While enjoying a morning picnic looking out over Sydney Harbour, a very romantic proposal unfolded as Patrick got down on one knee to pop the question to Claire. Of course, she said yes and today, we’re the lucky ladies who get to share their relaxed countryside wedding in France! In a happy turn of events, Claire’s mother revealed a hidden talent for wedding planning so the couple didn’t need to hire a planner, and in another serendipitous twist, the date that suited most guests for the wedding day turned out to be exactly one year from the date they got engaged! Amazing. More from our bride Claire below, but first have a look at all the pretty that Annie Gozard captured:

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DECIDING ON A DESTINATION WEDDING

“With my family being much larger, and Patrick’s family being spread around the world, deciding to get married in France was quite simple. Organising a wedding in France from Australia wasn’t nearly so simple, but we’ve been lucky to benefit from the fantastic support from our relatives. My mum actually revealed a hidden talent as a wedding planner! She even sourced hats for all guests, which were a gift from Compiegne Rowing Club. In the end we didn’t need to use a wedding planner at all.” 

THE WEDDING STYLE

“Neither of us had very specific ideas about what the wedding should look like, but it was important from the start that a few small details from both of us were incorporated in the day. We both agreed that good food, drinks and fun with family and friends was to rule the day. And we wanted crepes. That, we knew. And a cheese tower instead of a wedding cake.

We had no theme in mind to start with, but being in my parent’s backyard in a small country town, a “champetre” (fancy garden party) theme was natural. And the colour scheme was another simple decision, based on my favourite pair of bright orange shoes. Feeling a little guilty that we would be flying in to France, getting married and flying off again, we wanted to include personal touches where we could. The invitations were home-made, and we spent many hours hunched over a sewing machine making garlands to decorate the garden on the day. Our shared love of cycling was a recurring theme, from the bridal party transport to our thank-you gift of bike horns for the guests- which were a big hit with the kids!

The downside of it all was that we quickly discovered the negative aspect of an international marriage… paperwork! Our main advice to anyone in the same situation is to get on top of it all very early. Obtaining visas, documents and translations for the marriage was both stressful and painful. The most stressful point was that we only got confirmation a week before flying out that Claire was allowed to leave Australia to get married. The positive out of this was that nothing else mattered, if we could attend our own wedding the rest had no importance. As long as I could stand by my husband on my wedding day to say “Oui”, the rest would be a bonus.” 

BEST DECISION

“Trying to pick a venue from the other side of the world based on website images seemed risky and a little impersonal. Thankfully, Claire’s parents came to the rescue and offered to have the wedding in their backyard. With guests coming from all over the world, picking the date was based on who could travel when, and by chance the wedding day ended up being exactly 1 year from the day we got engaged. That was it! We could simply have it the way we wanted with no limit to our inspiration. We had just a civil ceremony in the local Mairie on the Saturday, which was made a little special by the mayor for the international guests, and the celebrations continued until Monday, dedicated to spending time with family and friends around drinks and food.”

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT & ADVICE

“Quite early on in the organisation of the wedding day, we knew we’d have our session of photos before the ceremony, but little did we know how valuable this time was going to be for us. The morning of the wedding, the last minute preparations went into overdrive, and with my parents’ place being only around the corner from the Mairie, guests started to arrive early… and the chaos began. Meeting Annie, our photographer, for the photo session was a welcome relief, and gave us a few quiet moments together, as well as a chance to spend some quality time with the bridal party. Once the ceremony began, the rest of the day was a whirlwind.

As long as you both make it to your wedding day, nothing else matters! We didn’t end up having crepes- Patrick had prepared the batter but we totally forgot to serve them, but at the end of the day it wasn’t important at all. Weddings are a rare chance to see all your friends and family in one place, especially when people are scattered all over the world, so make the most of it. Continuing the celebrations in the days after the wedding gave us a real chance to spend quality time with friends and family.”

Thanks so much to Claire and Patrick for sharing their story with us, and to Annie Gozard for these beautiful images.

Photography; Annie Gozard | Florist; Garden and La Fontaine Fleurie | Cake; Cheese Tower by Renald Sueur | Invitations; DIY | Catering; Renald Sueur and Sebastien Vanbeselaere’s Le Gastrodom | Bride’s Dress for Ceremony; Her mother’s dress from Pronuptia, 1977 | Bride’s Evening Dress; Ralph Lauren | Bride’s Shoes; Sambag and  Florsheim | Groom’s Suit; InStitchu | Groom’s Shoes; Volley’s

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