Michelle R.: Chateau Chic

Michelle R.: Chateau Chic

Mother Of: Adrienne
Venue: Chateau Soulac, Juillac, France
Vibe: Chateau Chic
Dress: Phase Eight embroidered flutter sleeve column

The French countryside: Home to charming chateaus, imposing castles, scenic rivers, rolling hills, and virtually no place to shop for a mother of the bride dress.

“It was terrible,” Michelle laments. She and her husband moved from Australia to rural France in 2010. “I had to shop online from France and rely on friends from the UK to bring down my dresses. It is really difficult to know if a particular style suits you or the size that you need when you shop online—it’s much better to try them on.”

chateau wedding ceremony

Adrienne and Jonathon’s wedding took place in September 2023 at Chateau Soulac, an historic property in southwest France overlooking the Dordogne River. Michelle had a vision of what she wanted to wear: a long, flowing dress with short sleeves. “I didn’t want bare arms,” she says. “We had lived in America for a few years, and have many friends there and have been to their children’s weddings. I’ve always loved the long, elegant dresses that American mothers of the bride wear. The English aesthetic is much more knee length dresses with matching jackets, and picture hats, which is really not me at all!”

mother of the bride helping bride

Michelle bought her first dress 14 months ahead of the wedding, but kept shopping. Because of the lag time for delivery to her remote address, she missed return windows and ended up with three dresses—which she continued to debate about until the week before the wedding.

“My husband was no help,” Michelle says. “He said he liked them all!”

Her daughter nixed one of the options, a nude colored sequin gown, deeming it “too evening-y.” Michelle decided the pale blue floral brocade would be too heavy and hot for the outdoor ceremony. Ultimately, Michelle chose the first dress she bought: a light lilac column dress with all over embroidered leaf detail and sheer flutter sleeves from London-based Phase Eight.

mother with bride and groom

“Above all, I wanted to be comfortable and cool and feel fantastic all day which I did,” Michelle says. “The dress was beautiful and flowy—perfect for being on my feet most of the day and above all, dancing!”

mother of the bride officiating

Comfort was especially key because Michelle played a dual role as both mother of the bride and wedding officiant. It wasn’t her first time: Michelle is what’s called a wedding celebrant in France. “Holding weddings here is very very popular at the moment for couples from the UK, U.S., Canada, and Australia. There are so many incredible and beautiful Chateaux, especially in my area of southwest France.”

She officiated 14 weddings in 2023 and already has 18 booked for 2024. But officiating her own daughter’s wedding was in a league of its own. “One of the best memories of my life! I didn’t cry, surprisingly, as I was so focused on the ceremony, and I even threw in a couple of jokes about being the mother in law as well as the celebrant.”

Guests came from all over the world: the UK, Australia, the U.S., and Bermuda. They shared three days of celebrations at the chateau, culminating with the ceremony in a barn, which led to drinks on the terrace and dinner and dancing in yet another barn. It was predicted to rain on the wedding day, but, like everything else about this storybook setting, the day turned out perfectly sunny.

bride and groom driving off at chateau

| Photography by David Paige Photography

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