A French Destination Wedding at a 12th Century Abbey on Île de Ré

Charlotte Ricard-Quesada and her husband Antonio broke from tradition with two weddings, including this idyllic day on the French island of Île de Ré

Charlotte and Antonio's French Real Wedding

When Charlotte Ricard-Quesada married her partner of six years, Antonio Quesada, family and friends could rest assured this wouldn’t be an ordinary wedding.

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Charlotte is a luxury wedding planner by trade and founder of London-based bespoke event planners La Fête.

The couple threw two weddings, one in Antonio’s native Spain, and the second on the stunning Île de Ré where Charlotte holidayed as a child. You can see all of Charlotte and Antonio’s Seville wedding here.

For their second wedding, the couple chose the ruins of the 12th century Châteliers Abbey for their ceremony and the nearby historic Fort de la Prée for their lavish reception.

With a French ‘secret garden’ décor theme, hand-illustrated favours, and a special appearance from their adorable French bulldog, Coco, this is a must-see wedding.

Photography by Monro Photography 

Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding

The Wedding Dress

Charlotte collaborated with Studio Non Sequitur in Delhi, India, to design her wedding outfits for both weddings. Her Spanish wedding on a chilly March day called for long sleeves, but a sunny August date for her French wedding allowed much more freedom.

She wore a strapless, embellished ballgown during the ceremony, before changing into a bridal jumpsuit designed and gifted to her by her friend Nabel Martins, a Venezuelan designer.

“For my Île de Ré dress, we incorporated hand embroidered flowers and leaves, subtle beading, tones of pink and a heavy pleated skirt.

“I knew that I wanted to have significant input in my dress and had seen Studio Non Sequitur’s incredible work at one of my closest friend’s weddings: I immediately knew I wanted to work with them!

“Getting ready was particularly special as it was in my family’s holiday home on the island, where we’ve spent our summers growing up and still do now. It was also amazing to be able to have all my bridesmaids and their partners staying under one roof.”

Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding

The Bride’s Accessories

Charlotte had worked with her makeup artist and hair stylist, Eva from Eva Beauty Art, on shoots prior to her wedding so she knew what to expect.

“I had a trial at a local hair salon and beauty salon for my makeup, but it wasn’t right for me, which is why I chose to bring in Eva from Paris and who I had one trial with just before the wedding.

“I wanted to look like myself, but a more polished version. I usually have my hair pulled back and I knew I wanted a flower crown/comb and a veil. From there, Eva created the most beautiful and elegant updo that matched the dress code of the wedding and, most importantly, matched me.

“I wore a hand beaded veil by Studio Non Sequitur, vintage bow diamond earrings, a bespoke porcelain floral comb, my Cartier bracelets that I never remove and a Van Cleef & Arpels necklace that was a wedding gift from my husband.”

Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding

The Wedding Party

Groom Antonio wore a bespoke Canali morning suit which was made in Spain. He accessorised with gold knot cufflinks which were given to him by Charlotte as a wedding gift.

Charlotte’s sister was her maid of honour and she had four other bridesmaids and one bridesman.

“Rosanna Garden (designer) from Motee Maids very kindly gifted us bespoke dresses and let each of my bridesmaids pick which neckline they wanted. They were absolutely stunning and suited each of my bridesmaids’ style.

“I chose the skirt weight and beading pattern but each girl picked the neckline and had an appointment to find the best option.”

Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding

The Wedding Transport

We hired coaches to pick up the guests from La Rochelle and their hotels around the island. As for me, I was driven by my father in our vintage Citroën Mehari that had been filled with flowers.

“We also had on-demand minibuses for the evening. I loved being able to be driven in our quirky vintage car.”

Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding

The Wedding Ceremony

The wedding ceremony was celebrant-led and, to make it extra special, the celebrant was one of Charlotte’ bridesmaids, chosen as she spoke all three languages.

