Natalie & Ryan’s Modern Château Wedding on Martha Stewart Weddings

After over a year of waiting (thanks to a Covid-related postponement) Natalie & Ryan were wed under a gloriously French sky on a golden late summer afternoon in the Loire Valley. And, today I’m thrilled to share that their beautiful soirée has been featured in Martha Stewart Weddings! Scroll down for all of the magic.

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As told by Martha Stewart Weddings, “Three years after their first meeting, Ryan treated Natalie to a to surprise birthday trip to Santorini, where he proposed in June 2018 “during a private dinner on the panorama balcony at Canaves Oia.” But though the question was a surprise for Natalie, it wasn’t a last-minute decision for Ryan: “This was planned an entire year in advance, as the restaurant was booking eight months in advance at the time,” says the couple.

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Natalie and Ryan originally planned their wedding for August 2020, and then rescheduled based on Canada’s COVID-19 restrictions, waiting for reassurance that they would be able to re-enter the country after their destination wedding in France. Finally they confirmed plans for a three-day wedding for 40 guests at Chateau de Jalesnes in Vernantes, France. “The Château required the ‘Pass Sanitaire,’ as did mostly everywhere in France, so guests had to be either fully vaccinated or test negative every 72 hours in order to attend,” says the couple. “Luckily we had zero cases associated with the wedding and everyone was able to continue on their travels afterwards.”

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With help from Jennifer Fox Weddings, Natalie and Ryan created a dramatic and opulent garden-themed affair with a palette of blush and ivory accented by gray, gold, and onyx. “We changed our design concept after we rescheduled our original date; we started out with a design that was more in line with the vintage French country direction and then updated to French garden style with more contemporary design accents and touches,” says the couple.

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Neutral tones of ivory, onyx, and gray anchored the couple’s invitation suite from Pirouette Paper, while a monogrammed crest and custom sketch of the château added personalized accents. “We chose to mix romantic, intimate, and delicate design with touches of modernity,” says Natalie.

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Natalie’s low twist, from hair and makeup artist Trine Juel, was accented with a delicate spray of baby’s breath. “The night before the wedding, Ryan gifted me a pair of pear-shaped diamond earrings that matched my new wedding band and solitaire pear engagement ring,” says Natalie. The bride’s mother and sister also gave her Stuart Weitzman sandals to wear with her gown. When her family saw her dressed for the ceremony, Natalie says, there were “tears, lots of tears.”

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Natalie’s Reem Acra wedding dress set the tone for the rest of the couple’s wedding-day aesthetic—including the venue. “As soon as I looked in the mirror, I was transported to France and just knew that this dress had to be ‘it,’ she says. “I purchased the dress before I had even picked a venue, and I always joked that the venue had to match the dress. Not to be cliché, but once I put the dress on, I felt like royalty.”

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Flawless blooms—including garden roses, sweet peas, campanulas, dianthus, and lisianthus—in shades of blush and ivory were tied with a trailing silk ribbon for Natalie’s bouquet. “I also walked down the aisle with a locket attached to my bouquet that my maternal grandfather gifted my grandmother over 50 years ago. It was filled with pictures of my late father and his parents, who were unfortunately unable to make the wedding due to health concerns,” says Natalie. “It was a nod to having them walk me down the aisle.”

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Ryan donned a Tom Ford Tuxedo tuxedo, cummerbund, and bow tie, with his brothers, the co-best men, in custom Suit Supply suits and Hugo Boss dress shirts and ties. “Their outfits were chosen to be classic and timeless and to compliment Ryan’s tuxedo,” says Natalie.

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Ryan wore Christian Louboutin shoes and gave his brothers each a pair when he asked them to join the bridal party. “They had to wait just over two years to finally wear them,” says Natalie. The groom also wore a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date watch—a gift from his father for the wedding day.

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The drama of the château provided “an elegant and timeless background” for the couple’s ceremony, where white chairs and fresh flowers enhanced the classic architecture. “For the entrance to the aisle, two beds of flowers were placed at the bottom of the aisle as if the flowers were growing up from the ground to create a natural garden style,” says the couple.

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Oversized arrangements of blush-and-ivory blooms and vibrant, trailing foliage framed the couple during their vows. Designers from Floresie incorporated the château’s railing and stairs into the design, and added pedestals to vary the height of each vessel.

