See that beautiful couple? That’s my French sister Elodie, walking out of the church after marrying her beau Éric. So why is Elodie my French sister? Well, it’s because in high school, I completed an exchange program in the French Riviera. After 12 years, I was reunited with “ma famille française” for Didi’s wedding and it was an unbelievable experience, full of happy memories, old and new.
Before I begin this lengthy post in franglais, I’d like to state that this is definitely more on the personal side because I am sharing my experience as a bridesmaid+photographer. I should mention that I was not the lead photographer because I was a part of the wedding party. In fact, there may be “photographer sightings” throughout this post. 😉 I played more of a second shooter role because it meant so so much to me to document this day for them, and I enlisted the help of my second-shooter-in-training, my husband, Miles, while I was on bridesmaid duty.
This entire wedding was shot with my travel lens because I was limited with the gear I could bring on our trip. While I missed having my entire wedding kit and team, I definitely made it work!
The day started with a simple ceremony in my French hometown Carqueiranne. Nothing says Riviera like les palmiers!
This stylish and swaggy couple walking towards us is my beloved maman and papa. Au sud de la France, we greet people with “bisous”, one on each cheek.
And this sharp looking fellow, walking like a boss? Ça c’est Éric. Seriously, his suit was Boss! In the very short time I had with him, I knew that he was the right man for Elodie because he was such a gentleman.
But the crème de la crème was when Elodie pulled up in that car – I nearly started ugly crying out of nowhere! We got all the girls in order, and were ready to lead her to her groom. The civil ceremony was held in the Maison des Associations, officiated by the Mayor of Carqueiranne, who also happened to be a family friend. Happy tears and cheers all around. Thanks again to Miles, for shooting this portion of the day for me.
Here is where Miles and I took turns shooting before and during the church ceremony. The short stroll to the church was so pretty, with everyone dressed to the nines on a bright and sunny Mediterranean afternoon. The bride and groom pulled up in style as well, with a decorated motorcycle (grace à Adrien, le copain de ma petite soeur Célia), and car. The ceremony was lively, musical, et tout en français! We were greeted with balloons and rose petals outside the church – et ça c’est comment ils sont devenus Mr. et Mme. de Gaalon. Voilà le début de leur happily ever after.
Off to Toulon, for the reception aux Pins Penchés, restaurant gastromonique. This is where I officially took over to shoot for the rest of the night – in my dress and stilettos no less! Being a bridesmaid has definitely changed the way that I photograph weddings since I’m so used to being behind the lens, and everything definitely felt better with the cam in my hands!
Because of all the events going on, I didn’t have a chance to take any formal portraits of the couple, but I quickly snapped these while they were having a quiet moment away from cocktail hour. And truly this is more than enough for me to see the smile on my sister’s face. Magnifique.
So what I learned is that in France, weddings and receptions start quite later in the afternoon and end in the very very early hours of the morning, which is very different from weddings here in Toronto. Cocktail hour is also very long, however, there was definitely a lot to see and do here so I took the opportunity to photograph guests and explore. Merci à Valentin pour ton aide, j’étais très timide pour mon mauvais français. 😉
Everything about this restaurant is amazing – from their gardens, to the tent, to the food. The next time I’m in France, I will definitely go back and relive this magical night!
Elodie and Éric put a lot of thought into personalizing the hall, and as a photographer, I knew it was very important to get these little details that mean so much to them! As you can see, they included some burlesque, hydrangea, and Juliet rose (a personal favourite) elements in their decor. See if you can spot me (Where’s Waldo!), and the former Prince and Princess of Monaco.
Then it was dinner time. Not only the best wedding food I have ever had, but quite possibly the best meal I’ve ever had. After the newlyweds were introduced in, guests were invited onto the dance floor for an unexpected pre-dinner warm up. There was definitely a lot of dancing!
My not-so-petite soeur, Megan, also performed beautifully, which turned into a surprise group dance. Did I mention there was a lot of dancing? 😉
Another dinner event was this hysterical game. I call this the “crazy running musical chairs game”, which I’ll have to save for a friend’s wedding later on. The reactions were priceless, and it definitely got guests involved and laughing. “WINNER!!! GAGNANT!!!”
Pour les filles célibataires, the highly-anticipated bouquet toss. My sister Célia was definitely on the right track. Juste un peu plus haut!!!
And of course, the night closed off with fun times on the dance floor…
Félicitations Éric et Didi. C’était un mariage touchant, et je suis très très heureuse d’etre là pour vous. Pour ma famille et mes amis en France, merci encore pour des souvenirs incroyables. Je vous aime très très fort! <3