A Destination Wedding
in Provence, France

Real Weddings
real wedding outdoor rustic barn

Photo: Josie Miner

Riley and Nick met at the wedding of mutual friends, so it was only fitting the Massachusetts couple open up the possibility of romance to their wedding guests as well, 200 of whom gathered for a mid-summer wedding at the bride's family home in Provence.

"Bomont is in the country," explained the bride, "and is separated from surrounding villages and towns by narrow French roads." Because of this, the couple decided to rent several buses to collect wedding guests before the ceremony and then carry them home after the reception, which wrapped up around 5 a.m. "As the 5 a.m. bus was pulling up to collect the late crowd, the Provence heavens opened up to a pretty dramatic thunderstorm," the bride explained. "Nick and I ran up the hill to the little farmhouse where a babysitter was watching Luca, our one-year-old son, then ran with him as red mud was streaming down the hill to the bus. From our bus stop in Cotignac, we again ran in the thunderstorm through the winding village streets, in my mud-stained dress, holding our baby and a Malian treasure chest (a wedding gift), to the house we were staying in. It was pretty a dramatic end of celebration."

"The plus side of a wedding in the country is that we made as much noise as we wanted, there were no neighbors to complain and the local animals were all drunk."

bride lace wedding dress real wedding

Photo: Josie Miner

"I picked this dress," said the bride of her lace Monique Lhuillier wedding dress, "with my friend Sara when I was a haggard resident and had serious postpartum weight from my newborn, and somehow it still felt right. I liked the clean lines, and the lace is typical of French country weddings."

To prepare the property for proper celebration, the bride enlisted close friends and family. "We wanted our dear family and friends with us, wine a-flowing, delicious food and great music—and to let the beautiful light, stone and vegetation surrounding us do the rest," Riley said.

family wedding photo french wedding

Photo: Josie Miner

The bride's father took on the lion's share of the work, adding plumbing, electricity and a floor to the home's relic barn, paving a new driveway and filling every guest's empty glass with his own wine. (The Indiana native crafts complex red wines at the nearby Château la Mascaronne, which he bought more than 10 years ago.) The couple and the bride's sister arrived just two weeks before the wedding and dashed through the rest of the wedding details—seating charts were plotted, bus itineraries scheduled, flowers picked. A "force of nature," the bride's sister became the master of ceremonies, Riley said.

outdoor wedding ceremony real weddingbackless lace wedding dress

Photo: Josie Miner

"So many dear friends were involved in this wedding," explained the bride, "and they all have a special place in our hearts."

As guests were shuttled on buses from nearby villages to the gates of Bomont, "my sister and I sat with sisters-in-law and close friends inside the old, stone bastide," Riley explained. Like their mother, who years before had eagerly watched her own guests even as she finished sewing her homemade gown, "we could see the band and guests outside." But Riley had already donned her wedding dress, and her friends had no thimbles and string—they sipped on champagne instead.

Lavendar that a friend picked up from the market in Aups that day served as flower girl bouquets for the bride's nieces. "My brother, who played his flute for the ceremony, was standing in the entrance to the chapel and his children kept their eyes on him whenever they faltered."

father of the bride photo real wedding

Photo: Josie Miner

The couple's son wore Cyrillus striped cummerbunds and proceeded his mother down the aisle. "He didn't seem particularly bothered by the crowd, and heckled the Officiant whenever he spoke," the bride said. "Luca had to be led away."

wedding guests real wedding

Photo: Josie Miner

Riley carried an airy Gypsophila bouquet, and met Nick beneath a garden arch adorned with fresh-cut foliage and tulle. The ceremony was short, and their 200 guests were asked to stand as the couple exchanged simple vows. Their priority, Riley said, was the party. "As soon as the ceremony was done, the band started playing and the champagne was a-pouring," she recalled.

wedding procession rustic wedding real weddingceremony music

Photo: Josie Miner

The couple led the band—an acoustic ensemble that mingled amongst the guests and took song requests—to the barn, where dancing didn't stop until well after sunrise.

"It was to be a hot and long night," explained the bride, "and we wanted to steer away from any cocktails that might lead to anyone burn out too soon. We served Blanc de blancs (sparkling wine) and my dad's wine, Chateau La Mascaronne. As I learned for the occasion, the caterers still typically keep a little stash of hard liquors for the hard-livers."

bridesmaid photo real weddingwedding reception france

Photo: Josie Miner

The bride's engagement ring was set with a diamond that had been the groom's grandmother's. "Nick's mother, Rochelle, lovingly saved something of his grandmother's for each of her four sons," explained Riley. "Nick had the diamond set in a vintage 1920s setting that he found at Erie Basin in Red Hook, Brooklyn."

couple kissing real wedding

Photo: Josie Miner

"My dad had saved a report card from kindergarten," the bride recalled, "which described me as 'a benevolent dictator, but a dictator nonetheless.' I know he'd waited decades, since that moment, to read this at my wedding. It gave Nick second thoughts about the whole thing, until he realized he knew this about me already. The speech was sweet in my dad's typical way."

Venue: The bride's family home, Chateau Bomont de Cormeil || Caterer: Roland Paix || Florist: Perrine Bernard || Baker: Roland Paix || Bride's Dress: Monique Lhuillier || Groom's Suit: Ermenegildo Zegna || Music: The Essentials and DJ NewSuede || Photographer: Josie Miner

—Jillian Kramer

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