This mornings wedding is beautiful in every sense of the word, I’ve simply loved putting it together for you. Emily’s words paint a really accurate picture of the day, and of her and Edwards’ relationship, and so along with James’ emotive photographs you really feel as if you’re living their wedding day with them.
The pair opted to have an intimate ceremony and dinner followed by a big party the next evening, which I think is a wonderful idea if the thought of combining everything is getting too much for you. It meant they got to enjoy two fabulous venues too. The Lost Orangery from Unique Home Stays is simply magical and the perfect place to hold a stylish and elegant soiree. In fact we love the Unique Home Stays property portfolio so much that we’re currently running a competition with them, so do check it out if you’ve missed it. You could win a stay worth £995 in an incredible love nest by the sea…
But first, let’s enjoy this wedding, it’s the perfect balance of soul and style for a Sunday morning.
Emily The Bride: We had a weekend of celebrations. On Friday 29th July we had a small ceremony and reception with our bridal party, followed by a black tie reception the following evening for 80 family and friends. We’ve lived in Bath for the past couple of years. It’s a beautiful city. Ed grew up here and I’ve also developed a strong affinity with the area – and we wanted to get married in a place that had meaning for us. I have a studio in the centre of town and everyday on my way to it I walk past The Royal Crescent. I actually have quite a vivid memory of my parents taking me to see it when I was about 8 years old: I remember feeling in awe of it. Now, it’s quite strange to think that I didn’t know I’d get married here one day.
We’re not traditionalists and are fortunate to have very easy-going parents so we were free to design a wedding of our choosing. We were very drawn to the idea of a small ceremony – intimate, special, significant – and wanted to get married outside amongst the flora, fauna, birds and bees. The Royal Crescent Hotel had a magical little secret garden in the grounds, licensed to hold weddings, so it was right for us.
We got married here surrounded by 25 of our closest friends and family – essentially, our bridal party. My father gave me away. He did such a good job. One of the things we’d underestimated was how our parents would feel during and after the wedding – they were elated, literally buzzing – and that was very special for us.
I walked down the aisle to an acoustic version of Bon Iver’s Holocene. We’d asked Matt to cover three songs during the ceremony: Holocene for the entrance, Dire Strait’s Romeo + Juliet for the recital and Peter Gabriel’s Solsbury Hill for the recessional. It was special to have songs we loved played just for us.
We designed our ceremony with our incredibly lovely registrar Julia. We basically cherry-picked all our favourite bits and stitched it all together. From this, we chose our vows. We considered writing our own but thought we’d get too much stick for it! So instead, we focused on picking music and readings that really meant something to us.
We had three readings: Poem to First Love, Matthew Yeager, an extract from A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemmingway and an extract from The Amber Spyglass, Phillip Pullman. Ed subscribes to various literary newsletters and often shares with me the things he likes, so over the years we’d collected some beautiful poems and readings.
The ceremony was followed by champagne and canapés on the croquet lawn, and then a five course tasting lunch in a private room overlooking the gardens. We stayed in the hotel’s master suite that night – it was quite romantic until our friends decided to gate-crash – so we ended up having a bit of a room party until the early hours. Spontaneity is what happy memories are made of and it ended up being one of our happiest wedding moments.
In addition to this, we also wanted to throw a good party. So decided to have a wedding of two parts. The next evening we hosted a black tie party at The Lost Orangery to give us a chance to celebrate with all of our friends. Looking for the party venue required more homework…we wanted somewhere with ambience and imagination that didn’t feel too rule-bound and would work come rain or shine. By chance, The Lost Orangery, a private house just outside of Bath, had recently become available for events. Situated at the top of the valley where Ed grew up, we jumped on it.
Having done the ceremonial part of the wedding the day before, we had a lot of freedom – so just focused on what makes an enjoyable celebration. We wanted to help guide our guests through the evening so they felt well looked after and entertained. With this in mind, we structured different parts of the evening in different zones of the venue. We kicked off with a champagne and canapé reception on the terrace overlooking the lake – we lit the fire-pit in the middle of the lake and put the DJ in the boat-house so he could play ambient house to the crowd to get everyone in the mood. It felt pretty out of this world and established a nice tone for the rest of the evening. We then took people through the grounds to the main lawn for supper – we positioned poseur tables and stools in various spots – and served an exotic menu of food such as Mexican pork pibil, Brazilian moqueca prawn stew and Moroccan lamb tagine. We asked our lovely acoustic guitarist from the ceremony to come back and play to our guests whilst eating. For the final part of the evening we moved guests up to the orangery for the speeches and cake-cutting on the roof terrace, followed by dancing inside until late.
We planned and organised the wedding ourselves, however did hire a wedding co-ordinator for the weekend to set everything up, run the party and clear up afterwards. Best. Money. Spent. Harriet was amazing. When the weekend arrived she took complete charge, which meant we didn’t have to worry about a thing.
We’ve been together for eleven years now. We met in our final year at Exeter University. We were both studying English and Ed wooed me with his words! I think we worked out we only spent about three nights apart in the first year we were together: it was definitely love in its soppiest form. After university we moved to London, and in time, moved in together. We definitely both changed in that period: we grew up and we grew together. About three years ago we both had significant career changes. Ed was working in banking and I was in marketing. We enjoyed what we did but we enjoyed photography and writing more. So one day we both quit in search of a more creatively fulfilling life. It was intense and daunting but we were on the adventure together. About six months later Ed proposed.
