Dinner and a Show: This 3-Day Wedding in France Ended With an Epic String Concert
New Orleans natives Anne and Ben grew up in the same area, but didn't connect until after college. "We were always dating other people at the time, so it wasn't even a thought," says Anne. "Flash-forward to January 2014 where we were both single and hanging out together with mutual friends, and it just kind of happened."
After seven years of dating, Ben planned to propose atop a mountain during a ski trip to Aspen—but made a last-minute decision to alter his plans on the night the couple arrived. "He realized I probably would not want this to happen in a public setting and I'm not the best skier, so he ended up proposing after dinner that night by ourselves drinking wine," says Anne. "I woke up to a doorbell the next day and my best friend and maid of honor was at the door to surprise me."
Anne and Ben chose the French Riviera for their destination wedding on April 30, 2022. "Our goal was to have a smaller intimate wedding with all of our closest friends and family," says Anne. "We wanted to provide a truly unique experience for our guests who traveled such a distance with of course delicious food and constant entertainment throughout the weekend." For three days, their 90 guests stayed at Chateau Saint-Martin & Spa in Vence, France, where the pair hosted a welcome party, rehearsal dinner, wedding ceremony, and dinner reception.
White Eden Weddings, a Cannes-based planning team, helped them source local gifts for the welcome bags, a violin group from Paris for the reception entertainment, and lush boughs of hanging wisteria that adorned the inside of their iron-framed glass tent. "We wanted everything to feel as laid-back as possible just like we are," says Anne.
Home Away From Home
After narrowing their venue search to Cote D'Azur on the French Riviera, Anne and Ben focused on finding a space they could reserve in its entirety for guests. "We picked the Chateau Saint-Martin not only because it was a beautiful venue, but it was truly unique having all of our closest friends and family in one chateau for a three-day celebration," says Anne. "The amazing panoramic view looking over the French Riviera really won us over—and so did being able to accommodate all 90 guests for the weekend."
Playing the Blues
An invitation suite from Crème de Papier allowed Anne and Ben to incorporate their chosen accent color with French blue envelopes—which included a custom drawing of the venue on the liner—and letterpress printing. "The invitation, weekend details card, and RSVP card were all tied together with a light blue velvet ribbon that matched the envelope," says Anne. "The light blue that was used on the invitation was also included as small accents on the wedding day."
In the Bag
Upon their arrival at the chateau, guests received a tote bag with a custom-drawn map of the French Riviera—including the wedding venue—filled with locally-sourced drinks, snacks, and other small gifts.
After a casual welcome party—with live cooking stations and a DJ—to kick off the weekend, Anne and Ben hosted a White Party for their rehearsal dinner. "We wanted to give our guests the Cannes beach restaurant experience," says Anne.
Sea glass-toned jugs were painted with each guests' name to display the seating arrangements for the rehearsal dinner. The Troubadors Riviera Strolling Band performed during the meal.
Natural woven placemats, colorful candles, and bright pink, yellow, and orange florals created a festive tablescape for the rehearsal dinner. "Since everyone was wearing white and our wedding day had a neutral color scheme, White Eden Weddings chose colorful vibrant flowers to mix it up," says Anne.
Simple and Chic
Although Anne had a definite vision for her gown—"I was looking for a very simple, minimal flare at the bottom, and a chic, classic dress," she says—her short timeline limited her options. "I did not want anything over the top, poofy, beaded, or lace, which left me with only a small section of the boutique," she says. "I finally found the Suzanne Neville dress and it was perfect! Simple but elegant." The white crepe off-the-shoulder gown was accented with a low back and a line of buttons; she added a Toni Federici veil.
To continue the day's timeless, neutral color palette, Anne carried a bouquet of all-white blooms accented with spring green leaves from florist Miss Rose by Perrine.
In the Navy
Anne and Ben chose navy for their wedding party, allowing the dark shade to complement the white florals and lighter blue paper accents. "I always tend to lean towards the color blue," says the bride. "I decided to let everyone pick out their own dress that they would hopefully want to wear again within the color scheme of navy or navy floral mix."
Setting the Scene
The couple lined their aisle and backdrop with white hydrangea, bellflowers, astilbe, broom, and surfinia that felt "already part of the garden area," says Anne.
