Who can claim to know all the ins and outs of a reception, all the ways of organising a wedding - particularly in wedding venues in France, such as a chateau? The scope is enormous; the only limits are our imagination: age-old traditions, seduction and excess, fever and flames, costumes and lights, food and wine, music and rituals!
Let us not forget that before the wheel, man invented masks and celebrations! The principle of a "roving" wedding reception, wending its way around the chateau grounds, will surely appeal, encountering pockets of heavenly fragrance - lily, fig, teak, rose and jasmine – and flickers of fire in the night.
Chateau de Vallery, a wedding venue with accommodation, can explore ways of organising your wedding reception without the professional guidance of a wedding planner in France. Your wedding becomes a journey, a journey through time and space. Time will stand still exclusively for your celebration, for a spiritual journey into the pale light of dawn. The estate is yours alone.
The following pages will guide you. They offer a suggested programme for your fairytale wedding in France, extend a warm welcome to wedding planners, and provide plans of the halls and interactive seating plans to be downloaded, as well as thorough information on bedrooms at the chateau and accommodation nearby.
Planning your wedding
at Château de Vallery, a romantic wedding venue with accommodation
Come to the estate with your guests on the eve of your big day and settle into the chateau's historical rooms. As afternoon fades, taste fine wines in the vaulted 12th-century cellars. When dusk falls, savour a tagine together in the pavilion with its big pool.
Then, in the lamplight and fragrances of the Orient, enjoy mint tea, honeyed pastries and maybe some belly dancing... PRELUDES
Make yourselves at home! Luxuriate in a relaxing bath. Spend time with your guests, adding the finishing touches to floral arrangements and seating plans, or getting the bridesmaids and page boys ready.
A hairdresser and make-up artist await the bride as photographer and video cameraman capture the moment. CEREMONY
For their romantic wedding vows, some may choose the church opposite the chateau on the edge of the forest, with the mausoleum of the Princes and Princesses of Condé.
For others, a flower-laden chuppah in the Rose Garden. Or why not the orchard? Or by the big Buddha beneath his tree? Or at the foot of the sycamore with seven trunks? Spirituality is the order of the day. DRINKS AND DINNER
Buffet tables are laid out in the Closerie Garden and in the Music Rooms. Music to match the bride and groom floats over the grounds, interspersed with numbers by a jazz-band playing in the dovecot.
Later, candle-lit dinner in the Salle des Tentures with its trompe-l'oeil in sumptuous fabrics measuring over 500m2. In the grounds, a thousand torches flicker until dawn. SPECIAL NIGHT
After dinner, everyone steps out into the grounds or onto the front steps for a firework show set to music, or a huge bonfire.
The final tableau stars the wedding cake, paraded into the Grande Galerie, and a champagne pyramid that marks the opening of the ball. Music playing in the grounds drifts to the very fringes of the surrounding forest. The chateau is for you alone, exclusively. DAY AFTER
Nights at the chateau are mellow, in rooms and suites preserved from the harshness of modernity. On the following day, savour breakfast around the big pool enveloped in fragrances rising up from the gardens.
Stroll through the forest or around the ramparts. Aperitifs served in the vaulted cellars precede salads, salmon and grilled meats to round off a sequence of life's small pleasure.
The Road to Happiness...
Wedding Day -330Announce your news to your parents and close friends. Choose your attendants - best man, ushers and bridesmaids. Because those who've known you all your life deserve to share your joy.
Wedding Day -300The Venue. 17 questions to ask yourselves. Answer "yes" to at least 14 for peace of mind...
Wedding Day -250The Caterer. Book entertainment to amuse your guests during pre-dinner drinks.
DJ, photographer, band, video cameraman, firework technician, hairdresser, make-up artist.
Civil, religious or secular ceremony. Bridesmaids and Page Boys. Take out an option on accommodation near the venue.
Wedding Day -200
Guest list. Save the date. Bride's dress (keep it secret). Floral arrangements. not forgetting the bride's bouquet, the buttonholes and the petals.
Wedding Day -100
Remember to practice that first dance.
The invitation should indicate the dress code, name places to stay, state the address of the venue, provide instructions on how to get there, and stipulate a reply-by date. Choose stamps in your wedding colours! The marriage contract signed before a notary. The wedding bands with your names engraved inside. Book the honeymoon! Open your wedding list. Sugared almonds. A prestigious car or horse and carriage? Conjurer ?
Wedding Day -60
If you are not using the services of a wedding planner, ask your friends and family for help and ideas. One of your attendants could be responsible for paying service providers, another could take charge of the seating plan, someone else could allocate the bedrooms, etc. Final fitting of the wedding dress and accessories. The groom's outfit.. The future bride can help her groom make a matching choice, as she alone knows what she'll be wearing! Trial runs with the hairdresser and make-up artist. Buy throw-away cameras, or polaroid cameras, to be placed on the guests' tables.
Wedding Day -25
Allocating bedrooms; the seating plan; the menus.
Use a seating plan system with movable names, so that you can easily cater for any last-minute changes. Find a pretty container to use as a wedding card box.
Write the speeches and a personalised welcome note for each bedroom. Send all service providers, and your attendants or witnesses, a copy of the Run Sheet so that everyone is perfectly synchronised. Order the wine and the champagne. Get it delivered directly to the venue, where it will rest in the cellar. Send your Run Sheet to everyone concerned. Use a different colour code per service provider so that each one knows what they - and the others - need to be doing and when. If you are not using walkie talkies, make sure that all cell phone numbers are included on the Run Sheet: caterer, florist, photographer, video cameraman, wine waiter, band, sound technician, firework technician, etc. Contact the Mairie (Town Hall) to get the banns published.
Wedding Day -10
Stag night and hen night.
Wedding Day -1
Relax... preferably at the venue!