In designing this intimate wedding story with a French country chic wedding mood, lavender and honey palette and wild, sculptural blooms, we sought to showcase the many ways a smaller guest count can elevate your opportunities for celebration, both aesthetically and experientially. Hosted at a stunning European-style wedding venue in the US, River Oaks, we were inspired to tell the story of Elle & Timothée – a couple we imagined met in the quaint Provencal village of Ménerbes. She, a watercolor painter from Galway, spent time there as an artist in residence, while he, an architect from Charleston, was just passing through on a historical preservation project.
Their meet-cute at the market led to a home-cooked dinner and midnight stroll through the cobblestoned town, sharing stories all the way through sunrise. In the months following, they found themselves traveling to many a destination together – Lucerne, Salzburg, Lake Como… an idyllic backdrop for falling in love. It was on a rooftop in Paris where Timothée finally proposed, presenting her with an antique engagement ring that had been passed down in his family for generations.
We are so fortunate to have worked with Amy Mulder Photography for this small fete, whose sun-kissed gallery has us weak at the knees every time we glimpse back on this day. From the portraits to the details, Amy’s approach to storytelling reaps the most beautiful results!
Shasta Bell Calligraphy illustrated the most exquisite custom heraldry to appear across all the paper details from the welcome bags to the grazing table cornucopias. The scroll sized invitation with hand-written calligraphy and the perfectly subtle glint is a testament to her unique ability to create designs that are equally bold and timeless.
The Welcome Bag in particular featured charcuterie goods wrapped in muslin cloth stamped with the couple’s heraldry and tied with organic twine, which was a perfect match for the deckle edge paper name tags with plant-dyed silk ribbon. Each guest would also receive a booklet of calligraphed recipes tying to favorite meals from T&E’s travels together, a signature fragrance room spray featuring a captivating jasmine scent, a silk patterned scarf to wear on the Welcome Sunset Sail in Charleston and finally, a pencil sketch of River Oaks with a watercolor pigment travel set nodding to the couple’s passions.
The morning of the wedding, Elle spent time in a state of easy-going bliss, writing her vows, drinking tea by the window and moseying towards the mist-enveloped dock to paint a watercolor scene of the wedding morning – a surprise for her husband-to-be. Meanwhile, Timothée took a drive in a classic car, taking in the beauty of the natural surroundings as he goes. As afternoon set in, the Provencal style cottage was transformed into a flourishing dreamscape with billowing greenery, seasonal bulbs and artisanal furniture composed in organic, nature-forward vignettes throughout.
Aided by her mother, Elle stepped into a ruffled midi gown with intricate crochet lace from Daalarna Couture. Accompanied by crystal pavé earrings with resin pearl drops from Oscar de la Renta, Italian-made patent leather pumps from Gianvito Rossi and a center, oval cut yellow diamond engagement ring from Croghan’s Jewel Box, she couldn’t have been a more stunning bride!
Katie Gurley Artistry was the genius behind her loose, braided updo with a natural, yet confident makeup look highlighting Elle’s best features, and a hand-painted tiara from Erin Rhyne with golden clay flowers and leaves completed the look. Later, as Elle would step into a second gown with puffed sleeves, a high ruffled neck and a long, sweeping skirt, Katie would style her hair with a heart-flutteringly whimsical tiered crown. J’adore!
Now, Isibeal Studio is truly a Renaissance master when it comes to floral design, and her artistic compositions in this setting alone prove the vastness of her creative range. Loose tangles of hellebore, sweet pea and fritillaria (to name a few!) made up the texture-forward bouquet trailing with a simple, raw silk ribbon. And they made another appearance in the cozy courtyard ceremony vignette featuring a wild, asymmetrical ocean of blooms.
Tucked amidst the vibrant bursts of color were antique bistro chairs draped in gauzy linen that fluttered in the wind. Guests were greeted with hand-crafted cocktails served in etched crystal coupes, and all eyes were on Timothée as he waited for his bride. Wearing a bespoke, tailored suit from M. Dumas & Sons, the vintage herringbone tweed jacket and silk pocket square were a match made in heaven!
Following the Ceremony, a grazing table with seasonally-inspired dishes sat beneath a cloud of textured blooms + grasses. The perfectly imperfect presentation featured mixed wooden bowls, vintage platters and calligraphed cornucopias spilling with savory and sweet treats, such as honey & lavender brie and strawberry tartine.
Harvest Catering approached each dish the marvelous attention to detail, creativity and quality they are so well-known for, and the result was a scrumptious + dynamic including the following: Parmesan Flan with Shaved Zucchini and Mint, Soft Scrambled Eggs with Caviar, Flounder Meuniere, Snap Pea, Radish and Feta Salad and Tiny Herbed Potatoes with Aoili.
The al fresco dinner table was laden with organic arrangements in clay pots intermingled with stubby beeswax candles hand-dipped in England. The pearlescent linen from Stradley Davidson gave the table sophisticated “weight” without making it feel heavy, and the hand-thrown ceramic plates from a local maker were wrapped loosely with a soft cotton napkin.Vintage silverware was tied with silk ribbons and petite calligraphed place cards, and thick plant-dyed menus featuring the golden heraldry sat at each setting. It was a storybook scene backdropped by colorful blooms crescendoing upwards in loose waves against the cottage.
Inside, surrounded by light honey candles with romantic, drippy wax, the couple shared their First Dance to “Harvest Moon.” Following dinner, dancing and general merriment, the couple and their guests enjoyed a traditional croquembouche spilling with caramel floss and fresh lilac blooms.
All in all, it was a truly memorable day proving just how meaningful each moment can be because of a smaller guest count, not in spite of it. Thank you for letting us share this story, and we hope it honors and inspires couples planning a wedding during this season throughout the world.
We’ve curated the top wedding venues in Provence in a free resource for you here. If you love this French country wedding mood as much as we do, be sure to see which luxury resort, elegant chateau or charming bastide might be the best match for you!
Photography: Amy Mulder Photography
Planning, Design and Styling: Willow & Oak Events
Floral Design: Isibeal Studio
Venue: River Oaks
Hair & Makeup: Katie Gurley Artistry
Stationery & Calligraphy: Shasta Bell Calligraphy
Bridal Gowns: Daalarna Couture
Bridal Headpieces: Erin Rhyne
Bridal Heels: René Caovilla and Gianvito Rossi
Bridal Earrings: Oscar de la Renta
Engagement Ring & Wedding Bands: Croghan’s Jewel Box
Suit: M. Dumas & Sons
Linen: Stradley Davidson
Food & Beverage: Harvest Catering