Alexis and Vincent had a mixed cultured wedding : She is American and he is French.
As a bilingual photographer it felt good to be able to switch from one language to another. Their dream was “a small wedding in a big castle.”
It was perfect.
The ceremony and reception was held in a stunning French castle with so much history; so many impressive rooms and surrounded by such outstanding scenery. However it was at the same time incredibly intimate.
The Pranemoux castle is located at the height of Beaujolais (between Macon and Lyon) and shows the beautiful and quiet valley of Azergues. Alexis tells their story.
How did you meet?
We met in a gritty cafe in Buffalo, Ny. Vincent promised to teach me French. Then we began getting together each week for French lessons and dinner.
How and why did you choose the Chateau de Pramenoux for your venue?
We knew we wanted to get married in France because that’s where Vincent is from (and we currently live in America, so I thought this was fair). We looked at a few places, but when we arrived at the Pramenoux, we felt a great sense of joy and comfort. Emmanuel, the owner, showed us each room and the terraces. We thought it was all very romantic.
It felt kind of like a beautiful dream.
Who was your hair dresser / make up artist? Why?
I didn’t have a stylist. I decided to save a bit on the budget and do it myself.
How did you choose your dress and where did you buy it from? And what about the suit? (and accessories : jewellery, shoes…)
I chose the dress at a very small boutique in my hometown. I was deciding between a second hand dress and an Etsy dress, but then we went into this shop that sold designer dresses off the rack.
I tried a few on and was feeling kind of “blah” but then I put on this Mikaella dress. It made me feel like Marilyn Monroe and I loved it.
I started picturing myself holding
a glass of champagne in it. The shop owner told me that it was from a Toronto designer. I love Toronto and I loved the style, so I thought it was a good pick. After I got it, I kept trying it on throughout the year. Each time I did, my mom pretty much cried. It was a series of tender moments.
Vincent picked his suit from this store in Buffalo.
He wanted a kind of Mad Men 1950s style.
He then bought the tie when we were out shopping one afternoon. He liked the dark blue. It’s funny because when I first met Vincent I thought he had terrible shoes. As we started dating, I starting mentioning how many beautiful shoe styles there were for men. He got the the hint and he bought a new pair of shoes. Then, I sorted of created a monster, because he got really into shoes. He picked out these Cole Hanns for the wedding. They really are beautiful shoes : a creamy sort of leather with a very nice aesthetic.
Who was your DJ? How was your experience with him?
(Can we not answer this question–we had a bad experience with the DJ).
Same for the catering company?
Our catering company was Stephanie Despinasse. She was absolutely magnificent. She told us that she would look for fresh ingredients the week before and then plan the menu with those in mind. Her food was artful, interesting and exotic. The American guests loved the escargot. It was warm and buttery with a lovely pastry. The cake at the end of the night was absolutely incredible. We were all sitting at the tables in this beautiful chateau in the French countryside, when Stephanie came out with this overflowing tray of desserts. There were fireworks on top and as she and the wait staff were bringing it out, thunder cracked. The lights in the chateau went out. Everything was absolutely black!
All the guests were laughing and walloping. Champagne was poured. Mousse was eaten.
People were fleeing up to their rooms to close the shutters with all of this rain pouring down. It was a beautiful kind of madness. Vincent’s brother, Benoit, ventured into the dark chateau basement (near the dungeon perhaps!) and found the electrical box. He restored power to the whole chateau. He was the hero of the wedding.
Can you describe your experience with Anais Photography?
We first skyped with Anais about a year before the wedding and we had never met a photographer like her. She asked us to describe ourselves and we kept using the word “wacky.” Then she asked us to pick music we liked. So, we did all that and then when we got to the wedding, Anais arrived looking cool and calm. She had these cool cameras and she was so easy to be around.
We were nervous that we’d feel cheesy and uncomfortable, but we didn’t at all. We felt so happy.
