Turns out I am grown up enough to be married. Last weekend was our beautiful wedding in Normandy, here is the story:
It all started off on Monday 20th May when I went over to my Mum's house and spent the day having fun with her and my great friend Charlotte. We lunched, had a hand massage and bought perfume from Jo Malone. Had a pedicure and manicure followed by the female members of my family coming over for pizza and champagne.
Tuesday 21st May - Legal Knot Tying
That night, we were excited. I lay in bed thinking about all the fun and big days ahead.
It all began with tying the knot legally in the UK at Chelsea Register on Kings Road, London. This ceremony was attended by the bride and groom and our mothers. The two men officiating it entertained us with stories and jokes. We said our vows and signed away our lives to each other. I must admit, I did feel a little nervous before this one!
As we stepped outside -legally husband and wide, we saw family that had suprised us and were waiting outside! That made a few tears come out.
Next stop Charlotte Street hotel for brunch with our nearest and dearest. Mum had a small bottle of champagne and four glasses for the taxi ride, great thinking Mum!
After a delicious brunch Charley and I headed to The London Eye for a treat to London from the sky and more champagne. We spent the rest of the day relaxing in our beautiful room - Smithfield - at The Fox and Anchor pub and boutique hotel in Farringdon. We dined at a nearby steak restaurant.
How random to walk past this sign after the London Eye!
I think we pretty much spent the whole day looking at each other and saying "We're married!!" It was so lovely to spend the time alone getting used to this fact, before the proper wedding in France.
Wednesday 22rd May - Lunch in Paris
We caught the Eurostar to Paris and headed for lunch at our favourite steak restaurant there - Le Relais de Venise. Famous for only having one dish and no menu - they simply ask you how you would like your steak cooked "bloody, less bloody or well done" with a perfectly French accent. You can't book a table at this treat of a restaurant and it is always full inside. It's superb and very reasonable.
Next stop: Normandy
Thursday 23th May - Operation Wedding
We headed to the barn (wedding venue) with our team of helpers and got cracking. We had written out all the tasks on paper and started cracking through them. What we thought was going to be a huge job was finished by early afternoon, much to our surprise. We enjoyed lunch and a beer in the wedding venue whilst trying to ignore the rain and wind outside.
In the evening, family and friends started arriving. Charley spent the night welcoming guests a a bar in Caudebec, the town across the river. I stayed at my grandmother's house and had a lovely family dinner and early night.
Friday 24th May - Final Preparations
With this being the day before the big day, the pressure was on a little. I had developed a cold and the weather had worsened today. It was torrential rain and the question was being raised where we should hold the outdoor ceremony and the photos if it rains. I refused to acknowledge that it might and focused on the tasks at hand. Getting the wedding ready was a huge family effort from both sides but by Friday afternoon, it was ready.
At 5pm we had a pre-wedding celebration at La Maison Des Grandes Arbres (my grandmother's house). It was a chance for both families to meet and enjoy the fabulous Normandy weather - rain!
That night I had dinner with my family, there were 22 of us and what an amazing air of excitement and buzz about the house there was. At 11pm I went to bed and tried to sleep. 2 hours later I was wide awake, feeling ill and not being able to sleep. I lay there thinking about all the things I didn't want to forget to do, then wrote a list, then started doing them. I painted my nails, wrapped presents, packed my overnight bag for the wedding night. Finally I fell back to sleep about 3am.
Saturday 25th May - Wedding Bells!
Wow, what a wonderful day! Woke up to beautiful blue skies and sunshine. Thank you! It's a surreal feeling, you do so much to get ready for this day but when it starts it feels just like any other, you feel just the same. I think it was really only when I arrived at the ceremony and saw our favourite people in the world (expect those that sadly couldn't make it) there, looking beautiful in the sunshine that I really started to feel as though it was all happening.
The morning consisted of a tight but fun timetable, a trip to a French hairdresser to do hair with Mama. A delicious brunch with family in the garden. A special hour or two getting ready with my Maid of Honour, Faye, best friend Charlotte and my Mum. After that, it was time to go downstairs, see my beautiful bridesmaids (all 8 of them) after they were ready, a few pictures in the garden and a glass or two of champagne.
