Real Weddings

A Romantic Winter Wedding in the French Alps

Photography by Rebecca Rees.

In the heart of the French Alps at Val-d’Isère ski resort, a romantic scene unfolded against the backdrop of snow-kissed mountains. Guests were transported on a private gondola, ascending into the night sky to be received at Gemima and Alexander’s winter wedding.

At the 17th-century village church, the ceremony was accented with hand-painted details and opulent gold leaf textures. Modern chandeliers cast a soft, romantic glow, while the altar, embellished with 100 candles and suspending sculptural blooms, set the stage for an intimate gathering.

For the reception, a thousand candles in different heights illuminated three parallel dining tables, creating a magical atmosphere that was unexpectedly minimalist within a French chalet setting.

The wedding was romantically captured by photographer Rebecca Rees.

winter weddings

gemima & alex wedding

gemima & alex wedding

Our Story

Names / Gemima & Alexander

Location / Val-d’Isère, France

Wedding Date / December 9th, 2023

Guest Numbers / 96

How We Met

We were introduced through a mutual friend who we had separately known for years. He suggested Alex and I meet to plan an aprés party for his own wedding in Provence that coming weekend.

Alex arrived at the ‘meeting’ first and was standing at the bar when I walked in. We hadn’t seen each other yet, I’d only seen the back of his head, but something in my stomach just dropped, and in that moment I just knew this was the beginning of forever.

Our Engagement Story

Gemima: Being a diamond specialist and engagement ring designer I thought I was making Alex’s job easy, but he insisted on keeping it a surprise and creating a ring without me. He wanted me to have that moment, which everyone else has when they see their ring for the first time.

After him initially asking what my dream engagement ring would be, and me checking in with my workshop daily to see if any ‘special projects were underway’ he confessed he hadn’t had much luck in sourcing a diamond.

Naturally I thought I’d offer my future husband a helping hand. Sourcing stones is what I specialise in and I’m incredibly particular with all the details surrounding the process.I sourced an Australian champagne diamond and had it cut and shipped to London. Alex came to meet me in the office before a dinner and it just so happened the diamond was there on the table. After realising the stones he had been shown previously hadn’t come close, he agreed he couldn’t do it without me and we acquired the diamond together. But fast forward another six months… and still no ring…

Alex: After covid we had a few rescheduled trips to take. One weekend was spent exploring Paris, hopping from bistro to bar and in my mind, finding the perfect spot to propose. After scootering into the Cimetière du Père-Lachaise (a beautiful grand garden cemetery) I thought I’d found the perfect place. Ready, nervous and full of excitement I had the perfect one liner, “till death do us part”, but the moment passed and the ring stayed firmly in my pocket.

Lunch presented little option for a plan B and with the afternoon quickly vanishing we headed back out into Paris for an afternoon stroll. Little did Gemima know I had booked a Riva speedboat to take us on a champagne cruise on the Seine at four o’clock; so time really was running out.

Luckily, after hurrying around some back streets looking for a quiet spot, Pont Neuf appeared (Paris’ oldest bridge) and the moment presented itself. Although Gemima sourced the diamond months ago and I’d secretly used her workshop for all the craftsmanship, the moment thankfully came as a complete surprise. In the end it was perfectly unplanned and made it so special.

What we love most about each other…

The moment we met, there was an instant connection of knowing and belonging to one another, it’s never been questioned. The security and loyalty we have for each other is our strongest asset. We are both highly driven and support each other’s dreams no matter how wild they are.

winter wedding

winter weddings

The Setting

 

Wedding Location

Our wedding was celebrated over three days in the most ‘Alex and Gemima’ way possible. We live quite untraditional lives professionally and this creeps into our personal life often. So when deciding on a wedding location, the challenge of creating a magical weekend for 100 of our dearest in the famous ski resort of Val D’isere felt like just the excitement we were looking for. We always knew we wanted to do something untraditional and a wedding in a ski resort was pretty unheard of .

