A Glorious Menagerie.

Have you ever attended a wedding where you’re sitting next to a giraffe on one side and a lioness on the other?

Thought not. It sounds a bit like Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium doesn’t it but I promise you it’s real.

Today’s gorgeous wedding comes from the depths of the Oxfordshire countryside and took place earlier this year in a frankly spectacular venue that embodies British eccentricity at its very best.

I won’t reveal too much at this stage; instead I’ll leave it to our bride and groom’s wedding planner Julie Dawson from The Wedding Genie to give you all the juicy details.

The wonderful Jo Hastings was on hand to capture the classic beauty that epitomises this wedding.

The Quirkiest Venue In Town

Shellie and Mik wanted a wedding venue that reflected them totally. When we found Aynhoe Park on the Internet they knew it was the one. It was quirky, stylish, and the décor style was like the inside of Shellie’s own house.

There are stuffed polar bears, kangaroos wearing top hats drinking champagne as well as the biggest stone statue collection in Europe. All the rooms are different and decorated with tremendous flair.

The grounds are to die for to and it also had a helipad, which was fab as Mik surprised Shellie the morning after the wedding by booking one to take them off on honeymoon.

The whole house is available for exclusive use and was hired for the weekend. I have to say a huge thank you to Anna for her help on the day and during the planning. It truly is an amazing house. The orangery that was used for the ceremony is just to die for.

A Decadent Dress Journey

Wow what a journey to find “the dress.” Shellie wanted an Ian Stuart dress and the style she chose was super flamboyant to match her style and love of clothes. We went shopping twice for two full days and tried on nearly all the collection.

We loved one dress but Shellie just couldn’t decide. It was really tricky because she looked fabulous in all of them. To be on the safe side we tried a few more designers and then Shellie saw a stunning dress in a wedding magazine made by the Italian designer Le Spose Di Gio.

There is only one shop in the UK that sells this designer, which is in London in Belgravia. We spent a most splendid day there trying on many dresses. The one Shellie chose was from the new collection that had not been introduced yet. It was a totally different look from the Ian Stuart styles.

The colour was a nude blush pink and as soon as she put it on it looked divine and we knew it was the one. It was so simple but so chic and stylish and a total diversion from the clothes that Shellie normally wears. She instantly felt like a bride.

I have to say that Dina the lady who looked after us was superb. Nothing was too much trouble, in fact on the wedding day she came to the venue to dress Shellie and help make sure the dress looked perfect. In the evening we changed Shellie’s look slightly so that the part of the dress that wrapped around the shoulders for the day became a waist sash.

A veil used for the ceremony was removed after dinner.

Blush Pearls

The accessories were beautiful Shellie wore blush pink pearl oyster earrings specially made for the day that matched her dress perfectly, made by her local jewelers in Leamington Spa.

In fact all the bridesmaids had them made too as presents! I even got a pair as a thank you present to wear on the day as well as the Mothers of the bride and groom.

Not One Pair But Two

Shoes! A task that had Shellie searching for weeks. Shellie has a phenomenal eye for colour and her shoes had to be exactly the same as her dress. They also needed to be comfortable without being too high.

In the end we were delighted to be able to get some from Le Spose Di Gio to match perfectly, but a girl can never have enough shoes so Shellie had a wonderful pair from Rachel Simpson too.

Hair Art

Shellie had her own hairdresser but unfortunately she was going to be away for the wedding. My brief from Shellie was to find her the best there is. Straight away I went to Claire Hanson. I have always wanted to work with Claire, she is well known for working with celebrity wedding planner Sarah Heywood on the Wedding Bible.

Claire is one of the most likeable and professional people I have ever met. We had a fabulous day at her house for the hair and makeup trial. Shellie said she wanted hair art so Claire and Lisa styled her an up-do to die for.

Shellie wanted a look that was classical but emphasized her gorgeous eyes and lips. They spent ages getting it just right. On the day I thought Shellie looked like Grace Kelly.

A Chelsea Flower Show Winner

Shellie commissioned a Chelsea Flower show winner Sarah Horne to produce her wedding flowers. Sarah has a shop just down the road from Shellie’s house which was ideal. She is super talented and used to creating weddings that are out of the ordinary.

When we discussed the theme, Shellie wanted the table décor to reflect her quirky personality and flamboyant style. It was decided to dress each table differently. We had 10 tables and used 5 large candelabras that were dressed entirely differently. I hired these from the superb Bonne Fete.

Sarah wrapped moss around some and entwined crystals on others. They were completely covered in flowers to match the blush pink theme. We had a spare bridesmaids dress which was cut into strips and woven into the décor.

Sarah used some of the dress material from Shellie’s wedding dress too. The results were spectacular. We also had 5 smaller lower centerpieces of various vintage crystal vases on cake stands and trays.

