Neomar & Lindsay Elopement | St Montan, France
Magical wedding in fairytale Provence village
It was a dream email to receive! It said, we’re getting married in Saint-Montan, France, in August of 2021 and we’re looking for a photographer!
My first reaction, was, wow, that sounds awesome! Then, I thought, where in the heck is Saint-Montan? I’d moved to Provence just six months’ before, purchasing a home built in 1763 in the famous Roman and Van Gogh town of Arles, just an hour north of Marseille. I thought I knew the south of France and had traveled around, but realized that not only did I not know much about Provence really (other than it’s pretty), I didn’t realize it was a very large region in France that runs all the way down to the sea.
I also had no idea how many fairytale villages there are in Provence, and spent my entire summer happily exploring and really getting a better understanding.
I was so excited to learn more about Neomar and Lindsay’s wedding! We had our introductory call over Zoom (of course), and I learned that Neomar and Lindsay met the modern way, via a dating site, and their romance grew quickly. So much so that they’re now living happily together in New Jersey with Lindsay’s dog, who she jokes likes Neomar now more than her.
I loved this couple from the start. They were real, down-to-earth, funny, and love each other, it was clear to see. They told me they weren’t very interested in a traditional, bigger wedding and the stress that often comes with an event like this. They were looking for a super meaningful wedding, something they could remember forever and enjoy.
Neomar’s sister lives in Saint-Montan with her French husband. Neomar and Lindsay thought a small elopement in this fairytale village would be perfect. Definitely a wedding that’s very unique and personal!
They’d even rented an amazing Airbnb in the center of the medieval town for their stay, and had planned to get ready for their big day in this beautiful house.
All was set for their summer elopement and I could not wait!. Except, Covid. Still going strong, in its second year, I worried that there would be restrictions again. Thankfully, that didn’t come to pass and Neomar and Lindsay were able to fly to France with no issues. Except one. The airline lost Lindsay’s luggage! Luckily she had her dress and a few small items in her carry on, but this was not the best way to start off. I’d had my luggage lost too once, and it’s no fun, but more stressful when you’re getting married the next day. However, I assured Lindsay that no matter what, the day would be magical.
The wedding day dawned bright and beautiful, and I think I was almost excited as the couple. I took the train about an hour north to Saint-Montan. I love trains in France, it’s really easy and the trains are comfortable. Saint-Montan is really in the middle of nowhere (on a hill), so I had to take a train to the nearest town of Pierrelatte, and then Neomar’s brother-in-law picked me up drove me to the village of Saint-Montan. I really had no idea what to expect, and I’ve seen more than my share of cute villages in Provence. But even this astounded me.
The village wasn’t always as pretty as it is now. It had been slowly decaying due to the ravages of time. Located in the Ardèche region of France, the village has about 1,800 inhabitants. They came together to save the village in the 1970s and restored it to its former glory, and glorious it is! Most of the homes are in stone, and there’s also a castle (which we call a chateau in French). Cute as can be.
We parked in one of the little town squares, as a huge smile appeared on my face. This would be so cool! I met Neomar and Lindsay at their Airbnb rental and was so glad to finally meet them!
My day began by photographing Lindsay and Neomar getting ready. Lindsay was on the terrace, having her hair and makeup done by the splendid Alwin Nogier. I also met Neomar’s sister and mother and the ambience in the house was just fantastic, not to mention the view of the village from the terrace. It truly was magnificent.
Lindsay is blessed with a model’s face, beautiful piercing blue eyes, great skin, full lips and shiny hair. Alwin’s makeup application enhanced Lindsay’s natural beauty. They had decided on a pretty updo with a golden comb to accent it. I photographed the makeup and hair (a very important part of the day), then I grabbed Lindsay’s wedding gown to photograph it. It. Was. Stunning. I could not get over the detail, and became a bit obsessed photographing it while Lindsay was having the finishing touches put on her hair and makeup.
Neomar, being a handsome and put together guy, got ready in no time. I’m always amazed how quickly most men can get ready. He wore a tailored blue suit with a pink tie. His mother was on hand to help with the tie, such a lovely lady, with a big, welcoming smile. After a spritz of some cologne and application of the boutonnière, he was ready to get married!
