Maya and Matthew hesitated between France and Morocco as the location of their wedding, but in the end France’s Provence won out- the “homely yet grand” feel of the “mas” or villa they found had the perfect vibe. The couple celebrated there joined by friends and family, planning their wedding without the help of a planner- though they would advise hiring one! Maya has more insight and advice below, after these sublime images by Petar Jurica.

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HOW THEY MET

“Matthew and I met in Shanghai in 2005. I was a student doing an internship and was supposed to leave Shanghai three months later. We had to make a decision pretty quickly and as we fell in love we decided to give it a go. Matthew came to France to meet my parents (he wanted them to know the guy I would be moving in with) and I met him in a cafe at the airport. And this is how our story begins. We moved in together, learnt about each other’s cultures- because yes, French and English do clash!

As time passed and despite the challenges life threw at us, we knew we  wanted to spend our life with each other and felt we were soulmates.We talked several times about getting married but the time never seemed right and as time passed it felt as if we were already married and so we put aside the idea all together. After all, who hasn’t thought that it would be better to spend the money on a down payement for an apartment rather than a wedding?! We left China in 2011, Matthew went to Morocco to start a business venture and I went to Switzerland to work. These years apart made us stronger and I guess as we were coming to our tenth year of partnership, we (I) thought it was the perfect opportunity to seal the deal- I guess you can consider that the proposal!  When we started the planning, we thought we’d keep everything quite light and casual but it soon took on a life of its own and before we knew it, it had become a pretty big affair. Getting married changed nothing and everything for us.

DESTINATION DECISION

At the early stage, we hesitated between France and Morocco but we both love Provence and thought at the time that it was more in-tune with the theme we had in mind. We rented an old mas in Tarascon for a week so our friends, who were flying from all around the world, could stay with us. We knew from experience that usually time flies on the day of your wedding so we wanted the opportunity to spend time with our friends and also for them to have a holiday, as we know the cost to attend a wedding is quite high. I only visited this Mas once and fell in love with it instantly. It had this homely feeling that we were looking for, yet it was grand. I also had a great contact with the owners, which was essential for us, as we wanted to be trusted to look after the property but have some freedom to organise the event as we saw fit.

CHALLENGES

We faced the same challenges every person doing a destination wedding would. The first big hurdle is the distance. You are not there to talk and meet with people (thank you Skype!!). Luckily for us, I spoke the language and I knew the business customs. I think the key for us was to find good service providers. The reality is that wedding is a big business and you can find a lot of service providers who attribute you a ticket, give you their one-size fits all proposal and make you pay a very high price for it. We knew exactly what we wanted and we needed to find people that were genuinely in love with their job, were ready to think a little outside of the box and wanted to be part of our story.  So the selection of the service providers was the most important part of the wedding and I think, aside from one or two disappointments, we chose well.

Another challenge is communications and making sure everyone is on the same page. You think you are crystal clear in your communications but whilst your wedding is the centre of your world at that time, it is certainly not the centre of your service providers’. I spent countless hours making PPTs to make sure every one understood what we wanted, the rundown of the day etc. We decided not to use a planner. We didn’t have the budget but we were also worried that it wouldn’t really be our wedding but rather someone else’s version of our wedding.  If you have project management skills, I think you can manage without but it requires a lot of time, effort and strength.

STYLE

The overall theme was to receive our friends and family in our dream home and to celebrate together on the day in an informal, relaxed and natural way. I know people say that it is the bride/groom day but for us it was our guests’ day so we put a lot of emphasis on activities and making sure they were not just onlookers but rather felt part of a group of great people enjoying a great day together. The venue was pretty stunning so there was not much to do to it. Our florist Marina worked her magic, added a few elements to make the venue even more special and I added some personal touches. We chose something in tune with Provence.

BEST DECISION

The best decision we made I guess was towards the ceremony. Matthew and I are not religious, but we wanted a ceremony that reflected us. This was the part that required the most work and preparation. We asked our Dads to marry us and we constructed the ceremony around four key values that we, as a couple, wish to stand by. We then asked friends and family to speak about these values in their own words. Some of it was in French, some of it in English. We added a few texts that were important to us. It was a magic moment for us but we think for our friends as well. Many of them told us they wished they had personalised theirs as such.

ADVICE

Above we say we didn’t use a planner. Well, right at the beginning of the organisation, I told Matthew “whatever we do or whatever our budget, we must take on a planner for the day”. Fast forward eight months, this very valuable advice got lost… That is my only advice/regret. If you organise your wedding, get a planner for the day. Don’t rely on yourself, the family, the bridesmaids (who also want to have fun!). Have someone running around and keeping in check the service providers. The reality is that on the day, you want to be a bride and groom and forget about everything else.”

Photography: Petar Jurica | Ceremony & Reception Venue: Le Mas des Prêcheurs (0033676685696) | Florist: Bucolique by Marina | Cake: Mechoui Nomade | Catering: Mechoui Nomade | Hair Stylist: Antony Mauron | Makeup Artist: Camille Bonardi | Bride’s Dress: Hervé Mariage (custom made) | Bride’s Shoes: Manolo Blank | Groom’s Suit & Shoes: Hugo Boss | DJ: Nuit Blanche DJ | Decor: Sous le Lampion

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