The centre of our wedding was hosted at La Mourra, a Japanese-Chalet Style hotel which we exclusively took over for the weekend. We had visited a few times before so knew we loved the venues laidback hosting style and their attention to detail.

Arriving in the resort on Friday afternoon, our guests checked in before a welcome drink in the cosy bar. After travelling all day, we were determined to ‘wow’ our guests on night one and kept the details a secret. After ushering guests across the snowy piste we stopped at the foot of the famous ski run, Le face, and guests were greeted by butlers (in St Moritz style) with trays of miniature Laurent Perrier champagne, and left wondering whats happening next.

A private gondola service, which is normally closed in the evening, whisked guests up into the night’s sky, looking back down to Val D’isere which due to the floodlights from the upcoming World Cup ski race the following day, looked particularly spectacular. After a 10 minute ride we had arrived at the top of the mountain and under an incredible clear night sky of stars we walked to La Refuge, where we hosted a welcome dinner at the one of a kind Gigi restaurant; a Parisian fashionista’s favourite.

Guests chose between a Gemima Margarita, or an Alexander Negroni before being seated for a family style Italian dinner of artichoke, truffle pasta, chicken Cordon Bleu, and chocolate heart shaped waffles. After dinner we descended via Gondola, before an impromptu toffee vodka nightcap in town.

On the wedding day we woke to an incredibly romantic white blanket of fresh powder and thick falling snow. Alex and I had stayed in separate chalets the night before, so that morning it felt a bit like a James Bond mission; running around the venues trying to avoid one another, nipping into different chalets arranging last minute details that we both wanted to keep secret. At one point my bridesmaids and I were in the lift as the doors opened to the grooms party leaving for a morning ski. Luckily we didn’t see each other but hearing his voice made me burst into tears with excitement.

Alex and his groomsmen went skiing and for a mountain lunch; while the bridesmaids and I got ready with pizzas and lychee martinis.

Hosted at the village church which dates to the 17th century, we chose the venue as it allowed us to choose our own celebrant and keep cherished untraditional elements such as the music choices.

After the ceremony we exited down a rather wet aisle, due to the heavy snow outside and took shelter in a friends’ art gallery (Gallerie Jane Griffiths) just across the street, where we enjoyed champagne before walking back through the snowy back-streets to La Mourra.

While our guests had been in the church the team in the hotel transformed the dining room into my dream come true. A thousand candles lit the room, with curtains of fairy lights separating the dining and party areas, where otherworldly giant silver disco balls hung above the dance floor. The romance filled every inch of the room, from the tablescaping to the background music it was perfect.

We danced into the room with a surprise saxophonist and drummer to accompany the DJ, before we sat guests sat down to a six course Japanese meal which included our favourite dishes: Black Cod, and Lamb Furikake.

The speeches took place throughout the meal, starting with my father. This speech was highly anticipated and had everyone in stitches. Alex stood up and the room went silent, his speech had everyone crying as he brought up the love his grandparents shared and the uniqueness of his and Gemima’s love via lessons learnt from my favourite book, ‘The Great Gatsby’. The best man, the groom’s brother, delivered a speech of stitches and horror, with a particularly well choreographed joke featuring photographs from the groom’s childhood under everyone’s chair. This set the tone for the dance floor shortly after, fun, out there and definitely no holding back.

Day three of the wedding saw the guests return to the mountain for a group ski; the sun was out and the power was fresh. A truly idyllic day, which focused on a recovery lunch at the infamous La Folie Douce. The couple entertained guests with aerial ribbon dancers and the signature ‘Folie’ entertainers. Outrageous dance moves, mountains of rose and family performances followed as the afternoons ‘party animals’ theme made for a joyous experience.

Guests left the resort the following morning on private transfers back to Geneva, bidding farewell to a weekend that we hope will go down in their history books.

winter weddings

Aesthetic

Romantically elegant, deeply personal infused with sophisticated details.

Throughout our wedding we chose to work without incredibly talented family and friends instead of traditional bridal vendors, this greatly added to the originality and personality of the weekend.

