If you’re already thinking this is way too long, let me save you some time and get right to the point: our wedding was perfection. We had a LOT of worries going in and kept hoping everything would turn out well. It exceeded all our expectations and we had a celebration that surpassed our biggest dreams.
A Quick Overview:
Our venue was a private chateau in Grasse, France which we rented out to have for ourselves for 4 days. Since we only had about 30 guests, everyone was able to stay on the property with us the entire time. We ate, drank, played games, talked with family and friends, stayed up late, and had a blast with the people who matter most to us.
Since there’s so much I want to tell you, I’m organizing this by day so it’s easy to navigate 😉
All weddings are a lot of work, but I can’t emphasize enough how much work ours was, haha. This was a massive orchestration. The Chateau was essentially a blank canvas, so unlike most venues, this one didn’t “come with” anything. In other words, we didn’t walk in and get handed a wedding template we could tweak to our liking. We had to provide everything from daily meals to pool towels and think about every detail down to what hangers to bring for our wedding clothes. Oh, AND it’s full of antiques, so it also came with a hefty warning to everyone who walked in to be extra cautious.
We literally PACKED our car to the roof the day we drove up there with all the alcohol we needed, games for the pool, mints for the pillows (YES), candles, mosquito repellent (just in case), toiletries– you name it. We looked more ready for a cross-country road trip than for a wedding, but hey– you gotta do what you gotta do, right?
Where we really lucked out was with the weather. We had a heat wave the week before the wedding and a pretty big storm right after that. That ended up dropping the temperatures the week of the wedding to about 75 during the day and 65 at night which was an absolute DREAM! We were nervous that it would end up closer to the 90s, so this was pure luck.
We made little gift bags for all the guests as well. We stocked them with everything you could possibly want or need when you’re in a foreign country including little useful medicines from the pharmacy, tissues for the millions of tears sure to fall, snacks, post cards, chocolates (necessary), lavender, the week’s itinerary, our wedding brochure we created which included all pertinent info, and so much more. This was one of my favorite details and our guests really appreciated them.
I have to tell you something really honest about our wedding planner. We were the type of people who really believed we didn’t need one. We did everything ourselves from the initial planning to design and figured a planner would be frivolous. Plus, we have a business together and that’s the ultimate test of what you can handle, right? But based on advice from the venue owner, we decided to hire someone for the month before to help us tie up loose ends and be there the day-of to coordinate everyone’s schedules.
I can’t tell you how absolutely wrong we were… we hired Kristin of Kristin Ashley Events, and she was without a doubt, some of the best money we spent. We hired her for the month before but ended up adding more items because we realized we DEFINITELY needed extra help doing a wedding in France– YES, even though we live here! The complexity was REAL (but more on why later).
From the moment she landed in Nice, we didn’t have to consider a single thing. Jet lag didn’t phase her, car-sickness didn’t stop her, and she handled absolutely everything from beginning to end. Not only was she hyper-professional, she was the most zen wedding planner I’ve ever seen while still managing to get sh*t done. We joked that it’s pretty easy to exceed MY expectations, but to exceed Adrien’s expectations is nearly impossible– yet she managed to do it. Kristin is probably always the most organized and decisive person in the room, but what really struck me was how calm she was, too. Most Type-A people are bossy and authoritative, but her energy was incredibly relaxing… sort of like a back-up professional Maid of Honor, honestly! She somehow always knows exactly what you need and exactly how to make it happen. Her specialty is destination weddings, but it still impressed me that she was able to orchestrate all our vendors without speaking any French AND without needing our help! By the end of the night every single one of them was basically her BFF and she seemed to float through the evening like nothing phased her. She is the real deal.
Now onto the celebration.. 😉
Day 1 (July 3rd):
There’s one memory really stands out from this day. We made specific playlists for each timeframe and get-together around the wedding. Music that played on guests’ arrival, cocktails on the 3rd, and every event that happened outside of the wedding. On the evening on the 3rd I remember getting ready with Adrien in the master bedroom so we could go downstairs for the welcome party. We were trying to calm down from the frantic pace of planning and of getting everyone’s rooms set up and really “feel” the reality of what was happening. Just as we were about to leave our room, we heard the music start…
Pusher Lover Girl by Justin Timberlake started playing downstairs and as soon as that first beat dropped, we just looked at each other and had a moment to realize that this was ACTUALLY happening…
It was like we were silently reflecting on the last 10 years; it was the culmination of a massive amount of work not only for the wedding, but in life, in business, and in our relationship. We could faintly hear conversations growing below us as more people flowed into the salon and gardens, but we heard this song with crystal clarity because of the perfect acoustics through the halls of the Chateau. We slow danced in our room for a couple minutes and tried unsuccessfully to hold back tears of joy and relief. We soaked it in. And by the time the beat changed, we opened the French doors in our bedroom and walked downstairs hand-in-hand to join our guests, eager to get the celebration started…
People arrived at the Chateau at all different times on this day, including us! We let most of the day be reserved for settling in, and then had a super casual welcome party at dinner so everyone could mingle and get to know each other. We had snacks in the kitchen as an aperetif and then had a pizza truck come to the Chateau for dinner. We had plenty of wine and champagne to go with it, of course. We played some “ice breaker” games as a way for people to warm up to each other, Adrien and I made a speech, gave gifts to our parents, toasted to friends and family, took a dip in the pool, and partied until after midnight. It was awesome.
