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 years—so you’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. “It was the coldest day of the year, but Chris insisted on taking a walk,” recalls Carleigh. “When we were out in the middle of the field, I turned around and found him down on one knee!” She said “yes” quickly–both out of excitement and because she was freezing!–and they headed to the restaurant for an epic feast that included private dining in a candlelit barn wrapped in blankets. “We continued the celebration as we took the train back home after dinner with a six pack we’d picked up at 7Eleven,” Carleigh says with a laugh.

Chris’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. “We 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,” says Carleigh. They discovered Airelles Gordes, La Bastide, with a poolside lawn and gorgeous restaurant with sweeping views, and they were sold. “We 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,” 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 bride’s brother. They celebrated all night with an indulgent French meal—a must-have for the former brand director of Chowhound—and lots of dancing and, of course, plenty of rosé!

Photographed by Maya Maréchal, it was a weekend-long wedding celebration that the couple’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 Francophile’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. “I love to wear bright, bold colors and patterns,” she explains.

“We had our welcome dinner down the street from the hotel at Bastide de Pierres,” says Carleigh. “Everyone ate pasta carbonara, pizza, and incredible salads, and of course there were Aperol spritzes!”

The next day, guests gathered around the pool and opened some of the nine cases of rosé from nearby Domaine des Peyres that Chris and Carleigh had picked up upon their arrival in France. “We 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!”

Carleigh says she isn’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. “I was 90 percent sold on it, but once I realized it had pockets, I knew it was the one!” she says.

Chris’s navy blue tuxedo from The Tailory perfectly complemented the blue in Carleigh’s gown.

The bride paired her dress with a bouquet of pink and cream garden roses, but most guests didn’t get to see it: “Somehow I and both of my bridesmaids managed to forget to carry our bouquets down the aisle!”

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 Carleigh’s father, wore classic black tuxedos. The bridesmaids donned coordinated navy blue dresses. “I 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!”

Carleigh’s younger brother, Robert, officiated the wedding. “He did a killer job summarizing the past 12 years of Chris and my relationship,” says the bride.

Guests headed to the patio for cocktails, with sweeping views of the Luberon Valley as the backdrop. “I 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,” says Carleigh. So the bride helped with the venue, food and drink, but left everything else up to the couple’s families, particularly Chris and his mom, Yannick.

What would a wedding in France be without spectacular food? “We served foie gras with roasted pineapple, burrata with heirloom tomatoes, roasted lamb leg with black truffles, and an epic cheese course,” Carleigh describes.

Dancing and revelry took place on the lawn and in the hotel’s ballroom. Carleigh danced under the stars with her father to “What a Wonderful World.”

For dessert, the pair served a towering croquembouche decorated with sparklers and fresh flowers.

“Chris and I set our priorities from the beginning, which made the planning process go so much more smoothly,” says Carleigh. “We knew we wanted everyone at the same hotel, no long drives between events, and amazing food and wine. Bastide delivered on all fronts!” 

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