Alex Carl and Peter Campbell first met on February 2, 2006, in Cape Town, South Africa. "I was taking a year abroad after finishing college to study, do some service work, and decide where life was taking me next," says Alex. She booked a room a student house and Peter, whose father owned the building, was working as the property's landlord while he finished his degree at the University of Cape Town. "As my mom and I were unpacking my suitcases, she turned to me and said, 'Alex, your landlord is really cute!'" Just six nights later, the duo shared their first kiss and has been inseparable ever since.
Eight years later, on April 1, 2014, Peter popped the question at Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park, just outside of London. After their cross-continental courtship (the couple now calls New York home), choosing just one location to celebrate their wedding with friends and family seemed nearly impossible. In fact, Alex and Peter were torn between hosting an intimate celebration with just their nearest and dearest or throwing one blowout party for everyone they loved. So rather than choosing, the bride and groom did both. Bonus: Multiple parties allowed the couple to take advantage of two insane venues they had at their disposal, the bride's family's home in Southampton and its stories chateau in France's Loire Valley.
That's right: In just seven days, this sweet couple hosted two ceremonies, two receptions, and six parties, making it marathon celebration that was full of "wow" moments and over-the-top hospitality. And with pros like planner Mindy Weiss, florist Jeff Leatham, caterer Peter Callahan, and photographer Gia Canali working on their celebrations, Alex and Peter became husband and wife during one seriously unforgettable week.
The wedding week kicked off with a beachfront rehearsal dinner and welcome drinks on June 19, 2015. The groom's family hosted dinner for the wedding party before opening up the revelry to all of the couple's 250 guests to come enjoy cocktails and dessert.
Guests were welcomed out East with bags filled with Hamptons-inspired goodies, plus a few nods to the groom's South African roots.
The next day, everyone arrived at Little Orchard, Alex's family's Hamptons estate, for a garden-inspired ceremony and reception. The expansive property features gardens lovingly created and maintained by Alex's mother, so the day's décor was inspired by the lush landscape. In one corner of the property, wildflowers bloom throughout the summer, so the bride asked Jeff Leatham and his team to create a similar look at the ceremony entrance. The result was a display of 3,500 white roses that had been studded into the ground to look as if they were growing naturally.
The bride's mother, owner of Paris-based company D. Porthault, worked with Leatham to create custom fabric in honor of her daughter's wedding. Dubbed "Mariage," the gorgeous floral pattern featured Alex's favorite flowers and was used throughout the wedding, including on table linens, favors, and the flower girl's dresses.
Alex wore a beautiful Oscar de la Renta wedding dress for her first celebration. The strapless silhouette featured filigree embroidered details, a ball gown skirt, and a sweetheart neckline. "I loved the delicate all-over lace effect that felt so feminine and whimsical," the bride says.
She spent the morning getting ready with her mother, bridesmaids, and two dogs, Rufus and Scout.
Alex's bridesmaids wore dresses the bride had custom-made out of beautiful white silk shantung. Each carried a bouquet of pink comprised of slightly different blooms. "I wanted each to have a slightly different color and texture, so Jeff made a different bouquet for each girl," says Alex.
Her flower girl, Ella, donned her custom D. Portault dress, hand-sewed by the bride's mother and accessorized with a dainty white flower crown.
Peter's Tom Ford suit was in keeping with the elevated garden-party vibe.
The couple's ceremony was held in the rose garden at Little Orchard. Because the garden itself was not actually in bloom yet, Jeff Leatham's team brought in the pink roses that decorated the space, sticking with the same variety and color of roses that naturally grow there. The results were simply amazing, and most guests had no idea the blooms had been brought in. Pink hydrangeas lined the aisle.
Just as the 5:30 p.m. vows were about to begin, rain began to fall outside. "I have always had nightmares about rain on my wedding day," the bride admits. "Somehow I just knew it would rain on my wedding and I thought it would ruin everything. I was so incredibly wrong!" Instead of fretting over the weather, Alex asked if they could go on as scheduled. "I just wanted to see Peter and marry the love of my life. I was all happy jitters, smiles, and joy. I couldn't have cared less about the rain."
Umbrellas were put up over the ceremony seats to keep guests comfortable, and the wedding processional started right on cue. Alex and Peter's ring bearers and flower girl made their entrances before the bride and her parents walked down the aisle. "I ended up loving that rain so much and I can't even begin to image what the day would have been without," she says.
Alex's parent's lifelong friend, Linda Fairstein, officiated the couple's civil ceremony. Because they would exchange vows again during a religious blessing in France, the pair decided to stick to traditional proceedings.
Because of the rain, the original plan to have guests explore the property during cocktail hour had to be revised. Even with little time to rejigger his plan, caterer Peter Callahan was able to create a working solution. "We had beautiful, whimsical little maps made to show guests various points of interest around the garden and had organized for certain food stations to be set up at various places," says Alex. "We modified the plan and held cocktail hour on the grounds closest to the house, on the front porch, and on the main floor. Peter is our hero for making this happen."
Guests enjoyed a walking raw bar, a South African food station, an assortment of local veggies, and delicious hot and cold appetizers.
Escort cards were arranged on a table topped with moss and greenery. Then, guests entered the insanely beautiful reception tent.
