For Rachel and Sam it had to be Provence and they were married in the picture-perfect Chateau du Bijou, enjoying a magical alfresco weekend party
Photographs: Kerry Morgan Photography
Rachel and Sam wanted an alfresco wedding of feasting and dancing and there can be few better locations for this than Provence. Celebrated by poets and painters, it is the classic romantic rural landscape. Rachel says: “Having both had a passion for all things French – Provence in particular – since we were younger, it made sense to hold our celebration in France”.
There was an element of serendipity in the couple’s discovery of Chateau du Bijou. Rachel says: “Having attended a celebration at Notley Abbey, also part of The Bijou Collection, we had been impressed by the style and service.
“Learning that Bijou had a variety of wedding venues excited us and once we found out that they owned Chateau du Bijou, we knew we had to take a look. We visited the chateau in the September and fell in love with the surroundings, the convenience, the rustic style of the venue and the general ambience.”
Having found their perfect spot and worked out that it was easy for their guests to get there by plane or Eurostar, the couple chose the following July – height of summer and a time when the landscape is transformed with swathes of purple lavender and bold yellow sunflowers. This gave them nine months to prepare for the party.
“Visiting Chateau du Bijou, we fell in love with the surroundings and the general ambience”
They were in capable hands, since the planning team at Bijou not only know each of their properties intimately but also have access to superb local suppliers and knowhow. While Chateau du Bijou and its grounds are so beautiful that very little dressing is required, Rachel and Sam did have a clear theme in mind that was perfectly in keeping with the locale. Rachel says: “We wanted to add true Provencal style to our wedding celebration. Our alfresco banquet table was dressed with lemons, lanterns traditional sunflowers and olive branches”.
Indeed, it would be remiss to leave out the local sunflowers, says Rachel. “The floral theme for the day was based around sunflowers – how could it not be? The four bridesmaids wore strappy, knee length dresses in a shade of royal blue and the girls all held hand-tied bouquets with vibrant yellow sunflowers to tie the theme together. The setting and scenery at Chateau du Bijou are décor enough, but it was fun to add our own personal details.”
“Our alfresco banquet table was dressed with lemons, lanterns traditional sunflowers and olive branches”
One of the beauties of choosing Chateau du Bijou was that the property is offered on a full weekend wedding basis – and it has a bridal suite plus 19 bedrooms for guests – so this became the most glamorous of weekend parties in the French sunshine.
Rachel says that this added an extra special element to their celebration. “The ceremony was a wonderful high point for both of us – saying our vows under the baking sun – but having our friends and family join us in such a unique part of the world was also really special. The weekend timescale meant the whole event was relaxed and fun!”
Rachel and Sam say that although planning a destination wedding can add an extra layer of stress, this was very easy. “Planning a wedding away from ‘what you know’ locally can be daunting, but we can honestly say that from booking our wedding at Chateau du Bijou to the day we left Provence to come home, we felt well and truly looked after. We were able to do our menu tasting at the Bijou wedding venue closest to us at home in the UK, and the ease of being able to speak to the admin team seven days a week worked well with both of our work schedules.”
With access to Bijou Weddings’ own online planner – accessible from the moment the wedding was booked – it was easy to select every last detail that matched their vision. Rachel says the team were first-to-last superb. “Our incredible wedding photographer, Kerry Morgan, captured the setting and romantic vibes of our French celebration perfectly”.
They also loved the work of their florist Marigold Fleuriste. “She understood the exact look that we were aiming for”. She says, the smooth running of their dream wedding was thanks to Bijou. “They understood exactly how we wanted our weekend to flow. And it was perfect.”
Rachel & Sam’s wedding sourcebook
Venue & wedding planning: Chateau de Bijou; bijouweddingvenues.co.uk
Photography: Kerry Morgan Photography; kerrymorgan.com
Flowers: Marigold Fleuriste; marigold-fleuriste.fr
Wedding stationery: Potesta Designs; potestadesigns.com
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