A Wine-Fueled Wedding Weekend in the South of France
By the time Carleigh Connelly and Christopher Rochester got engaged in December of 2016, the couple had been dating for 12 yearsâ€”so youâ€™d think Chris might have had a hard time surprising his now-wife. But he managed to pull it off, popping the question as they wandered the farm grounds at Blue Hill at Stone Barns before dinner. â€śIt was the coldest day of the year, but Chris insisted on taking a walk,â€ť recalls Carleigh. â€śWhen we were out in the middle of the field, I turned around and found him down on one knee!â€ť She said â€śyesâ€ť quicklyâ€“both out of excitement and because she was freezing!â€“and they headed to the restaurant for an epic feast that included private dining in a candlelit barn wrapped in blankets. â€śWe continued the celebration as we took the train back home after dinner with a six pack weâ€™d picked up at 7Eleven,â€ť Carleigh says with a laugh.
Chrisâ€™s mom is French and Carliegh studied in the Loire Valley in college, so once the pair decided on a destination wedding, they knew France was the answer. â€śWe wanted something a little more rustic, so we looked for a venue in the South of France where all of our 90 guests could stay with us,â€ť says Carleigh. They discovered Airelles Gordes, La Bastide, with a poolside lawn and gorgeous restaurant with sweeping views, and they were sold. â€śWe were actually on a trip to Malaga and decided, last-minute, to take a day trip to go see the venue in person, and the decision was a no-brainer,â€ť says the bride.
In May, Chris and Carleigh kicked their wedding day off with a pool party before tying the knot in a ceremony officiated by the brideâ€™s brother. They celebrated all night with an indulgent French mealâ€”a must-have for the former brand director of Chowhoundâ€”and lots of dancing and, of course, plenty of rosĂ©!
Photographed by Maya MarĂ©chal, it was a weekend-long wedding celebration that the coupleâ€™s loved ones are still talking about. Take a peek below!
When guests arrived in the hilly town of Gordes, they found themselves in a Francophileâ€™s dream complete with chic stone buildings, meandering streets, and colorful shutters and doors.
The bride donned a floral jumpsuit for the night one of the festivities. â€śI love to wear bright, bold colors and patterns,â€ť she explains.
â€śWe had our welcome dinner down the street from the hotel at Bastide de Pierres,â€ť says Carleigh. â€śEveryone ate pasta carbonara, pizza, and incredible salads, and of course there were Aperol spritzes!â€ť
The next day, guests gathered around the pool and opened some of the nine cases of rosĂ© from nearby Domaine des Peyres that Chris and Carleigh had picked up upon their arrival in France. â€śWe had so much fun by the pool that my hairdresser and makeup artist had to drag me away," Carly admits with a laugh. "I only had 45 minutes to get ready for the ceremony!â€ť
Carleigh says she isnâ€™t a "white lace type of girl" so she first considered (and almost purchased!) a two-piece wedding outfit with a dramatic black ostrich feather skirt, but she was ultimately drawn to the silvery blue color and pattern of this gown by Rebecca Schoneveld. â€śI was 90 percent sold on it, but once I realized it had pockets, I knew it was the one!â€ť she says.
Chrisâ€™s navy blue tuxedo from The Tailory perfectly complemented the blue in Carleighâ€™s gown.
The bride paired her dress with a bouquet of pink and cream garden roses, but most guests didnâ€™t get to see it: â€śSomehow I and both of my bridesmaids managed to forget to carry our bouquets down the aisle!â€ť
The ceremony took place on the lawn next to the pool, where an aisle flanked by potted herbs led to a verdant arch.
The rest of the men in the wedding party, including Carleighâ€™s father, wore classic black tuxedos. The bridesmaids donned coordinated navy blue dresses. â€śI wanted them to be comfortable and happy, so I told them to wear whatever they want," Carleigh says. "They coordinated their dresses in secret, and they looked gorgeous!â€ť
Carleighâ€™s younger brother, Robert, officiated the wedding. â€śHe did a killer job summarizing the past 12 years of Chris and my relationship,â€ť says the bride.
Guests headed to the patio for cocktails, with sweeping views of the Luberon Valley as the backdrop. â€śI love hosting dinner parties, but I knew the more involved I got in wedding planning, the less present I would be on our wedding day,â€ť says Carleigh. So the bride helped with the venue, food and drink, but left everything else up to the coupleâ€™s families, particularly Chris and his mom, Yannick.
What would a wedding in France be without spectacular food? â€śWe served foie gras with roasted pineapple, burrata with heirloom tomatoes, roasted lamb leg with black truffles, and an epic cheese course,â€ť Carleigh describes.
Dancing and revelry took place on the lawn and in the hotelâ€™s ballroom. Carleigh danced under the stars with her father to â€śWhat a Wonderful World.â€ť
For dessert, the pair served a towering croquembouche decorated with sparklers and fresh flowers.
â€śChris and I set our priorities from the beginning, which made the planning process go so much more smoothly,â€ť says Carleigh. â€śWe knew we wanted everyone at the same hotel, no long drives between events, and amazing food and wine. Bastide delivered on all fronts!â€ť