'Tis the season to be jolly, and this candlelit Christmas wedding at Gray's Inn London is certainly full of joy. Cara & Huw fully embraced the festive season with seasonal wreaths and Christmas carols, and smiled the whole time making John Barwood Photography's job a delight. It helped that he knew most of the family, having already captured Cara's sister Lorn's wedding, that RMW were lucky enough to feature too. So if you want to feel all warm and cosy inside, definitely take a moment to savour this beautiful Winter wedding.
Our StoryCara & Huw: Huw and I met when I moved into the flat below his in London. After our first proper conversation I told my best friend ‘that’s the guy I’m going to marry’ – he made me laugh so much from the off! Seven years, a relocation to Manchester and a small human being later, we tied the knot back in London in December 2017.
Lace San Patrick Bridal GownMy dress is a design by San Patrick bought from the most wonderful bridal shop in a small Cheshire town called Seventh Heaven Bridal. They just nailed it in terms of service and range. When I had my first appointment I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy the process; I think I was nervous that I wouldn’t get into it and disappoint my family. But 7th Heaven’s selection of elegant and original dresses and seamless service meant I didn’t feel self-conscious at all; they really put me at ease. I fell in love with this dress because I felt just the right balance of elegant and sexy when I was wearing it and I love the way the champagne and colour compliments my skin tone and hair colour. I wore a finger-length over the face veil because I loved the idea of Huw lifting my veil and kissing me when I got to the top of the aisle, and I wore a white fine feather shrug for our photographs outside. My incredible earrings by Carat were borrowed from my younger sister, Lorn (whose wedding to Russ Joseph you featured on the blog in 2016) and I also borrowed my mum’s antique emerald ring – which both my sisters have also worn on their wedding days. My Alex Munroe bee necklace was a gift from my husband and as a proud adopted Mancunian it was possibly the most important accessory that I wore on the day, as a nod to our future there together.
Bridal Hair & MakeupMy hair and makeup artist was the gorgeous Amy Westlake from A Brush with Beauty who kindly travelled to London when she was six months pregnant to do my hair and makeup. I had so much fun with her on the morning of the wedding, laughing and chatting, it really set the tone for the rest of the day. Having trialed hair down months before, I changed my mind on the day and asked her to do a classic updo – and it was one of the best decisions I made! I felt like myself but just on a really good day, rather than trying to be someone else. It also felt so secure and effortless and worked brilliantly with my veil and jewellery.
Three Piece Tweed Chester Barrie SuitHuw’s bespoke three-piece tweed suit was made by the incredible tailors at Chester Barrie in House of Fraser in Manchester. Being Six foot six you can’t just buy off the rack, so he’d had suits made before but none were quite right. This one was perfect as the guys at Chester Barrie really knew their stuff. Little details like a velvet collar and the wedding date stitched into the inside of the jacket made it that bit more special.
Candle Lit Christmas Wedding at Gray's Inn, LondonGray’s Inn in central London is a special place for us as Huw’s late father was a bencher there and Huw is a member, so when we got engaged we knew immediately that our venue was decided upon at the very least. I always wanted a London wedding as that’s where we met, and then when we decided to do it in mid-December, a London Christmas wedding really seemed to fit. Gray’s Inn is such a romantic spot with its grandeur and otherworldliness, and the banqueting team had decorated it so beautifully for Christmas that we only had to add a few personal touches to make it absolutely incredible.
Colour Scheme/DecorWe wanted an understated party feel with a Christmas theme, so we had candles everywhere and rustic metal candelabras with very convincing battery operated candles lining the aisle. I love natural lights so I wanted as much candlelight as possible.
Seasonal Winter Wedding FlowersLuckily my mum has the most incredible floristry skills and she agreed to do all my flowers for the day. She is an ideas person, so as soon as I said Christmas wedding she suggested we have a wreath on every table – not only would they serve as beautiful décor but they would be a little something to give to guests to take away with them at the end of the day. She has a wonderful friend, an actual wedding florist Allium Florist who gave up days of her time to help mum make wreaths, practice bouquets etc. She is a miracle worker – my mum cried the first time she put together a practice bouquet for me she was so moved by how she worked! The buttonholes contained foraged pinecones and the bouquets were a mixture of seasonal ferns, viburnum, chrysanthemum, astilbe and a few other seasonal berries. The wreaths contained berries too and a mixture of greenery including eucalyptus and fir.