The couple’s wedding rings were from a Spanish jeweller and were a gift from the groom’s brother and bride’s sister.

“The ceremony was at the Abbaye des Châteliers in La Flotte, Île de Ré, with a blessing orchestrated by my oldest friend in our three languages: English, French and Spanish. The reception was at Fort de La Prée, a 10 min walk by the sea from the Abbey.

“Readings from my bridesmaids and my friend and the celebrant’s speech were my favourite moments. Plus the atmosphere and history were magical.

“I walked down with my father to Le Canon de Pachelbel played on the harp.”

Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding

The Wedding Reception

Although Charlotte is a wedding planner herself, she decided to hire someone to take care of the logistics and on the day management. However, she was in control of the style.

“We created the dream wedding I’d planned since I was 11 years old: to get married at the ruins of a 12th century abbey in Île de Ré, by the sea, in the middle of the fields with our 65 closest friends and family! We completely dressed both venues with flowers, arches, huge peacock chairs as well as the Mehari car that was my carriage!

“For the cocktail reception, we had XL deckchairs and a beach feel overlooking the sea, whereas the reception was held in a transparent marquee so that we could enjoy the sunset and the raw beauty of the local sandstone buildings.

“The marquee ceiling was covered in fairy lights and featured hanging greenery. Our tables were long and draped with a grey tablecloth. The china was real antique mismatched French china with toile patterns, and the cutlery as well as the china were also all mismatched antique.

“The table plan was a vintage blue door with hanging brass keys that were attached to cardboard calligraphed name tags. These were then mirrored on the plates and attached to a padlock! The tables also had tall candelabra filled with hanging greenery, and smaller cages overflowing with moss and gypsophila.

“This was my take on French secret garden: pastel tones of green, pink and blue were intertwined with white and greys to create the perfect harmony between French chic and secret garden.”

Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding

Wedding Flowers

Charlotte and Antonio’s August wedding provided the perfect time to celebrate outside.

Over the aisle was a flower archway created by Souchon with flowers from Louis Dubois. Charlotte’s bouquet was created in the same style.

“It was quite wild with blush tones and foliage, but very floral as I wanted a lot of blooms. I also wanted peonies as they are my favourite flowers.”

Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
 
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding

Special Touches

To continue the theme of a French secret garden, the table centrepieces included moss, candelabras, flowers, and bird cages. There was also a cheese buffet and photo booth for guests to enjoy. Fans and parasols provided to keep the sun off during the ceremony got a new life as impromptu photo props during the evening.

On the night, Charlotte and Antonio served a wedding cake made by Cent pour Cent fait Maman.

“Our wedding cake was rose gold and decorated with real flowers. It was a génoise base with one tier milk chocolate ganache and the other a vanilla ganache, served with a caramel and salted butter coulis.”

The couple’s wedding favours were hand-drawn illustrations of each guest drawn by Sarah Smart.

Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding
Charlotte and Antonio French Destination Wedding

Wedding Entertainment

Charlotte’s favourite moment of the day was the cocktail hour where she was able to speak to all of her guests. During this time, Coco, the couple’s dog, made an appearance resulting in some precious photos.

“We had live music during the cocktail, manouche jazz mainly. And then we had a DJ playing alongside live bongos and trumpet. We wanted something fun and a bit different.”

Charlotte and Antonio’s first dance was Bryan Adams and Paco de Lucía – Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman?

The Suppliers

Ceremony Venue: Châteliers Abbey
Reception Venue: Fort de la Prée
Photographer: Monro Photography
Wedding Dress: Studio Non Sequitur
Hair and Makeup: Eva Beauty Art 
Bridesmaid Dresses: Motee Maids
Groomswear: Canali
Styling: La Fête
Stationery: Ceci New York
Wedding Cake: Cent pour Cent fait Maman
Florist: Louis Dubois 
Favours: Sarah Smart
Gift List: The Wedding Shop

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A big thank you to Charlotte and Antonio for letting us share their special day.