An unusual title for a blog post, that’s for sure but this steampunk vow renewal at the beautiful Chateau du Dohem in northern France was no ordinary celebration. Working with an incredible team of wedding suppliers, Wendy and Marcus, the amazing owners at this gorgeous chateau, were able to give Janet and Roger the wedding vow renewal of their dreams. Celebrating thirty years of wedded bliss … how could this lovely couple have foreseen when they tied the knot all those years ago that their 30th wedding anniversary would see them celebrating in a castle in France … but that’s exactly what happened. With a steampunk theme to the day, I knew it was going to be a visual feast and along with Wendy’s vision and the talents of her daughter, Leah, who runs Boho and Bloom, an event styling company (more details here), I was confident it would be amazing.
And to add even more excitement to the day, a camera crew from Channel 4’s Escape to the Chateau DIY were also going to be in attendance, capturing the day to be included in Episode 19 of the series. No pressure then! It was certainly an early start with the team meeting up on the Kent coast and being driven across in style by Sue from She Drives, we travelled through rain … and arrived at the chateau to this … how perfect and idyllic!
So much effort went into making this day perfect for Janet and Roger. Their daughters, Adele and Karina, the talent behind 2 of Harps, had penned a unique piece of music for their parents, incorporating steampunk themes and intensely personal. Even the camera crew were taken aback … and yes, there were tears. But back to the venue … as part of the Escape to the Chateau DIY programme, Wendy and Marcus, who had launched the chateau as a hen do destination location, were challenged with the task of converting one of the barns on site into a wedding chapel … with amazing success. The programme follows them through their challenges and setbacks but on seeing the final result, all of their hard work was worth it. And with their first booking for Janet and Roger, time was of the essence, especially with the steampunk theme. And so a restyling of the barn was in order …
It was all hands to the pump and the steampunk theme was scattered liberally throughout …even down to the theming on the drinks table! Keys and binoculars and pressure valves … and the amazing clock overhanging the ceremony area, along with candelabra made out of copper piping and a cake beautifully crafted to the theme by Katherine at Bluebirds Bakehouse based in Kent.
Janet and Roger’s vow renewal was led by celebrant Karina O’Donnell from Simply Ceremonies UK who I’ve known for many years and have worked with on a number of occasions. Celebrant led celebrations are intensely personal and I felt very honoured to have been asked to be part of this emotional renewal. Karina tells me that she often works with her couples to dress for their theme … and she aced it as far as I’m concerned.
Wendy and Marcus were also styled appropriately (if you’ve watched the programme, you’ll know that their hen parties are usually themed … and Marcus has been known to don a toga in the past …)
Janet and Roger then made the walk, together, around from the front of the chateau to the wedding barn … the decoration was a complete surprise to them and completely stopped them in their tracks.
Glasses were clinked in celebration and champagne sipped. Wendy and Marcus scurried around making all the guests feel very comfortable and welcome … they really are the most amazing hosts! In one episode earlier in the series, Marcus was redeveloping the pool area and it absolutely sparkled in the glorious sunlight … as did our lovely couple!
We then made our way to the front of the chateau, to the imposing iron gates for a “attaching of the lock ceremony”. Karina spoke a few words and the girls accompanied on their harps. The first lock .. of many.
And then quickly back into the barn for the cutting of the steampunk themed cake … which, I must say, tasted exquisite!
What a day which will stay in my memory forever. I’ve been photographing weddings for over eleven years and this renewal really touched my heart. So personal, beautifully crafted and presented and the love and support that this lovely couple show for each other is incredibly palpable and real. There are many stories to tell from their years together and I wish them many more to come. Happy 30th wedding anniversary! xxx
P.S. Here’s the Little Black Book of the vow renewal team:
Chateau de Dohem https://chateaudedohem.com
2 of Harps https://2ofharps.com/
Venue styling Boho and Bloom https://www.
Bride’s millinery: Joanne Elizabeth Millinery | Instagram @joanne_elizabeth_millinery
Karina O’Donnell https://celebrant-uk.co.uk
Celebrant’s milliner: https://www.rattytathats.com/
Celebrant’s dresser: https://www.therobingroom.co.uk/
Gnomes dressed by Florence
Bluebirds Bakehouse https://bluebirdsbakehouse.co.
Film Our Day https://www.filmourday.co.uk/
Samantha Jones Photography www.samanthajonesphotography.
She Drives https://www.shedrives.co.uk
P.S. You may have seen the programme on the television … if you didn’t spot me, that’s because I am a very discreet and unobtrusive photographer … I don’t think I’m going to have a career change very soon!!!