Australia-based pair Caroline and Courtney Smyth-Lace have their careers to thank for their fated reunion. Both registered nurses, Caroline transferred to the same cardiology ward as her future wife in 2011, when the pair met and began dating two years later. Courtney, in turn, popped the question in 2017 after Caroline had returned from Ireland for her grandmother's funeral. The two set up a picnic of champagne and cheese on the beach in Sydney, and Courtney pulled out a letter that she claimed had arrived during Caroline's trip. In reality, the envelope actually contained the proposal itself, made with a series of flash cards. The recipient accidentally opened the carefully thought-out bundle backward, reading the final proposal card first, but looked up to see her love holding a ring box.
Caroline's Irish heritage and the duo's Australia home base made a European wedding a must for their September 5, 2018, nuptials. The high chance of rain eliminated Ireland from the locale list, though, so Courtney and Caroline sought spots in France and eventually landed on the Chateau De Robernier through an online search. In fact, the website painted such a pretty portrait of the 16th-century venue that the pair didn't visit until the week of the wedding! "The chateau was perfect and simply gorgeous, the grounds were beautiful, and the owner and wedding coordinator made everything so easy for us," adds the brides. To enhance the spot's preexisting allure, the wedding took on a greenery theme that reflected the surrounding gardens. Planning an intimate event also emerged as a top priority, especially since Caroline and Courtney wanted their families to intermingle. "We wanted the wedding day to be relaxed and filled with laughter, and our main objective was to spoil our guests, give them an experience to remember, and to give back to them all the love and support they have given us throughout our five years together," Caroline adds.
You don't want to miss out on this picturesque chateau celebration, captured by Thierry Joubert. Keep reading for more!
The night before the wedding, guests enjoyed welcome drinks and a sneak peek of the chateau.
On the big day itself, the brides' bouquets perfectly complemented one another. Courtney's featured an orange base with long greenery. Caroline's, on the other hand, took on a pink hue through David Austin roses, lisianthus, dahlia and daisies.
Courtney says that her beaded Rachel Gilbert gown truly made her "feel like a bride." As for her jewelry, her earrings paid a sentimental nod to the pair's relationship—she wore a pair of pearls that she purchased on her first trip to Belfast as Caroline's girlfriend. A veil and belt rounded out the ensemble.
Caroline thought she had found her dream dress after visiting two bridal shops, but she and her mom had been advised to check out one more salon. Sure enough, the bride fell in love with a lace Novia D’art frock hanging in the third showroom. "We both gasped because we didn’t expect to have our minds changed," she recalls. She completed the look with earrings Courtney gifted her before the wedding.
For their bridesmaids, Caroline and Courtney envisioned simple, classy frocks. After finding inspiration on Instagram, the couple struck gold with navy silk-draped gowns from Zimmermann. "We rang our bridesmaids, asked them to drop everything and come in to try them on," says Caroline. "As soon as we saw them together in the dresses, we knew they were exactly what we wanted."
The brides decided to wed in front of an arch, but their florist took it one step further, surprising them on the big day with an 8-foot greenery hoop. "We were delighted to see it being constructed from our separate bedroom suites," says Caroline.
Both mothers of the brides escorted their daughters down the aisle for the outdoor garden ceremony.
Caroline and Courtney's closest friends read two biblical readings and a poem, "Wild Awake" by Hilary T. Smith, that the couple had chosen.
After the vows, guests showered the newlyweds with celebratory flower petals.
The beaming brides snapped a few photos between the ceremony and cocktail hour.
A navy, white, and gold color scheme made an appearance at the greenery-infused reception.
The 50 wedding attendees dined in the chateau courtyard at one of two long, rectangular tables, which had been adorned with white tablecloths, runners, flowers, and candelabras. String lights also hung above the elegant setup.
Menus tucked into lavender napkins accompanied the place settings, as well as a handmade wooden block holding each guest's photograph.
Caroline and Courtney enjoyed some alone time at a sweetheart table, stationed at the head of their guests' seating. "We could breathe, hold hands, and finally share all our emotions about how perfect our wedding had turned out," Caroline remarks of the intimate arrangement. From there, the brides dined on selections from their traditional French wedding menu—lobster medallion with crown gambas ratatouille, bresse poultry with grilled risotto and vegetable tagliatelle, vodka melon sorbet, and a cheese platter.
The dessert bar in and of itself proved to be a major wedding highlight, but the couple took it up a notch by opening the station with a celebratory champagne fountain. While the brides poured the bubbly, "Be Our Guest" from Beauty and the Beast fittingly set the mood in the background.
Speaking of guests, the newlyweds say they owe much of their elegant chateau celebration to their friends and family. "From sewing blue ribbons for our something blue to throwing us a recovery party with an Instagram-worthy 3-meter cheese board, our wedding confirmed to us we are surrounded by love," Caroline notes.
Venue: Chateau De Robernier Montfort Sur Argens
Officiant: Celia Drummond
Brides' Dresses: Novia D’Art, Rachel Gilbert
Brides' Veils: Ciara Bridal Dublin, David Jones
Brides' Jewelry: Beaverbrooks
Brides' Shoes: Valentino, Jimmy Choo
Hair: Lucy Sopp
Women's Attire: Zimmermann
Mother of the Bride Dresses: Debenhams and Moss & Spy
Men's Attire: MJ Bale
Engagement Rings: Kalmars Antique Jewellry Sydney
Floral Design: les fleurs du moulin
Invitations & Guest Book: Paperchase
Paper Products: Vistaprint, Etsy
Music: Star Preacher
Catering & Cake: Gaudefroy Receptions
Accommodations & Wine: Domaine Clos de L’Ours
Photographer: Thierry Joubert