Château de Frétoy Wedding
Lauren and Erik | Our very own wedding experience
As a wedding photographer, the feeling of blogging your very own wedding is mind blowing. After witnessing hundreds of other peoples’ weddings, it sure does feel pretty surreal to create -and relive- every moment of the best one you’ve ever experienced: your own.
Working in the wedding industry, Erik and I had less opinions about what we did want, and more opinions about what we didn’t want. We knew we did not want a large wedding. We also didn’t want to succumb to tradition for the sake of tradition. Once we settled on a destination wedding, it was easy to make plans. Instead of a wedding day, we would host a wedding week.
The Wedding Week
We wanted to create a week long experience for our family and friends since 100% of our guests would be traveling in for this. The logistics? We provided all of the fixings for breakfasts and lunches for people to make at their leisure. We left dinner up to our guests to manage on their own, so they could decide if they wanted to cook or eat out at a local restaurant. Another detail: we made sure to have unlimited local wine and beer on hand all week for people to enjoy.
And the location? Since we are an international couple, we knew the venue needed to be on neutral territory (not Canada and not the Netherlands). When we found Château de Frétoy, we knew it would be perfect as it could host us and our <50 guests for an entire week. It’s a 19th century castle located in the middle of Burgundy’s famous wine region. We knew this would give us the relaxed wedding experience we were looking for and allow our guests to come and go throughout the week as they pleased.
Our favourite vendors
Before I dive right into our wedding day details, I wanted to shout out the amazing team that helped make our day happen. We could not have done it without the help and support of our incredible vendors and friends/family. A huge (HUGE) thank you to the following:
Photography: Tara Lilly Photography
Officiant: Steve from Whistler Elopements
Venue: Château de Frétoy
Catering: Bourgogne Morvan Traiteur
Lunch Location: Château de Couches
Live Musician / DJ: Chris Quinn
Handmade Ceremony Cape and Reception Dress: Josefine Ingversen Couture
Custom Wedding and Engagement Rings: Stór by Margot
Evening Hair Piece: The Arcane Boutique
Earrings: Bright Moon Jewelry and Bonito Jewelry
Shoes: Sam Edelman (Lauren) and Lloyds (Erik)
Also, not official “vendors / businesses” per se, but a HUGE thank you needs to go out to; Jaimie and Jeremy for doing our table decor and advocating for our vision, as well as Tanja for helping with evening coordination; Shreyas for being our MC and blessing us with a wedding song; Emma for coordinating our florals and surprising our family with corsages and boutonnieres; Jax for styling my hair -not once, but twice- and making me feel like a rockstar; Dana for repotting all of the houseplants for our table decor and steaming my wedding dress (along with Meags); Meagan for keeping me champagned all day and rescuing my earrings; Rasmus for helping us coordinate our ceremony and cocktail hour music as well as throwing a raging kitchen party earlier in the week; Jeremy for prepping dozens of candles; Peter for helping us suspend a couple dozen meters of fabric from our ceremony tree; and Jake and Maddie for being on polaroid duty as well as managing our ceremony seating. We are forever indebted to you all.
The morning of our wedding was incredibly relaxed (by design). Tara and Steve gave me their room to use as a bridal prep suite, prepped fully with mimosas and good energy. My girls kept me calm and champagned all morning. They did my hair, glued my eyelashes on, steamed my dress, kept me laughing, and even performed emergency repairs on my wedding earrings without me even knowing they were broken. Basically, they put (and kept) me together.
Meanwhile next door, Erik called in a few of his buddies from the Netherlands who weren’t able to be there in person. He had a little less prep work to do in general. But together with his sister (re: bestie) Tanja, he managed to put and keep himself together, in true Erik fashion.
The First Look
Another important detail to us was making sure we maximized our time spent together on our wedding day. Doing a first look was a given, so we arranged it to happen early enough in the day that we could truly enjoy every minute together.
Our photographers / best friends Tara and Steve had spent the day prior location scouting. They suggested doing our first look in a nearby village, and found the perfect little side street to give us enough privacy. I would recommend a first look to anyone getting married, a thousand times over.
Château de Couches Lunch and Couples Portraits
This might sound silly, but we planned our wedding day timeline around lunch. Food often gets overlooked on a wedding day, but not in our case. And since Erik is known to get a little hangry if he goes without food, we prioritized having lunch before diving into our couples portraits.
It was recommended that we eat at Château de Couches (another castle) for lunch. So along with Tara and Steve, we enjoyed one of the nicest meals we’ve yet to experience in France. Afterwards, we walked around the grounds for some portraits before driving to a couple other incredible locations (pre-scouted by our amazing photographers) to take pictures.
Reveal and Ceremony
I consider us lucky because it rained on our wedding day. But actually, it rained for one hour the entire week, and that hour just so happened to coincide with the exact time of our outdoor ceremony. In fact, it started to sprinkle right after we wrapped up portraits, and it ended right as we began cocktail hour. Personally, I’d call that luck.
