THE COUPLE

Liv Hart and Jesse Gastelle loved channeling their inner romantics and adventurers, as they assembled a picture perfect destination celebration ... in France! While their relationship began in Denver, CO, the two relocated to the DC area for graduate school, and then on to Connecticut with Jesse's job. A weekend trip to Cape Cod sealed their romantic future, as Jesse surprised Liv with a seaside proposal, presenting her with a custom ring that he and her parents had been secretly designing.

THE INSPIRATION

The happy couple hoped to celebrate their marriage where friends and family could enjoy a real adventure together. "I asked Jesse where his dream location would be and he jokingly said a castle in France," says Liv. Quick research revealed the idea was indeed achievable, and when they found Chateau de Courtomer, just two hours outside of Paris, it offered every detail they wanted. (Happily, the entire entourage is planning a return visit next summer!) While savoring the historic French countryside of Normandy, the entire wedding party stayed at the Chateau -- in private suites - and the elegant dining room comfortably held the intimate guest list. Lucky to have the talented Lindsay Moynagh of House of Hannah Events on their team to oversee the overall event design, the couple also had Liv's mom and close friend (both florists) onboard to create the simple, yet oh-so-elegant floral dcor. From the first look at hand-lettered invitations that featured a hand-drawn sketch of the chateau, it was clear a storybook weekend was about to unfold.

THE BRIDE WORE

Immersed in the bridal industry herself for several years, Liv had always been a fan of designer Monique Lhuillier, and was smitten with her gown's unique cut and pink-and-grey toned fabric. "It was literally the first dress I saw when I started looking," says Liv. To accompany the style she designed her own headpiece and custom earrings fashioned of 14k gold-plated strawberries and roses entwined together. "When I was a little girl my grandma and grandpa had a rose garden and strawberry patch I used to play in," she explains. "They are two very important people in my life that are no longer with me, so I wanted them to be part of my wedding. I felt their love and spirit with me." Her lily of the valley bouquet could not have been a sweeter finishing touch

THE EVENT

As is her artistic instinct, Liv knows that quality arrives in the smallest details. From scenic countryside strolls to pretty florals of singular garden roses and greenery - including the arch where she and Jesse spoke their vows - every element of the wedding weekend was rich with romance. The two also wanted to fete their guests with a very "local" dining experience, and talented chef Perrine Desse blended a few of the couple's favorite foods with traditional French wedding fare. The incredible six-course meal lasted until 1 a.m., with a dessert of two perfect wedding cakes: a traditional vanilla wedding cake, and a French croquembouche. "One of my favorite wedding morning memories is walking by the kitchen and hearing Perrine singing as she was cooking!" says Liv. Another favorite memory for the bride was first hearing the vows Jesse had written to her, and for Jesse, it was first seeing Liv turn to walk down the aisle. For both, their dream weekend finished with a casual day-after celebration, biking with their families around the countryside and returning to share laughter and love around the fire. From researching marriage laws, coordinating guests' itineraries, and keeping everyone informed via your own wedding website, a destination wedding may seem overwhelming. But with the best support system - that begins with an experienced wedding planner, advises Liv! - marrying at your dream location can come true. "Lots of things will not go according to plan, but make sure you savor every moment with your love," says Liv. "It is all about love."

--Martie Emory

Photography by Laura Gordon

Ceremony & Reception: Chateau de Courtomer

Wedding Planner: Lindsay Moynagh, House of Hannah Events

Gown: Monique Lhuillier

Headpiece & Veil: Liv Hart (livhart.com)

Jewelry: Necklace and bracelet from Tiffany & Co., Enchanted Atelier by Liv Hart earrings and custom ring

Men's Attire: Neiman Marcus

Makeup: Kathryn O'Neill

Reception Dinner & Wedding Cakes: Perrine Desse

Invitations: House of Hannah Events

Flowers: June Hart Flowers, House of Hannah, Gossamer

Videography: Josh Gooden

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