B&E had a wonderful wedding in the South of France, near Toulouse. It rained and it poured and may have flooded a little…
Full disclosure: B is my brother and E is my favourite sister in law (only), I know that I should probably blog a real destination wedding where I don’t have a personal connection to the couple, but blogging this one brings back a tonne of memories and was actually a bit more fun to write!
B&E lived in the South West of England at the time of their wedding, E being originally from France and half French, they decided to say their I-do’s in E’s home village about 40 minutes from Toulouse. They used E’s family farm to create a unique, diy wedding where all focus was placed on fun, family and entertainment – absolutely perfect for a real destination wedding in France.
A hive of activity
As this particular wedding was a family one, I headed out earlier than usual. Not only so that I had a chance to recce the farm properly, but apparently so that I could be given 101 jobs around the farm! It was a proper hive of activity and a fully fledged DIY effort to transform the beautiful stone barn into a wedding venue. You can read more about having a DIY wedding here, but something that I suggest heavily is letting people help, especially if they have particular skills, B&E are both wonderful, so no shortage of volunteers to get everything ready in time.
Always interesting when you have to get yourself ready, photograph the bride and wrangle your children into formals simultaneously, but extended family and friends helped and the entire farmhouse was filled with delightful giggles and merriment (the wine had definetly already been opened). E wore her mothers wedding dress and the bridesmaids wore dresses of raw silk made by her grandmother.
The Boys (and a fireball)
My lovely brother B and his groomsmen stayed at the local holiday site, with cabins, caravans and tent pitches available, so many of the guests chose to either stay here or even just pitched tents around the farm itself. In the South of France, mid-summer, the weather is usually ‘guaranteed’ to be good, the day began with a threat and a cloud and thankfully for everyone, it remained only a threat for the majority of the day! Staying onside for their outdoor nuptials and even the group shots before drops that would soon become a deluge.
The boys were with my second shooter Janis and by all accounts had an enjoyable and relaxed time getting ready before walking back to the farmhouse for last minute preparations and to head to the ceremony…. Also, someone joked that it would look great if they were walking away from a fireball… so, naturally, Janis and I had to make it happen!
Living in such a rural area of France, they did not have many options in regards to ceremony venues. The rules in France can be a relatively restrictive and traditionally marriages occur at the town hall, or “La Mairie” by the local mayor. The mayor conducted a beautiful ceremony for them whilst friends and family gathered around the entrance of the Mairie to watch. Quite a few locals from the village came to watch as well, with a spontaneous burst of applause at the end which felt a bit special in the atmosphere. The wedding website Confetti have provided some resources on UK residents getting married abroad that you may find useful.
Congrats and confetti
Always my favourite time to catch those natural, joyous moments! They threw rice as a tradition instead of confetti (hoping it is bird safe?!) and there were hugs all around before they headed back on the eve minute journey to the farmhouse and the waiting delicacies.
If you are an established horsewoman, wearing a vintage dress, then why on earth wouldn’t you want to fit a little side-saddle riding into your day?! E ensured that her lovely horse also got to take centre stage for a few minutes of photos. Then on to using the rusty old (*cough, classic) cars in the yard for some more shots (obviously). We chose to go with dark and moody vibes as it was exceedingly dark for the middle of the day and unfortunately those black clouds finally spilt just as everyone was going in to dinner!
A Floody good time…
About 2 minutes after all of the ‘essential shots’ were achieved the threatening clouds finally unleashed their threat and the farm was amidst a storm or epic proportions, rain, wind, hail and thunder and an immediate threat of flooding. This sounds like a disaster. Despite the fact that it could easily have been, instead guests dressed in suits and high heels grabbed pick-axes and shovels and got to work digging a drainage ditch and mobilised to move the tables further into the open faced barn. The international cooperation was beautiful to behold and broke down any remaining language and culture barriers to create something quite magical and cooperative. That may or may not be myself in the pink dress doing my own part!
When in Rome
I touch on this more in my dedicated blog on destination weddings, but briefly it is about embracing the destination of your wedding within it. B&E for example chose to share French delicacies with their guests, muscles, oysters, caviar and even snails were available to the local and braver UK guests. The barn was beautifully decorated and the tables were strewn with ivy and foliage collected from the farms wood and all the details were handmade by talented friends of the couple and the table names identified by their favourite Bristol pubs.
And After the Storm
The barn kept everyone warm and dry whilst they enjoyed their meal and the energetic toasts. Finally, the clouds lightened a little and the rain took a break. The perfect timing allowed the guests to resume their relaxed games and chatter in the farmyard, whilst we snuck off with the couple and their very special young wedding party for a few extra shots. Then we managed to sneak in a few couple shots, B&E hadn’t wanted many as they wanted the focus to be on their guests and the natural moments. You can see more of our natural focus photography here
Fire Breathing and the Evening
The gap in the rain continued to allow the evenings entertainment to proceed! B&E had asked a local troupe of fire breathers and dancers to perform for their guests and the ‘oohs and ahhs’ from the gathered guests was audible with each breathtaking feat. The rain started up again right as they finished their performance sending everyone inside to cut the cake (with a ceremonial sword obviously).
The receding dance floor and getting messy…
As the rain continued throughout the evening, the earlier flood defences gave up their fight and everyone was too merry to care much. The dance floor gradually became more and more intimate as the water slowly rose over the dirt floor. Another advantage of a DIY style wedding is that you can make up your own ‘end time’ and that’s exactly what happened here with general merriment going on long into the morning. Once we got to about midnight, I put my camera down and Janis put on his fancy tilt-shift lens to create some rather creative looking and the dancing went on.
-As an aside the little rockstar in the middle is my boy dancing how everyone should be free to dance-
If you want to get in touch about your own wedding, destination or otherwise, you can do so here