This incredible, awe inspiring elopement has left me lost for words. It’s just so dramatic and ethereal it’s hard to believe it’s a real wedding, but it really is! This is Ashley and Keith’s stunning Cornish elopement captured in all it’s glory. I’ll pass you straight over to Ashley, as her words are far better than mine to explain her vision for the day.
The images from Enchanted Brides and film from Baxter + Ted are just magical and I have a feeling you’re going to blown away by this amazing occasion…
Our story truly began just after midnight in Paris, on the cobblestone streets and under the glittering stars. We had just climbed the hundreds of stairs to the Sacre Coeur in Montmartre-the highest point overlooking the illuminated city below, when Keith dropped down on one knee and proposed. The next morning was incredibly bittersweet, as I would be on a plane back to NYC, and Keith on a train to London. We had briefly met while Keith was traveling. I was living in New York, and Keith is from the loveliest little village in Surrey. Immediately we both knew that we had found “the one”, and began a long distance relationship, with visits in between. Our first proper date we spent a Winter traveling around Bath and the Cotswolds, and it was then that we knew that the right choice for us was to start a life together in England. When Spring arrived, we traveled to France, and on the last night of our stay, Keith asked me to marry him. We spent the Summer of that year filing visa paperwork, packing my apartment in NYC, planning my move to the UK, and planning the wedding of our dreams.
Our Destination Elopement
There’s something so utterly romantic about running away together and so boldly taking control of your future. Luckily, my husband was just as enthusiastic about the idea of a destination elopement. As we were an intercontinental couple, the single most important factor to us above anything else, was not being apart any longer. An elopement ticked all the boxes for our needs – a completely bespoke and flexible wedding ceremony that we could plan within a few short months, where we didn’t have to worry about guest lists or stress or anyone else’s input. We were able to plan the wedding of our dreams, and were able to afford it as it was just for the 2 of us. I planned the majority of our elopement and mini-moon on the amazing Cornish coast from across the ocean in my Brooklyn flat. We are both well traveled and adventurous, and wanted to pick a location which neither of us had any connection to, so that we could make it our own special place that we could run away to and create all these life long memories in.
For several years I worked in Manhattan as a wardrobe stylist and creative director of photo shoots in the fashion industry. The planning of our elopement went beyond what I see as traditional wedding planning, and was styled in such a way that it became my most important and beloved piece of art. I’m an incredibly detail oriented person, so there was significance in each element that went into our day. In order to create something truly unique and breathtaking, we pulled elements from a few inspirations. We pulled a lot of inspiration from ancient legends and love stories, such as Tristan and Isolde. It’s the legend of an Irish Princess who falls in love with a Cornish Knight, and it’s set on the dramatic cliffs of Cornwall. There’s symbolism in the sense of a girl from the West traveling across the sea to England, and falling in love with an English boy. Cornwall became the perfect backdrop for our swoon-worthy elopement.
We also pulled elements from the sea for my love of mermaids and all things ethereal, so in keeping with that we had a lot of dainty pearls featured throughout the day, and the Shell House itself played a big role in the oceanic details. For our wardrobe, there’s something timeless and glamorous about the 1920’s. I’m incredibly inspired by 1920’s fashion; it’s ornate and elegant, yet somehow simultaneously understated and chic.
I believe it’s better to have a loose colour scheme, where you may choose 3 or 4 colours, but then have variations of those shades play in throughout the day. It softens things up and lends a hand in the dreaminess, rather than sticking to 3 colours rigidly and then it all looks way too coordinated. We chose to incorporate off-whites and creams with muted golds and metallics, and as Keith’s favourite colour is green – we went with a very pale seafoam. Our basic colour palette was inspired by that sheen that you see on a seashell – lots of understated iridescence. Each element melded together flawlessly, and this fairytale elopement was created, with an air of bohemian romance surrounding it.
We worked with Christine of Peboryon to create a cake that really represented us as a couple. The brief we gave her was all things 1920’s, bohemian, and mermaid. Christine designed a petite two-tiered cake for us, with small sugar pearl details which were reminiscent of the pearl detailing on my dress which draped over my shoulders. Gilded leaves and petals emanated understated elegance and timeless bohemian beauty. The base of the cake was in a pale shade of seafoam, and the flavour was an absolute divine combination of elderflower and lemon.
Flowers we chose were anemones, ranunculus, and sweeping trails of eucalyptus. We decorated the Shell house with garden rose petals and lots of greenery. Florist was Loulabel.
