A Romantic Countryside Wedding at a Chateau in Normandy, France
Health and fitness writer Julia Malacoff met marketing consultant Crawford Roark at a New York City CrossFit class in 2013, but for months they did nothing more than greet each other on their way into and out of the studio. "We were both pretty shy, and it never occurred to either of us to ask someone out at the gym," says Julia. "That October, we matched on Hinge. I sent Crawford a message, and the rest is history."
In 2016, the couple moved to Amsterdam together, and on a return visit to New York City two years later, they planned to have brunch at the same spot where they shared their first date. "Crawford proposed there, right in the middle of the restaurant," says Julia. "It was such a New York moment, because the people around us barely noticed what was happening, which is exactly how I wanted it." After brunch, Crawford led Julia to the rooftop at the Public Hotel under the guise of snapping engagement photos—but instead, she says, "All our friends and family were waiting to celebrate with us. It was probably the biggest surprise of my life."
As they began planning their wedding, they narrowed the location down to Normandy, France. "We knew we wanted to get married in Europe, but not too far from our home base in Amsterdam," says Julia. They chose a chateau with enough bedrooms to accommodate all 65 of their guests for a weeklong celebration. "We always felt that a weekend wasn't enough time to spend with our friends and family, so we knew that we wanted to do something different for our wedding: Rent a huge house for an entire week so everyone could get quality time together, culminating in our wedding weekend," says Julia. After several days of bike tours, home-cooked group meals, and beach trips, the couple tied the knot on September 21, 2019, in a ceremony they describe as "contemporary French countryside meets vintage romance." Gourmet food, two different desserts, and hand-picked beer and wine created an exceptional meal, during which the newlyweds' loved ones bonded and formed new friendships. "We wanted it to feel like a celebration of us as a couple," says Julia, "but also of all the people we love."
Invitations from Emily Rose Ink displayed the couple's ivory-and-gold color scheme, while a floral wreath illustration and matching garland images hinted at the the French countryside atmosphere the couple imagined.
In the Bag
Julia and Crawford created welcome bags for each guest, choosing a canvas tote printed with their custom monogram and filling it with chocolates, personalized cups, favorite snacks and spirits, and cookies decorated with two favorite images: the wedding venue and the couple's dog, Finn.
Though she traveled to New York for a shopping trip with her mother and best friend, Julia ended up choosing a wedding dress from Atelier Edwin Oudshoorn Bridal, a boutique near her home in Amsterdam. "It was one of the first dresses I tried on, and I kept comparing everything else to it," she says. "I also loved that I was buying my dress directly from the designer. Edwin was able to customize the dress exactly how I wanted it, which really swayed my decision." Her silk organza corset sheath was embroidered with beads, sequins, and floral appliqués, and included a removable tulle skirt and veil that she added for the ceremony.
Pretty in Pinks
Each of Julia's bridesmaids chose her own gown, without any requirements for designer or silhouette. "I wanted my bridesmaids to wear dresses they loved, so I asked them to choose their own based on a color palette I put together," says Julia. "They all have such different styles, it felt wrong to ask them all to wear the same thing."
Crawford paired a bespoke white dinner jacket from Michael & Giso in Amsterdam with a flat front tuxedo shirt and black patent leather loafers. "I like to keep things simple so I really limited it to the white tuxedo, since it's already quite a statement," says Crawford. "But I bought my cummerbund from High Cotton in South Carolina, because it's always important to remember where you're from."
Julia and Crawford shared their first look on a staircase outside the chateau, feeling "super nervous, but very excited!" says Julia.
The couple's dog donned a loose floral garland from florist Lily Paloma to join the wedding party. "Having our dog Finn there was so important to us," says Julia. "He was there for the entire week, and in a lot of ways was the star of the show. He even served as one of our two ring bearers. The entire wedding night, people were feeding him little bits of cheese and meat, so I think it's pretty safe to say he had an amazing time, too."
