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For a destination wedding, the first night’s get together is a special occasion. Old friends and family are reacquainted after weeks, months and even years of not seeing each other. As bride and groom, it is a real privilege to host such a great occasion.
Whether you are having your wedding at La Vue France, as we did, or elsewhere, this post will provide a few hints and tips, both specific and general, based on our experiences.
The obvious and irreplaceable setting for sunset at La Vue France is the rear of the property. The lawn slopes gently down to the edge of the vineyard; the same view shared by the adjacent on-site gîtes. The vista to the horizon is one of vines, rolling hills, hedgerows and an isolated farmhouse: a welcome treat for the weary traveller.
The barbecue is set-up against the main building and tastefully so. Guests take their plates, peruse the large bowls of bountiful salads, whilst the staff fetch the chosen hot addition of a burger, chicken skewers, etc. from the flames. A white table cloth smartens the occasion, with small flower pots and rustic wooden wine crates providing decorative touches.
Adjacent to the buffet is the bar, offering your agreed selection of wines, beers and spirits. If it is not a free bar, both cash and credit cards are accepted.
Picnic benches and parasols are dotted across the lawn, though may not seat all of your guests. Perhaps reserve a few for those older guests less accustomed or able to sit on the grass.
There is no skimping on the plates, glasses and cutlery. The full formal set used for the wedding breakfast is rolled out on the Friday night, adding to the quality feel of the occasion.
As hosts, we had the following options we could choose from, to serve to our guests:
Playing it safe, we went for the burger and chicken skewers. For those with pre-advised dietary requirements, a separate and tailored hot option was prepared for them at no extra cost.
It was such a luxury to look out and see all our great friends and relatives, eating, drinking and catching-up. Some had not seen each other for years; our parents had not seen some of our school friends for decades and regaled memories of them in their younger, more mischievous days.
Cheers went up as old faces entered the lawn. Big hugs abounded with exclamations, “So good to see you… How long has it been… I know…”
The chipper and smartly dressed staff served the BBQ from 7ish onwards. The sunset was predictably mesmeric, with the background sound track played from La Vue France’s own playlists.
The team at La Vue France spotted that Laura, as blushing bride-to-be, was ensconced in one conversation after another and was not getting a sniff of something to eat. They very kindly put a plate of food together for her and brought it over. A very thoughtful touch.
The event lasted until around 11pm, as people kept their powder dry for the next day.
As organisers-in-chief of the weekend’s festivities, we had to disappear off before the end to sort out some nonsensical hotel admin for our late arriving DJ.
If you are hosting your wedding weekend at La Vue France, or elsewhere, here are a few pointers:
We had 60 guests who were staying off-site and arriving at La Vue France for the first time on the Friday night. Given that it is not immediately clear where the BBQ area is situated, it makes sense to arrange for some ushers and / or obvious signage at the gates to point people in the right direction.
We arranged for a specific welcome drink for everyone – the zesty local, “Cognac Schweppes.” Given that we had pre-paid €600 for this alone, I had imagined it being treated as an occasion: a tray full of chilled sparkling glasses being handed out to guests as they walked in, creating a wonderful first impression and sense of arrival.
Assumption is the mother of confusion, however. As I flitted in and out, delivering lost looking guests from the courtyard, I did not notice the intricately planned welcome drinks making an appearance. I am told they were at the bar, if somebody wanted one. This is where it pays to have either a wedding planner or well briefed ushers who are independently checking the finer details.
A Few Words
Grooms: expect to have to make a short welcome speech to your guests that evening and announce that the BBQ is open, when the bar will close, etc. Perhaps this is obvious but I had not anticipated this and had not prepared anything to say which, in hindsight, was a missed opportunity.
If you are still planning your wedding and costing up various alternatives, the cost of the Friday night BBQ at La Vue France was €15 per person. We did not offer a free bar but did pay for the drinks of our parents and provided the welcome Cognac Schweppes for everyone.
The author and his wife held their wedding reception at La Vue France at their own cost in June 2019.