Brides Up North

La Belle Maison! A Real DIY Destination Wedding In France – Helen & James

July 15th, 2012 | Julia Braime

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A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie

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Happy Sunday Brides Up North!  Is that – goodness! – the actual sun I see peeping through those clouds?!

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I’m off to make the most of the break in the rain, but will leave you with another beautiful sun kissed celebration – a completely DIY (right down to the wedding dress) destination celebration for Cheshire bride Amy and her new husband James. 

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I think it’s safe to say that Amy absolutely nailed it!

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A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie   A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie

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A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie

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A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie   A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie

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Helen says:  We got engaged at the beginning of August 2010, a normal Friday evening after work. James took me to our normal Friday meal out to our local Italian restaurant to eat and then went home – my normal routine is to dash straight upstairs, hair and makeup washed off and get the dressing gown straight on! Not knowing what was going to happen I did this and James was waiting in the lounge not impressed that I’d taken all my glam off, however proceeded anyway on his knee. I swore a lot and he fumbled his ‘speech’ – it was the most unromantic, ‘typical us’ that was, in the end, the best proposal I could have wished for!

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A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie

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We were married on 26th May 2012 at Chateau du Puits es Pratx, Ginestas, Languedoc-Rouillson, South France.  It was supposed to be the bank holiday weekend then the Queen stole it from us after we booked it!

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A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie

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A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie

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A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie

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I wanted to get married abroad for the weather. Something different and amazing, plus it offered a well deserved break for all of us as it had been a very long year for all of us trying to fend off the credit crunch!

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I fell in love with the place as soon as we walked into the courtyard and then met Sasha and Tim, English owners who have the hugest respect to the local community – they kept true to the building and gardens and kept the rustic shabbiness that you would expect from a small French village that time forgot.

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I also needed a venue that was still accessible cost wise – they offered superb value for money and are gorgeous down-to-earth, homely people with big hearts and very sociable.

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A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie

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We opted for a vintage, French, shabby, home-made, intimate vibe. 

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Romantic creams, whites and dusky pinks kept the vintage feel and added to the rustic backdrops as well as accentuating the blue sky and the green of the fields and vineyard. I added tones of aqua as we were near the sea, which added brightness.

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A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie

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I had one of my mum’s oldest friends make my wedding dress for me so it’s a one off, unique dress that no-one else can have – that’s my favourite part about it! I knew what shape I wanted and that I needed French lace that was a caramel vintage colour.  Aunty Audrey has been a dress maker for at least 20 years – she’s amazing! The brooch was a cheapy from ebay – everyone thought it was true vintage though!

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A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie   A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie

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A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie

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Myself and Amy made brooch and bead bouquets – I’ve seen them online and thought I could definitely pull them off so we ebay’ed all the way and created individual bouquets for us all – based on the colours of the wedding.

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A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie

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The whole wedding was based in different sections of the venue. The ceremony was out the back in the vineyard, the cocktail reception was in the front gardens and the breakfast was in the courtyard.  Our disco was in the ‘le cave’ – the old wine pressing cave. Travel wasn’t needed for anyone as everyone had stayed on site within the cottages they have on the grounds, or in the ‘Maison’ itself.

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A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie

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Slice of Pie photographers are just the best fresh, new, young things out in Cheshire at the moment…and just happen to be beautiful good friends of ours so they got roped in! I didn’t consider it till afterwards just how perfect it was to be able to feel so comfortable and have a laugh doing the photo shoots with them and they were so much part of the wedding – especially Laura as I would have ideally wanted her to be a bridesmaid so I told her to get a turquoise dress anyway to complete the set.

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A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie

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The complete ceremony was a humanist one and scripted start to finish by me, James and I wrote our own vows as well – apparently this was a first for them! We didn’t know what each other had written. My sister, Amy, wrote her own poem as a reading – which even made the celebrant have to gulp and hold back a tear!

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A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie

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A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie

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A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie

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A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie   A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie

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A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie

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A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie

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We made every inch of stationery, bouquets, corsages, button holes, photobooth, table plan, birdcage decorations, favours and table names ourselves. 

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A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie

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A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie

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A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie

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A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie

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For our wedding cake we kept it simple as no-one was going to be interested in stuffing themselves with a heavy English style cake – and you couldn’t exactly take it home with you through security at the airport! So we had the traditional French mountain of custard profiteroles, smothered in chocolate and toffee caramel.  It did the trick and everyone scoffed the lot! We used it as our dessert as well which helped on cost for the meal.

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A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie

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A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie

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A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie

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A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie

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A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie

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A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie

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A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie

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On the Friday night we had a ‘jam’ session with a local French man Tim knew – he basically played for free and I wish I had videoed him as words cannot describe how much we were blown away by him! He was a bluesy, jazzy 60 something Caribbean man singing songs such as “We Have All The Time In The World” and sounded just as perfect as Louie Armstrong.

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After the wedding itself, we kept to a DJ –  thankfully one of Tim and Sasha’s English sons – he knew what he was doing –  and we didn’t need anything else as the venue, pool and backdrop was enough entertainment without having to add too much!

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A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie

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I planned the wedding with the intention of making everyone else happy – that was my favourite part – I’m currently trying to organise going back there with everyone for my 30th as a lot of them have asked already when they need to start saving for a return journey!

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The worst part was waking up the first morning there when everyone else had gone home – it was the only part of the whole weekend that I cried!

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A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie

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We haven’t been away on our honeymoon yet – having that week away was sort of a minimoon in itself! We plan to go to Fiji and New Zealand next year.  We have friends there who we’ve not seen for a very long time and they weren’t able to come to the wedding, so we are going to them!

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A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie   A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie

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My top tip for other Brides Up North would be do what YOU and what your HUSBAND want to do – there are no rules and regulations – if you want a big wedding, do it, if you don’t, then don’t – if you don’t want Aunty Ethel’s third cousin removed there, then don’t and DON’T feel guilty about it either!

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Make the day about personal touches as that’s more important than booking  the most expensive venue or having the biggest flowers on the table.

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One practical tip – make sure the food is good – well fed guests will be happy, and if you can make it last more than one day – go for it. If I had to do it again (I wish I could!) then I would always have it over a few days.

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A DIY Destination Wedding by Slice Of Pie

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Congratulations Helen & James!

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Would you like to see your own Real Wedding on Brides Up North?  Get in touch!

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  – Images © 2012 Slice Of Pie

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comments

  • Charlotte
    July 18, 2012 | Permalink | Reply

    Aww I love the look of this wedding! The bride looks so happy!
    Gorgeous x

  • Mike
    August 28, 2014 | Permalink | Reply

    Hi, our son is planning to marry in a domaine just outside Beziers and we wondered if you knew of any local Humanist Celebrants he could use.

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about the author

Julia Braime
Former lawyer and bride to be Julia founded Brides Up North in 2010 with a chip on her shoulder. Frustrated by the poor Northern presence in glossy bridal magazines and online, she decided to do something about it herself. Astounded by the rapid growth of her blog and brand, Julia now manages Brides Up North’s online content alongside their busy wedding exhibition season, industry events and related commissions. And she’s always, always, got a new project on the go…

learn more about Julia Braime