An Elegant and Intimate Celebration in the French Countryside
Shadé Brown met Corey Velgersdyk at a bible study in Washington, D.C., in the fall of 2014. They hit it off, and after one year of long-distance dating, with Shadé in D.C. and Corey in London, she relocated to England to be with him. The couple spent one year there before making the next step, when Corey proposed to Shadé during dinner at home over wine and paella (which they'd enjoyed on their first date). She said yes, and, after a quick six months of planning, they threw an intimate destination wedding in the French countryside.
The celebration took place on July 22, 2017, with just 45 guests. They chose the Chateau de Courcelles le Roy in France's Loire River Valley for its stunning grounds that include gardens, walking trails, a private chapel, and plenty of lodging (with roots in the United States and friends traveling from as far as Japan, it was important to Shadé and Corey that the venue had enough room for guests to stay on site). French wine and the beautiful scenery were also a significant draw for Shadé. The couple mixed dusty blue hues with elements of copper, wood, and greenery for a naturally elegant soirée.
The Invitation Suite
The stationery, by Franchette Atelier, featured a blend of printed text and calligraphy. Envelope liners drew inspiration from French wine labels and the blue and copper colors matched their day-of details.
The Welcome Bags
Guests received wicker baskets filled with local wine, olive tapenade, madeleines, mints in hand-decorated tins, and tissues packed in sleeves that read, "For crying out loud."
A hand-sketched map of the chateau was also included in the welcome gifts.
Shadé was attracted to the lace detail and keyhole back of the dress. She went with an elegant braided updo to accentuate the gown.
The Wedding Party
The Ceremony Setting
The wedding took place in front of the chapel. "The bell tower, clock face and rustic doors made it a lovely location," says Shadé.
Foliage Focal Point
A verdant arch with white flower accents marked the threshold of the chapel.
An Unplugged Ceremony
"We will cherish the memory of the ceremony forever, so we didn't want any distractions; not just for us, but for our friends and family, too," says Corey of the decision to have an unplugged ceremony. "The sign was a kind and fun way to help achieve that."
The Bride's Entrance
Shadé entered the ceremony with her father as a harpist played a version of Jacques Offenbach's "Barcarolle."
The Ceremonial Rope
Guests passed a rope as a symbol of their affirmation for Shadé and Corey's matrimony, and as a commitment to support them in their marriage. The rope ended with the couple, who braided it to symbolize their union with each other and with God. The rope now hangs in their home, where they can see it every day.
Corey's grandfather officiated the ceremony. "It's become something of a family tradition," he says. Readings were taken from three Bible verses: Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12, Colossians 3: 12-17, and Song of Songs 8: 6-7. The bride and groom shared traditional vows, and also incorporated worship songs for guests to join them in singing. "We wanted the ceremony to be an act of worship, too," says Corey.
Husband and Wife
The newlyweds beamed as they left the ceremony to the tune of NEEDTOBREATHE's "Multiplied." Guests tossed seeds as they recessed.
The Cocktail Hour
The harpist continued to play for a cocktail hour near the reception hall, during which family and friends sipped sangria and dined on hors d'oeuvres.
Luggage tags reading, "Bon Voyage, Loire Valley 2017" doubled as escort cards and favors. "We were pleased to see that a few guests attached them to their bags for the trip home," says Shadé.
After cocktail hour, guests moved inside to the venue's reception hall (a space converted from its original form as horse stables). "Our overall goal was for the décor to feel warm and natural, and not so elaborate that it would distract from conversation," says Shadé. "We chose round tables and low centerpieces so guests would have an easy time conversing."
Petite arrangements with blue thistle and white wax flower enlivened the décor. Table numbers (spelled out in French) stood in geometric copper holders.
Guests dined on a wild greens salad and had the option of chicken with an apple sauce reduction, cod with vegetables, or a creamy risotto. A cheese and dessert course followed.
A chocolate and chocolate salted caramel cake was adorned with succulents. A copper cake topper read, "Yay!" which "absolutely described the emotions that day," says the bride.
A Good Example
Family photos honored the marriages of couple's respective parents and grandparents—some as long as 65 years.
After an evening of dancing (the newlyweds kicked it off with a Rumba to Stevie Wonder's "You Are the Sunshine of My Life"), guests refueled with a chocolate fountain—and amped up the dance floor with light sticks—making an extra-sweet ending to the evening.
Photography, Amy Fanton Photography
Location, Chateau de Courcelles le Roy
Event planning, Loli Events
Catering, MG Réception
Flowers, Jardin de Casamance
Stationery and Calligraphy, Franchette Atelier
Cake, Cake Concept
Bride's gown, Maggie Sottero
Hair, Storme Make Up
Makeup, Sylwia Kunysz
Bridesmaids' dresses, Azazie
Groom's suit, Hawes & Curtis
Menswear, Jos. A Bank
Groom's Tie, The Tie Bar
Transportation, Savac Groupe