The Wedding Party FashionThe brief for my best women were little black dresses - the sexier the better – with updos and bright lippy. I wanted there to be a feeling of fun and frivolity to the whole affair. I did NOT want matchy-matchy as all my best women – and Huw’s ushers – have very different personalities and I wanted them to feel comfortable with their own choices of dress. Their dresses are a variety from ASOS and Next. I didn’t have flower girls but I did have three angels walking down the aisle with me – my two nieces and my now nephew Freddie. The girls wore beautiful ethereal Monsoon dresses and Freddie wore a little suit – complete with real feather angel wings. I stopped short of dressing our little boy up as a donkey, although I was tempted to continue to nativity theme! Instead, we dressed him in a little Next waistcoat, shirt tie, and trouser combo. The ushers wore dark suits and lovely fir green ties from Charles Tyrwhitt @charlestyrwhitt
Wedding CeremonyHaving done the legal bit the day before, we could do exactly what we wanted on the day so I asked my best friend’s dad, Reverend David Gillman, to conduct our ceremony for us – and it meant so much that he agreed. I walked down the aisle to Pachelbel’s’ Canon in D Major – it was a piece of music I felt fitted the venue beautifully and gave the occasion the sobriety Huw and I both wanted. We walked out to My Baby Just Cares for Me by Nina Simone, and halfway down the aisle Huw scooped our little boy Osian up from a kind friend who has been holding him – and the three of us left together. During the ceremony, two of my oldest school friends did readings by Christina Rosetti and Edward Monkton and then five friends sang You and Me by Penny and the Quarters, suspiring us by changing the last verse to ‘Huw and Me’ and slipping on pairs of black glasses to match Huw’s – it was joyous!! One of my other favourite moments of the day was during the Best Man’s speech – he had very sneakily prepared a version of ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ to include lines like ‘Three McVean Sisters’ and ‘Seven Years Together’ and planted the line on each of the twelve tables at dinner. Each table, in turn, had to stand up and sing their line...and as the verses went on the signing got louder and I by the end I was stood on my chair, arms raised as I belted out ‘Five Goooo-oollldd Riiings!’ It was wonderful!
Wedding EntertainmentOur wedding band was called The Sustainiacs and they played our first dance for us which was ‘Dream Lover’ by Bobby Darin. When discussing our top three moments of the day we both agreed this was one of them, it was just so much fun!
Wedding BreakfastOur delicious three-course meal provided by Gray’s Inn included a twice baked Roquefort soufflé with pumpkin jam and caramelised walnuts, followed by a tenderloin of Welsh black beef. Dessert was a vanilla pannacotta, champagne & berry soup, fresh berries, and butter tuille. We aren’t really cake people so we simply decided to skip this tradition, and instead, we made sure there was a substantial evening platter of bread's, cheeses etc to keep guests going until the carriages.
Wedding StationeryMy very talented friend Becky Bygone designed and made our bespoke save the dates, invitations and orders of service with a wonderful take on the nativity theme – complete with cat/angel and baby dressed as a little lamb!
Wedding PhotographyJohn Barwood Photography and Soph were my little sister’s choice of wedding photographers and I was so in awe of their photos that there was never any other contender when it came to picking ours. The fact that they are a married couple that works together is such a unique selling point, plus they are so lovely to be around. Their clever divide and conquer approach to the wedding morning – Soph with the guys and John with the girls – works really well and means you end up with this magical story of the morning before you say your ‘I Do’s!’ Their work speaks for itself, it’s sublime.
Bridal Gown: San Patrick | Bridal Gown: 7th Heaven Bridal | Jewellery: Alex Monroe | Hair & Makeup: A Brush with Beauty | Grooms Suit: Chester Barrie | Wedding Venue: Gray's Inn | Florist: Allium Florist | Bridesmaid Dresses: ASOS | Next | Flower Girl: Monsoon | Page Boy: Next | Ushers: Charles Tyrwhitt | Food: Gray's Inn | Band: The Sustainiac's | Wedding Stationery: Becky Bygone