The wedding we have for you today is a double whammy: not only is it celebrated in a beautiful lavender field in Provence but the bride, My-Van, runs a design blog and has included her own DIY tutorials for lots of the wedding details! My-Van and Ken are US and Canadian citizens who have traveled all over the world but returned to the country in which they met for their beautiful DIY destination wedding. Stay tuned after these lovely images by Inge Kathleen for their full story.

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Meeting and Getting Engaged

Ken and I met while backpacking in Paris, France in the summer of 2007. When we found out that we were neighbors back home (he’s from Vancouver and I’m from Seattle) we became fast friends. Officially, we had our first date in London, and then we maintained a long-distance relationship while he returned home and I moved to New York, eventually moving to South Korea where I taught English. Near the end of my year in Korea, the night before my birthday, I received a surprise knock on my door. I opened it to find Ken on the other side. After the initial shock of seeing him in my apartment half way around the world, he asked me to marry him. After two years of chasing me around the world through Skype dates and instant messages, he’d finally found a way to bring me home.

Dream Wedding Plans

Having an intimate ceremony in a field of lavenders was the wedding of my dreams. I’d seen the amazing photos of the lavender fields of Provence. It seemed to be the only choice to get married here, back in the country where we first met. This way, we could also continue our travels with an extended honeymoon in Europe. I don’t know how we could have had a wedding in Provence without renting a country house for a week where we could cook our own meals with fresh produce from the local markets and fatten ourselves on baguettes and rosé wine. I dreamed of a fancy house where we could comfortably host our small wedding party so they could have a mini vacation. I wanted it to be central for exploring and a little sightseeing. I found the perfect house at Maison de Maitresse, in a small village just outside of Avignon.

Planning a destination wedding took a lot of forethought. I took care of all the planning from my laptop in Vancouver. We couldn’t afford to make trips to France to look for the lavender field or to source vendors, so we figured out ways to handle it ourselves. Ken and I are seasoned travelers, especially in Europe, so we knew which flights and trains to look into to get the best deals. As our wedding party came from all corners of the world, we acted as their travel agents. I’ve always been very crafty, so I took on all types of DIY projects, keeping in mind portability so they could be packed easily into our suitcases.

DIY

The project I took on with the biggest leap of faith was my wedding dress. Unable to find a simple dress that had a vintage quality to it without a bunch of beads, sequins, and tulle, I looked to other avenues of shopping. I found a plain white dress with a short train at Goodwill, a thrift store in Seattle. It was completely perfect except that it didn’t fit me properly! I was able to find a dressmaker who could convert the dress into something more fitting for a Provencal destination wedding. I say it was a huge leap of faith because I had no idea what the final outcome looked like until three weeks before we left for France. Thankfully, it turned out perfectly! With a handmade belt I purchased, a pair of purple platform heels (to make it easier to walk in the field), and a white hair fascinator that I made myself, the wedding dress was complete. For the reception decor, Dom (my man of honour) and I worked together to set the table hanging up tissue pom-poms and lighting candles in tin-punched candle holders.

The Wedding Day

There were only seven people present at the wedding ceremony and each had a role to play. These included Ken and I, the photographer (Inge), the videographer (Stefano), my man of honor (Dom), Ken’s best man (Aaron), and the officiant (Binh). Having such great friends who believed and loved our vision really helped to execute the ceremony so seamlessly. They all worked tirelessly to help Ken and I with all the things we needed done.

The day of the wedding started early with Inge and I making a trip to the store to buy produce and ingredients for our ceremony dinner. The guys were put on duty to prep the food and set up the dinner table while Inge and Stefano set about documenting all the activities. I did my own makeup and hair. Ken and I went in separate cars, so he got to the field before I did. His back was turned when I got out of the car and walked down the field to meet him. I hadn’t seen him all afternoon. I couldn’t believe this was finally happening. Even though there was almost no one around us, we still felt nervous about being the center of attention. Our officiant did a great job at delivering the speech. Ken and I exchanged our personal vows and then we were pronounced husband and wife. It was the most amazing feeling.

In the evening, we had dinner at the house, prepared and cooked by the wedding party (I’m so proud of them!). I’m so grateful for how willingly and wonderfully everyone worked. Most of the guys didn’t know their way around a kitchen, but they put an excellent repast on the table. The perfect day ended with a perfect meal well into the night, just like the French do. We spent the remainder of the week at Maison de Maitresse just as I imagined we would: dining on excellent home-cooked meals and drinking delicious French wine, occasionally taking day trips to Aix-en-Provence or Orange. Most of the time we were content with afternoon naps and taking dips in the pool at the house. It was sad to come to the end of the week. Ken and I embarked on our honeymoon in Italy and Germany while everyone else made their way home to London, Vancouver, and Barcelona. 

Advice

Planning a destination wedding yourself can be very daunting, especially for us with a country where we weren’t fluent in the language and couldn’t afford to make any pre-ceremony trips. Our biggest resource was the Internet for our research. Detailed planning is extremely key. Even with a small wedding party like the one we had, I created a “day-of timeline” for each person. It alleviated any need for duplicate questions (i.e. what should I do now?). My wedding party knew exactly where they needed to be and what they needed to do at every hour of the day. That way, I could worry about my own schedule and getting myself ready. This was the best way I could think to delegate. These timelines took a TON of stress off everyone’s shoulders. Because I intended for us to make our ceremony dinner, I also pulled together recipes in advance for all the items on the menu. That way, the cooks in the kitchen knew exactly what to do, again, without my supervision. Throughout the day, I tried to enjoy every moment of the preparation and the ceremony itself. I refused to let the day go by in a blur and I’m glad to say that all my planning paid off. There’s nothing I don’t remember about that day. Having a great photographer and videographer who documented every second of it helped too.

Thanks so much to My-Van for all her advice! Her blog, Redesigned By M, is definitely worth a look. Thanks also to Inge Kathleen for sharing these lovely images with us. We’re back tomorrow with more FAB groom inspiration and our top 5 weddings of the week.

Photography: Inge Kathleen Photography | Ceremony Venue: Lavender field | Videographer: Stefano Buliani (Friend) | Reception Venue: Maison de Maitresse | Flowers: Maison de Maitresse | Stationery & Invitations: DIY | Catering: DIY | Wedding Dress: Thrifted Goodwill dress; redesign by Lilianne’s Bridal (no website) | Bridal Belt: Etsy | Bride’s Shoes: Amazon | Bride’s Jewellery: Macy’s | Groom’s Suit: Alfani at Macy’s | Groom’s Shoes: Aldo | Groomsmen Suits: Their own | Car Hire: Europcar | Wedding Celebrant: Binh Ho (Friend) | Hair Accessory: DIY | Hair & Make Up Artist: Bride did her own| Décor Rentals & Hire: DIY

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