In the Garden
White chairs and flowers, chosen to stand out against the chateau's lush grass and landscape, were set up near the property's fountain for the ceremony.
Ben waited at the altar while Anne's father walked her down the aisle—which is when the pair got first look at each other on their wedding day. He wore a Harper & Jones custom peak lapel suit in blue herringbone fabric from Loro Piana, and a burgundy tie and pocket square. He had similar suits made for his groomsmen—each of their jackets featured a custom-picked inner lining.
Officiant Tiago Barroso from Peter Madan Weddings led Anne and Ben through a ceremony that included nearly-spontaneous vows. "He told us that he does not ask the couples to memorize their vows so everything is from the heart and in the moment," says Anne. But when it came time for the bride and groom to repeat the traditional part of the text, they unintentionally made it their own. "Ben first said, 'lovely wedded wife,' and then corrected himself, saying, 'awfully wedded wife,'" says Anne. "All of our friends and family were crying laughing. Of course, I was whispering to him and telling him he said the wrong word. To top it off, when it came down to me saying my vows, I also said, 'awfully wedded husband.' Let's just say this was a very us thing to do."
The New Mr. and Mrs.
After their vows, the guests tossed white flower petals as the duo recessed back up the aisle to Ellie Goulding's "Love Me Like You Do."
Under the Rainbow
Servers behind a monogrammed bar mixed the couple's signature drinks—an old fashioned and a specialty blend called Saint-Martin—and poured Domaine d'Ott rose (one of the bride and groom's favorite wines). "Right after our ceremony, it started to rain a bit—which is never ideal for an outdoor wedding—but luckily it was a quick shower," says Anne. "It left us with a beautiful rainbow at the cocktail party on the terrace."
Up in the Air
The dinner reception was held inside a black iron-framed glass tent, where a central podium for the performers was surrounded by white lounge furniture. "I saw a picture with the hanging wisteria and fell in love, so we thought it would be nice to have most of the florals hanging from the ceiling and smaller florals with candles on the tables," says Anne. "I always hate when I can't see a guest across the table because of the tall flowers." Nearly 100 glass ball pendants dropped below the hanging wisteria to light the space.
Going for Gold
Beige velvet linens set off gold-edged chargers, white and gold flatware, and gold-rimmed glassware. The chateau's Michelin-starred chef provided a multi-course dinner that included marbled foie gras with apple and rhubarb chutney, fillet of turbot, and beef wellington.
A Stunning Entrance
Instead of a full band, Anne and Ben hired a group of violinists from Inspiration for their dinner entertainment. "Entering the tent was definitely a WOW moment for me," says Anne. "Everyone was in such awe of the violinists, to the point where no one looked for where they were supposed to sit and just stood there, mesmerized. They were incredible."
The newlyweds brought their "dinner and a show" vision to life by hiring a singer to perform with the violinists during the evening. "[She started] with low tempo songs and a few French classic songs," says Anne. "She gradually got more high tempo towards the end, starting with 'Lean On' by Major Lazor."
Her Mini Moment
For the couple's disco-inspired after-party, Anne changed into a strapless mini-dress embellished with sequins and feathers from Retrofete.
Ready to Party
Guests continued to celebrate after the reception at one of the chateau's bars. "It was hilarious, because if you looked around, one of our guests was in a Chateau Saint-Martin Robe and other guests were in the Chateau Saint-Martin slippers," says Anne. "We all got very comfortable at the chateau by the end of the weekend and looked like we had been living there for a week."
Photography, Julia Kaptelova
Venue and Catering, Château Saint-Martin & Spa
Event Planning, White Eden Weddings
Flowers, Miss Rose by Perrine
Officiant, Tiago Barroso
Stationery, Crème de Papier
Cake, Made in Cake
Rentals, Decoflamme; Latini Design; Maison Options
Bride's Gown, Suzanne Neville
Bride's Accessories, Toni Federici veil; Alexandre Birman shoes; Aucoin Hart Jewelers earrings
Hair and Makeup, Amandine Baron
Groom's Attire and Menswear, Harper & Jones
Groom's Shoes, Scarpe di Bianco
Favors, Shanty Biscuits; Une Pincée de Provence
Guest Book, Assouline
Reception Dress, Retrofete
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