What could be more British than tea? And gin? Not much really! And we're rather partial to both here at RMW Towers. So when Grace from Goose & Berry sent us this gorgeous shoot from the actual Bombay Sapphire distillery, with it's textural brick walls and charming glasshouse, our hearts skipped a beat. As well as delicious beverages and a quirky setting, there are also some unique blooms that really make a statement - I've never seen those large coral fritillaries used in wedding arrangements before and oh my goodness don't they look incredible?! The lovely Julie Michaelsen was there to capture all of the detail. And now there's only one thing left to decide - tea or gin? Well worry not, because here you can have both...

The Inspiration

Grace at Goose & Berry: Working as a wedding planner and stylist, you have to keep up with the coming and going trends and fashions; not only in the wedding industry, but in the food and drink and indeed wider world. One such trend that is growing year on year recently is Gin. It’s everywhere right? Seen as the new ‘it’ beverage, more varieties are popping up on the market, new cocktails created and ‘craft’ gins born. As wedding planners and caterers, gin based drinks and cocktails are often requested; from gin bars to signature cocktails, there is something for everyone. Even if it's just a classic G&T. I personally adore Gin and have done for many years before its sudden trend take off. Gin and elderflower spritz anyone? Perfect as a spring and summer tipple and a gorgeous choice for a wedding reception. Constantly having to think about trends and ways of incorporating them if a client so wishes keeps you on your toes and my love of gin was the perfect opportunity to look at the combination of gin and weddings. The classic G&T is always a winner and when thinking out loud I came up with a beauty of a combination that would fit perfectly with weddings and another trend; afternoon tea. Gin and Tea marry so well together; with the botanical trend in gin really hitting home and the same in the tea world (with so many new varieties and flavours being brewed up), the two work so well together. Think of a gin and earl grey tea cocktail for example, or gin, jasmine tea and tonic, heaven! Gin and tea have similar backgrounds too; both were introduced to the UK in the 1600’s and became popular throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The rise of the empire and colonies expanded the opportunity to import foreign goods and botanicals and tea and gin and they became more readily available. It isn’t perhaps until modern times that once again we see a boom in popularity and being able to ‘mix’ the two together but it would be fun to explore how you would within a historic context, whilst maintaining an element of modernity, romance and entwining them both within a wedding setting. Hence, setting forth on a journey of G&Tea in the Glasshouse.

The Bombay Sapphire Distillery

Although there are many ‘craft’ and boutique gins around London and the South East, one of the most popular and has by far one of the most gorgeous settings is Bombay Sapphire, located in Laverstoke, Hampshire. The distillery is housed in an old paper mill and sits next to the serene and picturesque River Test. Gin and Tea were both popular within the aforementioned centuries where industrialisation was taking place and it was apt to set the scene in such a place that fits so well with these times. The industrial look is also a key look for this year’s wedding trends and the contrast of the hard brick buildings next to the flowing and romantic water’s edge was the perfect setting for a wedding reception to take place. The huge glasshouses where the botanicals are grown join together the industrial buildings, distilling house with the huge copper distillers and the river, sitting perfectly nestled between the two. Housing exotic plants and butterflies, they are reminiscent of orangeries, popular in the earlier centuries and often where wealthy ladies and gentleman would take tea or enjoy a drink or even paint their discoveries, whilst showing off their exotic plant collection collected from their travels. The plants they house are also a nod to the tropical trend for weddings that is popular currently. Bombay Sapphire lends itself well to the story, large in part because of its name. The exotic botanicals used to create the flavour of the gin are from exotic climbs and similarly tea has been brought to us from Asia; originally from China but cultivated in India in colonial times by the British, to cater for the growing fashionable trend of taking tea. Although Bombay Sapphire was not ‘invented’ in India, its name originates from gin's popularity in India during the British Raj and the sapphire in question is the Star of Bombay on display at the Smithsonian Institution. Although the distillery doesn’t hold a wedding license, you can hold a wedding and drinks reception in one of their various rooms. The distillery produced two fabulous cocktails for us, combining tea and of course Bombay Sapphire gin; Chai Tea Tonic and Tri-Mai-Chai.

