To the same person, just in case you were wondering. Once in the UK and once in a French Chateau in the Loire Valley. I used to holiday in France with my family, when I was young. We always stayed in these mobile campers in the woods, with natural lakes, canoes to rent, right out in the countryside. I remember good food and freedom; being able to get away from the adults for adventures with other kids, or to sneak off alone to read, sketch, daydream.
It was during one of those summer trips, that I remember looking up at this beautiful, run down old chateau. All fairty tale turrets and delicate carvings. It balanced right on the edge of a cliff, above the river I stood in. It was one of the most romantic things I had ever seen. I spent hours writing about an eccentric family who lived there, sketching them all, to help me work out their personalities. I even said to my mother, that if I ever got rich, I’d buy a chateau and move all my loved ones in with me.
“You better keep writing, then,” she’d said, laughing. “You’ll need to sell a lot of books.”
And I’m not rich, and I haven’t sold any books, but I remembered that dream. When I got engaged, I figured I’d just look up to see how much it would cost to get married in France, in a chateau. Thinking, just looking is fine, right? No harm in browsing… but then I saw Chateau Allure du Lac. I knew that was where I wanted to get married, and it wasn’t as expensive as I thought it would be, so it was something we could actually do. I was very lucky my future husband, Mark, loved the idea of getting married there. Mainly, because a French wedding meant we could have a traditional French wedding cake and croquembouche sounded similar in construction to profiteroles, his favorite dessert. He originally wanted them in the shape of a dragon (which I personally thought very cool) but this troubled our parents, who did not think food should be in the shaped like mythical creatures. We ended up with a standard tower because it was easier to organise, but he still talks longingly about the dragon cake that never was.
We stayed in the Chateau for a long weekend, with some of our favorite people, including our chosen family. I felt really aware during our stay that family is more than blood, but this also made me feel closer to people like my cousins, because while we share genes, we’d also chosen each other. Over and over, including through some really hard times. These were all people I loved and who we trusted, and they were so happy for us. We had banquets and masked balls and I got to dress up like someone from the dark fairy tales I grew up listening to as a child, which became a gentle theme.
We had to get legally married in the UK, too, though. We originally planned to do something small at a registry office with as little fuss as possible, so as not to distract from the wedding in France. Unfortunately, not all of the people we love were able to get there. This included Mark’s grandparents, and you never know how long you have with anyone you love, especially older family members. We wanted to celebrate with them and to have photos of our special people, so our little UK wedding got a bit more elaborate.
I decided I didn’t want to wear the dress I had chosen for the French wedding, because I wanted the wedding in France to still feel special. Then I figured, if I’m going to have two wedding dresses, I should up it to three, because three is a fairy tale number. Which sounds very extravagant, but two were inexpensive evening dresses (one second hand), and I needed something different to wear for the masked ball night in France, anyway (I have a collection of Venetian masks so I was not passing up an opportunity to have a masked ball. I was pretty sure my wedding would be the only time I’d get away with organising one). So, I had three dresses; one pale like the moon, the other golden like the sun (okay Champaign gold and blush, but those are sunset colors) and the last sparkling as the night sky. This is because when I was little I used to watch The Storyteller TV show, and my favorite story was Sapsorrow. My mum recorded the episodes for me and I watched Sapsorrow’s story until the VHS quality became unbearable. That runaway princess had three wedding dresses, admittedly as part of a plot to avoid marrying her father, but hey, I didn’t always have the best relationship with my dad growing up, either. I walked my own self down both aisles, toward the person I love, and I regret absolutely nothing.