PRESENTING CHARLIE BREAR'S FRIDAY BRIDE #16

Veux-tu m'epouser?

We've been practising our French ready for the day we are invited to party on down at this dreamy venue!

This week we spoke to Sarah; who was married to Stephen on Saturday 1st August 2015 in the small French village of Saint Genix-sur-Guiers.

The ceremony was followed by a reception at Manoir de La Tour, a 16th century manor house which the couple renovated for the wedding! The bride wore our Oribe lace 1920s dress.

Continue reading to see some beautiful photographs by Marie-Laure Grandoulier ofBlanc Coco Photographe and find out all about Sarah and Stephen's big day!

Describe the style of your wedding:
A mixture a French country chic and English tradition, with a 1920s twist. 

What was your best experience when trying on dresses?
Finding a dress I truly loved. I have to admit to being a bit sceptical about finding 'the one' - I was just looking for a white dress I felt comfortable in.Charlie Brear, and the wonderful Mandi, proved me very wrong. 

How did he propose?
My husband proposed to me in the same spot we had our first kiss, a year to the day. He had a beautiful vintage art deco ring ready which was perfectly me - although we had been friends for nearly 25 years before before we got together so he knows me very well!

How long did it take to plan your wedding?
About a year - although that included buying a beautiful 16th century manor house in France (complete with a barn and tower) and turning it into our wedding venue! The house is a long-term project, but we renovated the barn, putting in a top floor to seat 100 people for dinner, a dance floor and a bar area on the ground floor. We opened up the tower during the pre-dinner cocktails so all our guests could wander round. 

How did you feel after you had ordered your dress?
Very excited, and desperate to wear it - in fact my mother had to take custody of my dress to ensure I didn't try it on too many times. 

What shoes did you wear?
A beautiful pair of 1920s style shoes from Emmy London, as recommended by Charlie Brear. 

Did you struggle finding the right lingerie for your dress?
I have a family friend with a fabulous underwear shop in Westerham called EntreNous (in keeping with the French theme!) and she has a lot of experience with bridal lingerie. 

What traditions did you follow?
We wanted to have a traditional English Wedding in a small French village so we took the best of both worlds. My husband, his best man and my dad wore tails and we had lots of fabulous hats and hymns at the church. I also wanted a traditional wedding cake, which was kindly made by my husband's sister. 

We had free flowing champagne all evening (essential for a French wedding!), and invited all our French neighbours to the church service and for the pre-dinner cocktails, rather than having evening guests.

Did your wedding have any quirky features?
My husband is an opera singer, but a lot of our guests had never heard him sing. After his speech he launched into 'O Sole Mio', a beautiful Neapolitan song. There was wild applause and not a dry eye left in the house. 

I also put together a display of some of the Valentine's Day cards my husband had sent me - I have received one every year since we were at school. My favourite card has the message 'One day my persistence will pay off...' and it did! 

What was the funniest moment of the day? 
During the church service (and just as emotions were running high) my adorable and high spirited nephew Enzo escaped my brother's clutches and lapped the altar twice, wearing only one shoe. Everyone was in hysterics and it was a moment of pure joy.

How did you feel walking down the aisle?
Quite overwhelmed - lots of our friends and family are scattered around the world and to have them all together in one place was unforgettable. I was very thankful to my father for keeping me calm as we walked down the aisle. 

Where did you go for your honeymoon?
We stayed on at the house and made the most of how beautiful it looked after all our hard work. 

Did you find organising your wedding an easy process?

Looking back, the decision to buy and renovate our own wedding venue was completely mad. Luckily we had a huge amount of help from our wonderful French neighbour, who was pretty much our unofficial wedding planner. He found us a carpenter and electrician for the barn renovations, sourced our outstanding caterer Vincent Ortuno, arranged transport from the church to the house and even told the farmer what crops to plant in the adjacent field so they were appropriate for the wedding! 

What will you do with your dress now?
Treasure it until I can find an excuse to wear it again. I may have to organise a 1920s cocktail party!

What are you best memories of the day?
The church ceremony was without doubt our favourite part of the day. It was unbelievably moving, emotional and full of love, laughter and incredible music all at the same time. The cocktails, dinner and after party were epic, but our house is designed for parties and we intend to have many more like it. In fact, we already have two bookings for this summer for another wedding and a 70th birthday party!

We really hope you enjoyed this week's Real Life Bride.
Have a great weekend!