by Kathleen Kelly
As soon as we got engaged, Dave and I knew we wanted a destination wedding. A huge part of our lives together has involved travelling, so when we thought about ‘us’ as a couple, and how we would best like to share our day with the people most special to us, travelling together seemed like the perfect idea.
We decided on France early on in the picture and always get asked – why? To which we have no real answer, other than ‘we just wanted to’. Dave developed a somewhat recent love of bike riding and all things ‘le tour’ and I’ve got a deep and profound love of macarons, lavender and croissants. France just fit.
Our vision was just to find the prettiest and most French Provençal-looking villa we could afford, in the middle of Provence and have the whole shindig there. For this reason, the accommodation was going to dictate where we stayed for the wedding week, and a lot about the style of wedding, the timing of our day and atmosphere we were trying to create. So, we trawled HomeAway.com and honed in on the Luberon region. Good! Then we honed in on villas big enough to house our bridal party. Good! Then we honed in on something we could afford. Good! And voilà, one hot summers day in Texas, over a year and a half ago – I found it. La Madone.
We booked La Madone a year in advance and I must admit, it was pretty daunting. We were Australians, living in America, planning a wedding in France. The entire past year, I secretly harboured the thought that it could all just be some elaborate internet hoax and that I’d just lost all of our friends and family bucketloads of money. Imagine my utter delight (and relief!) almost two months ago when we drove to the south of France and arrived outside one of the most beautiful houses I’ve ever seen. PHEW.
The wedding adventure really began that day, when we arrived at La Madone. Driving to the area was surreal; even better and more beautiful than we had ever imagined. I’ll always remember as we turned a bend in the road, looking up and seeing the beautiful hilltop town of Gordes right above us. That was the exact moment when I realised that all of the hard work was worth it; months of trawling through accommodation websites, car booking websites, google maps, searching for flights, searching pinterest for cheap and DIY ideas to save money, organising the villa payment and guests, taking risks and hoping they paid off. We picked the exact right spot for us to get married.
We arrived at La Madone and Nadege had a welcome box of macarons waiting for us (in the flavours we had picked for our wedding macaron tower). We welcomed our friends and family (most of whom we hadn’t seen in a year) and very quickly slid into the dream of living in the south of France.
Dave and I arranged several group excursions with our guests; including a trip to see the Tour de France (which turned out to be easy since the cyclists raced down a street very near to La Madone), a day trip to Gordes and another to the beautiful Abbaye de Senanque.
We were pretty busy in the days leading up to the wedding. One day we spent the afternoon watching le tour de France cyclists ride past (so close we could have touched them!). Another day Nadege took us on a scenic drive to a local lavender farm, so that we could cut our own lavender to use as wedding bouquets and table decorations.
Nadege also took us to a local wine supplier to buy wine for the wedding and to La Vie en Rose, Coustellet – the most beautiful and delicious pâtisserie in Coustellet (they made our wedding macaron tower). We also managed to squeeze in a trip to the local Provençal Market in Gordes. We spent a lot of time playing Cards Against Humanity, inventing pool games, relaxing by the pool eating cheese and drinking wine.
Our family and friends were a huge part of the reason we were actually able to prepare for the wedding in 5 days (and manage to have fun too); they decorated, cooked, fluffed tissue paper pom poms, arranged tables, candles and fairy lights, made bouquets, tied together napkins, did runs to the train station to pick up other guests, food shopped and helped us in any way they could. They took so much pressure off Dave and I (and if we weren’t already convinced that we had the best family and friends in the world, we sure are now).
On the day of our wedding, we woke up and started to get ready. I had four bridesmaids and two very cute little flower girls to get ready, so we had to start at 9am. I’m really glad we did this, because nothing felt like a rush in the end and we had enough time to fit in a few mimosas to get us through the ceremony.
The ceremony was even better than we’d hoped for. We couldn’t have dreamed up a more perfect scenario. Dave and I had written our own vows and had a lot of fun saying them in front of everyone, and finally (after 11 years!) I got to put a ring on his finger! Woohoo! If that wasn’t awesome enough, our friend Lauren had organised for an incredible jazzy, gypsy band to come and play for the cocktail hour and (a total surprise to us) just as we were pronounced ‘husband and wife’ all of our guests started singing ‘Love, love, love’. It was the best moment of the day for me (that and seeing Dave’s face as I walked down the aisle), I can’t even describe how happy I was in that moment.
The cocktail hour was set in the rustic stone terrace outside La Madone and many guests sat listening to The Shoestring Trio, while the bridal party went into Roussillon town for some photos.
We had the wedding reception on the patio at La Madone under the grapevine, stars and twinkling lights. The dinner itself was a work of art; cooked mostly by the incredible housekeeper of La Madone, Nadege. Nadege was an amazing help to us during the wedding week, which was most obvious in the wedding dinner itself. She had been hard at work for months before our day to pre-source local and organic foods in order to arrange a feast of traditional Provençal cuisine. We had Ratatouille, Roast lamb, salad and Buffalo mozzarella (she had ordered it from Umbria, Italy 2 months earlier!). We toasted to Pitt and Jolie’s Miraval rosé, which Nadege assured us was a ‘quality rosé’ (and I have to agree, it was delicious). We decided not to have a wedding ‘cake’, instead deciding on a macaron tower and cheese tower. As you can tell in the photos, they were awesome.
The best reward for us (apart from the obvious fulfilled dream of a destination wedding in Provence) has been the memories and happiness of our family and friends. Seeing them make new friends, reacquaint with old ones, and just enjoy life in one of the most picturesque places on earth was so incredible. I love hearing their stories of travels after the wedding week and their trials and tribulations getting halfway around the world. Those memories will stay with us forever.
Photography: Ben Caspani, Nathan Appo & Sheryl Gwyther | Location: Roussillon, France | Villa: La Madone, Roussillon | Wedding Dress: Bernadette, Maggie Sottero | Grooms Attire: Indochino | Bridal Party Hair: Carol Ray Bonnet, Wedding Hair in Provence | Brides earrings & hair piece: Stephanie Browne Australia | Bridesmaids Dresses: Various | Groomsmen Attire: Indochino | Flower girl dresses: Target | Flower girl hair: Pamela Caspani | Wedding Bouquets: handpicked | Catering: Nadege Goldstein | Band: The Shoestring Trio | Celebrant: Anne Naylor | Macaron Tower: La Vie en Rose, Coustellet | Red & White wine: Calvisson Les Vigerons | Rosé: Chateau Miraval Rosé 2012