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Chilham Bridal Bride Carine and Her Relaxed, Multicultural Wedding Weekend

We caught up with Carine after her French-English wedding to find out how it all went.

When we met Carine she described herself as “the girl who had two proposals”, and they were both so incredibly romantic. The first was a moment shared only between Carine and her now-husband Steve; it was a secret proposal that took place on San Francisco’s magnificent Golden Gate Bridge. Steve proposed again (with Carine’s parents’ blessings), at the hotel where the pair shared their first date and later tied the knot.

Two yeses later and our couple began the wedding prep, which Carine described as “stress-free and relaxed”, especially since Steve got fully involved too. Six months after proposal number two and the couple threw a wedding that celebrated both Carine’s French heritage and Steve’s English background. 

French and English wedding at South Lodge Hotel

We love being a part of our brides big days and really enjoy catching up with them afterwards!

What wedding dress did you wear and how did you choose it?

I wore a pre-loved wedding dress, model 8758 by Justin Alexander.

Pre-loved wedding dress by Justin Alexander

See our full range of pre-loved and ex-sample wedding dresses here.

I picked a few dresses and Carly picked a few too, and then she asked me which ones I wanted to try on and I told her to surprise me. As soon as I got into the dress Carly chose, I knew it would be really hard to beat, and it was!

Carine stood outside her venue looking down at her flowers

Carly actually told me that as soon as she saw me coming across the carpark, she knew what dress I’d leave with! I loved the boutique because I really trusted Carly’s opinion. 

Read our interview with owner Carly to find out more about her background and how she came up with her unique business idea!

How did you feel in your dress?

I’m not the Cinderella kind of girl, I’m very independent and determined, but for some reason, that dress did make me feel like a princess. It was really effortless to wear, it almost glided down the aisle with me. 

The fit-and-flare silhouette and waist were really flattering and the open feature back was stunning and I loved the beads that ran through the lace. Every bit of it was just amazing. 

Justin Alexander wedding dress with open back

The dress is still hanging on the side of my wardrobe, I don’t want to put it away and I just want to wear it again. I asked my husband if it was possible to have a vowel renewal after only one month of marriage so I can get in the dress again!

Tell us about your experience shopping at Chilham Bridal

I wanted a relaxing experience and genuine advice, and Carly was perfect for that. Carly never pressured me into buying a more expensive dress and I could tell she genuinely cared about me and that she loves what she does. 

Carine smiling and looking at the camera wearing her Chilham Bridal wedding dress

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What accessories did you choose? 

I bought my tiara from the little antique shop next to Carly’s, that was my ‘something old’ sorted!

Antique tiara bridal accessory

While the wedding was modern and relaxed, we wanted some traditional bits too, so I got a veil from Chilham Bridal. 

Carine's long wedding veil from Chilham Bridal

My Manolo Blahnik shoes were the biggest expense. They were silver stilettos and went perfectly with the silver elements in the dress!

Designer wedding high heeled shoes with silver buckle on the toe

Check out our wedding dress accessory guide for all your bridal accessory inspiration.

How did you choose your venue?

We got married at South Lodge Hotel and Spa. Steve took me there on one of our first dates and we always said we’d return but we never did. So, I thought it was really romantic when he told me he’d booked Valentine’s Day there, and then he proposed! 

Carine and Steve dancing on a chequered dance floor at South Lodge Hotel

I expected wedding preparation to be very difficult but that wasn’t the case for us. We went to a wedding fair there and had already looked around the venue, we knew we were doing the right thing by having the wedding there.

Wedding at South Lodge Hotel and Spa

Roll up, Kent brides, because here are the county’s best wedding venues.

Did you have a theme for the day?

I’m French and Steve is English so we wanted a combination of both cultures.

A wedding in France lasts four days so we wanted ours to be longer than one day. We arranged for everyone to meet the day before the wedding so that our families could have a meal together and get to know each other. We also wanted the little bridesmaids to get to know each other because they’re from different cultures and speak different languages. 

Young bridesmaids wearing blue dresses and dancing together

We then continued the celebrations until the day after the ‘wedding day’. Everyone came for a BBQ at our house and it felt like we were reliving the day before again!

