Our own news editor and reporter Annie (Scudder) Gabillet had the très romantique destination wedding of her dreams to her Frenchman, Rémi Gabillet, in Provence, France, on June 22, 2013 — and she's sharing all the delicious details. Who's ready for a French vacation?
Annie and Rémi met and began dating in Annie's hometown of San Francisco more than five years before they got married. Fun fact: her sister introduced them! While they share a love of the Bay Area lifestyle, the two have strong connections to Rémi's friends and family in France. Annie explained their decision to have the wedding abroad, "We had spent some time in the South of France and knew it would be the perfect place to celebrate and enjoy life's best pleasures with our close friends and family." Find out more about this breathtaking destination wedding straight from the bride, then ogle all the gorgeous pics.
Design and Style
We wanted the charm of Provence to come out in the style of our wedding. We relied on the existing beauty of the setting. That included the 12th-century hilltop Catholic church (in Bonnieux) where our ceremony was held and the recently renovated farm house belonging to an antique collector (in L'isle-sur-la-Sorgue), which we rented for the reception and to stay for the following week with our families. Our decorator, Morgane Planque from Big Day Decorations, accented the natural beauty with decorations that featured lots of local lavender, fresh pastel colors, and antique details. She created our seating chart on a reclaimed provencal door and each table was named after a local hilltop town. Instead of having menus at each place setting, Morgane beautifully wrote out the courses on a chalkboard in both French and English. We also incorporated some homemade details. Rémi's mother made candles out of Bonne Maman jam jars she saved over the year and added a sprig of lavender to each. She cleverly used "trick" candlewicks so they wouldn't blow out in the wind. She also made and embroidered our favors: lavender sachés.
Of course, planning a destination wedding took significant effort and energy. We sent the save the dates almost a year ahead of time, and also helped our guests book airline travel and hotel or vacation rentals. We ended up having more than 60 guests come from the States — over 100 total, including those who live in Europe. We also employed the help of a professional wedding planner from Provence, Philippe Steed from Un Jour Pour Vous. A must! We traveled to the region six months before the wedding and met with all the potential vendors over three days. There were also many 6 a.m. Skype sessions with our planner and decorator when we got home. Rémi's mom was also a huge help, since she was in France. That's one tip for a destination wedding: it makes all the difference if you have someone you can trust in the area. Another would be arranging a babysitter for guests. We hired two English-speaking babysitters who entertained the seven young guests with games and movies. Since many families were traveling far, we wanted everyone to feel welcome but also hoped the parents could let loose on the dance floor.
The Big Day
We tried to make the wedding interactive and entertaining for our guests. During the cocktail portion, we had passed hors d'oeuvres as well as a cured ham station and a plancha station where guests could order grilled duck or beef. Our photographer Géraldine Lentzy-Vilmain built a vintage photo booth scene that included cutout picture frames and props that provided lots of laughs before dinner. Breaking from tradition, Rémi and I gave speeches to add more of a personal touch, in addition to our close friends and family, who also wrote us an original song to the tune of "If You're Going to San Francisco." Finally, the dancing! It went until 6 a.m., but luckily at around 4 a.m. our caterers set up a crepe station! In general, the food and drinks helped us add extra French je ne sais cois to the event, with rosé, Pastis, Champagne, lamb, fresh colorful vegetables, and the pièce montée traditional French wedding cake on hand.
After looking at a few bridal shops in San Francisco, I knew Bridal Galleria was the spot for me to find the perfect dress. The staff there makes you feel comfortable and has a never-ending stock of gowns. It also helped that my stylist was originally from France, where I was getting married! I wanted a dress that was simple, flattering, and feminine, and the Marisa Bridals gown was all that, with its airy skirt, low back, and understated lace details — perfect for Provence. As far as beauty, I decided to wear my hair up for the church wedding and then take it down for the reception. My hair stylist kept that in mind while she did my updo, and it worked out great!
I wanted to keep things simple for the bridesmaids, since they were traveling all the way to France, after all! I asked them to wear their favorite blue dresses, and I loved the look of the different shades. My sister, the maid of honor, went with an elegant navy silk gazar dress from BHLDN. The girls were fabulous in the looks that reflected their distinct styles.