High school sweethearts Kate Mongin and Clint Heckner picked out the black diamond for Kate’s engagement ring in St. Thomas while on vacation with Clint’s family. They kept the ring a complete secret until a few years later in November of 2012, when Clint popped the question at a hotel in their college town of Madison, Wisconsin. “He already had champagne, flowers, and a new dress set out for a romantic evening out together — a rare thing at that point in the school semester,” Kate says.
On a trip to Paris in 2013, the bride-to-be met Eric and Diane Anthonissen, a couple who later purchased the Château Ladausse in Monflanquin, France, to renovate as a bed and breakfast. “When Clint and I started looking at venues in Wisconsin, I couldn't get this place out of my head and we fell in love with the idea of having our wedding in France,” Kate says. The couple invited just 18 guests to join them for an intimate outdoor wedding in the French countryside on their eighth anniversary together, June 4, 2016. While planning a destination wedding in a different time zone (and with a language barrier) proved difficult, Kate and Clint recruited planner Laura from Label’ Emotion and the owners of the château to make sure the day went off without a hitch. See all the charming details in the photos captured by Molly Jo Collection.
"Clint and I both have modern taste, which is quite the juxtaposition to the gorgeous château," Kate says. "We really wanted to have an intimate outdoor wedding that celebrated our love for food and classic taste, paired with the feminine touch of the French countryside. It was also important to us to highlight the château’s history and charm that day."
To bring their contemporary style into the wedding, the couple turned to stationer Wouldn't It Be Lovely for an invitation suite. This gold foil invite totally fit the bill, striking the perfect balance between their modern tastes and the venue's aesthetic.
After years of keeping the diamond under wraps, Clint surprised Kate with this stunning ring when he proposed. And with such a unique engagement ring, the bride dreamed of a wedding dress that was fresh and trendy, but still somewhat classic. She first noticed this Sarah Seven wedding dress online, but it wasn’t until she went shopping with friends in Chicago that she tried it on and fell in love. The elegant short-sleeve silk crepe gown had a high neckline and a full circle skirt with a slit in the front, allowing Kate to show off her Jimmy Choo ankle-wrap heels.
Kate's bouquet, a mix of peonies, Anastasia roses, eucalyptus, and native greenery, was her most stunning accessory.
Kate’s maid-of-honor wore a black lace floor-length gown purchased at Macy’s and held a smaller version of the bride’s bouquet. Clint and his groomsmen wore the same tuxedo from Express, but Clint chose navy blue rather than black. “We both like him in lighter tones because he is fair skinned. Plus, I loved that he would be a bit more unique from his groomsmen,” Kate says. Clint paired his tux with Bruno Magli shoes and a tie clasp that originally belonged to his grandfather, engraved with an “H” for their last name. The men, including the fathers of the bride and groom, wore simple white rose boutonnieres.
The ceremony décor transformed this dreamy venue into a romantic fairytale, complete with wreaths hanging in the trees, garlands lining the aisle, and original châteu doors from the 17th century adorned with white roses and peonies serving as the couple’s altar. Two chairs were placed at the altar for the bride and groom, reading “avoir” and “tenir”, French verbs that mean “to have” and “to hold.”
While a local violinist and pianist performed, Kate and her stepfather walked down the aisle. She and Clint exchanged traditional vows, and were showered with white flower petals after their "I do's."
After the ceremony, guests were treated to champagne and hors d'oeuvres, including spinach and cilantro falafels, caramelized onion chaussons, warm gougères, schezuan peppercorn marshmallows with parmesan and fleur de sel, and a Roquefort milkshake with pear granitè.
Attendees made their way to the château’s courtyard for the reception, where string lights were installed to provide better light after sunset. Seating assignments were displayed in a wreath of greenery.
The black, white, and gold theme was carried through to the reception, where the long dinner table was topped with white linens and a black and white striped runner. A eucalyptus garland, studded with white roses, spanned the length of the table, and gold-sprayed wine bottles holding tall white candles ensured there was a romantic glow throughout the evening.
To ensure everyone felt at home, the couple went custom for their place settings. Each guest’s name was carved out of wood and left with a sprig of rosemary at their seat.
Since the newlyweds wanted to celebrate their love of food with their friends and family, Kate and Clint chose a seven-course dinner, starting with an amuse bouche of carrot and turmeric root veloutè with Norwegian lobster. Guests also enjoyed smoked salmon millefeuille with a whipped cream of capers, spring onion, and preserved lemon, along with seared Mediterranean sea bass with braised leeks. Dinner also included Guinea hen filet stuffed with mushroom and prosciutto, topped with a five-spice orange demi-glaze sauce.
If that wasn’t enough to keep guests full, the pair also served a cheese platter, Granny Smith apple sorbet, and, of course, wedding cake. As Kate says, “A full wedding guest is a happy wedding guest!” Their cake had one tier of yellow sponge cake with passionfruit filling and another tier of chocolate sponge cake with chocolate cream filling. Embellished with edible gold leaf and an intricate sugar flower, their dessert was almost too pretty to eat.
Kate offers sage advice for making decisions during the planning process: “Trust your instincts, because no one knows you better than yourself. Pick selections that honor you as a couple rather than the opinion of others and it will be the day you’ve always dreamed about!”
Venue & Catering: Château Ladausse
Wedding Planner & Florist: Laura Chenay of Label' Emotion
Bride's Wedding Dress: Sarah Seven
Shoes: Jimmy Choo
Hair: Hairstylist Angelique
Groom's & Groomsmen's Attire: Express
Invitations: Wouldn't It Be Lovely
Music: Paris New York Event DJ
Videographer: Sam de Salvador
Photographer: Molly Jo Collection