Chateau Laborde Saint Martin inspiration shoot

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A French chateau in the beautiful Loire Valley. What a fantastic backdrop for this stunning inspiration shoot from Sarah Hurja Photography
That dress, those flowers, that venue, we love it all! Sarah gathered a fantastic team of UK vendors to create this incredible shoot.

How did you choose The location?

France is home to the most romantic venues in the world, excellent weather and culinary excellence so it’s no surprise that couples from the UK and everywhere, wanting to wow their guests with a unique experience,  choose France for their destination wedding. With it’s popularity rising I wanted to create a stylish and colourful editorial that will hopefully inspire couples. Plus I speak French (I’m French Canadian) so I often go on holiday in France with my family. 

Do you require any special permits or permission from landowners to get married or have a photoshoot here?

We worked with Chateau Laborde Saint Martin which is family owned. Couples getting married at this venue or any other French venue can plan their wedding following their own cultures and customs. Most couples hire a local English-speaking celebrant, a UK-based celebrant doing destination weddings or have one of their guests leading their ceremony.

Can you have a legal ceremony here, or just symbolic?

The most straightforward option and the one most couples go for, is to officialise your marriage in the UK (or your country of origin) first, in your local town hall or city hall and have a symbolic celebration in France afterwards. For example, one of my couple this year are getting married at a London registry office with close family members two days before their official wedding in France with all their guests. You would be technically married but most couples do not see this as their “proper” wedding as they tend to do this part just the two of them or with immediate family and friends. Plus they wouldn’t have exchanged vows and rings. 

The second option is to get officially married in France but you will still need to do the official bit at the registry office (Marie) as in France couples are required to first marry in the town hall (Mairie) before any civil or religious service can take place. In order to get married in the French town hall, one of the partner or parents of either partner will have to be residing in France for a minimum of 40 days. So if your parents own a holiday house in France for example you could officially get married in France. However all your documents will need to be translated in French.

How easy is the location to access?

For this editorial I was looking for a castle which was located within driving distance of Paris airport and euro train. I had previously visited the region of the Loire Valley which is known for it’s wine, hundreds of castles, incredible food, microclimate and listed as Unesco World Heritage Site. There were many incredible venues but I went with Chateau Laborde Saint Martin as it is family owned and run. Madame Valerie is so passionate about her Chateau, she is an incredible host and we hit it off from the start. The venue can accommodate 12 guests in the castle and 45 guest on site in three other beautiful cottages. Couple can host their ceremony outdoor, in front of the castle or in the woods, or indoor in the ballroom.

What about Sustainability for this shoot?

Everything sourced for this editorial came from local suppliers. However we did have some UK vendors collaborating on this photoshoot as we couldn’t find any of those specific vendors in the region but they all travelled together.

What Are your top tips for an elopement in this area?

Hire a French speaking photographer and planner! Not only it will help communications between all vendors involved but it is also really important that you have at least one vendor in your wedding team that understand the British/American ways of working vs the French ways of working. You want to get the best of your vendors and want everyone to collaborate to make your wedding dreams come true. 

France offers so much diversity when it comes to venues and locations, providing an ideal backdrop for a dream wedding. Whether you envision exchanging vows amidst the rolling vineyards of Bordeaux, the charming countryside of Normandy, or the rugged beaches along the French Riviera, there’s a romantic vista to suit every taste. Once you’ve chosen your preferred region, the search for the perfect château, chalet, or country farmhouse to host your event will become much simpler.

If you can afford it, visit your chosen venues in person (unless you are using a trusted planner) so you get a real feel of the venue and the people hosting you.

While you have the flexibility to marry in France year-round, the optimal period for weddings is typically between April and September.

Hire a destination wedding photographer! Destination photographers like myself have the experience and expertise to take stunning photos in any lighting conditions and setup, and their goal is to give you a unique set of images that you’ll treasure for years to come. It will also give you the peace of mind when it comes to capturing your wedding so you can enjoy your day. They are also used to travelling and the challenges that comes with last minute changes! Also make sure to hire someone who is legally allowed to work in your destination country – you don’t want your vendors be stopped at the border! 

the Vendors:

Concept, Planning, Styleshoot Host and Photography: Sarah Hurja Photography
Florist: Bloomsfair
Venue: Chateau Laborde Saint Martin
Styling Assistant: Carmela Weddings
Bridal gown: Millia London
Hair Stylist: Mollie Scott Hairdressing
MUA: Jacquelyn Mcphee Makeup
Bridal accessories, jewellery and veils: Ashley Wild Bridal
Artwork: Sarah Custance

The Photos:

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