Photos: Courtesy of Ashlan Gorse
What do real brides have to say about the wedding planning experience? Well, it's not all happy tears at the bridal boutique and indulgent cake tastings. Over the next few weeks guest blogger Ashlan Gorse, entertainment journalist, will share her romantic engagement story, planning a wedding without a wedding planner, and choosing a destination wedding.
After debating where to throw our destination wedding, Philippe and I settled on France, a place close to both of our hearts (Plus, you can't beat saying "I do" in one of the world's most romantic cities!). But even though we decided on our dream location, we were at a loss for where to start planning—especially when I don't speak a word of French!
Logically, you'd think to hire a wedding planner, right? There was only one problem: The price. While there are fabulous wedding planners in Los Angeles, I had to be honest with myself—and my budget—and realize that hiring someone to coordinate every detail for me might not be realistic. Especially when I would rather spend my money on gourmet food, good wine, and fabulous shoes. So, just like the process of picking my destination wedding location, I decided to jump right in and plan my wedding on my own.
First up: The venue. Philippe and I searched for a place close to Paris, that could accommodate all of our guests overnight. Ultimately our goal was for everyone to hang out all weekend and celebrate together. We invited about 65 people total, which meant we needed a location with at least 35 rooms. I jumped online, and was shocked and excited by the number of chateaus that I found. There were almost too many to choose from!
Funny enough, one of Philippe's family friends suggested a chateau they had just visited outside of Paris, which happened to be one of the locations repeatedly showing up in my internet searches for my dream Parisian venue. I took it as a sign.
A few weeks later we booked a trip to visit the Chateau d'Esclimont. After the short drive from Charles de Gaulle airport, we turned the final corner and finally saw it. I immediately started to cry. We knew it was the one. After we toured the grounds (and even met the swan that lives on the grounds!) we confirmed our date. It was a fairytale moment!
Once we set our date, September 28th 2013, everything else began to fall in place. Luckily the chateau frequently hosts weddings, so their onsite planner was incredibly helpful. In addition, the restaurant on the grounds has spectacular food, and a suite of décor perfectly suited to the chateau and the grounds. All of these in-house elements cut down on rental fees and helped to make our destination dream wedding a reality.
If you're planning a wedding without a planner—destination or not—I highly suggest finding a venue with an on-site coordinator and in-house vendors. That will streamline the process and keep costs down!