At some point during our wedding planning, I discovered what a shell grotto is – and they are magnificent. They are typical of the Victorian era, lots of ornate beauty and romance behind them.
Our ceremony took place in a little Victorian seashell house, located in the gardens of Endsleigh, on the border of Cornwall and Devon. Endsleigh is this incredible stately home with manicured gardens and forests and streams that are modelled after a Scottish glen.
We visited Endsleigh prior to booking it for our wedding, and we absolutely fell in love, and now consider it a home away from home. We filled the Shell House with candles and greenery, and floating flowers in the water feature. The shells and pink quartz which line the walls of the grotto reflected the candle light in the most ambient way. The orchestral version of Des’ree “Kissing You” played from within (the music and alter of candles in the Shell House were inspired by Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet). Keith has Scottish roots, and we wanted to incorporate a traditional Celtic handfasting into our ceremony. In the days leading up to the wedding, we had worked on crafting our own handfasting cord braided of silk ribbons, each colour symbolising different we would bring to our marriage, as well as fabric and pearls from my bridal gown. During the handfasting our lovely celebrants tied the silken cord around our wrists, and from there we read our handwritten vows to each other.
Champagne & Cake
After the ceremony and some champagne and cake at Endsleigh, we headed off to the craggy coast at Rame Head with our photographer and videographers. We walked along this stone path which led us up a lush emerald green hill, which at the top sits St. Michael’s, an abandoned medieval stone chapel overlooking the ocean. On our way up the hill, we walked through a harem of wild ponies! Honestly it was one of the most incredible moments of my life. It was just so unexpected and so entirely dreamy. The winds were so strong, it took us ages to climb to the top, and once we arrived, we hid from the strong Winter wind in that little chapel. I remember feeling so entirely alive in that moment. We had a few moments to ourselves to really take in everything that we’d been through together, and what we’d just experienced – being married in such an incredible way, and then walking through those majestic wild ponies on the cliffs of Cornwall, miles away from the rest of the world. We created our own little fairytale happily ever after together, and nothing will ever matter as much as that.
Keith opted for a French Connection grey suit, white dress shirt, black silk tie and pocket square. His ensemble was completely dapper and timeless. I wore a 1920’s style sheath dress. I added dozens of strings of seed pearls to the straps, in a draped fashion so they hung just over the shoulders. My gown was paired with ethereal soft English tulle veil worn in a bohemian draped style, reminiscent of a sea siren or a medieval fairytale, again pulling inspiration from Tristan and Isolde. I wore a bespoke slender halo encrusted with pearls. (Burnout Velvet “getting ready” robe is by New York designer James Coviello. Dress is a combination of pieces that I collected. Body of the dress is by New York designer Mignon. Draped seed pearl sleeves of the dress are by Watters. Veil is a draped veil style by Canadian designer Noon on the Moon. Freshwater pearl halo headpiece is by Bath designer Joanna Reed. Shoes are by Rachel Simpson.
Earrings are by Theia). Engagement ring is a rose cut diamond handmade by Catbird in Brooklyn. Wedding band is a series of rose cut diamonds handmade by Vale Jewelry in Manhattan.
The Photography & Film
Shortly after dreaming up this vision of an intimate elopement in Cornwall, I started investing time into searching for vendors akin to my own style. I came across the most amazing filmmakers, Chris and Caroline of Baxter + Ted. I got in contact with them early on into wedding planning, and told them of my vision. They were amazing and we were completely on the same wave length in every aspect. Baxter + Ted created something truly magical that we will forever cherish – a piece of art, that weaves together the most intimate parts of our elopement. The film is a way for us to relive the most romantic day of our lives over and over again.
While doing more searching, we came across the incredible Jo of Enchanted Brides – we had to get in contact, and so glad that we ended up doing so. She played an incredible part in our day – she is so gifted and has captured the most beautiful wedding photos (and our gorgeous engagement photos!) that I’ve ever seen in my life, and my husband and I feel so lucky that those photos belong to us.
Styling our elopement and working with such talented people to create the most romantic day, has been such a passion for me. I took my knowledge of photo shoot styling and production, and applied it to our elopement. I decided to shift my styling from magazine photo shoots into bridal styling. Since moving to the UK, I’ve set up a proper bridal styling company, A Belle & A Brit, where we do everything from engagement photo shoot styling, to planning and designing all of the elements that go into elopements and intimate weddings. Our desire is to design intimate weddings in an editorial fashion, something completely bespoke and unique to the couple, fusing together haute couture and the most fairytale like setting in a wild and natural landscape.