One of the best things about this job is how uplifting it is to look at images of people in love. And I think it’s fair to say that Emelia and Toby are truly, madly, deeply in love. It literally radiates from the images captured by John Day.
Emelia was overwhelmed by emotion during the ceremony, as I’m sure many of you Brides-to-be will be. But Toby helped her get through her vows and the resulting images capture a togetherness and tenderness that is really wonderful to see. And to be honest – the real reason why any of us get married in the first place…
Ok, ok, I’ll stop being soppy now, but once you’ve seen what I’m talking about, I’m sure you’ll agree! (And don’t worry, there’s a whole heap of pretty for you to admire too – Emelia’s bespoke blush gown being one of them!!)
Emelia The Bride: Choosing a dress was so much fun but so hard! I guess I always had ideas in my mind as to what I wanted – blush coloured, ethereal, a bit vintage (but not too much) a full flowing skirt with super long train (!), a low back … it turned out after visiting countless wedding dress boutiques this just didn’t really exist of the peg… after much searching I found Jenny Lessin and she was my saviour. She instantly understood what I wanted, shared my love for delicate lace, soft muted colours, and masses of floaty fabric.
The process of putting the dress together became instantly stress free, Jenny drew up beautiful designs, we worked them up together, trialled and tested different fabrics and colours, and slowly the dress was formed – it was just perfect, everything about it was just as I wanted, even down to the placing of the lace round the neckline, shoulders and back. Ever since I was little I’ve always loved the sound of music, and for my veil I knew I wanted a dramatic cathedral length, which Jenny made in the softest tulle to match my dress.
I hunted high and low for my shoes, with a pretty hefty budget set aside, and so I was so excited when I finally found these from No.1 Jenny Packham, which not only matched my dress perfectly but were also an absolute bargain!
Nicky, who did my hair and make-up created luminous and natural make-up and soft and slightly unstructured hair. As my something borrowed my Auntie lent me some antique earrings my Grandma had lent her on her wedding day and my Mum gave me the most beautiful gold bracelet made from an antique chain of hers and a gold charm cast from the wax seal we used on our wedding invitations.
Toby The Groom: I wanted to wear British designed clothes/accessories wherever possible in my outfit. A well cut, classic three piece in an unusual colour was what I was looking for, in keeping with the relaxed feel of the wedding, but different enough from anything I would wear every day to work. A made-to-measure suit from Begger’s Run was exactly what I was looking for with exceptional fabrics, cut and quality. Classic British brogues from Crocket & Jones were updated in rich maroon. Drakes on Saville Row has the most amazing selection of ties and pocket squares – the paisley silk tie and blue edged pocket square pulled all the colours together. My antique tie clip a previous birthday present from Emelia and she gave me some silver sixpence cufflinks from 1914 on the wedding morning.
Toby is originally from Oxfordshire, and I from Worcestershire, so although we live in London we wanted to get married in the Cotswolds, close to home. We were looking for a venue which we could take over for the weekend, with room for close friends and family to stay and to have the flexibility to choose from a range of suppliers – quite a tall order, we realised! After scouring high and low we finally came across Temple Guiting Manor. I’d actually discounted it the first time I looked at the website, as although it was stunningly beautiful I didn’t realise they could accommodate larger weddings. When we thought I’d exhausted all possibilities we revisited it, and realising that they could hold three larger weddings a year got down there as soon as we could and booked it!
The walled gardens with masses of early summer blooms, the super stylish decor and beautiful bedrooms, not to mention the idyllic village setting, were the perfect backdrop to the relaxed country house party wedding we’d always wanted. With many guests coming from all over the country and abroad having the house for the whole weekend meant we were able to have a big BBQ on the evening before the wedding which was perfect for soothing any last minute nerves!
Equally important to us was the church we were to get married in. We were very lucky that the two Rev’s who look after St. Mary’s church in Temple Guiting were so welcoming to us and we couldn’t have wished for a more beautiful service. Added bonus being the fact that we could walk to and from the church with our guests!
As a starting point, and to tie everything together, I started with our wedding stationery – designing a crest including a knife, fork and spoon. We had everything letterpress printed by Tilley Printing – I am slightly obsessed with stationery so the opportunity to work with Martin from scratch was amazing. Putting together the invites was a labour of love, I just wished I’d been more organised to get John to photograph the suite! I also used the crest on lots of finishing touches – little glassine bags from the confetti (home made by our Mums), kraft labels for our favours (home made rosemary salt in kilner jars, with ceramic thank you tags handmade by Mum).
