It’s quite simple. I wish wish wish I had been at this absolutely gorgeous, fun filled wedding in the South of France. Image after image made me smile and many of them made me laugh out loud.  Pierre is originally from France so planning from the States was made that little bit easier with super family and friends at hand to help out. Dhale travelled to France with her best girls and got their trip off to a fab start with a bachelorette party in Paris… not jealous at all. I wish I could be friends with Dhale and Pierre in real life because after witnessing their wedding through the lens of  Maison Pestea Photography, it’s plain to see that these two are just one of the happiest couples you could meet, completely up for a party and really chilled out. And why wouldn’t you be when you meet the love of your life by chance in NYC and end up with a happy ever after like this one?

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So, how does a girl from the Philippines, living in California meet a French guy in NYC?

“At a bar! So yes, it is possible to meet the love of your life at a meat market :) I was still living in California at the time and I was in town visiting family and friends. He had been living and working in NYC  for the past year.

We got engaged in Cuba! Well, technically it was in the Kuna Yala Island in Panama. It was our “gateway” country from the U.S. (don’t tell the government!). He had been carrying the ring in his pocket from NYC to Panama and he was afraid of losing it. Plus we were supposed to meet his best friend in Cuba so he wanted to make it a more intimate moment. The morning after he proposed, our host on the island took us on a canoe and dropped us off on a small private island. It was amazing! And then we got to celebrate our engagement in Cuba for the net 10 days with plenty of mojitos.”

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“It was important to us to have a destination wedding and get married near his hometown (Bayonne- about 45 minutes from the border of Spain) in France. We always knew we would be getting married in the southwest of France- I mean, who doesn’t want to have a wedding in the French countryside?! Plus his grandparents are very old and unable to travel long distances. And it was imperative that they were there to celebrate with us! So we brought the wedding to them. The decision was a no-brainer! And my family and friends who flew in from NY and California didn’t put up too much a struggle when I told them they had to fly to France for the wedding.”

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“It was going to be a very small and intimate wedding so when it came to picking a venue, it was pretty easy to narrow them down. We definitely wanted it to be rustic so absolutely no hotels. We were planning our wedding in 6 months so we came across a few places (farms) that were already booked. After an extensive search on the French Google, I finally found La Pampa in Arcangues- a small horse farm previously owned by a famous Spanish singer named Luis Mariano.  It took a while to stumble across it in my searches for wedding venues because they can only accommodate around 70 people so it was listed under places for conferences or retreats. We immediately fell in love with the pictures on the website and the very next day, his parents went over there to visit.”

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“The biggest challenge we faced was the papers! We wanted to get married at the city hall in Bayonne prior to our religious wedding in Arcangues. Because Pierre was a resident, it was possible for us to have a legal ceremony but there was a TON of paperwork required! I was born and baptised in Philippines but moved to the U.S. when I was still little and I am a U.S. Citizen. ORIGINAL and government-validated birth certificates were required, plus I needed to have them officially translated into French by the French Embassy. And the Philippines did not mail these things to the U.S. but luckily I still have family over there that was able to do the legwork and overnight the documents to me in NY. It was nothing short of a nightmare.

Pierre’s parents were wonderful while planning. With the Atlantic Ocean and time difference against us, it was pretty tough for us to make contact with our vendors. His parents were great and did all the running around for us.”

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“Our style was personal, simple, rustic and low-maintenance. The invitations were handmade by me (I bought the materials from Paper Presentation in Manhattan) including the miniature bunting flags that were glued piece by piece. I downloaded a free template that I found on and printed them out on our printer at home. The bunting at the reception were handmade from fabric that I rummaged from Mood Fabric in Manhattan. Programs were also homemade. All these were made in NY and we brought them with us in our luggage along with some of the small decor were purchased on Amazon. We went to France for a wedding a few months before our own wedding, so we were able to purchase mason jars and other decor at some local shops in Bayonne. Personalizing our wedding with handmade stuff wasn’t as tedious as you’d think because we had such a small wedding (45 attendees!) so really, I only had to make a small handful of invitations, programs, etc. If we had 200 on our guestlist, that would have been another story! Pierre’s parents hired an amazing men’s choir to sing during our ceremony at the church. They sang purely in acapella and in the Basque language. It was beautiful! They are a well-known Basque choir named Adixkideak. Our Gâteau à la broche which is a traditional wedding cake in the Pyrenees was made by his grandma who didn’t expect us to use it for our wedding day as it’s more for parties, so that was special.”

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“The best decision we made was to get married in France! The wedding industry isn’t nearly as lucrative and overrated as it is here in the U.S. So that means the vendors are a lot less expensive (amazing quality too!) than what you would find here, especially in NYC! We had a spitfire whole roasted lamb (it was roasting over an open fire next to our dance floor outside so all the guests could see the action!), zucchini flan, roasted potatoes, 5 or 6 tray-passed tapas during cocktail hour (steamed mussels, hand-sliced whole leg of jambon de Bayonne, bacon-wrapped scallops, chorizo, etc.) and it only cost us less than $30 per person! Some of our guests even had a second helping of dinner! We provided our own libations and they provided us with a bartender. Anywhere in the U.S. and you’d be paying at least three times as much per head on a similar meal. Another GREAT thing about weddings in France is that they last a LONG time! Ours actually ended earlier than a typical wedding which usually ends around 5 or 6am (no, that’s not a typo!). Our cocktail hour started at 5pm and the last of our guests left the venue around 3:30am. We had SO much fun! And we didn’t have to feel like our wedding was happening in a blink of an eye.”

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“The wedding day was awesome but what really took us by surprise was how much fun we had the night before. We were at La Pampa decorating and putting together the flowers in mason jars with our closest friends. We must have been there for a good 6 hours sitting on the floor in a sea of cut up stems and plopping giant dahlias into the vases while a few of the guys hung up the bunting and lights (that kept blowing a fuse so we never had them turned on during the party).  But all the while, we were laughing and having a great time. At the end of the night, we opened a few bottles of homemade infused rum and toasted to friendship. I think we had as much fun that night as we did on our wedding day!”

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“Our only regret was we always thought it was annoying and cheesy to have a videographer but in the end, we kind of wished we got one because it would have been nice to see some of the key moments in action. We also didn’t stress too much on which kind of pictures to take so we allotted only about an hour for photographs during the cocktail hour. The rest of the photos were purely candid because we just didn’t want to take away from the moment and they are really cherished but in the end, there were a few shots we wished we had made time for.”

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See what I mean? Thank you so much to Pierre and Dhale for sharing their destination wedding story with us! Please check out Maison Pestea Photography for some more wedding goodness but not before taking on board Dhale’s final piece of advice.

“Don’t take the wedding so seriously. It’s a time for celebration, not stress! All the little details won’t matter in the end. People will only remember how much fun they had, so focus on enjoying this special moment with your husband and other loved ones.”

Photography; Maison Pestea Photography | Ceremony Venue; St. Jean Baptiste | Reception Venue; Le Pampa | Florist; Local Flower Farm near Arcanques | Cake; Home made Gâteau à la Broche | Invitations; Handmade by the Bride | Raux; Referred by La Pampa | Wedding Dress; RK Bridal – NYC | Groom’s Suit; Hackett |

6 Responses

  1. Dhale

    Thank you for your kind words, Lindsay! So honored to be part of your lovely blog! Reading this post definitely brings lots of warm fuzzies :)

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