Step back in time for a beautiful showcase of timeless elegance in an english country garden, at the gorgeous Boconnoc House in Cornwall no less. Executed to perfection by a wealth of talent including stylist Alex Holyer of On Serpentine Shores, The Garden Gate Flower Company and Peboryon cakes. And captured to perfection for your swooning and pinning pleasure by Debs Alexander.
Debs Ivelja: Drawing on inspiration of the English Victorian era and the story of Dorothy Fortesce who lived at beautiful Boconnoc House in Cornwall, England we created an inspired shoot that was rooted in the history of Boconnoc House and drawing from the natural botanicals of the Dorothy Garden. Working alongside talented local Cornwall and Devon suppliers to showcase the beauty of an outdoor ceremony in the Dorothy Garden, now sanctioned for marriages and the romantic setting of a sunken Georgian Bathhouse that sits within the grounds of Boconnoc House.

English Garden Wedding in Cornwall

Our story takes place in the grounds of Boconnoc, a breath-taking country estate set in the rolling countryside in south-west England in Cornwall, famed for its picturesque countryside, quaint seaside towns, and stunning beaches. Boconnoc lies in acres of beautiful countryside, with Boconnoc House at the heart. The estate is steeped in years of history and as a result, has many a story to tell. This particular styled shoot was inspired by just one of those fascinating stories, the story of Dorothy Fortescue. Dorothy Fortescue (nee Hoste) married John Bevill Fortescue in 1891 at St Paul’s, Knightsbridge. Shortly after their honeymoon they returned to live at Boconnoc where they spent a large majority of their time and during which, a garden at Boconnoc was created and named after Dorothy. Towards the end of the main drive to Boconnoc House sits the Dorothy Garden, a quintessentially English country garden, bursting with roses, magnolias, lush green grass, an ornate fountain and now a magnificent wedding arbour. This was the setting for our beautiful styled shoot. This magical setting has recently been licenced for civil ceremonies, a unique little slice of heaven, tucked away in a secluded, private English estate. Inspired by the story of Dorothy and Bevill, the shoot team came together to bring alive aspects of the era in a spectacular setting. Staying true to the period, the team set about incorporating details, elements and suppliers that would compliment and enhance the natural beauty of the situation with all suppliers local to Cornwall.

Wedding Photographer & Stylist

Boconnoc worked closely with the photographer Debs Alexander, an incredibly talented professional specialising in beautiful real images that have a story to tell and also with stylist Alex Holyer of On Serpentine Shores. Alex’s philosophy is a slow and simple one, she is inspired by the seasons and natural world, her work is always organic in aesthetics. Together the team had a shared vision to concentrate on the natural elements of the setting; with a strong focus on the historical aspects of the estate, the Victorian era, and touching on botanicals, hedgerows, English flowers and nature.

Whimsical Wedding Stationery

In keeping with the themes of the shoot the clever team from Sincerely May created a whimsical stationery collection that included strong elements of calligraphy and botanical florals; very much to the taste of a Victorian lady. Teamed with dainty hedgerow flowers hand-picked by the stylist from the estate and loose cotton reels by Lancaster and Cornish it gave a dreamy, natural feel against the dark mahogany. The flat lay included beautiful little miniature Cornish gin favours, created by the talented Tinkture. Their wonderful organic rose gin has a unique feature, it changes colour when mixed with tonic water from a golden amber to a delightful pink. They describe the taste as ‘a sensuous walk through a Garden in bloom’ which harmoniously sat with the concepts of the shoot. After the success of their launch they have diversified into miniatures, which are a replica of their regular bottles, complete with charming brown glass and a grenade ring pull opener. Tinkature create their gin using a secret blend of hand-picked organic David Austin roses from a small farm in the south-west of England which gives a light and delicate flavour with a hint of citrus, along with juniper and coriander to give it a complex warmth and depth.

Wedding Jewellery

The ribbons are the beautiful work of Lancaster and Cornish who supply lifestyle wedding trims, tableware and accessories that are inspired by floral and fauna of the Cornish coastline. Ethically created by Sian Cornish, hand died using natural dyes from nature and organically made where possible, these designs have a contemporary edge, inspired by her Grandfather and Great Grandfather who owned a fabric emporium in the 20’s and 30’s. For the shoot they were carefully woven together with an 18ct yellow gold wedding band and an 18ct seaweed ring with rose cut diamonds by Emily Nixon sat atop classic wild flower reference books tying together the themes of the shoot. Her jewellery is inspired by living on the Cornish coast and posses a sea worn character. Emily uses rose cut diamonds and natural gem stones; as featured, sapphires, which fitted perfectly and gave a romantic, timeless feel. Dainty button holes from The Garden Gate Flower Company with pretty white nigella flowers completed the light and airy set up.

