Magical French Wedding

Helen and Craig's Brittany celebration

How They Met and He Proposed

Photography by David Robinson at Morecambe Photo.

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Helen and Craig, both assistant registrars at Edge Hill University, met when Craig answered the door to Helen on her first day. “We were friends at first and then eventually got together about nine months after meeting,” says Helen. “My primary responsibility at work is to organise graduation ceremonies, so the wedding was a doddle!”

Four years later, the couple were at home getting ready for a Christmas Eve night out with friends when Helen walked past the bedroom door and saw Craig on one knee with the ring! “We had talked about marriage before and it was something I knew we would do, but it was a surprise that he asked when he did,” says Helen. “I said yes immediately. He designed the ring himself and had ‘je t’aime’ – French for ‘I love you’ – engraved inside.”

The Wedding Dress

Helen’s wedding dress was by Veromia, while her earrings and necklace were her ‘something borrowed’, from her mum. “My headpiece was from Yarwood-White, which I saw on the You & Your Wedding forum,” recalls Helen, “and my shoes were from Debenhams.”

The Bridal Party

“My bridesmaids were my best friend Lisa and my sister Jenny,” says Helen, “and Craig’s cousin Esme was the flower girl. The bridesmaids’ dresses were made by a family friend and the flower girl dress was from forum,” recalls Helen, “and my shoes were from Debenhams.”.

Meanwhile, the groom, best man, fathers of the bride and groom, brothers of the bride and groom and two ushers all wore Prince Edward chocolate brown suits hired from Greenwoods.

The Venue

Many happy visits to Helen’s parents’ house in Brittany, France, prompted a destination wedding for the pair at St. Gilda’s Catholic Church, Laniscat. “The day before the wedding me and two ladies from the church decorated it with calla lilies,” says Helen. “We did one arrangement at the end of each pew and a large arrangement on the aisle, and we placed tea-light candles anywhere we could find room!”

The Ceremony

“Before the service the priests came to the entrance to meet my mum and bridesmaids, then my dad and I entered to Cannon in D by Pachelbel,” says Helen of the ceremony, which was conducted mostly in English but with some French too. “In France the bride and groom sit to the side of the aisle facing the congregation, so we could see all of our guests throughout the ceremony. It was beautiful; I really enjoyed every single second. The words were very much about love and before placing the ring on my finger the priest spoke about how the vein in that finger runs straight to the heart.”

Helen’s friend Hannah performed a reading to the 100-strong congregation, and Ave Maria was played as the couple signed the register.

“As we exited the church the bells rang, and this particular church has sacred bells that are only used on special occasions,” says Helen. “The priest let my friends pull the chord to sound them.”

The Flowers

In keeping with the men’s corsages and the decorations in the church, Helen’s and her bridesmaids’ bouquets were calla lilies, arranged by bocboc boutique. “As we were travelling to France the flowers were all artificial, although you would never have known!” says Helen. “I have my bouquet now as a decoration in the house; although I forgot to take it to the church so I had to loan my bridesmaid’s for the photos!”

The Reception

“The first time I visited my parents in France we went to the reception venue for lunch; I was breathtaken,” says Helen of Merlin, Les Pieds Dans L’eau. “It is set on Lac de Guerledan in Brittany, and the only way you can get there is either by boat or by driving deep into a forest. It is magical. When Craig proposed there was never a question about where we would have our reception; it had to be the Merlin.”

The restaurant was decorated with cream roses imported from Holland; each with diamonds embedded in them. Name cards were feathered in the same style as the invitations, while the table plan sparkled with feathers, diamonds and pearls. Rose petals were scattered on each table around a cream rose centrepiece. As for the favours… “There was complimentary wine and beer until 2am!” enthuses Helen.

The Theme

The colour scheme was champagne, coffee and cream, and all the jewellery and decorations featured diamonds, pearls or feathers. “The reception venue is loosely themed on Camelot, so whilst it wasn’t a predominant theme for us we did name the tables after Camelot characters,” says Helen. “We had 90 guests from England and about 10 guests from the village; although the following day we had a party in the village hall and had lots of local guests there.”

Precious Moments

After the main course of the wedding breakfast, guests went outside to sit on the terrace for the speeches. As the groom prepared to give his, he noticed his best man had disappeared. “As Craig was looking a little worried he saw his best man in the distance, riding in on a blow up horse, dressed as the Milkybar kid!” Helen laughs. “Craig used to look like the Milkybar kid when he was little, so it was in tribute to that. The best man was hilarious; it was like a stand-up comedy show and the crowd absolutely loved it!”

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Despite all the fun and frolics, the best man’s mischief wasn’t Helen’s favourite part of the day. But it would have been hard to beat the couple’s romantic first dance the restaurant’s pontoon. “The master of ceremonies asked everyone to go to the balcony or terrace to make a toast to us, and as they looked down we were dancing by candlelight on the lake,” Helen reminisces. “We danced to Amazed by Lonestar,” and after the song they lit up the sky with fireworks.