A Grand Destination Wedding in France's Loire Valley

After six and a half years with her boyfriend, Chanel Dror was more than ready for Eric Tarlo to propose. But once he did, she realized she’d given no thought to where they might actually get married. Surprisingly, Austin, Texas (where they live), and Houston (where they grew up in the same community) were never possibilities. “We didn’t want a big wedding,” she says. “We knew if we had it in Texas, we’d have to invite everyone we’ve known since we were born.” Then one morning a few weeks into her engagement, Chanel woke up with a vision for the venue. In her job as executive producer of the lifestyle site Camille Styles, she’d recently interviewed the owner of Château du Grand-Lucé, an event space in France’s Loire Valley. “I opened my eyes with the château on my mind,” she says. “We took a major risk and booked it without ever visiting!”

Though the couple decided on a French château as their venue without ever seeing it in person, they did visit a few months before the wedding to figure out some logistics—and admire the grounds!

Chanel was inspired by the château’s romantic aesthetic, and she let the place inform her dress: a statement gown with a detachable cape by Amir Taghi in Houston. “It was over-the-top and minimal at the same time, just like the château,” she says. And with limited time to shuttle between home in Austin and Taghi in Houston, her mom stood in for her at the final fitting. “Luckily, it fit, but in retrospect, that decision makes no sense,” she says, laughing. “We were operating in a state of delusion.”

The bride paired her epic gown with a simple bouquet of baby's breath.

At first, Chanel tried in vain to find a Chanel dress she’d loved ever since seeing it in the 2007 collection. But in the end, her Plan B, the Amir Taghi gown, felt right. “It was a much better fit for the venue,” she says.

On a late afternoon in September, the bride made her grand entrance on the château’s lawn as her future brother-in-law played the guitar. “I’ll never forget the view, the music, the crisp air, our guests’ faces—and seeing Eric waiting for me,” she says. “I wish I could bottle that moment to relive it every day.”

The groom's sister opened the ceremony before a rabbi took over. Family members were also asked to read blessings, which came as a surprise to everyone but the bride. (She'd forgotten to give them a heads up—oops.)

The kiss!

After the couple exchanged vows under a chuppah made with the bride’s grandfather’s tallit, guests showered the newlyweds with rice.

Following the ceremony, the couple took time to explore the beautiful (and picturesque) grounds.

But first: They toasted to their new marriage as they relaxed in the chateau's grand salon, which overlooks the gardens.

Chanel changed her look up for cocktail hour, trading her birdcage veil in favor of a simple white ribbon.

Chanel wanted a vibe of “organic romance” for the event, so she went with low centerpieces of eucalyptus and antique hydrangeas at dinner.

All 91 guests sat at one long table for dinner—and the group broke into the wave, which ran up and down the table three or four times. “I have no idea who started it, but I will forever be grateful to them,” Chanel says.

The bride added a statement jacket to her ensemble after dark.

The couple skipped a wedding cake and went with a tiered treat of another sort: a tower of champagne coupes. They poured rosé over the glasses as friends held sparklers. “It had this kind of you-had-to-be-there magic,” she says. “The whole room was glowing!”

Chanel changed into a wide-leg jumpsuit by Stone Cold Fox for dancing.

Once the dance party started, it didn't stop until 4:30 a.m. Says the bride, "We told our DJ to play almost exclusively hip hop, R&B, and dance music, and that totally set the tone—because seriously, how many times can you get down to Earth, Wind & Fire and "Shout!" In fact, the groom had such an intense hora that at one point he was catapulted backwards into the wall. After it ended, Chanel looked for Eric for a half hour to no avail. (He actually busted his lip and was holed up in the bathroom trying to get the bleeding to stop.) "When he finally reemerged, his shirt was covered in red wine and blood," Chanel remembers. "We couldn't help but laugh at how much he looked like a train wreck, and his huge lip provided plenty of comic relief over our entire honeymoon!"

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