There are actually almost no pictures of this night because we were all SO present and focused on the moment in front of us…
Day 2 (July 4th):
Wedding day! The wedding was magic. Instead of recounting every single moment of the day, here’s a few highlights and pictures that will try to do it justice… The photographer sent us 650 GORGEOUS photos, but here’s a few faves. (All the vendors we used are linked at the end of the post– fully paid for and chosen by us so you can trust they were amazing. This wasn’t a wedding wrapped up in cross-promotion deals, haha!)
We started with a simple breakfast in the winter garden and then had a short rehearsal. I say “short” because we didn’t have a wedding party; it was just Adrien and I and one of his best friends who happens to be the pastor we chose to marry us! That was it. No bridesmaids/groomsmen or anything like that. My sister and best friend got ready with me and we had some bonding time, and Adrien’s best friends did the same.
Everyone says the wedding goes by in a blur, which I half agree with. It went by fast just like time always goes by fast. It went by as quickly as any vacation or awesome day does, but knowing it would, we really focused on staying present the entire time. We insisted on having cocktails and hors d’oeuvres with our guests before the meal, we insisted on talking with everyone and made sure we took time to step back and take it all in. We danced, we ate, and we really “felt” the day. So yes, it went fast, but we soaked it up pretty well…
As a side note: I only had 3 glasses of champagne the entire night. I could totally see how easy it’d be to drink all night, but I really wanted to be clear and remember every second. I’m just throwing this out there for anyone who’s getting married soon– don’t get drunk! Enjoy your day and go light on the alcohol because you’ll want to remember it! And if you’re wondering about Adrien… he did the same. Plus, we were spoiled with time because we extended the celebration over the 4 days at the Chateau 😉 Which brings me to the next day…
Day 3 (July 5th):
Our wedding day was a dream, but brunch the next day was pretty high up there in terms of dreaminess, too. It was incredible. I don’t think I’ll ever forget how gorgeous the dining area looked with the morning light pouring in. The windows were open and it was cool outside, so the breeze combined with the sunshine combined with the quiet before people poured in was incredible. The food was delicious and the energy of everyone there was amazing. It was one of those moments in life you want to hold on to forever.
We had eggs, fruit, cured meats, a massive cheese board, a crepe stand (!), cereals and yogurts, fresh breads, coffee, tea, sausages and bacon, a variety of savory salads– pretty much everything you could think of!
After that, we organized for Le Petit Train de Grasse to come pick up all our guests from the Chateau and bring us into the town of Grasse! This was SOOO fun and adorable. Everyone loved the quaintness of it, and we all got to wander around the perfume capital of the world for a little while. We went chocolate tasting and perfume shopping with a few plates of charcuterie and bottles of rose thrown in between for good measure 😉 Dinner was back at the Chateau where we had a family style Paella with more wine (duh) and champagne (duh) plus some mousse au chocolat and tarte au citron for dessert. Yum!
Since this was our last night together, we had a pool party after dinner with music, basketball, and hanging out with friends and family until late into the night.
Day 4 (July 6th):
We all departed at different times, so we had an easy breakfast of pastries, coffee, and some cereals before heading back to Nice. We organized it so that family came to Nice before the wedding so we could spend some quality time, and then friends came back to Nice after the wedding so we could have time with them separately. It worked out perfectly because even after the Chateau time was over, we still had an excuse to celebrate for a few days after while friends were in town.
We’re taking a couple big trips later this year and we travel together a lot, so an official “honeymoon” wasn’t really on our radar. Still, we wanted to plan a little getaway to decompress from all the emotions and stress of wedding planning. So we planned a trip to one of the most beautiful places in the world: Provence. Specifically, Maussanne des Alpilles. This place is an absolute dream. I expected Provence and the charm that goes with it, but it was so much more than that and it’s hard to put into words.
But I’ll try! It’s clean. And I’m not exaggerating when I say that everything smells like lavender. Outside, inside– everywhere. It grows like mad all over the place, so when the sun rises in the morning and the warmth hits those lavender bushes, it brings out the scent and fills every space around it. Additionally, we’re also surrounded by olive trees, so everywhere you turn there’s another little olive oil “Domaine” with their own blend. We actually went olive oil tasting one of the days where you taste oils just like you do wine, but in smaller quantities 😉 It was super cool to learn about the process and get some specialty oil to bring home from the region.
This probably goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. We paid for this wedding. I think in this day and age, it’s common to exploit any and all social media “fame” for freebies, but that’s not the case here. So rest assured anything we’re recommending below was paid for and worth every penny.
Venue: Chateau St. Georges in Grasse (gorgeous, but PITA to orchestrate)
Photographer: Thiebauld of Wild Roses (AMAZING)
Florist: Maud Creations (LOVED her work)
Wedding Planner: Kristin of Kristin Ashley Events (our angel & savior)
Videographer: Christophe from Rec Video Editing (incredible work! not sharing ours yet but it was spectacular… like a movie. just gorgeous.)
Caterer: De Bouche en Bouche w/chef Laurent Audoux (delicious!)
Band: Muszikus Swing (so SO good– a highlight for sure!)
UJ Loc: dance floor rental (great guys)
Hair & Makeup: Joana Ronquillo (so talented)
Dress: Kenneth Pool
Suit: Karl Lagerfeld
Train: Le Petit Train de Grasse
Pizza Truck: Pizza Chez Enzo (young local entrepreneur who makes awesome pizzas!)