Julia and her bridesmaids carried bouquets of garden roses, spray roses, hydrangea, and sage tied with silk ribbons, while the men wore boutonnières of ivory garden roses that complemented their classic tuxedos. "All of my friends are quite good dressers, so I just told them to wear tuxedos and I knew they would all look great," says Crawford. "I wanted to keep things as simple as possible."
An Elegant Arch
The bride and groom set up their ceremony facing the grand exterior of the chateau. Raised floral arrangements stood at the aisle entrance, while light-colored chairs kept the focus on the full, lush garlands that covered the central arch.
Before Julia's parents walked her down the aisle, she affixed two striking pieces to her outfit. "I wanted there to be an element of surprise for Crawford when I walked down the aisle, so I added the skirt and veil in secret right before the ceremony," says Julia.
She Said, He Said
Crawford's uncle officiated the couple's ceremony, where readings included a passage from Song of Solomon and a Scottish blessing. Julia and Crawford wrote their own vows. "They were very personal and we surprised each other with them, so the first time we heard each others' vows was during the ceremony itself," says Julia.
Time to Celebrate
After the ceremony, the newlyweds spent a few minutes alone before joining their guests at the cocktail hour.
Chateau Cocktail Hour
Guests mingled outside the front of the chateau during the interlude.
They dined on appetizers that included salmon with raspberry infusion and churros with chorizo cream. "It was really special to see all of our friends from different parts of our lives, and our families, come together outside the chateau while we drank Champagne and ate really decadent food," says the couple.
A cheese station was also on offer for guests.
Inside the chateau's dining room, guests sat at long tables draped in white linens. Blue cloth napkins added a bright accent to the neutral tablescapes, while dramatic crystal chandeliers provided opulent shine overhead.
White china and custom menus contrasted with lavish gold flatware and gold-rimmed votive candles. Low centerpieces dotted the center of the table with overflowing arrangements of roses and varied foliage.
The outside of the couple's four-tier cake from Synie's Paris was decorated with textured buttercream and fresh flowers, but the flavor was a sweet surprise: vanilla velvet cake with Funfetti sprinkles and marscapone vanilla filling. "The wedding was all about things that we love, and the Funfetti birthday cake was no exception," says Julia. "One of our first dates was a baking class at Momofuku Milk Bar in Williamsburg where we learned how to make their famous birthday cake and birthday cake truffles, so our wedding cake flavor really came full circle."
Change of Heart
Before the couple's first dance—to "You Make Loving Fun" by Fleetwood Mac—Julia swapped her wedding gown for a Fame and Partners two-piece, which included a tie-back crop top and a maxi skirt.
Julia and Crawford count their cake cutting as one of their most memorable—and best—moments of the day. "Our favorite Father John Misty song was playing, we were a bit tipsy, and the cake was incredibly delicious—oh, and the croqeumbouche and Champagne," they say.
After spending a week with their guests, Julia and Crawford loved sharing a "super intimate" wedding dinner with the group. The final menu from Grand Chemin Traiteur included foie gras, filet, and a cheese course, with wine pairings handpicked by the bride and groom and beer from their favorite Netherlands brewing company. "Seeing the two sides of our lives come together and create their own relationships was something we'll never forget," says Julia.
Photography, Hannah Duffy Photography
Event Planning, Jennifer Fox Weddings
Catering, Grand Chemin Traiteur
Flowers, Lily Paloma
Stationery, Emily Rose Ink
Cake, Synie's Paris
Music and Lighting, Anthony Vonscheidt Wedding DJ
Bride's Gown, Atelier Edwin Oudshoorn (ceremony); Fame and Partners (reception)
Bride's Shoes, Bella Belle
Hair and Makeup, Sanni Sorma
Groom's Attire, Michael & Giso
Groom's Cummerbund, High Cotton
Cookie Favors, Kat Makes Cookies
Rings, Isabel Bond