Our wedding party is definitely not a traditional one. All we want to have is a celebration with our nearest and dearest sharing a simple dinner and wine, sharing laughter and more wine! We didn’t even have a typical program to begin with, ours was like —
Drink > Ceremony > Drink > Eat > Drink > Toast > Drink some more!
We want it to be very casual and very laidback that we will just go with the flow of the party. In short, we want to chill-out and enjoy our own wedding party!
I certainly do not know how many times I have been in a wedding, from the simplest town hall civil weddings to grand ballroom weddings, I’ve been there. I have been a maid-of-honour five (5) times in my life and I have lost count already on how many times I’ve been a bridesmaid and a flower girl. All these weddings I’ve attended were all beautiful, but the more I attend to several weddings, the more I want my own wedding to be simpler and intimate.
Intimate wedding is difficult for a Filipino like me, in the Philippines 150 is considered intimate and 150 means more upset friends and family. Since both of my parents were long gone and my only sister and nephew relocated from Singapore to Phuket now, destination wedding is what I’ve always have in mind.
As many of our close friends knew already about how Laurie and I met in a plane from Singapore to Dubai, we always knew that if we get married, our friends and family may have to take a plane too! (Clicke HERE for our story)
CHOOSING SOUTH OF FRANCE
We pictured how our wedding would look like when we attended his dad’s 60th birthday in Clare Valley, Australia. – countryside, wine region, long table, and rustic. But it took Laurie 3 years before he finally realised that it’s about time to make it happen haha! So the night when he proposed we’ll have our wedding in summer of 2014, he already made up his mind – South of France it is!
Hmmm, why not? We spent our summer there a year ago and I really fell in love with the region! (See our summer holiday HERE last year). Of course it’s France, but it is even more romantic than Paris! (I still love Paris don’t get me wrong hehe). Laurie’s parents, Bob and Tish, are now based there, he also started building his future “retirement” house there too, and who wouldn’t love to have a wedding there!?! South of France is just a romantic countryside that a lot of couples (esp in Europe) dream to have their wedding there!
Initially Laurie just wanted to have our immediate family because we both want an intimate wedding in the first place. However, I only have 2 immediate family, my sister and my nephew, hehe so I asked him if I could invite few close friends and cousins in which he willingly said yes, and whilst we list down the names (which is very difficult!) we already reached 30 names! Still a good number for intimate wedding, but we just have to be strict about it, so we kept our wedding plans under the radar (which is again, very difficult!).
CHOOSING THE VENUE
Laurie wanted to give all our guests an exciting holiday week around our wedding day so he want us to house all of them in one place, as most of them are flying from different places across the globe. So I thought of looking for a place of accommodation where we could also hold our wedding ceremony in the same place.
However, when we told Bob and Tish about our plans of getting married in their region, we were delighted that they offered their lovely home to hold our wedding ceremony and party! They didn’t have to but it was really sweet of them to offer their place, so VENUE has been crossed out from our budget list!
Looking for an accommodation for all our guests in one place is a bit of a challenge. The chateaus in Lot/Dordogne were all inconvenient to Bob and Tish’s place in Prat, Salviac, and most gites (villas) have no enough beds for our guest list.
I have only found 3 gites compound online that are accessible to our venue, but there’s only 1 compound that really captured my heart, the Boussagou Gites in Marminiac.
But since we are not physically there in France, Tish was very nice to help us view our list of gites compound, but the moment she viewed Boussagou Gites, she never viewed the other 2 options anymore, she told me that we have to settle with Boussagou already, and we did!
The best part of staying in Boussagou are the kindhearted and hospitable owners, Ken and Bernadette! They were there to help all our guests feel at home. They were very helpful to their needs and they recommended good places to see. They got along really well with our family that they even joined them with their sightseeing. We can never thank them enough for making their place a relaxing paradise for everyone!
PLANNING A DIY DESTINATION WEDDING
After we decided on a date of our wedding, I only have 3 months to plan the wedding party. Even if it’s just a party for few guests, planning a destination wedding has always this notion that it will never be easy. But modesty aside? It was very easy for me even without any wedding coordinator at all!