The bridal flowers were roses which are Shellie’s favourite and matched perfectly. The bridesmaids had one huge rose in the same colour that Sarah made. All were wrapped with the dress material to tie everything together.

To really create a wow factor and again reflect Shellie’s hobbies, Sarah dressed two antique mannequins which belong to Shellie in flowers. One wore an actual flower dress with wings made out of wire with flowers that were attached throughout. The second wore a waistcoat of flowers.

I placed them on glass tables (courtesy of my lounge) to make them appear to float. They looked spectacular in the ceremony room, then later we moved them either side the bar area.

Girls In Rose Dresses

When I met Shellie, the first thing she said to me was the style was not to be anything vintage! Much like the wedding dress being a total departure from Shellie’s style so was the theme. She fell in love with some vintage style dresses from Phase Eight which were pink, grey and cream. There were large roses on them which matched Sarah’s roses perfectly.

We used a seamstress to add further petticoats underneath the dresses to make them stand out for maximum impact. She also added a trim of the same material around the lace petticoat on each dress as well as embroidering the labels of each of the men’s jackets with their names.

The sashes for the bridesmaids dresses were made from the same material as Shellie’s dress. The headpieces were also from Le Spose Di Gio to match perfectly and their shoes were a great find in L.K. Bennett.

Henley Regatta

The groomsmen all wore made to measure blazers with matching chino type trousers. The pageboys wore the same trousers with white shirts and gorgeous Hugo Boss cardigans. All the men wore brogues and the boys wore boat shoes.

The whole theme was very Henley Regatta. Every single thing that Shellie chose had to be the exact colour.

Mik wore a navy blue suit by Armani. It was his choice not to wear a tie to add to the overall scheme. He looked just gorgeous and the blue and blush pink together was just heavenly. The buttonholes were plain roses, chosen to match the bridesmaids.

A Romantic Photographer

When it came to choosing the photographer this was tricky. Mik is an excellent amateur photographer but Shellie hates her photo being taken.

Jo Hastings fitted the bill perfectly. Not only is she in love with shooting details at weddings but also she is one of the most gorgeous ladies to be around who makes you feel at ease right away.

She captures romance perfectly and has a laid back but superbly organized attitude. It was my job to ensure I found Mik and Shellie someone who could capture the essence of the day and show all the fabulous details we had spent the last six months putting into the wedding.

I think you can see from the images that we chose wisely.

Love Is A Warm Trombone

Shellie wanted someone to sing at the ceremony so I had no hesitation recommending Vie Watson. Her voice is divine and she looks amazing too. To surprise Mik, after the ceremony his nephew stood up and started to play ‘All you need is love’ on his trombone, just like Love Actually!

Vie sang with him, it was amazing and the guests loved it. The most funny thing was that you have to keep a trombone warm so it had to be wrapped in a water bottle and blankets throughout the ceremony.

We had rehearsals before the wedding with Vie, who incidentally is also a music teacher. During the champagne reception Vie sang Shellie and Mik’s favourite songs.

We had Jim McAllister, a Frank Sinatra style singer to start the evening off and then one of the best bands I know guaranteed to rock the evening – iPop. Suze is the lead singer and not only is she gorgeous but she can sing just about anything and is lovely with it.

A Chocolatey Confection

Shellie wanted a choccywoccydoodah cake. Mik wanted the exact version that was on the website – All you need is love – as this is one of their favourite records and sayings.

We knew the colours did not match our theme but we didn’t care. Mik loves chocolate so the inside was white chocolate truffle and dark chocolate truffle.

After the cake cutting, the cake was cut up and placed into containers that looked like Chinese take away boxes with a little metal handle tied with pink bows. These were finished off with tags from the lovely Elle Is For Love Stationery and given to guests as they were leaving.

In the evening, there was not only a fabulous cheese arrangement made by the caterers – Indulging – but also a hog roast and then ice-cream and old fashioned sweets to finish. These were served from a vintage ice cream van called Daisy. Shellie was thrilled because it was purple, to go with an private joke of hers and Mik – ‘forever in purple’.

Jim sang the first dance number “It had to be you” which was chosen by Mik and Shellie because it so relates to them. They had dance lessons too so the whole thing was gorgeous.

Eclectic Vintage

Apart from the fabulous flowers Shellie had gorgeous little flower arrangements made for all the rooms in the venue. I had labels made with their favourite sayings on them. Aynhoe Park is so full of the most wonderful items that you don’t really need much else. On the tables we hired vintage frames which held the table names.

You won’t be surprised to learn that the tables were called after shoes, another of Shellie’s loves. The stationery was simple letterpress and our table plan was provided by Elle for Love Stationery.

Aynhoe have the most spectacular mirrors so we had our table plan made on a vintage silver mirror to match.

