An Intimate Garden Wedding at an Opulent French Chateau

couple holding hands in garden among flowers
Sophie Epton

In 2014, photographers Ruby Yeh and Kevin Lee were both hired by Yahoo, but they worked across the country from each other—Ruby joined the New York City office while Kevin was based in San Francisco. When the East Coast-based group visited the California office, the two finally met in person but chose to keep their relationship professional; things change a year later when Ruby also moved to San Francisco. Within just four days of Ruby arriving in San Francisco, Kevin asked her out on their first date.

In November of 2018, the couple traveled to Paris, where Kevin proposed after a sunset cruise on the Seine. "Kevin was so nervous about having the ring on him the entire time that he had to pop the question the very first night," says the couple. "Afterwards, we randomly stumbled upon a place for celebratory drinks, serendipitously named Le Berkeley"—just like the couple's home city.

Ruby and Kevin planned to get married in France in May 2020, but postponed several times before landing on September 29, 2021, at Chateau Challain in Challain-la-Potherie. Though their original 75-person guest list dropped to 35—with Kevin's sister and her family, Ruby's man of honor, and the couple's emcee all having to decline—the couple found joy in creating an extensive itinerary for the guests who could make the trip. "We made it a three-night event with everyone arriving in Paris, taking a charter bus from Paris to the chateau, followed by a welcome dinner—enchanted forest-themed, so everyone wore floral—where we had a roast pig and incredible buffet spread," says the couple. "Then the day after [the wedding] we all took a charter bus from the Chateau to Mont Saint-Michel and Saint-Malo for the day to explore Normandy and Brittany. It felt like we were on a school field trip again and to see all of our different worlds colliding through new friendships was truly something so special and unforgettable."

01 of 19

French Connection

across the water view Chateau Challain
Sophie Epton

Years after bookmarking Chateau Challain as a dream venue for its "romantic, classic feel"—and then forgetting about it—Ruby came across the chateau again while researching French wedding locations. Though she had always dreamed of getting married in France (she majored in French in college and studied in Paris), the couple says, "We ultimately decided to get married there because it was a place that now meant so much to the both of us after getting engaged in Paris."

02 of 19

Gold Rush

deep green cream and gold invitation package
Sophie Epton

Ruby and Kevin chose an elegant, modern color palette of deep green, cream, and gold, with blush and red accents. The couple's event planning and design team at Vela Stories created an invitation suite that included a custom crest inspired by the country's architecture, a fleur-de-lis and a small bee, while a gold-foiled map helped guests navigate the weekend's multiple activities and location. "The envelope liner featured a custom venue illustration of the chateau," says the couple.

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03 of 19

Back Story

back view of Ruby in her Vera Wang gown with bridesmaids
Sophie Epton

Ruby's Vera Wang wedding dress featured a sheer, corset bodice and a dramatic, full skirt. "The A-line style was the perfect silhouette for my body shape, and the material was ethereal and lightweight," she says. Bridesmaids donned blush-colored gowns from Jenny Yoo, Hayley Paige, Azazie, and Birdy Grey.

04 of 19

That's a Wrap

sitting portrait Ruby in gown
Sophie Epton

The sheer corset bodice on Ruby's gown was "accented by hand-placed gold Chantilly lace and a dramatic, hand-pleated French tulle halter drape," says the bride. "The gold champagne hues were regal and complementary for my skin tone, and was the perfect fit for the venue." She added diamond drop earrings from Ring Concierge and a cathedral-length veil.

05 of 19

At First Sight

couple's first look in garden lush greenery
Sophie Epton

Feeling both nervous and excited, Ruby and Kevin met for portraits in the garden before their ceremony, surrounded by the lush greenery that inspired their wedding day aesthetic. After seeing each other in person, they "felt very at ease!"

06 of 19

Garden Party

close-up Ruby holding bouquet
Sophie Epton

Ruby's oblong bouquet from Remi and Gold included locally-grown dahlias, zinnias, and cosmos, clematis, lisianthus, cappuccino roses, garden spray roses, and hydrangeas, which were a nod to the property's landscaping. "The bouquet was designed with a focus on the depth in color and dainty notes to compliment the bridal gown," says Ruby. "There was a nod to the champagne tones of the gown along with creams, a crisp white, raspberry and blush tones."

07 of 19

Black and Blush

couple hand-in-hand in front of wedding party
Sophie Epton

Kevin and his groomsmen chose tuxedos from The Black Tux: stylish notch-lapel for the groomsmen, and an impeccable shawl collar for the groom. Kevin also wore cap-toe Allen Edmonds oxfords—"shined at Aubercy in Paris beforehand," says Ruby—and his late grandfather's vintage Rolex. Berry-toned flowers in the boutonnières were a "masculine" complement to the bridesmaids' bouquets, which were filled with showy, locally-grown cosmos.

