On a ski trip to Switzerland in 2005, Aneta Mak and Phil Hopper found love on the slopes. When Aneta, a wedding and lifestyle photographer, returned to London and Phil stayed in Verbier (he was a ski coach at the time), they kept in touch. Five years later, Phil, now a garden designer, proposed. For their August 27, 2011, destination wedding, they headed to the French countryside and hosted an affair complete with Provencal touches (lavender sprigs, wine and cheese, macarons) and British twists (Pimm's Cup cocktails). The intimate, nontraditional wedding was filled with European style.
Mas des Comtes de Provence in Tarascon, a small town near Avignon, France, was the idyllic setting for the relaxed, outdoor nuptials. The extensive property boasts a privately owned 15th-century country house, olive and cypress trees, gazebos, and old stone buildings adorned with sage-green shutters.
Aneta walked down the aisle with her mother to Jose Gonzales's "Heartbeats," played acoustically by the band Fingers in the Jam. During the service, Phil's sisters read a poem by Edward Lear -- "The Owl and the Pussycat" -- and Aneta's cousin and friend recited the lyrics to Adam Sandler's "I Wanna Grow Old with You" from "The Wedding Singer." After their "I do"s, they walked up the aisle to Foster the People's "Pumped Up Kicks."
Centerpieces of vuvuzela roses, lysianthus, freesia, sweet William, olive branches, and lavender were wrapped in burlap to add rustic texture. Tea light candles, housed in vintage milk bottles supplied romantic lighting.
Sprigs of lavender tied with raffia and customized postcards of the French countryside garnished each place setting. Guests were encouraged to write on them and mail them the following day.
Dinner began with a bowl of hearty French onion soup. A buffet of locally grown organic dishes followed and included ratatouille, potato gratin, thyme-and-rosemary lamb steaks, garlic-and-lemon chicken, olives, and cheeses.
Mary Lee Herrington of Forever & Ever Events found small notebooks from Moleskine and customized them with grosgrain ribbon bookmarks, washi tape binding, and custom labels from Paper + Cup Design. Each journal's cover asked the guests a different question about the couple, and colored pencils were set out for guests to answer them.
Aneta and Phil met with a professional choreographer to plan their first dance. They started with the sweet song "Close To You" by the Carpenters, then cut to a guitar riff from Fallout Boy's cover of Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal" (Phil played air guitar while Aneta removed the detachable train of her dress). Ending the music mashup was a line dance to "Party Rock Anthem" by LMFAO, during which the couple invited everyone to join them.
Photography: Leo Patrone
Stationery: Paper + Cup Design
Event Design: Mary Lee Herrington of Forever & Ever Events
Wedding Planning: Haute Weddings
Catering: Service Compris
Location: Mas des Comtes de Provence
Engagement Ring: Justin Duance
Wedding Bands: D'Argent
Flowergirl's Dress: Monsoon
Rentals: Options Hire
Officiant: Pierre Henri
Flowers: Aux Fleurs du Theatre, 33-490-435-005
Croquembouche and Pastries: David de Roy, 33-490-477-201
Music: Fingers in the Jam, 44-0-7740-427-766 (band); Charlie Davies, 33-689-488-055 (DJ)
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