Chandeliers of greenery were suspended over tables and the dance floor while custom D. Portault linens dressed each table.
Each table was named after a location that was meaningful to the bride and groom, including the head table, which was dubbed "Isabella Plantation" after the site of Alex and Peter's engagement.
The centerpieces were a sight to behold. "The guest tables were decorated with three different arrangements that we had helped Jeff design," says the bride. "One was purely green and white, one was blue and white with touches of green, and the last was mostly yellow with white and green." Flowers included garden roses, hydrangeas, calla lilies, peonies, and camelias. On the head table, Jeff created a knockout display of fresh Lily of the Valley.
As another personalized touch, Alex's mother created custom napkins with the bride and groom's monogram for each place setting.
Peter Callahan created an incredible five-course sit down dinner. "The meal deserved a Michelin Star!" Alex gushes. "They delivered on the most consistently fantastic-tasting food on the day of. Not only this, but on the wedding day, they were such team players and took initiative. They jumped in to do things that were not in their job description just to help out and make sure everything ran smoothly for us."
The couple shared their first dance (the foxtrot!) to Tim McGraw's "Just to See You Smile," performed by the Hank Lane Band and their close friend, Paz, who previous toured with the country singer.
To feed their 250 guests, the couple chose a seven-tiered round cake from BCakeNY. Beneath layers of fondant and sugar flowers, layers of lemon cake with lemon buttercream and vanilla cake with fresh blueberries awaited guests. "The vanilla cake is actually my maternal grandmother's recipe that we shared with our baker and she happily created for us!" says Alex. "It was so delicious."
The bride also surprised her groom with a cartoon-style giraffe groom's cake. The adorable design was tasty, too: Guests dug into red velvet cake with rum filling.
Guests then gathered on the front lawn for a sparkler sendoff, but rather than saying goodbye, the couple actually headed towards their after parties — yes, plural! Everyone could continue the party at a South African-inspired bar beneath the Hiding Tree, a beautiful weeping-beech tree on the grounds, or in the apple orchard.
The next day, everyone headed back to the Carl's beautiful home for a poolside brunch. There, Jeff Leatham broke down centerpieces and décor and created custom bouquets for each guest to take home. Talk about an epic favor!
One week later, on June 27, 2015, when 24 guests gathered in Champigny-sur-Veude, France, for a candlelit ceremony and a midnight feast at the family's incredible chateau. "We had always envisioned a small, intimate wedding so the perfect way to do that was to have our second ceremony in France," the bride says.
Alex wore a bespoke Phillipa Lepley wedding dress for her second ceremony, while Peter wore a black tuxedo he already owned. Naturally, the couple's two dogs made the journey to France, too!
"Since the chapel is on our property, we were able to have as many flowers, candles, and dogs as we wanted! And we did!" says Alex. Jeff Leatham joined the couple and their families in France, and decorated this celebration with an entirely different eye. "We told Jeff France was his. He could do whatever he wanted with the décor there. Peter and I almost fainted when we saw it all."
Their one request for the ceremony? They wanted endless amounts of white flowers and candles, and Jeff delivered. At 11 p.m., the bride and groom walked hand-in-hand down the aisle and exchanged religious vows.
After, guests enjoyed a multi-course meal in the family's own dining room, using dinnerware they already owned. Jeff Leatham decorated the space with deep red flowers, perfect for the moody vibe of the chateau.
The party went on all night, but guests still managed to get out of bed for one final event the next morning: Hot air ballooning to an open field where chilled champagne was waiting.
The couple celebrated their marriage with a road trip honeymoon that took them across the country. "We wanted the weddings to look quite different and to be a reflection of the locations where they were set," says Alex. "But we love the way the events flowed into one another."
Hamptons || Venue: Private Residence || Wedding Planner: Mindy Weiss Party Consultants || Bride's Wedding Dress: Oscar de la Renta || Veil: Ania Tomczyk of Phillipa Lepley || Bride's and Bridesmaids' Purses: Flagship Handbags || Groom's Attire: Tom Ford || Wedding Invitations: Tiffany & Co. || Save-the-Date and Thank-You Cards: Grosvenor Stationery Company, with calligraphy by: Sammy Little || Wedding Programs, Escort Cards, Place Cards, Table Name Cards & Menus: Momental Designs, with calligraphy by: Designsgirl || Property Map Illustration: John Canemaker || Floral Design: Jeff Leatham || Linens, Flower Girl Dress & Favors: D. Porthault || Reception Tent Rental: Stamford Tent & Equipment Company || Stretch Tent Rental for After Party: Kilobush || Silverware & Glassware Rentals: Small Masterpiece || Table & Chair Rentals: Party Rental, Ltd. || Catering: Peter Callahan Catering || Wedding & Groom's Cake: BCakeNY || Music: Hank Lane Music; DJ Allison || Photographer: Gia Canali Photography
France || Venue: Private Residence || Bride's Wedding Dress & Veil: Phillipa Lepley || Floral Design: Jeff Leatham || Catering: Andre Botha || Music: Vincent Balse; Chef d'Orchestre; Grands Projects Culturels || Photographer: Gia Canali Photography, assisted by B Wright
Did you love this beautiful celebration? Then check out another gorgeous French wedding in the video below.