Suddenly everyone was gone apart from me, my brother and Monsieur Demoy. Owner of the farm and barn where we held the wedding, who came to pick us up and drive us to the venue in his 1930's Citroen. What a treat. He was dressed in a suit and bowler hat and looked proud even though we had only met him a handful of times.
The wedding ceremony was held in Monsieur Demoy's front garden. When Luke (my brother) and I arrived, it was the first of a few moments of the day that entirely took my breath away. It was beyond the wedding of my dreams. His garden overlooks the River Seine and everyone was there in their sunglasses, with all my bridesmaids waiting to help me out of the car. At that moment, I thought - everyone is here because of Charley and I, because they love us and want to be part of this day. I felt so happy and still very relaxed - if not a little emotional already though.
Luke was walking me down the aisle and giving me away to Charley. All around me I could see the smiling faces of our friends and family as I walked up the grass. Charley and I always wanted to have a personal ceremony that was about our story, our commitment to each other and what marriage means to us. We wrote it ourselves and my proud Uncle Greavsie conducted it beautifully.
I loved the fact that we could enjoy our ceremony and have fun with it. Along with our guests we cried, laughed and savoured it all.
Here's a section:
Mark Twain once wrote:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
These sentiments sum up Sophie and Charley’s outlook on life and the passion they share for taking on new challenges and experiencing life as much as they can, which they plan on doing until they’re old and wrinkly. They’re excited about becoming husband and wife with all the new adventures in love and life this will bring and today in this beautiful setting we share their excitement and wish them well for their future together.
We had traditional vows and shared personal vows, I've shared a quote from both:
I promise to be the man you believe I can be and to help you be the woman I know you are.
I love you and thank you for changing my life
I promise to stand by you when you build your palace, and when it feels the world is crumbling around us
I promise to shelter you when the storms arrive, and give you strength to face them
After the ceremony we had the opportunity to celebrate with everyone. So much love and happiness! Guests had travelled from the US, Thailand, Spain, Abu Dhabi. The champagne was flowing, the sun was out and smiles were all around.
Just before dinner Charley and I went into the barn to see it all set up and ready before our guests sat down for dinner. This was another take-my-breath-away moment. We had kept the decorations inside very simple, loads of fairy lights candles and many wonderful homemade touches. It looked incredible and felt like the culmination of months of work and planning.
The speeches were another tear jerking moment. The food was delicious and the True Normand - Apple Sorbet with a shot of Calvados - went down a treat. Charley and I had our own table in the middle of the room with a spare seat so people came to sit and talk with us at various points during the meal. It couldn't have been more perfect.
After dinner, we all headed outside to enjoy the glorious evening sunshine.
Next up was cutting the cake. We had 10 cakes! They were all made from our local French bakery and we had chosen them after a rather fun weekend in February when we had sampled them all. The chocolate ones were demolished pretty quickly.
Our first dance was a special moment, Charley and I never slow dance together. It felt so romantic and the dance floor was soon filled with everyone else. The scene that followed didn't change until midnight when it was time to call it a night and head to bed. The bar had been enjoyed, we had novelty sunglasses for everyone to have fun with, a bathtub full of drinks and I made it my mission to dance with everyone. Love, love, loved it all. Every. Single. Moment.
Sunday 26th May - The Garden Party
It had always been our dream to have a wedding weekend. We loved the idea of our guests getting to know each other during the wedding, then having another party the next day and feeling more relaxed. Everyone who hadn't had to head back home came over to La Maison Des Grandes Arbres to enjoy another beautiful day drinking wine in the sunshine.
I had the chance to speak with and hang out with everyone. One of Charley's traditions is 'Speedo Sunday' a rather unsavoury sport where the boys don speedos and prance around. Those who dared, jumped in the fresh pool (great way to cure a hangover). It was the most amazing feeling having all these wonderful, happy people scattered around different areas of the garden that I could go and talk to.
As the evening approached everyone said their goodbyes. Charley and I took a bottle of champagne and headed into the field to catch up on the best week of our lives. Magical moments.
Thank you to everyone for coming, for supporting us and all that we try and do and for helping make our wedding the best wedding we could have imagined.