Something that had guided us from the outset was choosing venues with soul and ambience. We felt if we could get that right – be in places that felt romantic and magical – then everything else would fall into place. Essentially we were directed by the mood not themes: on the Friday we wanted it to feel romantic and chic and on the Saturday a little more decadent.
I didn’t have a fixed idea of the style of dress, but I knew that I wanted a weighty, luxurious fabric in a beautiful cut. I had seen a picture of Carolyn Bessette Kennedy on her wedding day twenty years ago – her dress was so simple, yet beautiful – so I took that as my inspiration. I was a bit unsure if wedding dresses would suit me and didn’t want to obsessively follow a bridal theme that I’d look back on and regret. So in the end, I asked myself a simple question: could someone wear this dress to the Oscars? When I put my dress on there weren’t hysterical sobs of joy but I did feel really nice in it! I loved the simplicity of the fabric and the flattering, fitted cut.
The Wedding Party
I had four wonderful bridesmaids. They didn’t wear traditional bridesmaid dresses; just whatever they pleased! I gave each of them a bracelet to wear on the day to say thank you for all their help and support.
James was absolutely lovely to work with: easy-going, discrete and mega talented. We’d seen his work and loved his aesthetic. He has an earthy, soulful style that really appealed to us. I contacted him when he was living in Australia and as luck would have it he was moving back to the UK just in time to shoot our wedding.
We wanted the flowers to look chic and contemporary. On a practical level, we also wanted to use them across both days and venues. So we decided to have white mono-botanical arrangements in individual vases. We wanted to use the budget wisely, so decided to concentrate the flowers into two specific locations for greater impact. For the ceremony, we opted for tall minimalist cylinder vases, filled with white stocks, delphiniums, hydrangeas, eucalyptus, thlaspi and ammi. These were grouped together and staggered at varying heights on Perspex plinths, surrounded by candles. We mirrored this for the lunch; filling the table with lots of individual vases of white flowers and foliage consisting of white scabious, roses, sweetpeas, lisianthus, gelda and hydrangeas. I wanted a petite and pure white bouquet – so foliage was minimal and it consisted of roses, hydrangea, sweetpea and scabious to give it a dense, textured feel. Ed wanted something similarly neat and contemporary for his buttonhole – so opted for 3 heads of white double lisianthus with a sprig of thlaspi and eucalyptus. For the Saturday evening, we redistributed the ceremony and table flowers around the party venue: we staggered the vases on entrance steps, poseur tables, on the bar and in the orangery.
Our florist was so patient and helpful. They created a really useful mood-board outlining and demonstrating what they could achieve with our budget – from the types of flowers and volume we could expect to a mocked up layout of the arrangements and props. They also had an amazing supply of props e.g. lanterns, vases, votives, signage etc so we had a lot of flexibility to customise things here.
I wasn’t going to have a cake until my lovely friend Veryan kindly offered to make one for us. She did an amazing job! It looked beautiful and was so delicious. We went for four white tiers with gold metallic accents. Each tier had a different flavour: carrot cake, victoria sponge, red velvet and fruitcake. We’ve saved the top tier and it’s currently residing happily in our freezer until a special occasion warrants eating it!
I’m quite into stationery, so was in my element for this part of the planning. Again, we wanted something quite contemporary and simple. We were after a weighty paper and letterpress technique but needed to work with our budget – Artcadia offered really good value. We picked white A5 600gsm card stock with gold hot foil printing in a handwritten style font. I then ordered grey silk ribbon to hand tie the wedding invitation bundle together, and a nib and ink from Quill London to handwrite the names and envelopes.
On the décor side we kept things quite simple and prioritised flowers, candles and lanterns. Colour wise we stuck to whites, greys and gold. For the lunch on Friday we wanted to create an abundant look so styled one long table: lots of different vases of white flowers, grey candles in gold holders, votives, lanterns, grey runners down the centre and shells spray painted in gold. This was all recycled and restyled at the party venue the next day.
The First Dance
Our first dance was Marvin Gaye’s Lets Get it On: it has that addictive summery, soulful, Motown sound. Ed’s not much of a dancer in public, but when we’re listening to music at home, he’ll often take my hand and spin me around in the kitchen. One time, this was the song that was playing.
There were so many happy moments, but my favourite part was the ceremony. I just felt very calm; I was focused on Ed but I was able to take it all in at the same time. It was very emotional and we were so happy.
I wish I’d organised my hair, make-up and accessories sooner. I ended up doing all of my trials the week before the wedding because I’d been so busy with work earlier in the summer. It was a bit frustrating not knowing what I was actually going to look like on my wedding day and quite hard to imagine that part of things – if I’d sorted it sooner it would have been one less thing to worry about!
Someone told me to ‘be present’ during the wedding. So really concentrate on taking it all in and engaging all of my senses. This was a good piece of advice – I did this during the ceremony and my memories of it are really vivid. The distance between the ceremony and the house was not very far at all, so when Ed booked the car to take me to the hotel he arranged for the driver to take the long route there: through the park and the prettiest parts of Bath. That was really lovely because it allowed me to have a moment, think about the significance of things and extend a special moment with my father.
Photography by James Frost
- Ceremony Venue The Royal Crescent
- Reception Venue The Lost Orangery
- Bride Suzanne Neville
- Veil Stewart Parvin
- Hair Jessie-May at Melanie Giles
- Make Up Victoria Draper
- Groom’s Jacket Favourbrook
- Trousers Gieves and Hawkes
- Shoes Loake
- Flowers Flowers by Passion
- Rings William Welstead
- Catering The Cotswold Kitchen
- Guitarist Matthew Lennox
- DJ Robbie Duncan
- Stationery Artcadia