This wedding totally reflected the personalities of the bride and groom. Every detail was well thought out to ensure their guests had the best time – even through dinner.

For the wedding breakfast, each table was served a fillet steak joint. A designated guest from each table was chosen to be the head carver and were given aprons and hats and carving knifes!

They really took part in the event and it was a super surprise for everyone too.

Pearls Of Wisdom

I strongly advise all brides and grooms to be to really enjoy yourself on your big day. Try to delegate and don’t worry about anything that goes wrong.

Don’t be swayed by what others want; it’s important that you choose what you want. Enlist a great team to help you too. The day does go by in a flash so savour every moment.

One last pearl of wisdom is get a great photographer, so when the day has long passed you can relive it again through your photographs.

Venue – Aynhoe Park

Wedding Planner – Julie Dawson – The Wedding Genie

Dress – Le Spose Di Gio

Shoes – Rachel Simpson

Shoes – Le Spose Di Gio

Bridesmaid Dresses – Phase Eight

Bridesmaid Shoes – L.K.Bennett

Hair – Claire Hanson

Flowers – Sarah Horne

Photographer – Jo Hastings

Cake – Choccywoccydoodah

Stationery – Elle Is For Love

Candelabra Hire – Bonne Fete

Wedding Ceremony Singer – Vie Watson

Rat Pack Singer – Jim McAllister

Wedding Band – iPop

Frankly there are so many gorgeous details in this wedding I don’t know where to put myself.

Unicorns on pianos, military caps on lions, two pairs of wedding shoes, a twirling bride, the most exquisite bouquet of O’Hara roses, a trombone-playing nephew and shoe inspired tables have got me in a tizz.

I LOVE all of it.

So how many of you agree? What’s your favourite bit?

I’m placing bets that it’s the bouquet…am I right?

All my love Lolly xxx

35 thoughts on “A Glorious Menagerie.

  1. This wedding was beautiful and so many pretty details.
    I did miss the personal details that the reports usually go into though. I want to know about the wedding suppliers, but its the relationships and stories of love which usually interest me. I wanted to know how long they have been together, and whether all the gorgeous kids were their own children.
    Nice to see a range of weddings types and as this one was told from the point of view of the planner I know it would be difficult to include some of the personal details.
    But please font forget some of us need to hear about the love before we can truly appreciate the pretty. Xx

  2. Wowee, absolutely beautiful. Love the dress, flowers, animals! Agree with Caroline though, prefer hearing the story from the bride (or groom!) to get an insight into the background, how they felt, planning journey etc. Totally beautiful though – congratulations! xx

  3. HI Caroline, your comments are valid, I guess I was a little reluctant to write too much about their personal lives. Shellie and Mik have five children between them, Fennah, Africa, Sophie, Emily and Jonny and the pictures of the children are theirs. (Most of them) Although the details were gorgeous Mik and Shellie wanted to have a day that was filled with family and love, their priority was that everyone had a great time and was involved. They are such a lovely couple and dedicated to each other. Their whole life is wrapped around their children, they all get on famously together too! I am so sorry if that did not come over, it was lovely to work with a couple who are so devoted to each other. It was a pleasure to work with them. Shellie worked so hard on the wedding, at the time they were also renovating a house for them all to move to after the wedding. I wish them a fabulous christmas together and a long, joyful and happy married life. x Julie

  4. Thanks Julie,

    I hope my comment didn’t come across negatively. I guess I’m just a bit nosy by nature and need to know a little about people before I can get properly engrossed.

    Their kids are gorgeous and you can see they were an important part of the day. Love the picture of the little girl cutting the cake.
    Congratulations on the day, you did an amazing job. Everything looked so thought through and well executed.

    The dress is beautiful and Lolly is right, I’m drooling over that bouquet. Xx

  5. WOW! What a venue!
    Not everyone’s cup of tea, I know, but it really is pretty impressive!

    Love the vintage looking shoes 🙂

    Congrats on your wedding, hope you had an amazing day xx

  6. Yes the kids were fab. Fennah really captured my heart, he looks like a little Hugh Grant and was just gorgeous and so sweet. He helped me on the day! He is a great little photographer too. At the end of the night he even played drums with the band. I never knew he could play, it was fab to see this little guy rock.
    The bouquet was beautiful, just simple but so heavenly. The florist Sarah is a lovely lady. In fact everyone on the day was such fun. Jo Hastings was brilliant and she works so hard. What i didnt say was that Shellie wanted to spend time with her family and doesn’t like her picture being taken so Jo only had a few minutes to take the photos, the rest were capturing the moment and she did that perfectly. We all tried to let Shellie and Mik enjoy their time with their family and friends as that was one of the most important things they wanted on the day.