As we held the reception outside (the weather held out despite all our fears and a week or torrential rain that only cleared that morning!) the decor was really simple. I collected some key accessories for the bar – an old champagne bucket, a large decanter for soft drinks, striped straws etc. Instead of escort cards we hung three antique mirrors on the rose garden wall which I’d written the table plan on in chalk pen. Handmade chalkboard signage helped guests find their way around the gardens. The highlight were the gorgeous vintage champagne coupes we hired from Lesley at The Vintage Hire!
Inside the marquee for the wedding breakfast we focused the decor around the beautiful flowers from Fiona, bringing the outside in, with a bit of foodie element thrown in with lots of herbs and our tea towel napkins! It felt quite hard to bring interest and excitement to the ceiling of the marquee but after a lot of pinterest boards and a few chats with Fiona we decided on and incredible (and enormous!) eucalyptus and greenery chandelier which Fiona constructed in situ the day before.
We kept the tables long and informal, and the colour scheme neutral to let the florals really speak for themselves. We bought some beautiful striped fabric from Shepherds bush market for the runners, our Mums spent hours ironing Ikea tea towels for napkins (!), which we slotted our menu’s into, and finished the tables off with gorgeous vintage cutlery. Filling the centre we had vintage candle sticks, and cruets, interspersed with Fiona’s beautiful flower arrangements, as well as small potted herbs. All the centrepieces were set inside silver antique trophies’ I’d spent months collecting from ebay, along with silver teapots, sugar bowls (really any kind of beautiful antique vessel!). Finishing everything off were place cards we printed ourselves, and our kilner jar favours.
Fiona was an absolute delight to work with and possibly the most enjoyable part of planning the wedding (by a whisker!). We wanted the flowers to look as natural and green as possible, with plenty of English spring and summer blooms in blush, white and heather, and herbs throughout – and my goodness Fiona really delivered on this!
My bouquet was absolutely stunning – full and unstructured with old English roses, peonies and mint, tied with long blush silk ribbon and interspersed with seed pods, wild flowers and herbs from her garden and the hedgerows.
As the bridesmaids dresses were so sleek and beautiful we decided on simple long bouquets with white stocks, mint and lots of greenery, tied with grosgrain ribbon to match their dresses. The flower girls had gypsophila balls, and Livie a beautiful simple crown with gypsophila and ivy.
Button holes for the men were mostly green, with some herbs and more of the beautiful seed pods and grasses Fiona had collected.
We decided to do the flowers for the church ourselves, and again our mum’s were absolute troopers here! The day before they tied up bunches of simple white roses, gypsophila and giant daisies with greenery from the hedgerows, and hung over the pews with raffia. On the altar we had a large hurricane vase with tons of white stocks, and some small fruit trees in metal dolly tubs added height and more greenery.
The table centres were the icing on the cake, even more beautiful flowers, herbs and foliage, bringing the gardens of Temple Guiting inside. Lots of different sized antique vessels, interspersed with the candelabra’s and candle sticks down the long tables created the perfect centrepiece whilst allowing room for them to be moved aside for when the food came out!
The Wedding Party
We are super to lucky to have many wonderfully talented people in our family, including Toby’s sister Kirsty who is a fashion designer and made the stunning bridesmaids dresses. We chose a beautiful mink coloured fabric for the base, overlaid with a mocha polka dot tulle. Each dress was long but with a different sleeve, neckline etc. so that the girls could choose whatever they felt most comfortable in.
The flower girls wore all white, the two little ones dresses were billy bargains (!) from Primark which my Grandma added tulle underskirts and grosgrain ribbon sashes to, and Livie’s was from Monsoon, amazingly they all matched perfectly! We finished each outfit off with a pale gold shrug from H&M, white tights and pink ballet pumps.
We wanted the whole bridal party outfits to reflect the relaxed feel of the wedding and so we just asked all the Groomsmen to wear their favourite blue suit, with a crisp white shirt, and topped them off with a floral liberty print tie. Our ring bearer, Zander, was a last minute addition on the day (!, pre-wedding nerves!) but he already had his best suit on!
Emelia: I always knew I was going to find it hard not to do a Gweneth (!) during our vows (I’m a cryer!) but it turns out walking down the aisle was just as hard! As soon as the doors opened and I saw Toby and all our friends and loved ones I was totally overwhelmed with love and happiness and as you can see from the photos I was only just holding it together by the time I got to the end of the aisle! The entire ceremony was beautiful from the music, hymns, sermon and readings (Shakespeare’s sonnet from my mum another tear jerker), but my overriding memory is facing Toby during the vows and him willing and helping me to get the coax the words I so wanted to say out through my happy tears, I was so unbelievably happy by the time he kissed me, and absolutely over the moon by the time we skipped out to The Wedding March from ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ my favourite since I was a little girl.
