Documentary wedding photography at Château Soutard in France
A wedding in France for Kirsty and Ben. At the Château Soutard, on the edge of St Emilion, in the Gironde department in Aquitaine-Limousin-Poitou-Charentes in south-western France. (Bit of a mouthful!) If you’ve heard of the Dordogne region – to the left a bit… A short distance from Bordeaux – in wine country. Real wine country. The Romans started planting vineyards on this limestone plateau in the second century. The village changed its name to St Emilion, after a monk who lived in hermitage, carved into the rock here, in the 8th century. More monks followed him, as did sainthood and with the monks came real commercial wine production. The area is now a UNESCO world heritage site. A historical vineyard landscape. For a couple with a shared interest in good food and wine, it was the ideal location to hold a wedding with family and friends. Despite Brexit, the UK came over to Europe.
Château Soutard – Grand Cru Classé
Built in the mid-1700s, the Château has been modernized in recent years. It actually doesn’t look its age. It sits proudly on the edge of the village. A flat landscape that dips away in the twisty medieval streets of St Emilion. Just down the road, Kirsty got ready with family and friends at a chic B&B. A short walk, but not short enough in the afternoon heat. Kirsty would arrive by car. Meanwhile Ben was greeting guests in the shade, at the rear of the château, before they all made their way across the courtyard, over to the Vat Room. This was the unique space where the humanist ceremony was to be held. Late afternoon but still fiercely bright outside. I believe the Vats were empty?!
The reception was in the walled garden – everyone drifting towards the shade as time went on. Oysters and Foie Gras. As the temperature dipped a smidgen, not much really, over to the Barrel Room for the meal and speeches. A windowless room.
The Sun does not care about the timetable
Sunset portraits. One of the oddest things about weddings can be that the light is at it’s best when everyone is inside eating. The day was cloudless, the sky a deep blue. The landscape was flat – every reason to expect the sun to rake across the vineyards late in the evening. The question was where and when? Now, this isn’t documentary – it’s portraits. But neither is it photoshop effects. It’s a question of getting the timing and location right, for the low, warm light. Catching that light skimming across the vines. Then letting that glow hit the sensor. Having flown in the evening before (delayed flight and a 40-minute queue at the car hire desk – thanks Europcar!). I said hello to Kirsty and Ben, as they had drinks with their friends (first time we’d met) and then spent the evening, after a quick beer and a burger, wandering around the local countryside, trying to gauge when that moment would be? Often this sort of thing upsets caterers. The wedding planner, Nicole, didn’t seem at all keen at first – as ‘service would stop’. But if a couple is keen – it’s just a few minutes outside….. You can’t ask the Sun to just wait five minutes, but frankly, you can ask a chef! (He may swear a bit…) Seems worth it to me?
This was a warm wedding in SW France and I don’t just mean the weather.
Here are a few images from the day at Château Soutard…
Destination weddings – happy to quote for weddings abroad and in somewhere unique!
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