Ashlan Gorse, 32, and Philippe Cousteau, 33, first met when they locked eyes across the room at an environmental conference. "He kept stealing glances at me all night, and then came and found me when my friend and I left early!" Ashlan remembers. They returned to Philippe's native France for their wedding, saying "I Do" on the grounds of a gorgeous chateau outside of Paris. "We stayed there for the weekend with all of our guests," says Ashlan. "It was wonderful having everyone there with us!"
For more scoop on this pair's nuptials, read Ashlan's real bride blog posts and pick up the April/May 2014 issue of Brides (on newsstands now!). But as a bonus, we're sharing five things every bride-to-be can learn from this couple's French fête fit for royalty:
Color Play: "Philippe spent his childhood summers in Provence, so we used lots of lavender and deep purple," says Ashlan.
Consider Digital: With a destination wedding weekend comes lots of details, so the couple sent e-save-the-dates. "They were designed by our calligrapher, and they put all the important information right in our guests' inboxes!" says the bride.
Break Tradition: Do things that are special to you, even if they're unexpected. "Walking down the aisle to Journey was one of my favorite memories!" says Ashlan.
Improvise: Ashlan and Philippe didn't use traditional vows—they improvised their own during the ceremony! "We spoke from the heart," she says.
Dessert, Redefined: The couple skipped an American wedding cake, serving a traditional French croquembouche (a tower of cream puffs topped in spun sugar) instead.