Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Truly, what could be more romantic than a wedding in a French Chateau?!  What really is amazing is that Dani and Nash planned this fairy-tale experience from the USA.  They had never been to this chateau...or even to France before but they had a vision of what they wanted, and I think they exceeded their goals.  It was a magical experience for everyone involved.

First off, the location was so very special.  The Chateau du Percy is lovely and sits on fabulous grounds, complete with huge hedged labyrinth.
The wedding was planned to be outside, with the bridal party walking from the labyrinth to the  flower covered trellis with the chateau as a backdrop.  The wedding dinner was planned to be in the great hall, and dancing on the terrace.  In the days leading up to the wedding, the weather had been more than a little "iffy" with overcast skies and some light rain.  But come one hour before the planned 7pm wedding, the clouds disappeared and the sun came out.  The blue skies were fabulous and we all marveled how light it stays here.  France is far enough north that it really stays light until 10pm!  The wedding flowers were all done by Brittany (the youngest Belmont girl) who works at a florist shop while going to college.  She found all the flowers for the bouquet,  and the decorations on the grounds of the chateau.

 Photographs were taken by a friend of the bride and groom.  Makeup for the girls was done by one of the bridesmaids, Allison, who is a professional make up artist, and big sister Ashelee did all the hair for the girls.

 Oh, and I ironed all the shirts for Pastor Russ/Dad and all the groomsmen!  Setting the tables, moving furniture...it truly was a group effort...everyone played their part in making this wedding a dream come true for Dani and Nash.  The chateau was a beehive of activity!  This was not a wedding where you just showed up for the ceremony and party...every body was involved in the preparation, and everyone shared in the sense of anticipation!
I must say that as the mother of 3 boys, I was a bit out of my element with the hair and makeup process in the "girls room"...I was much more comfortable with the groomsmen as they did their shots of rye and struggled with tying their bow ties!

As the wedding didn't begin until 7pm, Gary and I explored the labyrinth (with wine in hand...we are in France after all!)  Hidden in the center of the labyrinth was a table where the girls would sit for a glass of champagne before walking down the "aisle"...

Finally the time came for the festivities to begin!  We (the guests) went in the back yard and waited for the girls to make their way to the labyrinth out front...Dani didn't want anybody to see her before the wedding!

Once the girls were hidden out of sight in the labyrinth, we were seated on gold chairs facing the front of the chateau...what an amazing sight!

Nash and best man, Phil, came out and waited for the bridesmaids and Dani to make their long walk from the labyrinth...the attendants had baskets of flowers that they sprinkled along the way...and Brit's boyfriend, Will, played the guitar and sang...pure magic!

Truly, my favorite part of a wedding is looking at the groom when he first sees the bride.  Everyone always looks back to catch that first look at the bride, but I always keep my eyes on the groom - I love to see the expression on his face when he first sees his wife to be!  And Nash did not disappoint...

(Yes, he had tears in his eyes when he saw beautiful Dani...and so did Phil the best man.)

The wedding was sweet, personal...and perfect in just about every way.  Russ did a great job performing his daughter's wedding...and EVERYBODY was crying before it ended!
Lara, the owner of the Chateau was watching the whole thing from her window, accompanied by her 2 young daughters...I loved seeing them watching the proceedings from their room!  They later said this was the most beautiful wedding they had ever had at the Chateau (good job Dani & Nash!)

(I love this photo of the 2 dads!)
Wedding over...it was time for the party to start!  Remember the jeraboam that was purchased on the trip to Reims?  Well Dani and Nash opened it with "panache"!  (Clint had gold leafed that bad boy for a little extra bling!)

Gary and I, along with Russ and Adrienne, had been missing our old friend, Matt Adams who was unable to join us in France as he had just received a new pup (a career change dog) from Guide Dogs for the Blind a few weeks before the trip.  Well, don't worry, Matt, we saved a spot for you at the reception...we know you were there in spirit!
The catered dinner was fabulous, and the setting was perfect for photos as the sun set.
Adrienne made this table runner in the US and hand carried it in her suitcase to France!  the candelabras and gold chargers were brought from the US as well.  I told you Dani had a vision of what she wanted!

Oh, this HUGE great dane is Apollo and he lives at the Chateau!
Dani changed out of her Christian Louboutin stilettos into more sensible (but thoroughly adorable!) pink flats for the party...but the switch to lower shoes, required some dress adjustment from Aunt Kathy!

After dinner the music was cranked up (the previous day we had driven to the town of Auxerre and rented a soundboard and 2 huge speakers!) and everyone danced!  Nash's friends are cigar smokers, so Gary had purchased a bunch of Cuban cigars in Paris (yes, they are legal there!) so people sat in the chairs we had used for the wedding and smoked cigars and watched the dancing on the terrace above.  Emma danced so hard her dress tore, Adrienne switched to flip flops, and Brit wore Will's jacket when she got chilly, the bouquet was tossed and the garter was removed (nice job with the teeth, Nash!)...(all in all a huge success!)  I think it was about 1:30 when Gary and I decided we had to make our way back to our little inn...5 miles up the road...we just couldn't hang with the "youngsters" any longer!!  Or maybe it was John, the Father of the Groom we couldn't hang with...at one point I saw him jump in the air and land on the dance floor doing the splits like James Brown!

Was it a good party...you be the judge!  This is what we found when we pulled up at the Chateau the next day!  Keep in mind that there were only 30 people at the wedding...

It sounds so crazy when I think that I went to a wedding at a chateau in France!  But honestly, Nash and Dani, you planned such a fairy tale week for all of us...I wouldn't have missed it for anything.  I loved having a week with you and your friends.  Gary and I both feel that we got such a nice glimpse into your lives.  So often people attend weddings and really don't know the bridal party, but I feel that is not the case here.  Thank you for sharing such a special time with us.  I just kept pinching myself and thinking that 29 years ago when we became friends with Russ and Adrienne (Bryan had just been born!) none of us would have dreamed that we would be in France in 2013 for one of our kid's weddings!  Our friendship with Russ and Adrienne defies words.  We have been through so much together over the years...good times and bad...financial ups and downs, premature babies, heart surgery, change of careers, children's health issues, the passing of parents, moves, being god-parents for each other's children, lots of laughter and an equal number of tears...yet through it all there is a love that will bind us together forever...and what better place to be reminded of that bond than at a wedding in France!  Merci Beaucoup!

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