him. This was amazing as he would translate most of it, then say “this is too long and complicated but essentially just say yes”! The ceremony was therefore relaxed and really quite funny as a result. He also attended the vin d’honneur we had at the venue later on, where he happily chatted about his time in England and how much he loved baked beans!
Another funny event was when they brought out the cakes. We had told the DJ we didn’t have a particular song in mind for this, so we were happy for them to choose. As a result, they played “Eye of the Tiger” with sparklers going off on the cakes… Barry looked me in slight panic asking “what’s going on!??”, but everyone was laughing and it made it really quite unique!
Anne-Claire, our photographer, was also amazing! She is so passionate about her work and would get really excited about the photos as we ran across the whole grounds literally chasing the light as the sun disappeared behind the mountains. We are in love with the photos she took, and cannot thank her enough!
We are lucky that one of our friends also agreed to film the wedding for us. We love watching this back, as it captures lots of little moments we did not personally witness on the day. I would definitely recommend getting a video of your wedding if you can!
Finally, my family were the best wedding planning team I could have asked for! My sister appeared to have read my mind filling in the gaps of things I thought of but hadn’t had a chance to finalise, for example an amazing guestbook with instant photos from kikki.k (my new favourite stationery shop), to party bags for all the children.
My parents were simply incredible, the perfect hosts, looking after my guests but also me and my family, and generally spoiling us absolutely rotten! My brother also helped out with the planning, cooked lots of the food for the buffet we had at my parents before the ceremony, and his girlfriend and my aunt helped out loads while there too. Everyone was amazing with the kids too. We truly feel so blessed to have them all there for us. We honestly did not want to come home after these two weeks!
All in all, we had a perfect wedding day. I just remember grinning from ear to ear the whole day and we agree that we wouldn’t change a single thing! We decided to have a first look at my parents house, just Barry and I by the pool, with the bridesmaids in the background. We then walked up to the terrace where my family had laid out a light buffet for everyone to have so we got to chance to all chat then, before walking to the town hall through the village all together. This was lovely, just how we wanted it.
We then hired a coach to the venue, which later on took the guests home. This meant people were able to relax and have a drink without worrying about driving later.
At the start of the day, we made a point of telling family and friends not to worry about the kids getting dirty, running around and not sitting still during the meal (especially as Hugo seemed to just lie on the floor with only one shoe on… the biggest party animal there!). We just wanted everyone to have fun and relax. This meant that in between courses everyone was up and about, signing the guest book, going outside etc… It created a really relaxed atmosphere and everyone was able to take it easy.
At the end of the night, the guests all went back on the coach and Barry and I got to stay on-site in the lovely apartment they have there. We slept wonderfully and the next morning, enjoyed a coffee in the sun, soaking up the gorgeous views and peaceful environment. The perfect way to bring the wedding to an end!
If you are currently planning your own wedding in France, I would like to offer you these pieces of advice for you:
- Do talk to your suppliers in an open and friendly manner. Our wedding venue doesn’t normally offer all inclusive packages for Weddings in August. However when talking to the coordinator, I kept saying how important it was to us for guests to discover the region and its food, such as the food they served at the venue’s restaurant [which is amazing!]. From there, they reconsidered their position and offered to cook for us on the day, meaning they offered us the all inclusive package afterall. We received the invoice the week before, and it came to just over 2000 euros… for the venue and the food and the wine, of which there was plenty! That’s less than £1500 for 36 guests! We couldn’t believe it and almost felt we should say something, but there was no error!
- Do plan for the heat. We hoped it would be lovely and sunny, and it was. Oh and 36 degrees! We were all melting before the ceremony started so the sandalwood fans I had bought off Amazon were a great favour to give out! The heat also meant that my shoes got worn for an hour or so, and then the flipflops came on pretty quick. And whilst we laughed at one of my bridesmaids when she seriously offered to fan us up our dresses, we ended up taking her up on her offer!
- The heat also meant that we people didn’t really drink all that much, but the bottles of water we had got were the most popular drink by far all night long!
But most of all, do have your wedding exactly your way. We did, and the day truly seem to reflect who we are as a couple and we loved every second of it!
I am so happy we got married in France. And I am really grateful for having met Monique and other amazing people along the way who are so passionate about weddings and France. I truly believe everything happens for a reason and that this has influenced my new career path in floristry. Who would have thought, looking back at my first post with French Wedding Style, that so much would change by the time the wedding had taken place!
I also think that in one of my previous posts, I said that I had never been that girl who dreamt of getting married in a big white dress etc. And I used to say that being married wouldn’t really change anything to day to day life. But two months on, I am so happy Barry and I are married. It feels great talking about my husband, and somehow, it does add something to our relationship being married, and makes me feel more grown up in a way.
I haven’t yet decided what to do about my name, as my surname is the only French name I have and I am rather attached to it. But it is lovely being a Mrs, and given the chance, I would happily go back to the wedding day again and again, it was simply amazing!
If you are looking for ideas and inspiration on planning your wedding in France, don’t forget you can catch up with Belle Bride Fiona and fellow newlywed Hollie C and you can find all the Belle Brides past and present here.
Fiona’s Wedding Suppliers:
Venue: Le Couvent des Carmes
Photographer: Anne-Claire Brun.
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