Neomar went outside, to one of the little cobblestone lanes to wait for the First Look. The First Look has grown in popularity over the years, because it’s the first time the bride and groom are seeing each other with their wedding attire. For most couples, even those with small weddings, even if it’s just the two of them, the First Look is very emotional, and this did not disappoint. Neomar was stunned with how gorgeous Lindsay looked in her flow-y gown, and Lindsay was so happy to see her handsome groom. Tears, indeed, were shed. This is what I love most about weddings, I can literally feel the love in my soul, and being a sensitive person, I often shed some tears as well. It’s such an honor for me to be a part of these moments.
Now, it was time to go to the chapel. As we drove through the mountains to a hilltop town called Larnas, we pulled up to the chapel. I looked at Lindsay, shook my head, and said Girl! I couldn’t help myself, I think I was just as excited as they were. Even though I’ve traveled all around France, I keep finding new and amazing things and keep falling more in love with this country I’ve called home since 2014. Lindsay and Neomar were living a real life fairy tale!
The “chapel” is the Saint-Pierre church, a 12th Romanesque jewel, and a jewel it was! As an American it’s hard to believe that buildings this old still exist, but not only do they exist, but they are beautiful! Neomar and Lindsay were married by Pascal, Neomar’s brother-in-law, and the ceremony was beautiful. It began with some beautiful recorded music and after the vows were said, and the First Kiss over, the First Dance to I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You, by Elvis Presley played. Then, the waterworks started. I could feel myself crying, but I wasn’t the only one, the entire family was crying too.
As a professional English speaking Provence wedding photographer, I of course do my utmost to stay professional and never let my emotions get in the way. But when you combined a newly married couple in love plus a beautiful song like this, and watch them dance for the first time together as husband and wife, how can you keep a dry eye? The tears flowed, but they were tears of joy and happiness for this wonderful couple.
There was also a beautiful tradition at Neomar and Lindsay’s wedding, a tree to which brand new leaves (using ink on the fingers) were applied, signifying the growth of this new family. It was absolutely lovely. After the ceremony, despite it being super sunny by now, we did bridal portraits in the nearby vineyard and around the church.
Wow, I was having the absolute best day with this couple and their family, but the fun wasn’t over yet. We went back to the house for a delicious lunch with salad, bread, rice and chicken, and an apple crumble for dessert. Fortified after lunch, we strolled the cute-as-can-be lanes of Saint-Montan for some picture perfect bridal shots.
The French love love and they love newly married people. Everywhere we went, people wished congratulations and had big smiles of happiness on their faces. Vive les mariés! Congratulations to the newly married couple! It’s so inspiring, being a witness to the start of a family’s life together. Two people who despite all the odds in the world, found each other. Someone to love, to trust, to share with–both the good times and the bad. Yes, I’m a romantic!
Each view in Saint-Montan was more spectacular the the one before it, and I had so much fun photographing the newlyweds. After our amazing wedding portait session, it was time to say au revoir.
I hopped aboard a train back home, flush with emotions. Emotions of thankfulness and gratefulness, that this couple chose me to photograph their wedding in this beautiful places. Thankful for the kindness of their family. Joy at seeing the beginning of the next chapter of their love story. Happiness being in France, and having the opportunity to capture these beautiful people and places with my camera and my vision.
But most of all, the emotion I had was the pure happiness of meeting two extraordinary people like Neomar and Lindsay, and sharing in this very personal and very meaningful day. Thanks to them both, thanks to their families, and I wish them so much happiness and joy in all the years to come!
Before I go, check out Lindsay’s flowers! I thought they were so lovely, only when Neomar told me they were made of wood did I do a double take. Wood?! Yes, the bouquet was from Sola Wood Flowers. It was magnificent and the beauty of it is that these flowers are easy to travel with, didn’t wilt, and Lindsay can have her bouquet forever as a reminder of her special day in France. I love live flowers of course, mostly their scent, but in cases where you’re traveling or maybe when the floral shops are closed, this is an amazing idea!