  7. Jeez Louise, this is a wedding and a half! Personally I LOVE it. The bouquet is good enough to eat, but the blush dress is my fave bit Lolly.

    Me and my girls were discussing ‘blush’ recently after one of them has chosen a gorgeous Naomi Neoh blush dress for her big day. I love it xx

  8. @Karen – I remember seeing a gorgeous Naomi Neoh dress in loads of wedding mags – it was Dita and was just gorgeous! a little gutted I didn’t search for it in the end!
    :-/ xx

  9. @Pip I know! We’re very very sorry…

    @Caroline @Daphne It’s great to hear that our readers love to know as much about the love as about the pretty – it reminds us that RMW really is a community and not just a one-stop-inspiration-shop if that makes sense! As Julie says I think that Shellie and Mik’s love for each other and for their children so obviously emanates from Jo’s photos.

    Would you agree?

    @Karen – damn woman! I was hedging bets that the bouquet would be your favourite and now you’ve gone and blown it out of the water. That said, the dress is to die for!

    @Teresa I know! A wedding is only really complete when you’ve got a lion, a unicorn and a polar bear in close proximity, right?

  10. @Karen – OMG that dress is beautiful!! I am very jealous of your friend!! 🙂 xx

    @Lauren – yes the pictures are beautiful and I do love a bride swooshing around in her dress 😀
    plus the children look cute as a button!!
    xxx

  11. Lolly, I’m just envious 😀

    The hire fee for those (To Die For) Louis chairs alone probably dwarfs my total spend for our entire day! It’s very refreshing to see a different, elegant aesthetic though.

    And my money is on taxidermy becoming the Sweetie Buffet of 2013. Ubiquitous. Mark My Words.

  12. I absolutely adore this wedding! I love when couples plan every detail of their wedding to truly suit their personalities…I especially love all the taxidermy. I have never had the pleasure to photograph at Aynhoe Park but being an Oxford based photographer I look forward to it, so lovely!

  13. @Becca – I know! i’m going to throw a tin of paint over her! (not really)

    @Pip – you might be right there. Not sure how that’d go down with the vegetarians though! I’m pretty disappointed our place hasnt got any dead animals. They’d look a treat.

    @Lolly – I did give the bouquet a lot of love! See, I am almost as predictable as you hoped!! xx

  14. @Lolly – so, back to this bouquet. I’ve just sat and stared at it for a good ten minutes. Do we think they’re David Austin? I had a two hour conversation with my florist which centred mainly around David Austin roses.

    I’m a total ‘no greenery’ girl. Also, I LOVE the single rose thing. Will it be too much of a spoiler if I say i’m doing something similar?

    Yes yes yes, I AM that predictable. I LOVE THE BOUQUET. In fact, I’m going to send a link to Dale at Passion for Flowers (not that one) right now.xx

  15. @Pip – I felt awful on Sunday. A militant vegetarian friend hugged me in my fur coat and loved it. I’m assuming they assumed it was ‘faux’ otherwise I probably wouldnt have a face right now xx

  16. !

    Conversely, another friend had someone come up to her and have a massive rant about her coat and how dare she parade around in cruelty. It was faux :S

    Ahem – sorry to digress… as you were with the lovely wedding….

  17. @Karen Apparently they are O’Hara roses although I wouldn’t know who provides/grows them as such. I know, I’m rubbish. The Passion for Flowers girls will know though.

    However we have officially now fallen out. NO greenery?? That said I do love a decadent rose bouquet.

    But I’m glad you’re a fur coat wearer…(I am too!) I’m probably going to get annihilated now aren’t I…

  18. @Lolly – O’Hara. Noted!

    I’m not dead against greenery AT ALL, but I do enjoy a structured, neat bouquet with a lot of fragrant blooms. I’m probably in the minority with that one as I know the wild and wonderful look is de rigueur

    We should quit while we’re ahead on the fur coat thing… too controversial for these pages I fear. We’ll be figures of hate! xx

  19. Hey lovely ladies, if you email Sarah the florist she will tell you what roses she used. She is lovely and does lots of weddings of all types and budgets. Philippa,Those chairs we didn’t hire them they were just part of the venue. Shellie thought it would be fun to use them for the speeches. We didn’t hire anything we tried to use what was there. I even took the glass tables from my lounge to put the mannequins on! I

  20. @Julie – thanks, I might do. they’re really beautiful.

    I wish my venue had chairs like that. The chairs at ours look like they’ve been swiped from the local job centre! xx

  21. Karen I too am I a no greenery fan!! I had a bouquet of all roses and spray roses. Loving this bouquet but the dress is breathtaking!! I have stared at it all day!

  22. Thanks for all your lovely comments. That dress is to die for. The shop in london is gorgeous and compared to a lot of wedding dresses not ridiculously expensive. If you do go there, ask for Dina. x

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