French Wedding Lessons: All About Joy

This past July, I traveled with my husband, Pierce, and his family, to attend the wedding of his cousin, Valerie, to Sébastien, in Grignan, France.  Grignan, about a two-hour drive from the airport in Lyon, is situated in the Rhône-Alpes region of Southeastern France. While I won't bore you with a narrative of my trip, I feel incredibly lucky to have visited this place, somewhere I never otherwise would have discovered.  Out of all the places I visited while we were in Europe, Grignan was my favorite. And Paris…so maybe I just love France!

 Me, drinking  rosé, because that's what you do in France.

Me, drinking rosé, because that's what you do in France.

I wanted to write this post to describe the experience I had, and to try to put into words the differences between this wedding and the weddings I see here in New Orleans (including my own).  In part, I wish I'd written this months ago when the events were still fresh, but the memory I have is more of a feeling, which I think is probably more authentic than all the little details.  

Thanks so much to Chloe Sinanoglu for allowing me to use all of her gorgeous photographs! After putting this blog post together, I realized her pictures alone tell the story of this wedding, and illustrate my thoughts perfectly.  Chloe is a destination photographer and available for travel. You can view her website here

Destination Wedding Planning France
New Orleans Wedding Planners go to France-lavender fields

The wedding took place on a hilltop, in an old monastery, overlooking fields of lavender.  Stunning is an understatement, but what struck me about the day, beyond the amazing location, was how simplistically beautiful everything was, how relaxed everyone seemed, and how joyful. Kids ran around, guests mingled for hours, champagne was flowing, and generally, the pace was much slower and laid back than what you experience in the South. This wasn't about a giant cake, fancy food, or cascading flower arrangements (although the food was amazing, and the décor beautiful). It was truly about two people, enjoying every moment of the weekend, literally laughing, running, and dancing the whole time.

 Bride before the ceremony.  

Bride before the ceremony.  

Destination Wedding Planning French Prep
Destination Wedding Planning France Prep
 Although I couldn't understand one word, the ceremony was beautiful! 

Although I couldn't understand one word, the ceremony was beautiful! 

Destination Wedding Planning France Details
 The couple with their beautiful baby. 

The couple with their beautiful baby. 

Destination Wedding Planning France Ceremony
Destination Wedding Planning Tablescape

Admittedly, some of these attributes would be difficult to recreate for a New Orleans wedding—most venues rent out spaces for a short amount of time; you probably aren't renting out a space for a whole weekend.  But what is notable, at least from my perspective, was how relaxed everyone was, including the bride and groom. Maybe it was French joie de vivre, maybe it was the couple themselves, but it was truly an experience to learn from.

Destination Wedding Planning Tablescape
 My personal favorite detail--hats for the sun-drenched ceremony.

My personal favorite detail--hats for the sun-drenched ceremony.

Destination Wedding Planning Details
Destination Wedding Planning France
Destination Wedding Planning Cocktails
Destination Wedding Planning Party
Destination Wedding Planning Party
Destination Wedding Planning Party

I had a difficult time wording this next thought as a wedding planner: don’t take the party too seriously.  As someone who plans weddings all day, coordinates the tiniest details, and lives for wedding décor, I don’t mean that all the lovely details aren't important! (And this wedding had them, for sure.) But when you’re the bride, all that planning should be finished ahead of time.  Looking through these photos, this is the experience I strive to give my clients.  On your wedding weekend, refocus yourself on your marriage, the people who are there with you, and truly celebrate—don’t waste your energy worrying about a million little details.  Relax, laugh, and live the moment, because it really goes by so fast.  

Destination Wedding Planning Party
Destination Wedding Planning Party