Yes, I have been planning events and group activities since forever and I already thought of what I want for my wedding, uhm since forever too (lol!), but everything will not be possible without the help of Laurie’s family and my friends. The only stress I had during the planning was my health (uninvited vertigo and lymph nodes, grrr!) and how to get my sister and my nephew attend our wedding despite her delicate pregnancy, in which the latter was perhaps the result of me not being well weeks before the big day, because they didn’t make it :(
Below are the only 10 important items that we list down on our To-Do-List, and as you read along, you’ll find that it wasn’t difficult to organize our wedding especially if we were just aiming a good-fun party and not a traditional one:
1. Wedding Website Invitation
I started to research a good wedding website and I found My Wedding to be the best in sending the invitation for our guests, sharing all the infos they need, and for me to set up the budget list, to-do list, and gather a lot of DIY ideas. They have the best templates and the best part is I can put music hehe and keep our website as long as I want! (View the wedding website at
2. Wedding Rings
My engagement ring is an heirloom from Tish. It’s a lovely ring very similar to the ring my mum gave me that I lost! But this time, it has a diamond! When Laurie proposed to me, he gave me the “Foil Ring” he gave me before when we were “unofficially” engaged lol. He only gave me the heirloom ring when we already decided on a date of our wedding celebration, in our favorite steakhouse restaurant which is quite dark, so I almost threw it because I didn’t see it haha!
We bought our wedding rings at Gold Souq here in Dubai. It was my first visit in a jewelry shop here in Dubai, and I realised that gold here is indeed a LOT cheaper than anywhere else! Now I will not wonder why tourists buy gold here (isn’t obvious that I am not so into jewelries? Lucky Laurie tsk tsk). Laurie chose my ring, we both want a classic looking ring, but he really has an eye for beauty I must say, it’s classic and it’s elegant!
3. Wedding Outfit
Of course, I used to dream a princess-like wedding gown with long train. But that changed as I desire to have a simpler wedding and it doesn’t fit my age anymore haha! So I decided not to wear a wedding gown anymore. I’ve always wanted to wear a PINK gown ever since, and wanted all my entourage and guests to wear white.
But my friends told me that if I will not wear a gown, my guests will look like the bride if I’m wearing pink. But I really want to wear pink, so okay they’ve convinced me to wear at least a lacey dress with short train hehe. I do not have budget and ample time to look for a good “couturier”, so my option is to buy online. I am never lucky in buying clothes online, but when my friend bought her Vera Wang inspired dress online and it looks exactly the same as the original, I never hesitated to do the same. So I ordered my Monique Lhuillier inspired pink dress on the same website and was delivered in less than a month.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t as good as what I expected (the back is not as low as I wanted lol!), but for $450, it’s not that bad :P Besides, I will only wear it once! (but would rather not recommend them anymore)
As for Laurie’s outfit, he chose it himself. I am not the typical bridezilla who directs her groom on what to wear. Knowing my groom, I know he doesn’t want me to interfere at all, so I let him be. He doesn’t know I am wearing pink. When we were doing his outfit shopping, I noticed that he always tries on pinkish or purplish-pink shirts!
Perhaps he was also thinking the same as I am, we asked all our guests to wear white, so perhaps he also wanted to stand out haha! I don’t want to comment because I don’t want him to suspect that I am not wearing white too! I am just happy that he was also choosing shirts in the same palette as my dress lol! Good thing he picked a purple tie, because it matches my Lavender bouquet! Phew!
4. Wedding Theme and Decors
With the help of Google, Pinterest and MyWedding, I was able to gather ideas I want for the theme and decors. Bob & Tish’s place at Prat, Salviac is an ideal place for the countryside wedding with rustic and shabby-chic theme. We didn’t need to decorate it more because as what Laurie said before, it’s already rustic!
Everything I see around there is just perfect for our theme. I bought few decors, stationeries, favours, etc online and since Ebay and Amazon don’t deliver here in Dubai, it is free delivery if I purchase it in Amazon.UK and delivered to Laurie’s mum’s place in England.
Mum Hilly and Naomi helped a lot in making the decors themselves in UK like the mason jars flower vases and candle holders, mason jars favour tags, etc. In France, Laurie and I made the centerpieces out of wine bottles, and Guestbook out of wine corks. The paper invitation, place cards and all other print outs are designed by myself using Photoshop only (yeah yeah I’m just proud of it hehe).
We have borrowed a lot of shabby-chic decors from Jan and Ritt (neighbours in Prat) and the table and chairs were just borrowed too from the community centre there. The arch were built by Bob and Laurie. Nathan and Ate Geraldine helped with setting up the place, putting up the buntings, etc. the day before the wedding.