Harpist Lauren Woidela provided music for the ceremony—including a version of “At Last” by Etta James while Natalie’s mother escorted her down the aisle. “We even showed the harp a bit of floral love by adorning vines to the front,” says Natalie.

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Ryan’s brother escorted the flower girl—Natalie’s grandmother—down the aisle during the processional, as she “lovingly tossed white rose petals to announce the entrance of her granddaughter.”

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The couple asked Ryan’s father, Brendan, to officiate their ceremony, while they exchanged vows they wrote to each other. Ryan wrote of how he had met his match and how lucky he was to be spending the rest of his life with Natalie; he ended his vows with, “I will always love you bigger.” “It was a competition who would say this first!” explains the couple.

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After a week of forecasted rain for their wedding day, Natalie and Ryan decided to risk it and hold their ceremony outdoors. “About 10 minutes before I was supposed to go out, my mom felt a couple drops of rain, but we moved forward anyway,” says Natalie. After exchanging vows, the newlyweds left the altar as the harpist played “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles. “I swear the sun came out during this song—it was like a movie,” says Natalie. “It truly was a magical moment!”

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Natalie’s maid of honor wore a strapless black gown from House of CB, and carried a smaller version of her bouquet. “We wanted everyone in the wedding party to be in black and white so that the photos would remain timeless and nothing would clash with the décor,” says the bride.

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After a week of forecasted rain for their wedding day, Natalie and Ryan decided to risk it and hold their ceremony outdoors. “About 10 minutes before I was supposed to go out, my mom felt a couple drops of rain, but we moved forward anyway,” says Natalie. After exchanging vows, the newlyweds left the altar as the harpist played “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles. “I swear the sun came out during this song—it was like a movie,” says Natalie. “It truly was a magical moment!”

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After their outdoor ceremony, Natalie and Ryan hosted their reception in the venue’s on-site chapel. “We loved the tall stained-glass windows and the idea of utilizing this stunning space since we had our ceremony in the garden,” says the couple. “For our guest tables, shorter floral arrangements sat in low gold vases that ran along the center of each table. Tall floral arrangements on pedestals were dotted around the perimeter of the chapel.

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At the head table, floral arrangements on soaring gold pedestals were alternated with lower arrangements. “We wanted to be sure we stood out!” says Natalie.

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An elegant, smoky palette of onyx, ivory, gray, and gold elevated the understated table settings. “Custom-made onyx candleholders holding ivory-and-taupe tapers and etched cut-glass candle votives sat alongside gold rimmed plates, contemporary white-and-gold cutlery, and onyx water glasses. Guest menus were tied with a gray silk ribbon,” says the couple.

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A dinner menu included courses of crispy crab ravioli with artichokes and beef filet, both paired with Loire Valley wines; a cheese course; and three individual desserts. Sparklers then lit up the couple’s traditional croquembouche. “As a late-night snack, we served mini burgers and fries!” says Natalie.

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Natalie and Ryan treated their guests to a glowing firework display over the venue’s gardens. “The fireworks were surprisingly wonderful!” says the couple. “They seemed to go on and on, and were such a great piece of entertainment for our friends and family.”

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“The one piece of advice I would give would be enjoy each and every aspect—the planning, travel, day of, and day after,” says Natalie. “This is usually the first thing you create as a couple and it is a beautiful example of your love together coming alive for the most memorable event of your life. There was such genuine emotion and sincerity from having all our closest friends and family together that everything else could have fallen apart and it still would have been the most beautiful day of our life.”

Photos by Chateau Jalesnes Wedding Photographer Molly Carr Photography | Wedding Planner: Jennifer Fox | Wedding Gown: Reem Acra | Venue: Château de Jalesnes | Catering: Le Val d’Evre | Bride’s Shoes: Stuart Weitzman | Groom’s Tuxedo: Tom Ford | Hair and Makeup: Trine Juel | Paper Goods: Pirouette Paper | Florals: Florésie | Rentals: Options

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After pursuing my degree in fashion, I began my career as a travel photographer, exploring the world one country at a time and telling the stories of the people, places, art, and ideas that moved me. But, it was when I photographed my first destination wedding that I truly found my life’s calling.

My work is luminous, poetic, elegant, and above all, intentional. It will be my deepest honor to guide you through the wedding planning process, to help you create unforgettable moments and experiences, and, ultimately, to craft images where time stands still.

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