Like the rest of us, Shallon Hunter is obsessed with Instagram. “I follow designers, stylists, street-style influencers—it’s part of my job,” says the Austin, Texas, native, who works as public relations director for Tuckernuck, a clothing company in Washington, D.C. In 2016, she discovered @provencepoiriers, an account documenting a family’s renovation of an 18th-century farmhouse in Provence. “I loved the owners’ taste in everything from antiques to paint colors, and the gardens were gorgeous,” she says. For Shallon, the estate, known as Le Mas des Poiriers (“The Pear Trees Estate”) was yet another Insta fantasy, a place she’d likely never see in real life.
But on September 9, 2018, Shallon and her longtime love, Brian Manion, found themselves marrying in front of 118 loved ones in the very grand gardens she had come to know on a tiny screen. And it happened serendipitously: After Brian proposed in Positano, Italy, in the fall of 2017, the couple became captivated with the idea of marrying in Provence. (“Ever see that movie A Good Year with Russell Crowe? When you see it, you’ll understand,” she says with a laugh.) At the same time, the owners of Le Mas des Poiriers announced that it was available for event rentals, and Shallon and Brian became their first wedding clients.
The couple worked with Matthew Robbins and Luis Otoya of Matthew Robbins Design, who have a partnership with the property, to create “a true Provençal experience” for the wedding weekend. Keep reading for more on this inspiring celebration, featuring photos by Ross Harvey and video by Reeling Films.
The couple wanted to create a long weekend for their guests, with several parties and adventures leading up to the main celebration. They called La Mirande in Avignon their home base and kicked off the festivities there on Thursday night with an intimate rehearsal dinner, followed by a welcome party at La Divine Comedie. The next day, everyone was invited for an alfresco dinner at La Bastide De Gordes, where guests sat at one long table, and the meal of roasted chicken, potatoes, and fresh vegetables was served family style. "This night was meant to be more casual," says the bride.
Other events included a day at the vineyards of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and time for browsing local markets. "We love the culture, the food, and the lifestyle in Provence," she says. "We wanted to give our guests a true Provence experience for all three days."
On day three, the main event took place at Le Mas des Poiriers, a private estate outside Avignon.
Shallon and her wedding party took over Le Mas des Poiriers as they got ready and enjoyed the scenery. "The house is gorgeous, so spending the day there with my bridesmaids and best friends was ideal," she says. "We all arrived around 10 a.m., so we were able to have the entire day there."
Shallon's mother and grandmother hosted a beautiful lunch, which Shallon used as an opportunity to thank her bridal party. She had flower crowns made as party favors and gifted each of her bridesmaids a pair of Bounkit earrings. She also surprised her mother, grandmother, and Brian's mother with handkerchiefs hand-embroidered with "MOB," "GOB," and "MOG." "We are all big collectors so I thought it would be something they could add to their hanky collection and cherish," she says. "I also had my dad a pocket square made with the same thing."
When it came time to get ready, Shallon slipped into her wedding dress: a Johanna Ortiz exclusive for Moda Operandi, adorned with guipure lace and a blush statement bow. Her favorite element? The bow!
The bride accessorized with custom blush heels by Alexandre Birman, a Tia Mazza veil, and a bouquet of peonies, her favorite flower. Her grandmother’s emerald bracelet—which her mother wore at her own wedding in 1984—served as her something old and something borrowed, while her grandmother's hanky acted as her something blue.
"Matthew and Luis were so wonderful to work with—they understood my vision and had so many incredible ideas," says the bride of her wedding planners. "One of my favorites were the hand painted fans during the ceremony. They had an incredible Columbian artist hand paint each one, and they were all different."
The ceremony took place in front of the estate, which the bride says was a “natural choice.” "How amazing are these trees? It's like its own natural aisle," she adds.
Shallon walked down the admittedly long tree-lined aisle with her father. (Fun fact from the planner: "It was one of the longest aisles we've ever had," he says. "We put the bridal party and the bride in an air-conditioned van and kept them hiding there 'til they walked the aisle!")
The proceedings started at exactly 6 p.m. “The light is magical just before sundown,” says the bride. She and Brian exchanged vows flanked by potted topiaries. "We did not write our vows, but the entire service was one of my most memorable parts of the entire wedding weekend," Shallon says.
After their first kiss, the newlyweds recessed down the aisle to a trio of musicians playing the Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” Their parents followed shortly after—how cute is this photo?!
The newlyweds took advantage of the golden light during post-ceremony portraits as they explored the grounds and posed with a vintage Porsche, Shallon's dream getaway ride. “At the end of the night, we left straight for our honeymoon,” she says. “It was such a high!”
“I envisioned the wedding as a black-tie garden party, romantic and elegant," says the bride.
Cocktail hour took place in the same ceremony gardens, where the couple served a selection of French wines alongside cheese and apps. However, most notable on the menu was the abundance of foie gras! "Brian is obsessed so I made sure we had it," says the bride. As a surprise for their guests, local dancers performed traditional Provençal dances as they led everyone from cocktail hour to the dinner.
The wedding design drew inspiration from the estate itself, with the couple incorporating pears foraged from its orchards into the escort card display.
"We had a three-course sit-down dinner with wonderful music and lights strung between the trees," Shallon says. "Brian and I are both foodies, so I wanted to create the perfect dining experience with lots of wine and delicious food. The music and setting made it so romantic."
Tables were dressed with blue linens, elegant glassware, and lush floral arrangements featuring olive branches and lavender sprigs (as a nod to their locale).
But as authentic as the celebration was to its charming locale, the bride did sneak in a few family traditions. Her grandmother and mother contributed their collection of sterling-silver napkin rings, and thanks to input from her dad (“We’re from Texas. We gotta have beef!”), the menu included steak. For a touch of the bride’s southern heritage, the couple personalized their dinner napkins with their new married monogram.
Brian’s brother and Shallon’s father each gave a speech during dinner, as did Shallon's best friend. “They were so heartfelt and something I’ll never forget,” she says.
Guests had their choice of delectable confections, from a tower of macarons to a four-tiered cake decorated with colorful sugar flowers and the couple’s initials.
The groom had one request: a late-night dance party with a French DJ. Shallon made that happen and even planned her second look—an ankle-length Costarellos dress styled with Manolo Blahnik crystal-buckle flats in blue satin—around it. “I wanted to dance,” she says. And when it was all over, the night was capped off with the couple’s exit in a vintage Porsche. “We borrowed it from a friend of the pastry chef!” Shallon says. It was très chic—and very Instagrammable.
Wedding Planner & Floral Design: Matthew Robbins Design || Venue: Le Mas des Poiriers || Catering: Traiteur Frères Brunet || Stationery: Stephanie Fishwick || Wedding Dress: Joanna Ortiz || Bride's Shoes: Alexandre Birman || Bride's Veil: Tia Mazza || Groom's Attire: Sid Mashburn || Bridesmaid Dresses: Lela Rose || Cake: Made in Cake || Ceremony Music: Botticelli's || Reception Music: Salut Band || Videographer: Reeling Films || Photography: Ross Harvey
This story originally appeared in the April/May 2019 issue of Brides, on sale beginning February 26.