Ingrid Colmer - Interview for Virtual Bunch
Ingrid Colmer is a half French, half Mexican individual who has been living in Guernsey for the past 13 years. Together with her husband James Colmer, she is the co-founder of Chateau Bee Selection, a company that offers handpicked wedding venues in France.

After their own wedding in Brittany, she discovered a deep passion for all things weddings. She pursued formal training with the UK Academy of Wedding Planning and Styling and subsequently worked as a wedding planner for several years. Following the birth of her son, she stepped back from wedding planning but remained committed to assisting couples worldwide in finding their dream French venue.

During our conversation, we discovered how she selects venues for weddings, explored the latest trends in destination weddings, and uncovered her favorite spots for relaxation in Guernsey.

Can you give us some insight into your background? How the idea of Chateau Bee Selection came about?

We got married in 2013 at a characterful French château in Brittany, in France. It was an unforgettable event that brought together loved ones from various aspects of our lives for a multi-day celebration. Upon returning to Guernsey, we were inspired to share our top picks for wedding venues in Brittany with other engaged couples in the Channel Islands. At that time I was working for the legal department of a trust company so this was a complete change of environment.

What inspired you to focus specifically on French wedding venues?

Initially, our primary goal was to highlight the finest wedding venues in Brittany and Normandy, ones we had personally visited to ensure they were of the highest standard. Our intention at that time was to compile a concise directory tailored for residents of the Channel Islands. Fast forward eight years, and we’ve evolved into a global directory, with our main clientele now being…British and American!

Ingrid and James Colmer - Founders of Chateau Bee Selection, photo credit: Ingrid Colmer

Ingrid and James Colmer – Founders of Chateau Bee Selection, photo credit: Ingrid Colmer

What challenges did you face when planning a wedding abroad, and how did it shape your approach to helping others?

The first challenge, that inspired us to create Chateau Bee, was the difficulty of finding the perfect venue in France, as the options varied widely. Also despite being French, I found that planning a wedding in France—or any (destination) wedding—is no small task. It’s incredibly time-consuming, and success heavily relies on the responsiveness and helpfulness of the owners and suppliers.

Additionally, language barriers can pose a problem, as not all may speak English. This experience taught us that beyond the high quality of a venue, the friendliness and supportiveness of the owner are equally important.

In your opinion what makes Chateau Bee Selection stand out in the market for chateau weddings?

What truly sets Chateau Bee apart is the fact that we select the venues we work with. So only chateaux with soul, personality, and that all-important wow factor make the cut. In other terms, we have created a readymade shortlist for time-short couples to peruse.

Photo credit: Ingrid Colmer, Chateau Bee Selection

Photo credit: Ingrid Colmer, Chateau Bee Selection

We are curious to know what criteria do you use to select venues?

For us, the most crucial aspect is the quality of the interiors. While all châteaux appear stunning from the outside, the interior quality can differ significantly. We prioritise châteaux that offer on-site accommodation, are conveniently located near airports, and—crucially—have transparent pricing structures and welcoming owners. One might assume these are standard, but our experiences touring venues have sometimes been colourful, including encounters with highly inebriated owners!

Have you noticed any emerging trends in destination weddings, especially in the context of French venues?

Absolutely, we’ve observed a significant shift in the destination wedding market, where there’s a growing preference for quality over quantity. Consequently, micro weddings have become increasingly popular. In these intimate gatherings, couples invite fewer guests, allowing for a greater focus on high-end decorations, eco-friendly options, and potentially, premium activities surrounding the wedding day.

Additionally, sustainable weddings are on the rise. An increasing number of couples are selecting venues known for their eco-friendly practices and commitments, reflecting a broader trend towards environmental responsibility in celebrations.

Photo credit: Ingrid Colmer, Chateau Bee Selection

Photo credit: Ingrid Colmer, Chateau Bee Selection

What advice do you have for couples considering a destination wedding in France?

The first step is to determine your budget and identify your shared priorities. In an era dominated by social media and the quest for Instagram-worthy photos, it’s easy to get caught up in aesthetics and lose sight of what truly matters. For example, before diving into flower moodboards, it’s essential to have a conversation about your ideal venue, including its location, accommodation capacity, and any curfew restrictions.

Then, approach your budget with realism. On our website, we strive to provide comprehensive information so you can immediately ascertain whether a venue fits your financial parameters. Remember, pursuing perfection isn’t the goal. Staying true to yourselves, enjoying the planning process, and looking forward to celebrating one of the most joyous occasions of your life with loved ones is what truly matters.

Please can you share with us what does your typical working day look like?

Running an online business offers great flexibility with my schedule, allowing me to work around my son’s school hours. Typically, I work from home while he’s at school and take the afternoons off to spend time with him.

There was a period when I would work late into the evenings after he had gone to bed, equating time spent working with the company’s success. However, I’ve since realised the importance of taking breaks for the overall benefit of the business. Learning to delegate tasks and carving out time for relaxation has proven invaluable.

It provides the mental space needed to craft a broader vision for the company and generate new ideas, rather than being bogged down by daily tasks. Nowadays, I consciously reserve time for myself to simply “do nothing,” which, admittedly, doesn’t come that easily to me!

What do you appreciate the most about your own business?

What I treasure most, besides the reward of seeing an idea turn into a reality, is the unparalleled freedom it provides— the ability to do as I please, when I please, and from any location.

This level of freedom is a luxury I hold dear. It’s important to me that Chateau Bee’s team members enjoy the same liberty, allowing them to work from wherever they find themselves. The Covid years sparked a shift in thinking regarding workplace flexibility, yet many employers remain hesitant to move away from the traditional, rigid office setup.

If the nature of the job permits, I think employees should have the autonomy to work in ways that best suit their personal rhythms and life commitments as ultimately that results in an increased productivity and a happier work environment.

Photo credit: Ingrid Colmer

Photo credit: Ingrid Colmer

When you need to relax and recharge in Guernsey, where do you like to go?

My husband James, being a painter at, means we often spend our time exploring and contemplating landscapes that would make for beautiful paintings. I also love foraging for plants and have a new interest for edible mushrooms. As soon as the warmth of the sun fills the air, we go for a dip and a drink at Moulin Huet on the South Coast or at Vazon on the West coast.

I’m not very good with the damp winters in Guernsey but I do love the spring and summer seasons where the vegetation is in bloom and we can spend long afternoons at the beach. It really is priceless and the best way to relax.

What are your favourite places for lunch and coffee in Guernsey?

We love to grab a quick lunch at Fukku, a Japanese street food eatery in the heart of the town. Whenever we go to the library with my son, we also stop at Mylk for a crepe and a milkshake. You will find us very often having a coffee at our local pub / restaurant, Les Douvres and at Vistas, on Vazon coast. The kiosks around the islands are wonderful too to get some fresh crab salads or sandwiches in the summer.

Planning a wedding in France? Don’t hesitate to reach out to Ingrid in order to find out more details. Visit her website or Instagram account @thechateaubee