Gemima: My bridesmaids and I had a very relaxing morning getting ready together in the bridal suite. My oldest school friend who is a wonderful make up artist, did all our hair and make up including my mother and mother in law! I booked myself for a facial in the hotel’s spa, a Susanne Kaufmann signature treatment so I could take a moment to myself.

Alex: After a few jobs and checking on suppliers I went skiing with my groomsmen and a few friends. It was important for me to be doing something rather than sitting around getting nervous. My dream had always been to have a ‘ski in ski out’ wedding and I was certainly not going to miss the opportunity to ski on my wedding day.

We had a great morning on the slopes, followed by a mountain lunch in a favourite restaurant before heading back to get ready with my family.

Photography

Gemima: Photography was highly debated in our house when we started planning. The importance of tone was something I wasn’t prepared to negotiate on.

I had a couple of photographers I’d worked with through my own brand, so initially wanted to stay loyal and work with them, but timings didn’t work out and it was only two months before the wedding when Rebecca and I connected on Instagram. From seeing how she presented her work and the creative layout of her feed I was drawn into her editing style and presentation.

Her eye for romantic details and flash photography spoke to both Alex and I. We met and she made us both feel incredibly relaxed and calm, capable of capturing moments rather than check lists of staged shots.

Videography

We worked with the incredible EnVouge media team and Bridal Diaries throughout the weekend. EnVogue weren’t the typical wedding videographers, they brought specialist ski racing drones and cameras to capture the incredible settings and mountainscapes. They were skiing down the mountain while filming it was incredible.

Bridal Diaries is a dynamic duo of ‘content creators’ who captured the partying over the three days. We chose not to have a photo booth as we wanted to do something more original. We asked them to photograph guests’ dance moves on the wedding night so we could have the images flicking though on big screens at lunch the next day. It was such a fun detail which all the guests thoroughly enjoyed!

winter weddings

Style Notes

 

Ceremony Décor

The church in Val d’isere was built in 1664, with hand painted details throughout and adorning gold leaf texture. Modern chandeliers added a low romantic tone, while 100 candles decorated the floor of the altar where we took our seats. Throughout the ceremony, we focused on the atmosphere via music and lighting, letting the venue do the work, rather than overcomplicating with decor.

Reception Décor

Inside the modern decor of La Mourras’ ‘Chalet – Japandi’ restaurant we had a thousand candles lined elegantly along three parallel dining tables. We wanted the room to speak for itself, so again kept the decor minimalist and clean. The elegant tables took centre stage with white tablecloths, white bistro chairs, white china and handmade heart shaped bowls for the soy sauce. To bring a personal touch, we created bespoke engraved chopsticks and each guest discovered a personal poem to them, which took me six months to write, time incredibly well spent!

winter weddings

“We always knew we wanted to do something untraditional and a wedding in a ski resort was pretty unheard of.”

winter weddings

Wedding Planner & Stylist

We chose to be in control of every detail of our wedding, from the designing of invitations and stationary, to transport and tastings. La Mourra and the team were exceptional and couldn’t have done any more for us. Every request we made, they made our dreams come true.

Closer to the wedding we hired an event coordinator to work with us leading up to and over the weekend to manage logistics and timings between venues, suppliers and guests. This allowed us to fully relax knowing we had a true professional to bring it all together.

Flowers

We were lucky to have a florist in our family, Alex’s mother, who wanted to create an installation for the church as a gift for us. It was a cascading arrangement suspended over the altar of white Avalanche Roses, Eustoma Alissa, Baby blue eucalyptus, Guardian Delhinium, Magnum Chrysanthemums and baby breath.

Our bouquets were long stem avalanche roses and scatterings of baby breath.

winter weddings

Stationery

Unfortunately we were let down by a stationary company twice, which led to some very last minute changes! We ended up designing everything ourself using Canva and having them printed with Mount Street Printers and an online service (printed.com) which I’d highly recommend.

