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.
What wedding dress did you wear and how did you choose it?
I wore a pre-loved wedding dress, model 8758 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!
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 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.
Book an appointment at Chilham Bridal to find your dream dress in our luxurious barn boutique!
What accessories did you choose?
I bought my tiara from the little antique shop next to Carly’s, that was my ‘something old’ sorted!
While the wedding was modern and relaxed, we wanted some traditional bits too, so I got a 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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
We also had some lawn games which people enjoyed between courses and after the cheese course.
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.
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.
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.
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.