We had a rain “backup” location (like any good photographer does), but Erik and I both knew that a little torrential downpour could never dampen our spirits. After delaying the start time of our ceremony by 30 minutes to see if it would let up (spoiler alert: it didn’t), we forged ahead with an outdoor ceremony. And let me tell you: the rain only made our ceremony that much better.
But rewind for a second here, because one of my favourite moments of the day took place before the ceremony even began. I wanted to take a moment with my parents to have a glass of Scotch and just breathe. I combined this with a little reveal with my dad and siblings. It was the best! Always always plan time into your timeline to pause and decompress – you’ll be glad you did!
Another decision we made intentionally was not to do speeches throughout dinner. We didn’t want to interrupt the “flow” of the evening or hinder people from talking and enjoying themselves. So instead, we had speeches during cocktail hour. We limited them to only our parents (3 total) so they wouldn’t drag on and on and on.
Our cocktail hour spanned 2.5 hours, which probably sounds ridiculous. But it was the minimum amount of time our caterer needed in order to serve the 17 courses of hors d’oeuvres. (lol I did tell you that food was not overlooked, right?). From ginger prawn tiramisu to smoked salmon crème brûlée to foie gras with cotton candy… it was probably the best food I have ever ever tasted.
I personally loved being able to enjoy the food, the champagne, and (most of all) mingling with our family and friends during this time. These are still some of my favourite memories of our day.
We knew the beauty of the castle would speak for itself, but we did want a bit of wedding decor that would amplify its natural beauty. We also wanted to be as environmentally conscious as we could, considering how impactful the wedding industry can be on the environment.
For these reasons, we chose potted plants over single use florals and kept all waste to an absolute minimum. We later gifted the remaining decor to our guests, and left some with the owners of the Château. We went particularly heavy on the candles, because good ambiance and lighting are conducive to a beautiful guest experience. And instead of place settings, we wrote personalized thank you notes for each of our guests.
Dress Change and Dinner Al Fresco
Towards the tail end of cocktail hour, I snuck away with my girls for a quick hair and dress change. For the previous 1.5 years, I had been working with Josefine Ingversen Couture -a friend of mine and incredibly talented designer in Denmark- to create my wedding dress. And so finally, the reception was the time for it to make its debut.
Since Erik and I used to live in Denmark and had a number of Danish friends in attendance at our wedding, I was so excited to notice they introduced a couple of our favourite Danish traditions to our wedding:
- Before any formal dinner, the guests all stand around the table (behind their chairs) to wait for everyone to be in attendance before sitting. At one point, I peeked out the window during my outfit change and noticed everyone did this. It was spontaneous, and totally warmed my heart to witness.
- The kissing game. Danish wedding tradition dictates that when either Erik or I were to leave the dinner table/reception space, any guests of the opposite sex (or whoever felt so inclined) would run around the table and kiss the other newlywed. So lo and behold when I went to the bathroom, I returned to find Erik’s face absolutely covered in red lipstick prints haha (scroll through to see the best documentation of this throughout the evening)
Being outdoors for our dinner was a huge priority for us, and we were so happy it was possible with the weather! For dessert, we opted out of wedding cake since it’s not really our thing. But our amazing caterers decided we still needed dessert, so they surprised us with a tower of French profiterols!
Night Portraits and Dance Floor
At a certain point after the cheese course was served and the profiterol tower was devoured, Tara snuck us away for some sunset/night portraits. I’m a big believer in carving out little pockets of time to reconnect with your partner on your wedding day, so this was a great moment for it.
We had a live musician -Chris Quinn- who travelled in for our wedding. Throughout dinner, he serenaded us with beautiful acoustic guitar. Towards the end of dessert, he then transitioned over to some livelier sets, which got everyone out of their seats and dancing. Not long after, we moved the party inside where he had his DJ booth set up and ready to keep us going late into the night. Find yourself a versatile musician and you’ve got yourself the best party, I swear!
Another fun surprise was when my siblings busted out some boozy freezies they made. These were super refreshing, especially after dancing for hours on end. So many of my favourite wedding day memories are things that we could never have planned for.
Our Château de Frétoy Wedding
To summarize, this was truly the best week of our lives. And I think it was made even better by throwing away all of the rules of “how to have a wedding” and just making it into the week that fit us best. We didn’t have a wedding party. I chose not to wear a veil in my hair. And instead of the traditional Saturday wedding date, we held our wedding on a Friday.
Every decision -big or small- that we made for our wedding made sense for us and our guests, and that’s all that really matters in the end. If you’ve made it this far into reading, thank you for being here. It’s been such a treat reliving one of the best days of our lives! xx
P.S. Here’s a little wedding video that one of our friends put together for us. Huge thank you to Cees for documenting some of the surrounding landscape, as well as some of the moments during our wedding week! RIP to the drone that recorded this (and wait until the end to witness it’s demise). Again, another totally unplanned, pretty hilarious, but extremely spontaneous moment that shaped my memory of our day!