I have been so excited to share these exquisite images with you for quite sometime. We are proud as punch that three of our Little Book Wedding Directory members played such an important role on this day.
Designer Sassi Halford dressed both brides, the wonderful Shropshire Petals provided the real petal confetti and photographer Richard Skins captured these images – and let me tell you, it took quite some time to whittle down Richard’s original choice of 200 photographs to an edit I could use in this feature, they are all just so gorgeous and bursting with loving smiles and joy!
This is the wedding of West End and Musical Actor Suzie, who married TV Producer Laura at the majestic Chateau de Lisse in Reaup-lisse, South West France. The couple’s day was bursting with happiness – friends and family gathered as they recounted how they met during their ceremony and went on to dine outdoors in the warm French sunshine.
Sassi Holford + Follow
“We initially spent four days driving around the South of France looking for venues and it was then that we developed a real sense of what it is we wanted for our wedding.”
“We really wanted it to capture our love for our family and friends and our sense of adventure, so we made it a four day event where we had family only in the Chateau and some of our closest friends in the local town. Grandmas, Aunties, Uncles, Cousins and of course our Parents and Siblings were all in the one place.”
“The first night (Monday) was a family only pizza night in the grounds of the Chateau where we celebrated with Champagne and French music as everyone arrived.”
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“The Tuesday evening just so happened to be the local Nérac summer market so we met all of our guests for some rosé, local delights and live music by the water.”
“The Wednesday was the big day. We had the ceremony inside the incredible 13th Century chapel attached to the Chateau. (this was a big venue selling point for us) Our champagne reception was out the front of the Chateau with a live jazz band and the meal was in the courtyard area framed by the turrets of the Chateau.”
Richard Skins Photography + Follow
“We finished off the big day with our first dance outside, under the garland lights, followed by a ceilidh and dance in the wine cellar. The Thursday was an amazing pool party at the Chateau.”
“We had a big BBQ for all of our guests coupled with lots of swimming, table tennis and relaxing picnics in the grounds. On the Friday morning we all said our goodbyes and went on our separate European holidays.”
“She was an absolute delight to work with, and the morning after our wedding even turned up with fresh croissants when she came to pick up her vases and props. Again, we would highly recommend this supplier.”
“We are both from Australia and had been living in London, following our passions, when we met and our relationship blossomed during our incredible travel adventures around Europe.”
“Coupled with this, we are both Scottish Australians so have a lot of family in the UK, and we love the warm weather that we have in Australia. Although we have no natural ties to France somehow it just felt right for us to get married there.”
“Northern Hemisphere, warm summer weather and a 4 day adventure with our nearest and dearest in a beautiful French Chateau.”
“Suzie had moved to London to audition for musicals on the West End and Laura had moved to London to continue her work in television. Not long after we had both settled, a mutual friend suggested that we meet up for a drink sometime – basically neither of us had any friends and they thought we might get along.”
“We were introduced through Facebook (on Laura’s birthday) and after the normal pleasantries the exchange went something like this:
S: I’d love to meet up for a drink. Where do you live?
L: Great. I’m in Parsons Green. How about you?
(In London, we all know that you travel forever on the tube to get anywhere so the automatic assumption is we’ll meet in town – maybe Covent Garden – we’ll have a drink and then flit off to our respective sides of the city and if all goes well catch up again in a week or two)
S: No way. I live in Parsons Green. Where are you?”
“Turns out – we were neighbours! That first drink lasted hours and in the first week we caught up 4 times. The second week was similar and within a month or so the friendship had moved onto more.”
“We had so many friends in common from Australia, had attended the same events, dined at the same restaurants – but had just never crossed paths.”
“Having two brides, the getting ready process was always going to be slightly tricky – especially as we decided to use the same hair and make-up artists. We started getting ready apart. Hair downstairs and make-up upstairs.”
“The idea was that we would rotate and not see each other once the process of getting ready had begun.”
“What we hadn’t planned for is the Chateau Wifi being ‘unavailable’ and us having no reception for the entire stay. This meant that due to the size of the venue people were constantly trying to find each other – either due to having to quickly brief a supplier or missing each other on the transition. As a result, timings went askew, and we had delays.
By the way, the couple’s hair and makeup artists were Bethany Alden and Ariana Rose, supplied via Makeup by Jodie.
“To combat this and try and make up some time, we decided on the fly to continue our hair and makeup together and separated when it came time to put our dresses on.”
“I really wish we had just done this from the start – by trying to stick to a tradition we just overcomplicated the process. We love the pictures of us when we are getting ready together too.”
“We didn’t have bridesmaids. We had the French tradition of temoin (witnesses) and adapted it a little. We chose four of our best friends to take on the role of a witness, someone who has observed the growth of our relationship and promises to help support and guide us along the way… a bit like ‘wedding godparents’!”
“We ended up buying our flower girl dresses from Monsoon, we added an ivory sash to match our dresses.”
“Our height definitely came into consideration when buying shoes; 5ft 2 Suzie wore a nude pair of Kurt Geiger stiletto heels – the highest we could find. 5ft 10 Laura wore an ivory pair of Alan Pinkus shoes – not too high but still a heel.”