Toby: Seeing my future wife enter the church for the first time was the first highlight of the ceremony. From there it continued into this extremely intense (but happy!) emotional feeling until it was time to exchange our vows. I just managed mine and then we got Emelia through hers! Just about. As husband and wife we left arm in arm ready for the homemade confetti to be thrown all over us!
Music (and wine) were most definitely Toby’s domain! During the reception The Gershwin Gang were just perfect for our relaxed garden party feel with their smart white tie and chilled out jazz and swing.
For the party Max from The Wedding Smashers was phenomenal! Finding a live band who could deliver on the range and styles of music we wanted was almost impossible and when we turned to DJ’s we were a little bit freaked out by the number of Disco Dave’s out there, so when we found Max we thought he was a godsend – there wasn’t a single guest who wasn’t dancing for the entire evening! The fact that our last three records of the evening were: Joe Smooth ‘Promised Land’, Queen ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ and our one more with the lights on Aretha Franklin ‘Say a Little Prayer’ – sums up the collective groove and party we had !
If guests weren’t dancing they were in the photobooth…another do-it-ourselves job, it was probably one of the funniest parts of the evening, the photos are priceless! Pulling it together was another family affair – Toby’s dad made the stand for the ipad, our brother in law decorated it, Mum collected the props, and I made the backdrop. With a cheap studio light from eBay and some photobooth software on the ipad it was a cracker!
Toby and I were set-up by friends as a result of our mutual love of food and so this was always going to be a “biggy” – in fact I think we started talking about the food as soon as we got engaged! Our caterers, Tasting Plates, cook delicious, fresh food with a strong Italian influence which was perfect as Italian is some of our favourite food (although really hard to choose!).
Choosing the canapés was the hardest part as there were just too many delicious ones. We eventually plumped for a combination of old favourites like smoked salmon blinis and Yorkshire puddings with rare roast beef, combined with something slightly different like taleggio raviloli’s and a selection of six different crostini including Fig, gorgonzola and pancetta and Foie gras with quince jelly. To drink we served buckets of Crémant from The Wine Society (a champagne style wine which would match a “real” champagne in flavour of three times the price) and a homemade elderflower sparkler with mint.
To start the wedding breakfast we chose huge sharing antipasti boards, brimming with Salami’s, roasted vegetables, aged Parmesan with Grappa raisins, marinated artichokes, and (our favourite) creamy Burrata and Italian plum tomatoes. We matched each course of the menu with a different wine, most of which were Italian and from The Wine Society. For main we served roast Porchetta with fennel salt on sharing plates with huge bowls of rosemary and garlic roast potatoes and warm spring vegetable salad, finished off with a fruity Chianti Rufina Reserva. After all that we had a simple panna cotta with berries for desert, with a Californian desert wine on the tables for everyone to help themselves.
Our cake was a naked four tier Victoria sponge lovingly made by my Auntie. And then as if we needed more food later on during the party we served an enormous cheese board from Neals Yard Dairy with port for guests to help themselves (we had our port and cheese as a nightcap in the barn at 2am!).
John was an absolute joy to work with – such an incredibly talented person. For most elements of the wedding we seemed to do tons of research before we found the right supplier, however as soon as we saw John’s photos we knew he was the photographer for us. Although getting all the elements of the wedding which we’ve spent so long planning seem important, really its capturing those fleeting moments with your friends and family, and (most importantly) the best friend you’ve just married, which are the memories you want to keep forever, and John’s photographs capture these most perfectly.
In order to get the wedding day we wanted, we brought in every supplier separately and coordinated it all ourselves. Kelly from Temple Guiting was an absolute godsend in coordinating everyone on the day, and each supplier was so professional that everything ran smoothly and it was the most amazing wedding day we could have hoped for. BUT if I were to advise anyone else it would be to get a wedding planner!
Photography by John Day Photography
- Bride’s Gown Jenny Lessin
- Shoes No.1 Jenny Packham
- Hair & Make Up Nicky at Beauty Call
- Groom Beggars Run
- Shoes Crockett & Jones
- Venue Temple Guiting Manor & Barns
- Champagne Coupes The Vintage Hire
- Florist Fiona Perry Flowers
- Flower Girls Primark
- Band The Gershwin Gang
- DJ Wedding Smashers
- Catering Tasting Plates
- Wine The Wine Society