Als The Bride:
I really struggled finding a dress so decided to design my own, with the help of dress designer, Chandrika Thomas
. I had around 35 fittings and we got on really well so Saturday mornings always featured a lot of chatting and drinking tea as well as discussing ideas and trying out designs. Chandrika's eye for detail is incredible; she and her team make the entire dress in miniature and a full version in calico before the real thing. I really recommend having a dress made - it is so much fun to be involved in the process.
I usually go for something floaty and romantic but I wanted to try a style I would never normally wear. My dress was a corseted silk dress with lace detailing and straps, a low back, layered skirt and a bow on the back. It was made with zibeline silk, which is the most amazing fabric. Only when looking back at the photos did I see how stressed the three bridesmaids looked doing up the corset and fastening on the bow though!
My granny bought me a translucent silk tulle veil (also from Chandrika) which I wore in mantilla style over a lace bow in my hair. The bridesmaids also had bows in their hair, complemented by sixties style embroidered cream mini dresses with long sleeves and two tone lilac block heels (both from ASOS
). Our hair and make-up was also quite sixties in style and the girls looked incredible.
The bridal bouquets were blush and light pink roses, eucalyptus and ferns, tied with lace ribbon. Harry's nieces were flower girls and had little baskets with roses to carry and we used natural rose petals for confetti.
My shoes were 'Matilda' from vintage bridal shoe designer, Rachel Simpson
. Harry and his groomsmen wore navy blue suits and black shoes from Loakes
; his tie was from Thomas Pink.
Once we decided to get married in Italy, we wanted it to be a venue where all the guests could come and enjoy a holiday and not need to travel on the wedding day. We chose a rustic farmhouse estate in Tuscany on the hills overlooking the city of Lucca, where all 60 guests stayed for a week. It had beautiful gardens where the ceremony and dinner were held and a frescoed limonata where guests had drinks before the service. It was great that everyone could relax by the pool before the ceremony at 5pm; as a result it was probably the first wedding where inflatable sea creatures made it into the official photos!
My brother picked his reading; an amended version of 'Having a coke with you' by Frank O'Hara. It was a perfect choice; understated and just right for us. Our friend, Lucy, did a reading from the Song of Solomon and Harry's family is British-Armenian so we also had a folk poem in Armenian.
We were very lucky for the ceremony music as our friend, Hannah, is an amazing singer. She sung 'Ave Maria' and 'Mio Babbino Caro' and was accompanied by a string quartet organised by our wedding planner, Pia.
My (now) husband, Harry, found an incredible local guitar player, called Jacopo, who played in a guitar duo during the aperitifs and dinner. I think they were one of the biggest hits of the wedding across all generations!
Our friends DJ'd for the disco after dinner, which was in a covered terrace decorated with fairy lights and lanterns. We were also joined by fireflies once it got dark, which made for an incredible natural light show. The survivors carried on the party in the wine cellars which was lit with disco lights and uplights. We spelled out our married name on the lawn in letter lanterns from Not On The High Street
Our first dance was 'Only You' by Yazoo, which we also had engraved inside our wedding rings along with the date.
The Italians really go in for a wedding feast and having so much delicious local produce was great. Dinner was five courses and included San Daniele ham and melon to start, two pasta courses, veal with dauphinoise potatoes, and pannacotta. Wine was supplied by a recommended local vineyard, Cantine Lunae
We had dinner on a big terrace by the house under awnings and fairy lights with a beautiful panoramic view. We chose to have rectangular natural wood tables to complement the rustic style and huge trees surrounding the terrace. Instead of table cloths, I bought lace table runners on etsy
and ran two down the length of each table either side of the lemon 'festone' centrepieces and vases of sunflowers. We handwrote menus and placed a sprig of Rosemary on each place setting. Harry's mum made the stacked wedding cake with lemon sponge and buttercream icing, and it was decorated with lavender and olive leaves.
Harry painted wooden signs and we put these up as signposts along the route to the venue. He also designed and produced our Game of Thrones-inspired table names, and my brother made table name holders using corks and old wine bottles, which looked amazing.
We also made the wedding favours which were personalised wine glass charms and fixed them onto guests' wine glasses at dinner.
We were fortunate that the house was covered in jasmine for the wedding which provided a really pretty natural background. The photographers went crazy for the jasmine!
The flowers were supplied by a local florist in Lucca, Gabriele Barsotti. He recreated perfectly a picture I sent of a wildflower arch, which was huge in real life (!) but beautiful. He also tied bouquets of flowers onto the sides of the chairs with lace, and we had two larger arrangements at the top of the aisle. We wanted it to look really natural with the existing flowers in the gardens so he used the same combination of flowers in all the arrangements and bouquets.
Our photographer (and all round great person to have at a wedding) was Sara Lincoln
. One of my funniest memories of the wedding was seeing Sara holding her camera over her head and spinning around on the dance floor on the spot. She puts everyone at ease and captures all the natural candid moments that you really cherish looking back.
We drafted in our friend and cameraman, Alex, who kindly did the filming and hired equipment locally from the company that did a great job of all the sound and lighting at the wedding
The people are what really make a wedding; we are extremely grateful to our helpful, reliable friends who did everything from BBQ and cocktail-making to stringing up lanterns. And above all we can't thank my parents enough for being such fantastic hosts!