When Adam Londy proposed to Claire Abramowitz the weekend before Valentine’s Day in 2017, she had no idea it was coming. “I love to scuba dive and nerd out on all things marine biology–related, so I wasn’t suspecting a thing when Adam took me to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California,” she recalls. They wandered the exhibits, pausing to watch the seals and sea lions show before Adam insisted they head to the coral reef exhibit for a dive. The diver gave her presentation, then noticed that a piece of trash had made its way into the tank. “She swam over to grab it, and came back with a big orange sign that said ‘Two less fish in the sea… Claire, will you marry me?’” Claire recalls. “Everyone was cheering and I immediately started to cry!”
The couple both studied French and immediately looked to France as a wedding destination. "We think that the language, country, and culture are as romantic as it gets," Claire says. With that vision, they invited 40 guests to join them at Château de Cazenac in the Dordogne region for a weekend filled with festivities, including a 4th of July pool party, wine tasting with a local biodynamic winemaker, and of course, the couple’s wedding on July 5, 2018.
The château dates back to the 14th century, so the couple honored its history with a soft and neutral aesthetic straight out of a fairy tale. “Planning from another time zone (plus five hours and two train rides from Paris), we knew there would be items that weren’t available and things beyond our control, so we tried to be as laid-back as possible,” says Claire. Thankfully the couple's photographer, Rebecca Yale, was able to step in and lend a hand, helping them bring all of the details together.
Whether you’re heading to Europe or dreaming of a castle wedding stateside, romantic inspiration abounds in the wedding below. Keep reading for more!
Once in France, the couple let their venue inspire their timeless countryside wedding. "The rolling green hillsides of the Dordogne, interspersed with vineyards and pastures and dotted with charming stone houses and grand, historic châteaus, are incredibly picturesque and peaceful," explains the bride.
Illustrations of soft greenery filled the couple’s invitation suite, finished with a ribbon wrap and a gold wax seal. A pen-and-ink drawing of the château topped the save-the-dates, invitations, and menus. “We wanted our guests to understand how important they are to us, so we printed postcards with antique maps of the region and wrote personalized messages to each of them," Claire says. "We included memories we’ve shared with them, as well as our love and gratitude.”
Adam’s boutonniere paired sprigs of lavender with vibrant olive leaves as a nod to their locale.
Claire’s engagement ring features an emerald diamond from Adam’s grandmother’s ring, which the couple had set in yellow gold. “As a wedding present, Adam had the two trillions from his grandmother’s ring turned into studs for me,” adds the bride.
The bride chose a simple satin ballgown from BHLDN, with a full skirt and "’90s Calvin Klein-inspired spaghetti straps." “It kept its shape so well, which was perfect for carrying through security and multiple airports,” says the bride. She added a cathedral-length veil edged in Alençon lace for a French touch.
“The morning of our wedding, we woke up to realize the château had lost power,” says Claire. “With only one generator, we had to choose between making coffee for our guests or powering the hair stylist’s tools. It was an easy decision!”
The ceremony took place in an allée of trees, with the branches serving as a natural altar. Guests sat in green garden chairs, and two arrangements in wine crates marked the aisle.
The couple exchanged personalized vows, and rain began just as Claire started to read hers. “Adam held a white umbrella over my head, which was so sweet and romantic,” she recalls.
The rain continued through cocktail hour, so guests moved inside to the parlor to keep dry.
On the cocktail hour menu? Sparkling cremant de Bordeaux and warm gougères and smoked salmon bites. "Any wedding in France is all about the food!" Claire adds.
Dinner was served in the stone barn, with chandeliers and string lights hung above long tables. Centerpieces of peonies, dahlias, and roses were set into organic vessels, and each guest’s place card was tucked into a cork. The couple brought gold cut-out place mats with them from the U.S. as a modern finishing touch.
“Dordogne is known for its culinary specialties, like truffles, duck, and foie gras, so we loved being able to serve those local flavors,” says Claire. The menu included a foie gras appetizer, wild mushrooms in puff pastry, and duck confit.
Dessert was a traditional croquembouche, a tower of vanilla and chocolate custard-filled profiteroles. A deejay created a discotheque in the château, where the couple danced the night away with their guests. Says Claire, “Things will inevitably go wrong, but the important thing to remember is to cherish each moment and focus on marrying your best friend!”
Venue: Château de Cazenac || Bride's Dress: BHLDN || Bride's Veil: Girl and a Serious Dream || Bride's Shoes: Stuart Weitzman || Hair & Makeup: Trine Juel || Groom's Attire: Theory || Groomsmen's Attire: Friar Tux || Engagement Ring: Sarah Leonard Jewelers || Wedding Bands: Sarah Leonard Jewelers || Floral Design: Jenny Moss || Paper Products: Valentina Glidden ||Vow Books: Wedding Story Writer || Venue Illustration: Ciarra Claire || Catering: Chez Amis || Ceremony Music: Jazz et Cie || Dinner Music: Bright Lights || Videography: Mrs. Mashup || Photography: Rebecca Yale Photography