French Riviera weddings are renowned for being exquisitely beautiful but I think that this Côte d’Azur wedding is one of the most unique that I’ve seen. It has absolutely magnificent attention to detail and superb originality and creativity running through it including a gospel choir singing before and after the Chuppah ceremony, a life-size cow wedding cake (bet you’ve never seen that before!) and a surprise second half to the evening when guests were transported from a palatial villa garden setting onwards to a magical secret beach party.
Natasha and Jez, both from London, met at a mutual friends wedding and are a super-gorgeous couple with great taste and style. Both Jez and Natasha were very heavily involved in their wedding planning, both wanting to make it a fun and very special party for themselves and their guests.
Natasha the bride: I wanted to get married somewhere different and I wanted to think ‘outside of the box’. We have a house in Cap-Ferrat in the South of France where we spend a lot of time, and I remember being there and thinking how lovely it would be to get married in the area. We looked at all sorts of local venues and by far our favourite was the Villa Ephrussi. We had the ceremony and reception in the beautiful gardens of the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild and then later on we secretly took everyone down to Passable Beach for the dinner and dancing. No-one knew they were going there. We didn’t mention Passable Beach on the invitation and people were wondering around thinking “where are we going to sit for the food” and bit by bit, “where is everyone going?!” Guests stating disappearing but they didn’t know where they were going to!
We knew we wanted a sunny, summery backdrop to our day and with Jewish weddings only permitted to be held at certain points of the year I wanted to more or less guarantee that rain wouldn’t interrupt our day. We discovered this website Wunderground where you can look at historical weather data so we went through all the dates until he found the first one in the last 11 years that had not had any rain and that was the day we chose. The website proved us right – the weather couldn’t have been more gorgeous and actually just the weekend before we’d had heavy rain in the area! I definitely recommend checking out potential wedding dates in your chosen location on Wunderground.
CHUPPAH & CEREMONY
We had a gospel choir sing ‘Kissing You’ by Des’ree when I came down the aisle, and Bill Withers’ ‘Lovely Day’ when Jez came down the aisle with his daughter Jessy which was truly special.
As far as the chuppah was concerned we wanted lots of flowers – and Jez wanted us to look like we were walking on water but that was a bit too far-fetched so the chuppah was built on a raised platform on the water. I was meant to circle round Jez 3 times during the ceremony but I ended up going around him 7 times and then he rotated on the spot too, so it was actually 8 times altogether!
I wanted a massive, fairytale dress. I looked around and did a lot of research and when I saw the dress at Phillipa Lepley I absolutely knew it was the one. It was big but I could have gone even bigger! It was a heart shaped bodice and went very low at the back so it was almost backless. It had a massive flower at the back and a long fairytale veil – I felt absolutely fantastic in it. My shoes were Jimmy Choo – the most comfortable shoes I could have ever worn and I walked and danced in them all night long with no problem. Highly recommended!
COWS AND COW-PRINT
With regards to a theme it was all about having fun and having all the things that we loved. For instance Jez loves cow-print and although it wasn’t a main part of the theme we brought it in here and there. We printed kupples in cow-print and we had jokes on the inside eg. “We went to Natasha and Jez’s wedding and all we got was this lousy kippah” and “Stolen from Natasha and Jez’s wedding” . We also had cow print menus, place cards and table numbers, and the waiters had cow-print patches on their pockets. We also went for a life-size cow wedding cake!
We had lots of other things that we loved too – I managed to have masses of pink and white orchids which are my favourite flowers.
Dare I say it, we didn’t actually want kosher food – we simply wanted fantastic quality food. We chose Lenôtre caterers in the end – they just blew us away. It was a sit-down dinner and guests were served choices for each course: an amuse-bouche and then gravadlax or foie gras followed by steak or sea bream followed by a dessert buffet with a whole range of sweet delicacies.
The ceremony and reception were held in the beautiful gardens of the Ephrussi Villa so we didn’t need many flowers. The only thing we added were orchids as I adore them so much – we had white and pink orchids everywhere from Amsterdam, and my bouquet was all white orchids.
HAIR & MAKEUP
I tried quite a few make-up artists and no-one had captured me the way I really wanted. So for my civil wedding in London (a few weeks before our wedding in France) I visited a Mac counter and found a makeup artist there that I loved and asked her if she’d like to do my wedding make-up for my civil ceremony. She agreed and I liked her so much that I asked her to come to France to do my make-up there as well and she agreed which was really lucky!
My hair was styled by my mother’s long-term hairdresser who she wanted to use so we flew him out and it was lovely to have someone I’d known for years around me.
We used Dov Amiel – a massive French band. I wouldn’t have minded just having a DJ but Jez loves live music and really wanted a band. They really lit up the evening and dancing to our song, Chaka Khan’s ‘Ain’t Nobody’ was one of the highlights for me.
I searched high and low online for a photography style that I loved and in the end found the marvellous Susan Stripling from New York. I loved working with her and her editing was outstanding. We are absolutely delighted with her shots. Again, highly recommended.
TRASHING THE DRESS
Having had the time of my life and worn the dress of my dreams, I finished the night off (at 5am!) with a ‘Trash The Dress’ photo shoot down at the beach. It was a lot of fun and we got some fabulous shots – I loved the contrast of the beauty of the wedding dress with the out of context water environment.
CHARITY DONATIONS AS GIFTS
We asked for charity donations instead of a wedding gift. Jessy, Jez’s daughter, had recently been in hospital to have an operation so we wanted to make sure that we were giving back a bit. We asked guests to donate funds for a new Reception at the Neuro Science wing at Great Ormond Street Hospital that replaces the Parrot Ward where Jessy had her operation.
YOUR DAY YOUR WAY
My advice to other brides would be to make it your own, think outside of the box, and do things that you love and enjoy. Make your day stand out for yourself… have the traditions but do it your way.
NATASHA + JEZ’S LITTLE WHITE BOOK
Venue – Ceremony at Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild
Venue – Dinner and Dancing at Plage de Passable
Photography – Susan Stripling
Bride’s dress – Phillipa Lepley
Bride’s shoes – Jimmy Choo
Groom’s attire – Ozwald Boateng
Wedding Planner – KBY Designs
Gospel choir – IDMC
Wedding Band – Dov Amiel
Catering – Lenôtre
Wedding cow cake – Michelle Cakes
Hair – Joseph Koniak
Make up – Mel Bueno de Mesquita
Wow. Just WOW! How gorgeous is everything in this wedding from Natasha’s flower girls to the gob-smackingly breathtaking venues to the amazing Trash-The-Dress photos to the oh-so-realistic whopping great life-size cow cake. And how fabulous are all Natasha and Jez’s personal details? I especially love the cow-print kupples with the jokes printed on the inside – pure genius!