She felt like our cool, talented friend. Her photographs are so beautiful and she captured these tiny moments–like Victor from Brasil racing around the yard with Ryan from England. They didn’t speak the same language but they were just laughing and joking and it was such a poignant symbol of our marriage: the interconnectivity of two cultures. She also took this photo in the Royal Chambre. It’s such a great photo. We are sitting on a seton in my parents room and it’s this glorious blue and gold wallpaper. It’s an exquisite photo–could be out of Vogue, and the best part of the photo is there is a joke–Vincent and I had intruded in my parents’ room as they were getting ready. My dad was being very slow about getting ready and he was actually in the bathroom shaving when the photo was taken. It was like he was trapped in the bathroom during the photo shoot. I find that very wacky and funny. I love the photo. I’d like to frame it because it’s just so incredibly beautiful.
Do you have any advice to give to the brides who are organizing their wedding from oversea like you?
I’d just say play to your strengths. Vincent speaks French so he handled everything that was all in French. I am more artsy so I did all the place cards and ordered the sunglasses. We just treated it like a business–like waking up on the weekends and saying, “Let’s get a bottle of wine, let’s get some cheese and let’s plan this part of our wedding today.” We tried to make each step fun. Like for instance, we live two hours from Toronto, so we were kind of dreading writing our ceremony and our vows because it’s a lot of pressure, so we decided to have this great weekend at an Airbnb in Toronto where we visited a jewellery shop to get our rings made. We drank wine and wrote our vows and we went out to this lovely French restaurant in Toronto. It was such a fun weekend. Much more fun than if we had been sitting at our computers in our apartment in Buffalo, not wanting to do any work.
Would you like to share other details about your wedding?
We just want to say that our friends completely surprised us. Claire, Vincent’s best friend, organized this amazing dance. During the cocktail hour, everyone began dancing to this Shakira song.
It was so beautiful to have all of our friends dancing as a kind of gift to us.
They were all in a line and doing these crazy dance moves and it was Americans and French and British. It was so cool.
Before that my American friends, took me (Alexis) to this little green space near the chateau and we popped a bottle of champagne and joked around. It was such a relaxing moment before I put on my dress and said my vows (in French!).
During dinner, Karin and Sebastian created this totally absurdly cool game where we had to identify cheese while closing our eyes and tasting a little piece. It was funny because Vincent works for a cheese company and I (with a lot of help from Karin!) won the game. It was funny and cool and delightful. I loved that.
I went to bed early but Vincent stayed up and did the paquito with his French friends. They were even passing Victor through the crowd. I love this about French culture–wedding aren’t really about drinking to excess, it’s about doing these wacky things while having a glass of champagne or two.
I loved the French idea of a wedding. I hope to be invited to some more in my lifetime (hint hint to French friends reading)!
How did you feel on your wedding day? What emotion went through you?
It was complete magic. It always rains in my life for important events and so it started raining that morning. We were very nervous our ceremony would be inside. I remember I went to my room and just looked out across this beautiful farmland and I thought about how lucky I
am to have met Vincent and to have this incredible adventure and then I saw that the clouds were clearing and it was clear for our ceremony.
As we walked down the steps to the fountain where the ceremony was, all of our friends and family started clapping for us.
I got really choked up and tears started spilling out.
It was so beautiful to have everyone be so supportive. I loved the ceremony so much. It was so meaningful to me.
How do you live your post wedding life as a couple?
We feel like we can do anything! We made this cool event happen and we feel so inspired and happy to be with each other. We live in Buffalo, but we have our tickets for France for Christmas. I work as an adjunct writing professor and Vincent works for the cheese company. We spend a lot of time reading The New Yorker and eating free cheese. We live in this little house with a big glass solarium. Our cat, Zuni (like aux Etas-Unis . .. Zeta Zuni) follows us around and sleeps on our furniture.
We feel so hopeful and excited. We want to explore the world together. We’re ready for the ups and downs.
We’re ready for the adventures that await us.
Cole Hanns shoes
Stephanie Despinasse traiteur : Traiteur fougerasse
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