Photography by Jeanni Dunagan.
Parisians Isabelle & Loic wanted to leave their city behind for a wedding day in the countryside, but brought their chic sense of style with them to the stunning Château de Serans. (I mean, just look at their accessories – suede platform YSL sandals for her, and an emerald green knitted silk bow tie for him!) Isabelle was so helpful in explaining a lot of the differences between French and American wedding traditions. It’s so interesting to see how what is ‘normal’ for one country is so different to the next, isn’t it? And on top of their traditional choices, she and Loic also included some more unusual ideas you might want to borrow… for something fun and unexpected, how about a sparkler entrance instead of an exit? And if you’re looking to add extra romance to your evening, what about a private first dance? (I’m so excited this is catching on!)
Why did you choose this location for your ceremony? Because we live in the city of Paris, we wanted to have our wedding in the countryside. Serans is located an hour outside of Paris and our château, church and reception buildings were all within walking distance. Église Saint-Denis de Serans was just magical. It was small and sweet…just perfect.
Your ceremony in three words. Religious, Catholic, traditional.
If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? I was feeling very nervous when I entered the church and I was walking very quickly. If I could do it over again, I would’ve taken my time coming down the aisle.
How did you go about planning your ceremony? It was important to us to have a traditional Catholic ceremony. We incorporated the traditional ceremonial readings and vows.
Who officiated your ceremony? How did you choose him/her? Our ceremony was officiated by the priest of the church.
Did you include any traditions in your ceremony? All of our guests received communion, as is the tradition in French Catholic weddings.
What was your ceremony music? We do not have special songs for these in French weddings. (No processional or recessional.) We had Catholic hymns throughout the service, accompanied by a string duo and a keyboardist.
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? We loved having our family and friends present to watch us say our vows to each other. My favorite moment was when Loic and I exchanged our rings. It was very emotional.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your wedding ceremony? After the ceremony, our guests greeted us outside by blowing bubbles as we exited the church.
How would you describe your reception? Our reception was wonderful. We made sure to have plenty of time to spend time with our guests. Since our wedding was in the summer, we planned to spend the majority of the wedding outside. We began with le vin d’honneur (cocktail reception) in the gardens of the château. During part of this time, we took portraits and family photos, then we joined our guests for drinks and canapés.
Why did you choose this location for your reception? We chose Château de Serans because it is a beautiful space with plenty of room for our guests to mingle. We loved the gardens outside the château and the reception room was the perfect size to host dinner and dancing.
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? It was very important to Loic and I that our wedding represent us. We did not want a showy wedding, so our colors were simple white and pastels. It was also important to us to serve our guests good food, good wine and to spend time with everyone – especially those who traveled to be there with us.
Do you have any budget tips for other brides? In France, we spend our budget mostly on food, wine and fashion! We also hired an American photographer, Jeanni Dunagan, because we liked the soft look of her photos.
Did you have a first look? Why or why not? In France, we have un mariage à la mairie (legal ceremony) before getting married in the church. So Loic and I saw each other before our wedding, but in France we do not really have a “first look”. After our mariage à la mairie, we hosted a brunch for close friends and family prior to getting ready for our church ceremony.
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? The planning of a wedding can be stressful and arguments can be common, so it is important to make concessions with your spouse. Compromise!
What was the best advice you received as a bride? Be cool and enjoy. Also, it is important to delegate some responsibilities to others who are willing to help you (such as your close friends or family.)
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? We had a dessert table with a variety of sweets. We also had a croquembouche made of macarons.
Please tell us about any fun details from your reception. We entered our dinner reception along with our temoins (our witnesses – French weddings do not have bridesmaids or groomsmen) carrying sparklers! We ran in a line through the tables accompanied by music!
Isabelle told us, “after we were seated for dinner, my mother welcomed our guests and gave a lovely speech welcoming Loic into our family, followed by a toast. Between courses, we visited guests at their tables and all shared toasts and stories. Some of our friends even planned a special song with a dance! After dinner, we had a fun night of dancing and champagne.”
What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? Our favorite part was at the reception right before dinner was served. The atmosphere in the room was amazing; everybody was so happy and excited. It was a perfect moment.
Did you include any traditions in your wedding? At our reception we had a fontaine a champage (champagne tower) which is a tradition in French weddings.
What was your first dance song? We did not do a first dance. Our preference was to allow our guests to begin dancing first to ensure they were having a good time. Later in the evening, our photographer did take us aside to a quiet corner for a romantic dance with just the two of us. We enjoyed having pictures of this special time.