Maddie Chester

Wedding planning update

Maddie Chester
Wedding planning update

Like majority of couples (I assume!) Joel and I had talked about getting married long before the proposal. We are lucky that we both share very similar ideas of what the perfect wedding would be so (touch wood) it’s been relatively smooth sailing and stress free. I thought I would do a little update for how planning is going and what we’ve done so far. Sorry this is so long, we’ve been busy!!


Long before getting engaged we already knew that we wanted to get married in the South of France. This meant that very soon (i’m talking minutes) after getting engaged in May, mum was already pinging me venues that she had earmarked for that exact moment. There were SO many beautiful venues that it was quite overwhelming (the emails were coming in thick and fast), but when we broke it down to what we actually wanted; a down to earth, authentic and beautiful space there were actually only a handful that ticked those boxes (for our numbers and budget). There are incredible French chateau options but they were frankly eyewateringly expensive (i’m talking 6+ figures) and not so much our vibe anyway.

We eventually found about 4/5 that looked like contenders. I have to say we were incredibly lucky with the timings of things as my parents were actually in the south of France (we have a place there) when we got engaged so they very kindly offered to do some initial scouting for us. Mum has been our substitute wedding planner from the very beginning and we will be forever grateful for everything she has done to help with planning (love you mama). She called the venues, gathered all the brochures and prices and arranged the reccy. Dad then kindly put everything in a really digestible table so we could compare apples with apples (yes my parents are above and beyond great). After their visits we had a conference call to discuss their thoughts. Mum also filmed the whole thing for us so we could see it all for ourselves.


In the end it was between two that looked exactly what we wanted but there was one venue in Provence that we fell in love with above all the others, it looked perfect. Thinking back, It’s goes to show how much we respect and trust my parents opinion because we booked the venue without having been there ourselves!! I know that sounds a bit risky but by mid May 2018 the venue had already fully booked for most of June and July 2019 already. We knew what date we wanted in August which was available and so we just went for it. We considered booking a flight to go and see it but it would have cost around £1000 to go for the weekend and we figured that money could be better spent going towards the wedding. Believe me if my parents hadn’t been to the venue twice and videoed the whole thing I would never have felt comfortable booking it - never trust the venue websites alone, deposits are hard to get back! We eventually went to visit in person last summer and we couldn’t be happier with it! Also by that point they had stopped taking bookings for the year so we definitely did the right thing getting in early.

Neither one of us are religious people so a church wedding wasn’t ever an option for us, instead we wanted something a lot more personal to us but that still feels like a “proper” wedding celebration. We also really wanted to get married outside so fingers crossed we get a beautiful day, the odds are much higher in Provence.

I had always been told that booking the venue is the no1 priority and most important thing so once we’d done that any worry I had about the wedding up until then fell away pretty quickly. I’m also very lucky that my fiancé has some experience planning events… he whipped together a budget sheet to rival all budget sheets and I set off finding suppliers.

Photographer/Videographer was always going to be my no1 priority for obvious reasons. With a lot of my research I used trusty google but also a lot of Instagram. It’s so easy these days to find a million and one options and it’s such a great tool for finding amazing people. In the end the photographer we chose, the wonderful Claire Penn. We absolutely fell in love with her style, she specialises in abroad weddings and has a really wonderful way of capturing beautiful moments and there’s also so much fun and joy in her images which we really wanted. We also just loved her attitude and personality so much, we can’t wait to work with her. Claire was actually recommended to us by our equally wonderful videographers PaperTwin Weddings. After announcing our engagement on instagram the guys at PaperTwin got in touch to say they’d love to film our wedding for us which we were thrilled about. They make really beautiful films and I can’t wait to see what they make.

Most people planning an abroad wedding would get a wedding planner and I 100% would advise this also. If you don’t speak the language then get someone who does or it will be so difficult, the culture is so different and it’s easy to get your pants pulled down if you don’t know the lingo. I did actually speak to a few planners and again was surprised at how expensive some of them are (that’s a common theme with anything wedding related though unfortunately). I found a few that were “in budget” but I actually didn’t get the best vibe off them in the end so decided I would go it alone… (truth is mum has been there every step of the way helping whenever I needed a bit of Frenchy assistance so we’re very lucky).

I’m going to do a separate posts all about THE DRESS because let’s face it, it’s all about the dress..…but I will say that it’s ordered WOO!

For the Bridesmaid dresses i’ve chosen Constellation Ame who have just launched. Their dresses are stunning and Sarah the owner has been so amazing to work with. Again i’ll do another post all about my bridesmaids after the wedding.

A wedding in France wouldn’t be complete without some wonderful wine and champagne. After being recommended Mirabeau (from Provence of course!) from a friend I was put in touch with them. They immediately sent me 6 different bottles (very generously!) to taste and also offered us a press discount if we wanted to order some for the wedding. We took a few bottles with us to the South of France last summer so that we could get in the spirit (pun intended) of things. After a blind taste test set up by papa Chester it was a unanimous decision. Mirabeau Pure would be our wine of choice at the wedding. I hope the wedding party enjoy a Rose because we’ve ordered A LOT!

I’m conscious that this update is LONG, it’s quite reassuring to see how much we’ve done. I don’t want to do too many #spoilers so let’s just say flowers, invites, food, cake and entertainment are taken care of! My amazing friend Sam Cussick is of course coming to the wedding and has said she would do my hair on the day (because there’s no one else I would trust!) and rogue choice, I think i’m going to do my own makeup… thoughts??

So all in all I THINK/HOPE everything is under control…If you have any questions on our experience so far let me know!