Here's Proof That You Can Throw a Tropical Wedding in the Middle of the French Countryside
Jen Brook and Tim Botfield were smitten from the start; they met while working at a restaurant in Sheffield, England, in 2006, but after six months of being "inseparable," says Jen, they parted ways after moving to London. Five years later, Jen was on a trip to the French Alps with her friends when the couple "physically bumped into each other" (Tim had moved to the Alps two years earlier). The reunion re-lit their original spark—and they picked up right where they'd left off, this time in London together.
Six years later, after Tim popped the question at their Wimbledon flat with a candlelit proposal—topped off with a Champagne breakfast—the pair began planning their wedding in Dordogne, France, where Tim's family has a vacation home, which would take place on July 25, 2019. They screened six venues, "all different, but matching our brief of special, yet not ostentatious," says Jen, including La Léotardie. "After a lot of gin and tonics and some crazy ideas, we decided it was the one. We couldn't have been happier and now consider it a very special place in our hearts, for us as well as our family and friends."
Oui, Mon Coeur helped combine the couple's two different aesthetics—Jen's is "fairly fabulous and slightly extra," while Tim is "a bit more down to earth"—into an atmosphere Jen refers to as "tropical French chic." Bright coral, pink, and red tones paired well with the rich green of island-inspired foliage, while light wood, weathered materials, and tanned leather incorporated the surrounding countryside. The color scheme also tied into Jen and Tim's mantra of "Rosé All Day," which summed up the feeling they wanted to create for their 120 guests. "We would describe ourselves as fun and really quite relaxed when it comes to most things, so we really wanted that to be reflected in the wedding," says Jen. "We wanted everyone to feel like they were amongst family at home, drinking French bottled beers, rosé, and tropical cocktails in the French countryside."
Bright and Beautiful
The couple's paper goods from LouPaper incorporated several recurring motifs: The bright, watercolored tones of the tropical flowers on the invitation were echoed on the detail cards, place cards, and menus, while orange-and-peach tassels on the place cards matched other fringed accents throughout the décor.
Love at First Sight
Jen's Grace Loves Lace wedding dress, with its deep V-neck, plunging back, and high center split in the front, caught her eye immediately. "It was the fourth dress I had tried on, but it was actually the first I had pinned on my mood board nearly eight months earlier without knowing the designer," says Jen. "As soon as I saw the style, I knew. I had said a backless lace dress with an elongated train would be my ideal dress." She added other accessories from the same designer, including strappy heels with jeweled anklets and earrings from Franky Rose.
For her bridesmaids, Jen chose a set of coordinating Jenny Yoo gowns that incorporated the coral, blush, and floral elements of the design palette. "I knew I wanted them all in their own unique dress, styled to suit their figures," she says.
Florist Le Coeur Sauvage made white king protea the focal point of the bride's hand-tied bouquet, with anthurium, roses, dahlias, ranunculus, and other blooms as accents; bright tassels from Ichi My Love were a playful complement.
An Icy Welcome
As guests entered the ceremony, they were treated to rosé snow cones from Fernand et Paulette—dubbed "Frosé"—to help combat the day's heat (the temperature eventually hit 108 degrees).
Ferns and Flowers
A 400-year-old oak tree on the property offered an unforgettable spot for the couple's ceremony. Le Coeur Sauvage created a garland of tropical foliage to coordinate with the rest of the decor, while the design team styled the altar area with a jute rug, woven baskets, and rattan lanterns.
Wooden chairs in neat rows created a center aisle for the bridal party processional, while anthurium, monstera leaves, and silk tassels offered a tropical accent to the rustic atmosphere of the location. The couple also placed a fan on each guest's chair.
Jen chose a recorded, acoustic version of her "all-time favorite" song—Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance with Somebody"—for her processional. Her father escorted her down the aisle toward Tim, which served as the couple's first look of the day.
Officiant Sandie Smith presided over a non-religious ceremony that included passages written by the couple. "During the planning process, Sandie asked us separately what we loved about each other, and she read our responses aloud during the ceremony," says Jen. The duo also included two readings: "On Marriage," by Khalil Gibran, and Bob Marley's "He's Not Perfect."
Coming Up Rosé
After the ceremony, the newlyweds led their loved ones to a second cocktail area, where bartenders served up rosé in bottles labeled "La Vie en Rosé" and "Rosé Your Cares Away."
Jen and Tim surprised their guests by inviting saxophonist Ellie Sax to join the cocktail hour; she stayed to provide entertainment during the reception, following guests onto the dance floor. "Everyone just fell in love with her!" says Jen.
Guests perched on bohemian lounge furniture while sipping on rosé.
Jumping for Joy
Though Jen and Tim attended the cocktail hour, they also made time to slip away together for portraits. "Make time during the day to take in everything that has come together," says Jen. "The day goes too quickly."
Cards with watercolor accents matching the rest of the day-of paper goods hung from copper-painted bicycle wheels, directing guests to their assigned tables.
Up in the Air
Jen and Tim asked their team to incorporate an annual Dordogne tradition of stringing handmade flower puffs over the streets of the village during the town's summer festival; the end result referenced Tim's love of cycling, too, as bike wheels created frames for hanging chandeliers draped in coral silk or tropical leaves.
The couple highlighted simple linens, white china, and copper flatware with coral napkins, watercolored table numbers, and tasseled place cards. Subtle centerpieces mixed architectural blooms in glass bud vases with assorted votive holders and pink, red, and coral pillar candles.
They placed small pots of honey, covered in a fabric the mother of the bride sourced from South Africa, at each setting. "Our amazing bridesmaids spent an entire day cutting, measuring, and tying over 120 honey pot covers," says Jen, "and I think it's safe to say they'd never want to look at that fabric again!"
The View Up Above
Celebrants sat family style, conversing freely during the mid-afternoon dinner.
In keeping with local tradition, Jen and Tim chose a French croquembouche tower for their wedding dessert; profiteroles in coffee, vanilla, and chocolate flavors were presented with fiery sparklers.
The cheese lovers also offered several of their favorite varieties—a little something savory to complement the sweet.
Ready to Dance
The couple turned the venue's old-fashioned stone barn into a modern dance club by hanging sparkling gold disco balls from the ceiling, adding plenty of lighting, and choosing one very custom finishing touch: A neon sign showing off the lyrics to Jen's favorite song, which was the first decorating decision the couple made.
Their First Dance
After the couple's first dance—to "Higher Love"—in the courtyard, the party moved into the barn, where Brightlights band and Ellie Sax kept the party going.
Photography, Anneli Marinovich
Venue, La Léotardie
Event Planning, Wonderlust Events
Event Design, Oui, Mon Coeur
Catering and Cake, Lovage and Pumpernickel
Flowers, Le Coeur Sauvage
Videography, One Forever Films
Officiant, Sandie Smith
Music, Brightlights; Ellie Sax
Rentals and Lighting, Le Petit Piche
Bride's Gown, Veil, and Shoes, Grace Loves Lace
Bride's Jewelry, Franky Rose
Hair, Ciara Coiffure
Makeup, Charles Gillman
Bridesmaids' Dresses, Jenny Yoo
Groom's Attire, Hugo Boss
Menswear, Hugo Boss pants; T.M. Lewin shirts
Groom's Shoes, Russell and Bromley
Transportation, Autocars Gerardin
Frosé, Fernand & Paulette
Guest Book, Bark & Berry
Neon sign, LC Sign
Rings, Private Collection
Silk Tassels and Fringe, Ichi My Love