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This Couple Tied The Knot at a French Chateau They Found on Airbnb

By Patricia Garcia | Photography by 

Janine Licare Photography

“We fell in love while working in the trenches of high stakes litigation consulting,” explains Rusi Yan, of how she met her husband Bryan Jessop. The San Francisco-based couple were together for six years before they got engaged after Bryan proposed one Friday night at home. “Bryan had laid a path of flower petals to the proposal site, which our beloved cat had eaten,” Rusi remembers. “It required some steering on Bryan’s part to get me into the right room, which he had decorated as a romantic indoor forest, where he got down on one knee.”

For a while, the two had joked about having a destination wedding, but once they became engaged they realized it was a real possibility they could explore. “We really wanted a place where we could relax and spend time with friends and family outside of the actual wedding day,” Rusi says. “We loved the vibe (and food!) in previous visits to southern France, so we looked for a country chateau near our favorite city, Toulouse.” They ended up finding the perfect spot on Airbnb, which could easily double as a wedding venue and a place to house their small group of guests. With the date set for late June, the couple started planning their wedding themselves, making long distance calls to vendors and coordinating much of the event over email. “It was a good test for our French, but the time difference was definitely a challenge,” she admits.

Rusi was set on wearing a colorful ballgown for her wedding day, but after trying on a few different options, she decided that the best course of action would be to have a dress custom made. “The embroidered tulle and blue floral design of my dress was perfect for the French countryside venue,” she says. For accessories, she wore earrings made of golden South Sea pearls set by Bryan’s father, a jeweler who also created her engagement ring and the couple’s wedding rings. Bryan, meanwhile, wore a Hugo Boss tuxedo with a shawl collar.

On a midsummer’s afternoon in June, Rusi and Bryan tied the knot under an archway adorned with flowers foraged from the grounds at their rented French chateau. “One of the people who tends to the property is also an independent florist and she gathered all the flowers from the wilderness nearby,” Rusi explains. “She designed the bouquets, boutonnieres, and flower crowns as well.” Bryan’s stepfather officiated the couple’s ceremony and they each wrote their own vows, which Rusi admits made her quite emotional: “I’m the kind of person who can keep it together in any situation, but I started crying as soon as we started reading our vows.”

After the ceremony was over, guests enjoyed drinks and dinner, which included foie gras with poached pear, filet of St. Pierre, roasted ducked and Tournedos Rossini. “The caterer also provided a champagne tower, which we had a lot of fun pouring ourselves!” the bride adds. But that wasn’t the only alcohol being served. “My parents brought a Chinese liquor traditionally served at major celebrations, known colloquially as fire water, because of how much it burns going down,” Rusi explains. “Seeing everyone’s reactions as we toasted at each table was so precious and memorable.”

For their musical entertainment, the newlyweds admit it was hard finding a band from California who could perform in the French countryside, but they managed to hire a British cover band/DJ duo called Truly Medley Deeply, which ended up throwing a great party. “I particularly enjoyed dancing to their 90s one-hit wonders medley,” Bryan says. For their first dance, they chose Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love.”

As is the case at most weddings with a swimming pool nearby, at the end of the evening, a few friends couldn’t help but jump in for a nighttime swim. But Rusi and Bryan skipped the dip and instead headed to their room, which had been adorned with rose petals by their friends, and the two later set off to their honeymoon in Corsica, which they called “an absolutely perfect romantic getaway.”