Favors/Bonbonniere

On our guests’ arrival we gifted everyone a welcome bag filled with treats. From essential hand warmers and lip balm, to toffee vodka and recovery gold face masks. Whilst enjoying the contents guests could also read our wedding magazine which Alex and I had great fun creating together, filled with stories of

our experiences from Val d’isere and top tips on where to visit in the resort, it featured submissions from multiple guests and was a great conversation starter throughout the weekend.

Cake

The unbelievable head chef at La Mourra created a giant 100 person heart shaped raspberry tart. This was a direct nod to my childhood in the resort, as every time I visited Val d’Isere I would have a raspberry tart from the boulangerie in town. So much so, it became a joke that we were going skiing just for the raspberry tarts.

Food & Beverages

The meal for our wedding breakfast was a celebration of all our favourite dishes from the restaurant. We really wanted our guests to experience why we fell in love with La Mourra and wanted a banquet served family style as much as possible.

The first course was a sprawling display of cold sushi, king crab, ceviche and yellow tail tirado, followed by hot sushi, tempura pieces and gyozas. Next, a selection of sushi rolls followed by the main course Which guests chose from black miso cold or lamb furikake. For Dessert we chose a palette cleansing mochi followed by the wedding ‘cake’.

winter weddings

winter weddings

Fashion & Beauty Notes

 

Bride’s Dress & Shoes

I designed my wedding dress back in June and worked with Emma Beaumont and her team to bring the vision to life. It was handcrafted in a heavyweight satin back crepe to keep me warm, with fine silk georgette creating subtle pleated details around the hips and the back of the dress. My veil I wanted to have fun with so chose a heavy fabric full of sparkling glitter, the pattern was almost mountain-like.

I wore white satin pointed Jimmy Choo shoes in the church and swapped into blue suede Aquazzura Allure heels after dinner with my Ralph & Russo ostrich feather party dress.

Wedding Rings, Jewelry & Accessories

I designed and crafted both our wedding rings, which were entirely bespoke. Alex’s ring is a solid yellow gold classic band, with one side of encrusted black diamonds. Mine is a jacket which surrounds my engagement ring.Crafted in rose gold with a pave set band, two heart cut diamonds ‘surround the centre stone with love’ for eternity.

The entire wedding was infused with jewellery details. Both Alex and I wore Jasper gemstones on Friday evening as a nod to our dog by the same name, who was left at home because of the forecasted extreme cold temperatures!

For the wedding day, I created a bespoke setting for a 9ct heart shape blue sapphire, which is my birthstone. Emma stitched it onto the back of my wedding dress as my something-blue. My something-old was also jewellery, an incredibly sentimental piece, a single cufflink of my late grandfathers. Alex’s cufflinks were white gold and mother of pearl inlay as the button holes.

Gemstones also made their way to the wedding table at dinner, where we had Jasper gemstone chopstick holders, and a scattering of rose and rock crystals down the tables.

In Alex’s speech there was a moment when he asked anyone wearing a piece of Gemima jewellery to stand up, of which nearly half the guests in attendance rose to. I believe jewellery is so sentimental and in that moment I was flooded with emotions, remembering the unique journey of each piece and the love which went into crafting them.

Hair & Makeup

I didn’t want to feel unlike myself on the wedding day so we kept my make up very neutral. We created a Victoria Beckham subtle smokey eye over Hourglass foundation and blush.
I wore my hair in a ballerina bun for the ceremony and after dinner let it down. My veil was extremely heavy so the bun created support as well as looking chic and minimalist, and hiding my tears of excitement as I walked down the aisle!

Groom’s Attire

Alex wore a bespoke cream dinner jacket with ivory lapels and classic black trousers from Gieves & Hawkes, Savile Row, London. Paired with black timberland boots, like all the groomsmen, so they were fully equipped for the snowy walk to the church.

winter weddings

The Details

 

Transport

Our guests walked through the old town to the church and it created probably one of the most iconic photographs from the weekend, as the snow was falling all these red umbrellas came out creating a postcard moment.