The Bride

With a nod to the earlier centuries, our bride is awaiting her wedding celebration and is enjoying the simple pleasures of a cup of tea and a gin cocktail. She is able to enjoy the little luxuries once ready and awaiting her groom and guests. If you’re going to incorporate some of your favourite things into the wedding, why not include them beforehand too. Why not enjoy a tipple with your bridesmaids or family before the ceremony or indeed taking a moment of calm on your own sipping your favourite drink. The botanicals in gin and tea have a calming influence, the perfect antidote to pre-wedding nerves and excitement. Our bride is one that respects the past, whilst looking forward to the future; combining the two, whilst living in the moment. She is fun, knows her own mind and wants something a little different and bespoke and wants to inject some of her own personality and loves into proceedings. She is about discovery and intrigue, which were so prevalent at times of industrialisation and expanding the empire. Wearing a bridal look from Kate Edmonson, taking influences from the Edwardian era; with its high neck and lace, the bride hints at earlier fashions but bought up to date with a fuller skirt and a soft look for make-up and hair by Tori Harris. A bright bold red lip adds a touch of glamour and prevents the look being too dated or plain. The addition of a hair vine, comb and veil from Victoria Millesime adds to the glamour and the gorgeous metallic detailing brings it up to date. A pair of lace boots by House of Elliot matches the lace look and Edwardian feel and provides an element of fun which for a cocktail loving lady is a must. Finished off with gorgeous jewellery by Arabel Lebrusan, our bride wore a sapphire engagement ring, a gold rosette ring and a stunning and one off cocktail sapphire cocktail ring. Statement, unique and fun, just like our bride.

The Details

The flowers are natural, wild and statement, in spice hues and colours, complementing the brick buildings well and using the notes of tea and botanicals so well. Moss & Stone used a variety of flowers and foliage, with some more unusual choices, hinting at the botanicals used in gin. Flowers used were Fritillaria Imperialis, Butterfly ranunculus, Gold laced polyanthus, Hellebore, Snakes head fritillaria, Ranunculus Kloon Mambo, Scabiosa Stellata, Ammi, Antirrhinum, Cherry blossom, Rosa David Austin Juliet, Rosa Caramel Antique, Stocks and Narcissus. The silk materials from Lancaster & Cornish reflect the colours used throughout, from spice dyed ribbons to the blue ribbons and napkins and the shabori patterned table runners. The blue reflected the Bombay colour and the venues proximity of the river and sea and the importance of the oceans in times gone by. Pampering yourself and enjoying the finest thing means one must have a slice of cake and something sweet alongside your G&Tea. Gifted Heart Cakes produced a gorgeous three tier iced wedding cake, reflecting the pattern and colour on the china used for the wedding reception and breakfast. Mini fresh cakes and macarons complemented this well and produced with flavours combining gin and tea, what is not to love! Classic Crockery has the most fabulous of blue and white china and gorgeous sapphire blue goblets. Paired with copper cutlery, it has an organic, elegant, colourful but still modern look for the tablescape. Oh Wonder Calligraphy completed the look with simple and elegant calligraphy stationery; on a tea stained type of textured paper with blue calligraphy. Capturing everything so beautifully was Julie Michaelsen, using film to capture the scene and detail so well. Film images always have an ethereal quality to them and adds a romanticism to the look that digital sometimes lacks. The colour pops but isn’t too bold, reflecting the juxtaposition between old and modern and the harmony between gin and tonic; a perfect flavour balance and combination and mixing both to perfection, like you would find from a mixologist or a expertly brewed tea. Finding a style and suppliers that fit this theme was all about achieving a balance and creating harmony. Like our bride it had to respect and take influences with the past, whilst combining modern elements and being bold, unique and fun, all while maintaining romance and love that is befitting of a wedding.
Fern Godfrey

Written by Fern Godfrey

Planning & Styling: Goose & Berry | Flowers: Moss & Stone | Hair & Make Up: Tori Harris | Dresses: Kate Edmondson Bridal | Bridal Accessories: House Of Elliot | Jewellery: Arabelle Brusan | Headpiece & Veil: Victoria Millesime | Cake: Gifted Heart Cakes | Stationery: Oh Wonder Calligraphy | Ribbon, Runners & Napkins: Lancaster & Cornish | Table Ware Hire: Classic Crockery | Venue: Bombay Sapphire Distillery

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