In France, guests throw rice over the married couple so we wanted to include this in the wedding too. Everyone had a small pot of rice each, and they were supposed to take a little bit of rice out of it and throw it, but because everyone had a glass of Champagne in the other hand, some people threw the whole content over us. At one point we get completely covered!

Guests throw rice over bride and groom at French wedding

My photographer even snapped a picture of my Maid of Honour baby-wiping all the rice starch off of my husband. The picture demonstrates a delicate version of events, there was a more intense cleansing at one point. 

Tell us about your ceremony

When I walked down the aisle I felt like it was just Steve and me in the room and I told Steve this after the ceremony and he said he felt the exact same. You can see in the pictures of us at the ceremony that we’re just smiling and laughing and looking at each other like there’s no one else around. 

Groom looking at bride lovingly at the alter

We actually wanted to get married outside but we couldn’t because it had been raining all day the day before. But this really didn’t matter because we both felt like we could have been anywhere and there could have been anyone around because at that moment we had no idea. 

Bride and groom kissing at hotel wedding

Who did your hair and makeup done? 

A woman called Zoë Colville did my hair and my makeup artist, Helena Sergeant is a friend of mine. Both were great and I didn’t have to think about topping anything up or re-doing bits throughout the day!

Chilham Bridal bride Carine getting her hair done before her wedding

If you’re looking for a hair and makeup expert, look no further than our article on the best hair and makeup artists in Kent!

Tell us about your bridesmaids 

My Maid-of-Honour Shelley and bridesmaid Eloise are very easy-going and fantastically organised ladies who know me very well! 

Bridesmaids laughing at Chilham Bridal bride wedding

They were amazing with the wedding prep, I couldn’t have done it without them. We had a monthly get together and they came to the venue with me. 

Bridesmaids doing the bride's wedding dress up on her wedding day

They were brilliant on the day too. They made it the best day ever. 

Who took these gorgeous photos?

We found our wedding photographers – Geoff and Becky from Dennison Studios – at the South Lodge wedding fair. Geoff managed to capture those candid moments where you don’t realise there’s a camera on you. I never felt like he was there, and even our guests said that. 

Happy bride at her wedding ceremony in UK

We just wanted it to be relaxed and that’s exactly what they did. 

Read more: The Best Kent Wedding Photographers

What entertainment did you have?

In France, the wedding breakfast is broken up with entertainment. After the toast we had the speeches, after the starter, we had a game of Mr and Mrs and after the main course, we had a 30-minute relax and listened to our pianist, who was taking requests at this point.

Bride and groom sat back-to-back playing Mr and Mrs on their wedding day

We also had some lawn games which people enjoyed between courses and after the cheese course. 

Bride and groom talking to their guests on the lawn

Steve was very involved when it came to choosing the wedding band, it’s very difficult choosing a wedding band because they only play at weddings, so you can’t crash a wedding to go and listen to them. But we fell on our feet with the band we chose!

What did you do for food?

We’re both big foodies, the food was important to us. Rather than doing one tasting session like most couples, we actually did two! We wanted to perfect the main course dish because we weren’t completely happy with it the first time around. 

Carine and Steve cutting French wedding cake

I’m celiac so the whole wedding breakfast was actually gluten-free, although you wouldn’t have known it. The only thing that wasn’t was the French wedding cake which was made from profiteroles that were held together by a hardened caramel.

Cheese boards at French-English wedding

They kept the cheese boards from the wedding breakfast aside for us and we also arranged for bacon rolls to be brought out at 10.30 pm. In the end, everything went! I’m led to believe some people had two or even three bacon rolls!  

Tell us about your speeches

We didn’t want to put pressure on anyone to do a speech, so some people decided not to, but Steve wanted to do one. I asked my cousin Nick to translate the speech into English but Steve really unexpectedly decided to do it in French, and so my cousin translated into English. 

Carine laughing as groom does his wedding speech

I knew that Steve spoke French but I had no idea that his French was that good. It went down really well with the French-speaking side of the party and it was a really lovely touch.

Do you have any advice for brides who are planning their weddings now? 

The most important thing is making it about the two of you. We organised it together and made it what we wanted, not what was expected of us. 

If you loved reading Carine’s story, find out about Amy’s beautiful budget wedding and how Justina chose her stunning Sottero and Midgley gown. Alternatively, check out our affordable designer wedding dresses for more bridal inspiration. 

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