Honeymoon

We stayed in the resort for a few days but unfortunately a blizzard blew in so we didn’t get much skiing in as husband and wife! Later this year we will do a road trip across our favourite places in France and Switzerland, revisiting The Alps.

winter weddings

winter weddings

Wedding Songs

Gemima:
Music was one of the most memorable aspects of the wedding; I find I am deeply effected by music. It has the power to inspire me and change my mood instantly, so it was highly important to take the time to curate the right atmosphere.

While guests arrived in the church we wanted them to feel a sense of drama and anticipation. We created a playlist of music that was meaningful to us including songs like, Craig Armstrong, André Rieu, David Arnold and Hans Zimmer.

I walked into a Royal Philharmonic Orchestra version of our first dance which was a surprise to everyone; Dario G – Sunchyme, a track that would appear frequently throughout the weekend and became ‘the soundtrack’ which everyone has played since.

During our service we sang songs not hymns, and chose two uplifting pieces which were a risk, one of our family friends gallantly played the organ and we didn’t have anyone professional leading us singing, so timing was interesting, but our guests were laughing and singing throughout. Its a moment I will hold close forever more.

We sand Let there Be Love by Nat King Cole and Can you feel like love tonight by Elton John.

We left as husband and wife to another version of Sunchyme, an acapella piece adding a choir-like effect to the end of the ceremony. Before finally this song made a third appearance at our first dance where the more popular version was played.

Entertainment

During the dinner we had La Mourra’s background music playing, an Ibizan hum of dance and jazz music. After the dinner, and as if from nowhere, we were joined on the table by our saxophonist, drummer and singer to start an incredibly wild party.

Celebrant

Our celebrant was Alex’s oldest friend, having known each other since the age of three. He created his own service, adding a deeply personal aspect to the proceeding and creating a sincere but lighthearted atmosphere where laughs and tears were plentiful.

We would highly recommend choosing someone you know. It makes you feel comfortable in a moment where all eyes are on you and in a moment which changes your life forever, you have another person to cherish in the memories with.

Readings

One of our bridesmaids read ‘Love Is Like Owning a Dog’. Again she changed some words to personalise the reading to our unique history and journey. Following which, Alex’s Uncle read a quote from the Great Gatsby which later in the evening, acted as a foreword to the emotional toast which concluded Alex’s groom’s speech.

winter weddings

winter weddings

“We had a thousand candles lined elegantly along three parallel dining tables. We wanted the room to speak for itself, so again, we kept the decor minimalist and clean.”

Our Advice

 

A memorable moment…

Our music will stay with us forever, hearing the pieces we chose with all our friends and family around us will affect us forever more, every time our song plays it will ignite how we felt in that moment.

One thing I wish I knew before I started my wedding plans…

Gemima: Don’t follow any rules, It’s your day and everything should be reflective of you as a couple. If you don’t like traditions, remove them, create your own.

Alex: Always be mindful of what your guests are doing and how long they’re waiting. As the bride and groom you’ll always be busy so we were conscious to pay as much attention to our guests schedule and ensure there wasn’t any waiting around for them.

Sources of inspiration…

Gemima: My brides who I’d created rings for in the past were a huge inspiration. They gave me countless pieces of advice from their weddings, which helped us create a detailed running order of our weekend.

Pinterest, obviously becomes a bible for reference photos but we looked more towards hospitality event styling than weddings as we wanted to keep everything sophisticated and refined. One shout out would be to Jo from Lane Productions in Mallorca. Even though we didn’t work together she was a huge inspiration and gave us so much advice.

Our Contacts

 

Wedding Venue / La Mourra Val d’Isere, Gigi La Refuge & La Follie Douce

Photography / Rebecca Rees

Second Photographer / Emily Rose

Videography / EnVogue Media & Bridal Diaries

Bride’s Dress / Emma Beaumont, Ralph and Russo & Emilia Wickstead

Bride’s Shoes / Jimmy ChooAquazzura & YSL

Groomswear / Gieves and Hawks London

Wedding Rings / Gemima

Hair / Lydia London Hair

Makeup / Lydia London Mua

Stationery / Gemima x Mount Street Printers & Printed

Cake / La Mourra Val d’Isere

Catering / La Mourra Val d’Isere

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