Ailsa and James married at The Orleans House Gallery – a venue that’s fast becoming a favourite of mine – in Richmond, London amongst coppery leaves in the crisp Autumn air. I’m not going to deny it, October is one of my favourite wedding months for obvious reasons and this big day is no exception.
As a L.K.Bennett fan I’m particularly smitten with Ailsa’s blue courts from the brand – her something blue along with her navy maids – as well as with her soft antique toned rose bouquet which is the perfect hue for Autumn weddings in my opinion.
I’m also really adoring the fact that this gorgeous pair had their reception at the White Horse Pub choosing to keep their decor simple but no less elegant whilst treating their guests to traditional pub grub.
Ailsa The Bride:Before I got engaged I’d never thought about what kind of dress I would like to get married in so was pretty clueless about where to start. I live in London so am lucky to have lots of bridal boutiques near me but that only added to my confusion. I decided to turn to online blogs for inspiration rather than traditional wedding magazines and RMW was a brilliant resource with lots of photos plus the List. I am incredibly indecisive so wasn’t surprised when I didn’t have a ‘this is the one’ moment but after visiting a few shops I started to get a feel for the things I liked; lace, straps, ivory rather than classic white, and chose my dress (blush 1104 by JLM Brides) from Blackburn Bridal because I liked the neckline, keyhole back and thought the unusual heavy lace would work well for my October wedding.
I’m not really in to lots of bling so I deliberately chose a dress without any of this but Sama at Blackburn Bridal suggested I try it on with a sequinned belt which added a little touch of sparkle, which I loved. Once I’d bought my dress I spent lots of time on etsy looking for the perfect belt but am lucky enough to have a very talented sister, Maeve, with a textiles degree so she kindly volunteered to design and create my art deco inspired belt.
I don’t often wear heels but decided they were pretty essential with a floor length dress so spent a fun afternoon on Selfridges shoe floor trying on heels with my good friend Georgia. I knew I wanted a pop of colour or metallic rather than a white or cream and was torn between the blue pair from LK Bennett I went with or a gold pair but ended up going for the smaller heel because I didn’t want to have to change my shoes for the evening and knew I wanted to do lots of dancing.
With my sweetheart neckline and fairly structured dress I knew I wanted a heavier necklace and thought pearls would work well so I bought a couple of options from Pia and made a final decision with my Mum the day before the wedding. She lives in Sardinia so I wasn’t able to show her my dress and get her opinion until then.
As I was getting married in October I knew I couldn’t rely on the weather to be warm and would need some kind of cover up. After trying on a couple of more traditional feather and fake fur shrugs I decided I liked the contrast of wearing something more casual over a smart dress and decided on a royal blue cardigan to match my shoes.
We decided we wanted to get married near London rather than one of our home towns and found the beautiful Octagon Room at Orleans House Gallery through lots of googling of ‘london wedding venues’. There was only one Saturday left in October so we booked that and then spent a Saturday walking round Richmond looking for a pub to hold the reception in. We found a few places that rented an area or room but we knew we wanted around 90 guests so were starting to despair at finding a big enough space when a kindly bar man told us there was only one pub he knew of that rented out the entire pub and gave us directions to The White Horse. We have lots to thank him for because The White Horse ended up being the perfect wedding reception venue. Joanne the Assistant Manager was hugely helpful both in helping us choose our menu and wine and in making the day run smoothly.
We loved the mismatched, casual look of the pub so chose not to add any additional decorations other than flowers for the tables and place names. Rather than use formal place names we decided to write everyone’s names on old fashioned brown card luggage tags, which continued the casual feel and became a good prop for photos after a few drinks.
I spent lots of time on pinterest googling bouquets and decided a more informal look would suit the day. Luckily I found a brilliant florist in Richmond who was able to turn my abstract thoughts in to beautiful reality with white and dusty pink vintage roses plus lots of foliage in the bouquets and flowers in mismatched jam jars on the tables in the pub.
I really wanted to find a dress that my lovely bridesmaids would feel happy and confident wearing so spent a lot of time looking at the various options for either different style dresses in the same colour or the dresses you can wear in multiple ways but in the end I found a classic navy blue a line dress in John Lewis of all places which they all loved. I wanted everyone to put their own spin on their outfit and wear whichever shoes and jewellery they liked.
We decided a beautiful historic setting like the Octagon room needed live music so hired a string quartet to play more traditional music as we walked down the aisle then versions of popular songs during the champagne reception afterwards. We were incredibly lucky with the weather on the day (it poured with rain both the day before and after) so were able to have this in the beautiful gardens.
Rather than choose a poem or section from a book for our reading we chose the lyrics to Mirrorball by Elbow; which had particular relevance because it had just been released when we first met and the words are all about your perspective on the little things in life changing after meeting someone. “And we made the moon our mirrorball, The streets, an empty stage, The city sirens violins, Everything has changed”
We are lucky enough to have a couple of friends who are DJs and they did an incredible job keeping the dance floor heaving all night long. Rather than just ask for messages in the guestbook we provided a polaroid camera and film and asked everyone to take a photo to accompany their message. Reading through it the next day was brilliant.
As we were in a pub we went for classic pub grub starting with sharing platters of olives, bread, meats, cheese with a choice of sausage and mash, cheese pie or fishcakes for a main, followed by treacle tart and ice cream. James’ Mum Petula makes a brilliant Christmas cake so kindly agreed to make the wedding cake and did a brilliant job icing and decorating all three tiers.
Choosing the right photographer was incredibly important because we wanted photos we could look back on for years to come. This was another place where RMW’s List was an invaluable starting point directing us to Katharine Peachey who was absolutely brilliant exceeding our expectations in the way she captured every moment of the day, even specific guests’ reactions to being thanked in the speeches. Her incredibly warm and unobtrusive style made her an invaluable part of the day.