5. Wedding Flowers, Hairpiece and Hair&Make-Up
I’ve always wanted to have wild flowers on my wedding. And since Lavender is abundant in south of France, I want it to be my bouquet. The good thing about choosing these flowers is we all got it for free! Yes for free! The owners of Boussagou Gites allowed us to pick few Lavenders at their compund for my bouquet, and we picked wild flowers only at the nearby forest for my wreath hairpiece! The moment I saw Jenny’s wreath hairpiece on her wedding in Forrest Gump, I already knew I won’t be wearing a veil at my wedding.
My DIY bouquet was very special for me. Ate Geraldine made it and what made it special is the pendant that Naomi gave me on my Hen Night, it’s a pendant with the photos of my dad, my mum, my sister Fritzie and my nephew MJ. We didn’t have bouquet tossing anyway because our wedding is not a traditional one, so I still have the bouquet with me now, Lavender is still nice to keep even when it’s dried.
My long-time bff Leslie was supposed to do the make-up for me, we have talked about this long time before I met Laurie. It’s her other profession and so good at it, so unfortunately, her boss didn’t allow her to take leave for my wedding (along with my other long-time bffs). So I commissioned online a professional HMUA in south of France. She did a trial on my Hen Night that I didn’t like but when Laurie said it was good, I thought it was really good haha! Not until my girlfriends saw it!
They all convinced me that Kat should just do my make-up even if I don’t really want to bother any of my guests to do this for me, I want them to relax and enjoy that day too, but they are happy to do it so I ended up cancelling my appointment to the pro HMUA! The make-up was very light (no foundation!) that I felt very fresh all day and night…really love my friends! Hihi.
6. Wedding Celebrant/Minister
On this part, Laurie and I failed to pick someone from our guests to officiate our ceremony blessing (since we are already married anyway hehe). I was supposed to ask my cousin Ate Sharon to officiate it because she used to do that in our church. Unfortunately they couldn’t make it so we decided to find someone who really do this “job”, so I scoured the internet again and I found Celebrants In France and they gave us Christine Davidson.
We just coordinated with her with several exchange of emails and just met up with her 2 hours before the ceremony started, but everyone in our wedding had a good feedback about what she prepared for us, truly inspiring and emotional.
Bob gave me away instead of my uncle Tito Mac who didn’t make it as well. I am happy that Bob offered to do it and I am happy that he was wearing pink too! I guess Jaggards love pink like me huh? (Mum Hilly and Naomi were wearing pink during our first wedding! The civil one, they are our witnesses.) I love that part because finally I feel like I am not alone even if my sister and nephew never made it.
Ate Geraldine read a passage from the Bible, it was supposed to be my sister Fritzie’s part and I am happy that one of long-time friends made it and I consider her also as my family here in Dubai. She was there from the beginning of our relationship (she was with me when we met up with Laurie for the first time in Dubai) up to the ups and downs of our relationship too she was there.
Christine, the celebrant, incorporated a French wedding tradition of Ribbon-Cutting. This is an old tradition still practiced in some small French villages today. The groom calls for the bride, and as they walk from the ceremony, village children stretch ribbons across their path as symbolic obstacles. The wedding couple cut the ribbons to show that together they can overcome any problems they may encounter in their married life.
Naomi and my nephew MJ should be doing this, but in the absence of MJ, the son of my friends Isi and Martin, Benjamin, did it, and he was so adorable enjoying his participation hehe.
7. Wedding Caterer
We are so thankful for Tish because she did all the coordination on this part. She found the caterer Party In France for the main food and the roasted pig (but on the wedding day, they brought 2 suckling pigs, which is okay for me, though I love the pork skin more hehe) but for the starters, salads, cheese and desserts, it was all prepared by Tish (she used to be a chef and doing events too!).
She also made the canapés and aperitif’s recipes, and alongside Bob, they bought all the beer wine, my favorite rosé, and of course the pink champagne (as requested hihi). All of these are Bob & Tish’s wedding gift to us! Another crossed-out big item from our budget list, weeee!
8. Wedding Cake
Tish ordered a chocolate cake with butter cream icing from a local baker in town, and we just provided her the cake toppers I bought in Amazon. But what we didn’t know is that Nan (Laurie’s grandmum) made her special family fruit cake as her gift to us! Nathan drove from UK to France and brought down with him all the decors and this cake! Sweet!