“We were both dressed by Sassi Halford – a complete coincidence. We realised we had both picked the same designer quite early in the piece but kept each other’s dresses secret until the we saw each other in the ceremony.”
“Words cannot express how incredible Sassi and the team at their South Kensington store were. Visiting them was one of the highlights of the lead up. They were a dream for both of us and were always so excited and happy to see us.”
“They also made tweaks and gave us advice to make sure the dresses complemented each other perfectly on the day. Honestly, we can’t recommend them highly enough.”
“We initially met Sassi at a wedding fair and she was so lovely that we decided we should each book a visit to her boutique. We were both attracted to the same sort of style – classic, A-line and feminine.”
“This was the only part of the dress-decision process we discussed, right at the start. When we first met Sassi she encouraged us to both find dresses that reflected our individual style and told us not to worry about ‘matching’ each other which we both took on board in our search for our perfect dress.”
“We booked around 5 or 6 appointments each and separately had the amazing experience of dress shopping with our Mums as both made the effort to fly from Australia for the occasion. Ultimately, we were drawn to the quality of Sassi’s dresses, the beauty of the cuts, the joy of the experience and the fact that it just felt right.”
“We both wore the same veil (another co-incidence) but were gently guided along the way by the Sassi Holford team. It was the Chloe Veil from The Couture Veil.”
“Both of us were walked down the aisle by our Dads (Suzie with her dad Gordon first, followed by Laura with her dad Paul). We chose something very traditional to accompany us – Panis Angelicus.”
“We picked the Kings College version as our first trip together was a weekend away in Cambridge where we will never forget hearing the choir for the first time.”
“We used the wonderful Moira Stephen. We loved how professional and experienced she was, her background in English Literature led to many lovely suggestions for quotes and readings. She had a wonderful nature, was very happy to work with us until our ceremony was exactly how we wanted it to be.”
“We used the traditional vows as we felt it fit nicely with the ceremony and were very moved by their simplicity and gravitas. We felt they said it all.”
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“We had two readings and three songs during our ceremony. Both of our Mums read. Joyce, Suzie’s mum read ‘I Love You’, by Roy Croft and Dorothy, Laura’s mum read ‘How Falling in Love is like Owning a Dog’.
“We also had our friend David Harris sing ‘The Luckiest’, by Ben Folds. We had a choir of our West End and Broadway friends sing a choral arrangement of ‘A Moment Like This’, by Kelly Clarkson (a song that tied into the proposal!) and all of our guests sang along to ‘Happy Together’, by The Turtles, while we finalised the signing – it was a real highlight of the ceremony.”
“We were together just over two years before Suzie proposed. This is an excerpt from our ceremony that perfectly describes the proposal…”
Moira (our Celebrant): “Of course, it took a proposal to get us here today. Many of you will know what happened but it’s a story worth remembering and I’m going to tell it in their words…”
“Laura first – ‘It was two nights before we were heading away to Australia together for the first time. It was our ONLY opportunity to start (and finish!) packing! I headed home from work and opened the communal door at the bottom of the stairs to our building. As I climbed the first set of stairs, I could hear music playing, unusual in our usually quiet block.”
“As I got closer, I could hear the song A Moment Like This playing and realized it was coming from our apartment – ‘Fantastic!’ I thought to myself, ‘Suzie is POWER-BALLAD packing for Australia! She is getting organised!’
‘As I got closer to our door, I noticed a note stuck on the outside. I immediately began having imaginary arguments with our unreasonable neighbours downstairs – I thought the note was a music complaint.”
‘And then I saw it – …(it was a note from Suzie…); ‘My darling Laura, From the day we met I knew we had something special, I couldn’t have predicted just how special, but I knew that this wonderful, positive, funny and intelligent girl would be in my life now, forever.’
I opened our front door. Straight in front of me I saw the first photo we ever had together – back at Fulham Wine Rooms. I looked around, the hallway was completely lined with candles and red roses, and along the wall were hundreds of photos, an actual walk down memory lane, through the last three years of our wonderful lives together.”
‘Punting in Cambridge, our first trip away together to Copenhagen, alone at Edinburgh Castle at midnight, outdoor skating in Vienna, birthdays, anniversaries, moving in together!’
‘So many incredible photos and memories, with little notes leading me from one to another, the soundtrack of our relationship playing in the background… The beginning of the proposal.’
‘I opened the big double doors in the hallway, all covered with photos – and revealed our kitchen and loungeroom COMPLETELY candlelit with hundreds of candles, and photos of our incredible life together stuck all over the walls. ‘Your Song’ began to play.’
‘My favourite song. I looked around and there Suzie was, looking absolutely stunningly beautiful. She walked over to meet me, got down on one knee and opened a box to reveal a beautiful ring. Suzie asked me to marry her!’
‘I started crying when she said she’d called my parents and asked for their permission. (to which my Dad apparently responded, ‘this is all very traditional’!) After asking ‘is this real!?’ 3 or 4 times, the answer was of course – YES!’