08 of 19

Bright and Bold

ceremony flowers cosmos zinnias dahlias hydrangea lisianthus delphinium and garden roses
Sophie Epton

The U-shaped floral altar was set up at the end of a floral-lined aisle, with white chairs—and chaises for the couple's parents—facing the chateau. "The ceremony florals were a stunning mix of low and lush ground arrangements designed in a way to look like they were part of the pre-existing landscaping," says Ruby. "They were meant to elevate the already beautiful grounds with the mix of cosmos, zinnias, dahlias, butterfly and antique hydrangea, lisianthus, delphinium, and garden roses."

09 of 19

Arriving in Style

Ruby walking across line from horse-drawn carriage
Sophie Epton

Ruby arrived at the ceremony spot in horse-drawn carriage as a harpist performed; her father escorted her down the aisle to "Holocene" by Bon Iver. "The ring bearers were supposed to be our nephews," says the couple, "but since they were unable to attend due to COVID, we had Ruby's best friend of 15 years be our stand-in."

10 of 19

Saying "I Do"

couple hand-in-hand during ceremony
Sophie Epton

Ruby and Kevin wrote their own vows for the ceremony, which they further personalized by asking Ruby's godfather to officiate.

11 of 19

The New Mr. and Mrs.

happy couple sitting on stone steps
Sophie Epton

After the ceremony, the newlyweds wandered the grounds privately, posing for portraits on the lawn and steps, while their guests sipped custom cocktails in the shade of the chateau. "Our miniature labradoodle, Sailor, was unfortunately not present, but we had custom napkins made with her face on it that said 'Wipe Your Paws,'" says Ruby. "We also had cocktails named after our two family dogs: 'Sailor's Sweet Tea' and 'Lana's Lavender Lemonade,' with a hand-watercolored menu drawn by our designer."

12 of 19

Back to Their Roots

glass cloche with seating arrangement
Sophie Epton

An ornate cabinet inside the chateau displayed three glass cloches, each of which listed the seating arrangements for one of the couple's dining tables. "Tables were named after cities we grew up in," says the couple: "Taipei, Roseville, and Vancouver."

13 of 19

Lavish and Luxurious

reception tables inside Chateau Challain
Sophie Epton

Gleaming wooden floors, intricate woodwork, soaring windows, and gold accents surrounded the newlyweds and their guests as they dined inside the chateau at three long tables. Les Saveurs Depré created a menu that included lobster ravioli, salmon tartare, lamb chops, and filet.

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14 of 19

In Vivid Color

colorful tabletop centerpiece
Sophie Epton

Tabletop arrangements continued the ceremony's color palette with blooms in shades of cream, yellow, and blush accented by bursts of lively coral, fuschia, and red. "We focused on a mix of lush arrangements and floral frogs to run the length of the tables to allow for the place settings to shine," says Ruby.

15 of 19

Gold Plated

personalized place setting gold rimmed plates crystal glassware
Sophie Epton

The couple chose place settings that combined delicate, detailed chargers with gold-rimmed plates, shimmering flatware, and crystal glassware. "Guests had personalized calligraphy name cards with a green tassel and custom wax seals with our initials and crest," says Ruby. "Candlesticks with extra-long taper candles provided soft candlelight."

16 of 19

In Your Arms

black and white close-up couple's first dance
Sophie Epton

For their first dance, Ruby and Kevin chose Louis Armstrong's version of "La Vie en Rose," which Ruby calls "the most quintessential French song with an American touch." Throughout the day, the bride kept in mind advice from one of her bridesmaids: "Be intentional about capturing mental snapshots throughout the day to save forever in our minds."

17 of 19

A Sweet Moment

couple cutting towering croquembouche
Sophie Epton

Under a columned pavilion, the couple cut a towering croquembouche, a traditional French wedding cake, in two flavors: lemon, and cookies and cream.

18 of 19

Under the Stars

couple under fireworks in night sky
Sophie Epton

The couple also treated their guests to a celebratory fireworks display, but they say their favorite parts of the evening was listening to the speeches. "So many tears and laughs were shared throughout, and each speech was so genuine," they say. "As wedding photographers, we have heard our fair share of speeches, and the ones our friends and family delivered truly hit it out of the park with their humor and heart."

19 of 19


couple front lawn of Chateau Challain
Sophie Epton

Photography, Sophie Epton
Venue, Chateau Challain
Event planning, Vela Stories
Catering and cake, Les Saveurs Dupré
Flowers, Remi & Gold
Videography, Flavio Bandiera
Stationery, Vela Stories (design); Czar Press (printing)
Bride's gown, Vera Wang (ceremony); Nadine Merabi (reception)
Bride's accessories, Vera Wang veil; Christian Louboutin shoes (ceremony); Keds x Kate Spade shoes (reception); Olive and Piper; Ring Concierge
Hair and makeup, Trine Juel
Bridesmaids' dresses, Azazie; Birdy Grey; Hayley Paige; Jenny Yoo
Groom's attire and menswear, The Black Tux
Groom's shoes, Allen Edmonds
Rings, Derco Diamonds

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