Grace & Patrick
It’s always lovely to see real weddings and see a brides ideas come to life but wouldn’t it be equally lovely to enjoy following a real bride’s journey from the beginning. Well, here we have Grace, a recently engaged bride to be who is right at the very start of that all important wedding planning journey. Plus, she’s a ‘destination’ bride which is never going to be an easy ride … So, we thought it would be a great insight to follow her during the ups and downs, trials and tribulations of planning an overseas wedding.
Here’s Grace to introduce herself and tell you a little bit about what she has up her sleeve;
“Hello to all of my fellow list making, budget tracking, money saving brides and grooms to be!
I am very excited to have been asked by Save the Date to share my wedding planning journey with you over the next 2 years!
4 months ago, my boyfriend of 4 years, Patrick, popped the question in one of our favourite places – Las Vegas! Love it or hate it, it’s an incredible place which provided the perfect back drop to our memorable engagement. We (I say we, but we all know I mean I….!!) are now in the process of planning our perfect wedding in the South of France in 2018. I am really looking forward to sharing all of my ideas, contacts and ups and downs with you along the way.
It all started just under 5 years ago when Patrick and I went on our first date to a bar in Nottingham. Just before Christmas, he picked me up and drove me in to town for a drink, then another, then another. 8 hours later, we were still partying the night away!
Fast forward 4 years and we found ourselves partying the days away in Las Vegas in the peak of summer. In the midst of the perfect holiday, we got dressed up and headed out on to The Strip for dinner and drinks. We made our way to The Bellagio to watch the gorgeous fountains in all their glory (they’re my favourite bit of Vegas!). Standing in the perfect spot, right in front of The Bellagio, the song began to play as I said to Patrick ‘This song is so cheesy….!’ At this point, Patrick decided to keep his hand on his pocket and remain firmly stood upright…! Safe to say I spoiled his plan….!
As if I had planned it for him, I then asked to go to a bar I have always wanted to visit – Hyde bar in The Bellagio, overlooking the fountains. French martini in hand, the fountains began again, this time playing one of my favourites. Being a complete photo nerd, I was trying to get the perfect ‘insta-worthy’ shot – cocktails AND fountains…this was too good to miss! After taking the perfect pic, I turned around to find Patrick down on one knee reaching out for my hand. ‘Grace will you marry me?’ Patrick said. In complete shock, I said ‘ha ha, what are you doing’. ‘Will you marry me?’ he continued… ‘What?! You haven’t asked my Dad? You haven’t got a ring?!’ Poor Patrick had more questions to answer than me! ‘You better drink up as I have three rings waiting for you in Tiffany and it closes in 45 minutes!’ Still completely bemused, in shock and incredibly excited, I said yes, gave him a massive hug and kiss and supped up!
We ran out of the bar and straight to Tiffany in the Bellagio where the assistant was waiting with three rings that Patrick has chosen with my mum and sister. I ended up picking the beautiful ‘Grace’ ring! It was then perfect timing, with the time difference meaning our family and friends had just woken up in the UK. We spent the night Facetiming and calling all our family. It was such an amazing night – I felt like the cat that got the cream with my gorgeous sparkling ring and the blue bag to match….!
When we got home a week or so later, we started to get planning. Having both fell in love with the beautiful South of France on a weekend break a few years ago, and returning several times for weekends and holidays since, we knew that’s where we wanted to have the wedding. I got Googling and found many gorgeous venues. Initially, I had absolutely no idea how much venues would charge here – I had heard rumours in the past that it is actually cheaper to get married abroad. I was hopeful. I emailed every venue I liked – a mix of hotels, chateaus, domaines and villas. The first few quotes I got back were pretty terrifying – 80,000Euro a night with a minimum hire of 3 nights has to be the scariest!! Not one to be defeated, I continued searching until I found 6-8 venues that were not only beautiful and perfect for our wedding but were also in budget. We decided to book a weekend in the South of France for early October for myself, Patrick and my parents to visit some of the venues I had shortlisted so we could shortlist further.
On the run up to the weekend, I got as organised as I could, made a map on Google maps of all of the venues – including the ones I had booked viewings with but also the ones that were the ‘runners up’ in case we had spare time to visit some others. I did a ‘one pager’ for each of the venues, showing pictures of the venue and key details including the name of the contact, email address, price for hire etc. These were invaluable when we were visiting up to three venues a day. I also compiled a list of questions to ask each venue so we would find it easier to compare after.
Unfortunately the weather was not on our side and the first 2 days were extremely wet which made it quite hard to see the venues in the light of having our wedding there, but we tried to imagine how it would be in the sunshine, and also had the mindset of ‘well if we love it in the rain, think how much we will love it in the sunshine!’
On the first day we visited a beautiful hotel called Bastide St Antoine. The gardens were stunning, even in the rain! Ivy climbed up the wall of the Bastide and the honeymoon suite was just incredible! An amazing 2 bedroom suite with an outdoor hot tub overlooking the stunning nearby villages. The venue offered several bedrooms where our guests could stay. When talking details, the venue bought us a gorgeous selection of cakes and drinks and we had the opportunity to ask questions, ask for more information and think it all through.
We also visited the incredibly beautiful Chevre D’or Hotel on our first day – the original hotel that made us want to get married in the South of France. Situated in Eze, the hotel offers some of the best views in the area. Being an authentically French hotel, the grounds comprise of beautiful gardens, cobbled steps and rustic brickwork. The lovely, friendly event managers made us feel completely at ease as they showed us around the gorgeous hotel. Again, the honeymoon suite was just amazing – a private hot tub and the most beautiful sea views.
On day two, we visited the gorgeous Chateau de Garibondy in the torrential rain and wind. It had a beautiful garden and several rooms on site where us and our guests could stay. The venue manager Karen was English and really, really helpful. She had loads of ideas and contacts to share with us. Unfortunately the weather meant that we just couldn’t see the venue in all of its glory so we decided to visit again the following day so we could see it in the sunshine and this made such a difference. It was beautiful in the rain but it was even better in the sunshine! Offering a tree planted by Queen Victoria and a home stayed in by Princes William and Harry, this chateau had tonnes of character.
The next venue we visited was the Domaine du Mont Leuze. Well this one definitely had the wow factor!! Situated high in the mountains, the venue overlooks Cap Ferrat, Nice and Villefranche. Offering the most incredible spot to say ‘I do’, with sea views for days, it was spacious, truly French and had the most beautiful shutters. The aisle to the ceremony felt secluded, romantic and a perfect setting to walk down the aisle with your Dad, and back with your husband!
We then visited Chateau St Mathieu which was situated in a secluded area in land. A beautiful chateau, still family owned, this venue was modern and beautifully decorated. Offering an outdoor pool and several rooms for guests, this venue is perfect for a lovely, personal ceremony.
Finally we visited Chateau St George. Again, this one definitely had the wow factor! Recently renovated, the Bastide felt incredibly French, offering the most beautiful views and a gorgeous setting to get married. The owner was extremely helpful as she showed us around the venue. Again, this venue has rooms for ourselves and our guests to stay, meaning we can party to our hearts content!
We also visited a couple more but a girl needs to have a few secrets….!
It really was an incredible trip where we got to see some of the most beautiful places we would only visit on this occasion. Since the trip, I have contacted the venues which I am interested in and I am in the process of budgeting and negotiating! Keep your fingers crossed for us!
It is a pretty expensive place to get married but it is also incredibly beautiful. Well, they do say you get what you pay for!
I hope you enjoyed my first post. Looking forward to sharing the next stage after Christmas. Happy New Year all!