9. Wedding Photographer/Videographer
We didn’t commission any professional photographer because aside from Laurie is really not comfortable in front of cameras, he does not like the idea of “made-up” photos. I thought it was a silly idea because I want our special day to be documented. But after the wedding, I realised that it is more fun and relaxing if it’s not mandated. It’s more laidback, it’s more candid, it’s more special! (Plus we saved big bucks! :P)
We are thankful to our friends, Martin and RH, for taking gazillion beautiful pictures during our wedding. All the photos I posted here were post-processed by me using Lightroom (and I’m very proud of it again lol!).
Prior to our flight to France, my highschool friends here in Dubai convinced me to have a pre-wedding photoshoot even without Laurie. I told them that we don’t have this engagement photoshoot because Laurie doesn’t like the idea, and eventually I also find it “cheesy” already (sorry!). However, after I saw the lovely photos taken by my photo hobbyist friend, Mauie (who is btw a GP doctor by profession!) Laurie and I realised it is the best decision we’ve made so far haha! Really love my friends hihi.
As we don’t have a wedding photographer, Laurie and I compromised to have at least a videographer (after I cried haha!). I promised him that videos will be candid and there will be no made-up shots. Whilst I was scouring the internet to find a reasonably priced videographer (so it will be easier to convince Laurie too!) I came across a website that does videos that really caught my attention because of their aerial shots!
They used drones on our wedding day, cool! Mark and Katherine of DragonFly Media were very nice and cooperative to achieve our goal to capture all the highlights of our wedding without making everyone uncomfortable that there is a camera watching them, they were very discreet and enjoying the party mixing with all the guests. You can view the video HERE.
10. Pre-Wedding Activities
I had everything planned out for the week for our guests, but I didn’t organise anything as I cannot do much whilst I’m in Dubai. So Laurie said, we’ll do it when we get there. But our guests were as spontaneous as Laurie, we didn’t need to babysit them (well, except for the non-stop pick-up and drop-off the airport trips!) they organise their sightseeing trips within themselves (which I am jealous for not being able to join them!) and they all had fun getting along really well with each other! Although, Laurie and I organised the first BBQ night, the succeeding BBQ nights were already organised voluntarily by each of one of them.
The next activity that Laurie and I planned for everyone is the 12km Canoeing (seeing 4 castles) along Dordogne River! We divided the group into 4 teams, where Laurie and I became the “Rescue Team” in the end haha! It wasn’t easy but we all made it (after a sumptuous lunch break lol!) to the finish line! We were supposed to visit a vineyard for wine tasting but after canoeing…we all call it a day haha!
My Hen Night was organised by Naomi who have done a great job! She said though that all willies were bought by mum Hilly hehe. Kudos to all the girls for making it a fun night. They gave me kinky and non-kinky presents too but I love all the DIY snowglobes they made that same night despite being tipsy from pitchers of Sangrias!
Laurie’s Stag Party was organised by Nathan and Bob. They all went to a local pub (which there’s not much option around town!) and ended up drinking more at a camping site…until the next morning!
ENJOYING THE BIG DAY
I am that type of a person who plans everything ahead. Laurie is the spontaneous type. And I guess, that is the perfect combination if you compromised halfway, the result is just satisfying – organised yet stress-free!
Planning a destination wedding in 3 months is no joke but not difficult at all. All you need is a handful of family and friends who will be happy to help and cooperate with you and an understanding loving partner who trusts your taste and abilities. A friend told me (who is equally an advance planner like me) that planning an event should not require a long planning time, because otherwise you will lose your momentum and excitement. Perhaps it’s not applicable to everyone especially to those very particular with their details (like this MUST be the venue, this MUST be the caterer, etc etc). But it worked for us because it may be OUR wedding but we’ve been wedding guests too many times already before, so we focus on what our guests will enjoy more!
It was a magical day for Laurie and I. Weddings will never be 100% perfect as you have planned it, so just loosen up and just have fun on your wedding day! We forgot the bubble-blowing after the ceremony, we forgot to take the macarons out, we forgot to put wild flowers around the arch, we forgot to blow the balloons, we forgot to take photos of the food etc etc…but these little details didn’t matter, because at the end of the day, guests will only remember how much fun they had celebrating our wedding, literally, WITH us.
It would’ve been complete if my sister Fritzie and my nephew MJ were there to celebrate with us, but sometimes we just have to let go of the things we cannot control. I am just happy that all of Laurie’s family looked after me and made me feel that I have a family in them.
That is actually God’s best wedding gift for me, He just didn’t give me a loving husband, but He also gave me a wonderful father, 2 caring mothers, a thoughtful sister and a sweet brother! I am not just a “Jaggard” on my name now, but also a welcomed family member of the Jaggards :)