‘Suzie had prepared champagne. We sat down and took one sip. I then said, I’d be back and put down my glass…’
“And Suzie takes up the story – ‘We popped the champagne, celebrated, shared a few sips and then, suddenly Laura left for our bedroom. In that moment I went into a bit of internal panic.’
‘I thought she had changed her mind. But moments later, she appeared with a ring of her own and got down on one knee herself. Little did I know, she had been planning on asking me in Australia. I just beat her to it! I, of course, said YES back!’”
The couple exited to a shower of gorgeous real petal confetti, supplied by the wonderful Shropshire Petals.
“We used Le Bicylcettes for our champagne reception. A wonderful jazz trio that brought the perfect atmosphere to the day.”
“In order to transport our guests we used a combination of the local bus company and hotel shuttles. As this venue was in rural France, this took a great deal of organisation and many excel spreadsheets to get it right!”
“We are so glad we spent the time doing it however as it was a real peace of mind knowing our guests would be travelling safely to and from the venue, without getting lost in the French countryside.”
“We loved working with our photographer Richard Skins. We had stumbled upon his work on Instagram and were scrolling through his stunning images when we found one of us. We then realised that he had photographed our friends Holly and Max the year earlier in France.”
“He was a joy in the lead up and on the day, captured so many wonderful moments without anyone noticing, and we absolutely adore our images. We would highly recommend to any other couple.”
“With the whole venue being so grand we were really lucky in that we didn’t need to do too much to the space. We had eucalyptus on the backs of chairs, in window boxes and on the seating chart. We had little name tags featuring the same Eucalyptus design. “
“We had a champagne table styled with wooden boxes provided by our florist, Lily. We printed menus to put on all the tables (the food was so delicious we wanted to give our guests details on the option they had selected).”
“We wanted to incorporate our European travel adventures in some way, so we named each table after some of the places we had been together – we used a gold cardboard frame (from Paperchase!) to frame a photo of us in each place we had selected, then used an App to type the name of the location on the photo.”
“The polaroid-style photos were clipped to a bottle of wine from the Chateau, then a corresponding photo was on the seating chart so guests knew what table they were on.”
“The venue provided candles inside the chapel which was beautiful.”
“We had to use the in house caterer for this venue and although that initially made us quite nervous the food was INCREDIBLE! Jean-Marc is amazing. Our guests still rave about the food.”
“We wrote individual notes to our guests that were waiting for them when they sat down for dinner, thanking them for their friendship and for the incredible effort they made in travelling to attend our wedding.”
“We used Zazzle for all our stationery.”
The beautiful cake was supplied by Betty’s Salon de Thé.
“We chose the supplier recommended to us by our chef. It was a simple vanilla buttercream and was delicious.”
“We chose ‘My Girl’, by The Temptations, to dance to, because it felt very appropriate. One of Suzie’s friends Joseph Fletcher from Wicked choreographed the dance and we did it under the fairly lights, outside, in front of the Chateau.”
“For the dance and reception background music we used a DJ called James Carr who also did a great job managing our sound throughout the day.”
“The day went by so quickly but there were still so many highlights. Here are a few favourite moments of our day;
Seeing each other for the first time walking down the aisle.
All our guests singing along to Happy Together.
The dad’s speeches. They both definitely grabbed their moment to shine with both hands, ha! Hearing them both speak about us in such a beautiful way was so lovely.”
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“Surprising our guests and singing to them out of the window – we had ummed and ahhed about doing this and I am so glad that we did. When we were announced at our reception, instead of walking into the reception, we appeared in the Chateau windows above the courtyard and sang a duet – ‘You mean the whole wide world to me’ by Christina Perri. No one knew we were going to do this, not even our parents. It was lots of fun.
The ceilidh with all our Scottish friends and family joining in.
Dancing with our families at the end of the night.
Ending the night just the two of us in the pool looking up at the stars together whilst floating on a giant flamingo reminiscing about the whole day.”
Words of Wedded Wisdom
“Write a mission statement, right at the start of wedding planning. Just a few sentences about what is really important to you and what kind of day you are trying to create. If you find yourself getting stressed about something during the process, go back to your mission statement… if it’s not mentioned in there, just make a decision and move on to something else that really matters to you. Also, find suppliers who ‘spark joy’ and who get on board with your creative vision. This makes for a much more exciting process and creates some very happy planning memories.”
“When it comes to the wedding day try and enjoy every second. Forget about your planning, forget about whether things are running the way you had expected and just enjoy it all. Be present, take pictures with those you love and take some time away with your significant other to breathe it in half way through the day.
Another wedding ‘fact’ – we had 90 people attend our wedding, the majority was family along with some of our nearest and dearest friends.”
How utterly gorgeous and uplifting are these photographs. A reminder of wonderfully good, joy and love filled times that we will have again.
Our enormous thanks to the mega talent that is Richard Skins for sharing these photographs and to lovely couple Suzie and Laura for taking the time to share so much of their wonderful memories and planning tips with us. And we whole heartedly recommend a trip to the Sassi Halford once it reopens after Covid-19 lockdown (you can contact Sassi’s team here).
Much love to you all today,