Biarritz Destination Wedding
2nd september // france
Eddie & Yulia
Situated in the French Basque Country, Biarritz is a special place to get hitched. For Edward and Yulia, it was the perfect half way point for families spread across two continents.
Destination wedding photography usually requires some extra forethought. I flew in the day before and went down to the beach to get the tide times for the next day. Having befriended some very cool surfers and found a few good portrait spots that would be clear of the scheduled high tide, I checked out the church before dinner. My timing was perfect as Edward and Yulia were just finishing their rehearsals! I got to meet their friends and family who shared their favourite restaurant tips. Everyone was delightful and I was thoroughly looking forward to the big day.
When I first met to chat things through with Edward and Yulia in London, they enthusiastically showed me pictures of Sainte-Eugénie church and La Grande Plage. I knew I’d have my work cut out to do the fabulous scenery justice. Fortunately, Yulia was particularly excited to take time out for a walkabout after their Biarritz destination wedding. Newlyweds often tell me the portraits are the one part of the day they get to slow down and take stock, particularly when there’s a glass of champagne at hand. I popped down the day before and chatted to the surfers about tide times. Unfortunately it was high tide immediately after Edward and Yulia's wedding ceremony and so shots on the beach weren't possible. In any case, sand isn't particularly wedding dress friendly!
Next stop, Château de Brindos. The tranquil lakeside setting played host to the reception and bouquet throwing. With everyone installed in their rooms, the guests were relaxed and thoroughly ready to let their hair down. Speeches in French, English and Russian were accompanied with humorous translations and the food was exquisite, as were the floral decorations by Orchis.
Negotiations with the local airport had resulted in a short window for some surprise fireworks and no time was wasted to put on a spectacular show. The Chip Shop Boys had also flown out from the UK and played into the wee small hours with gusto.
I retired to my room in the wee small hours and spent the last of my energy exploring the photos. Destination wedding photography is a real treat!
Sainte-Eugénie Church & La Grande Plage
The Church of Saint Eugénie, 64200 Biarritz, France was named after Saint Eugenia, the patron saint of Napoléon III's wife. The Romanesque-Byzantine style chapel was inaugurated in 1856 with a maxi celebrated by the Imperial Family. The larger Gothic church was constructed in 1884 under the stewardship of Father Gaston Larre.
Overlooking the old port (Port Vieux) the grey stone neo-Gothic church strikes fills an imposing position along the Biarritz coastline. It makes for a great backdrop and secondary focal point when viewed from the Rocher du Basta which is reach by a stone footbridge. It offers sweeping views of the city and the Bay of Biscay. The church is open all year round.
It's worth noting that the area is a popular tourist hotspot and so it's not always possible to catch shots without having a few unwitting photo bombers! There's always photoshop and I'm usually able to do some minor additional work to remove unwanted strangers from the background. However, I often think having a few shots with characters unrelated to the wedding actually add a lovely sense of time and place.
Chateau De Brindos
The Chateau de Brindos and legendary private Lake nestled in an bucolic rural setting just over 6km inland from Sainte-Eugénie. A tribute to the Basque Country history, this magical Chateau is a perfect place for a very private French destination wedding. The intimate lake view cocoons and floating lodges give a luxurious experience. The dining area is surrounded by fantastical pontoons, creating a relaxed lounge atmosphere. An ideal spot for exception cocktails on the tree-lined terrace. The warmth of the friendly staff is a recipe for delightful memories. The head chef insisted I try some of the delicious wines during the wedding breakfast! It's called 'The Millésime way of life' apparently!
Biarritz Destination Weddings
I've been lucky enough to have enjoyed the hospitality of one my dearest friends in the Basque Country on the Spanish side. Biaritzz was my first experience of the French Basque Country and it is every bit its equal. Originally fashioned by Eugénie de Montijo as a health and holiday resort in the mid-19th century. More famous now as a major surfing destination and gastronomy centre, this elegant city also has acclaimed beaches and golf courses. Half ritzy coastal resort and half hang-out for summer surfer. For contemporary art hounds, La Brouillarta is an annual outdoor art fair on the seafront. It's a glamorous getaway spot with heritage listed residences which glitter along the seafront. Try out La Goulue for traditional local Basque fare.