Wedding Flowers

The bridal bouquet similarly displayed exquisite, natural and rustic blooms, all of which are organically grown on The Garden Gate Flower Company’s farm in Cornwall. Their arrangements are reflective of the seasons and uniquely tailored to personal style, each one is distinct, wild and wonderful. For this shoot, they chose a hand-tied arrangement using seasonal flowers. Tied and beautifully draped with Lancaster and Cornish ribbons adding to the loose, ethereal style, perfectly matched the two dresses sharing the same delicate qualities.

Bridal Style

The dresses were both from Rock the Frock Bridal, a concession of the Wedding Hub in Plymouth, very close to Boconnoc. The lace dress had delicate long-sleeves, and a light tulle skirt, drawing on the Victorian-esque vibe of the shoot whilst also remaining light and airy.

Bridal Beauty

The bride’s hair was kept loose and natural, styled by Ro Hair who specialises in tousled tresses. Based locally in Newquay, Ro works mainly in the wedding and event industry and comes from a professional background, having worked in Chealsea and Mayfair, London for the past 5 years. To compliment the soft curls Tamsyn Saddiqui adopted nudes and neutral tones for the make-up, keeping it fresh and feminine. Tamsyn benefits from years of experience working in the wedding industry and specialises in bridal makeup.

Wool Blend Three Piece Suit

The grooms suit was from the brilliant Vintage Suit Hire Company and a concession at the Wedding Hub also. This shoot features their Southwold suit, which is a striking blue wool 3-piece with contrasting brown buttons; this was complimented by a light grey and mint green bow tie. This ‘more than your average’ wedding suit liberates grooms from traditional suit options and offers a vintage, retro, handmade option that is available to hire.

Wedding Cake by Peboryon

In keeping with the shoot concepts, a Victorian bureau was used to display the wonderful cake creations by Peboryon, along with intricate gooseberry fool tartlets and lemon tarts. The cakes were iced with a smooth Italian meringue buttercream, filled with flavours of lemon and elderflower and finished with hedgerow flowers from the estate including cow parsley and sorrel. The flavours hark back to popular ingredient combinations of the late 1800’s/early 1900’s and offer a contemporary twist with the sleek and neutral tones of the finish. The trio of pottery vases included single steam blooms from The Garden Gate Flower Company.


In the long grass elegant vintage crystal bottles and pretty patterned etched glasses sat in the dappled light for a sophisticated drinks reception. The golden amber gin was mixed with tonic that exposed that delightful pink colour that gives Tinkture gin it’s glorious appeal. Edible flowers danced in the glass and you could almost taste the roses from the colour of this deliciously sparkling thirst-quencher. The Dorothy Garden is a perfect spot for a reception drinks, imagine sipping cool drinks under a shady tree, with the scent of roses, the rush of the breeze and the sound of a trickling fountain in the distance whilst guests chatter.

Ceremony Arbour

The ceremony spot at the top of the Dorothy Garden now features a beautiful wedding arbour, deliberately sympathetic in design so in keeping with the historical features of the estate. Hand-made by skilled craftsmen from the estate, featuring intricate ironwork, dotted with handpicked blooming hawthorn carefully formed by the stylist Alex Holyer of On Serpentine Shores. The beauty of this particular ceremony spot is its versatility; wonderfully magnificent for 200 guests, beautifully intimate for a small wedding or elopement. The opportunities are endless. The decorative fountain was dotted with floating candles and delicate blossoms from the gardens creating a dreamy, twinkling scene.

Wedding Breakfast

Our wedding breakfast setting took us to the bath house, an 18th century Georgian sunken swimming pool which is now used as a unique dining and ceremony space. The secluded, walled bath house features a beautiful camellia bush which sits over one end bursting with pink blooms which drop onto the floor creating natural confetti. A Long rustic trestle table lined the centre, swathed with a blush Lancaster and Cornish table runner and pillar candles twinkling in the early evening light set out by our stylist. Bone handled cutlery, pretty pink ribbon and stone fruit intertwined the rustic table top, and at the centre a spherical ceramic bowl filled with organic blooms from The Garden Gate Flower Company ties together the stylists vision for a natural, blushed set-up. The Tinkture miniatures come into their own and perfectly compliment the colour tones of the tablescape. Vintage black and white photographs of Dorothy and her family tell the story of a life once lived at this magnificent estate, and the features which very much still live on today. Bringing a styled shoot alive through stories of the past and using suppliers that add depth to the story has been inspiring and magical. We hope that it leaves people feeling stirred by its beauty, captivated by its story telling, and lost in the memory of Dorothy who had her own beautiful garden.
Lorna Shaw

Written by Lorna Shaw

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