Inspiration

This summer wedding at Merriscourt in Oxfordshire is a sea of pastel pink prettiness. With the blooms by Rowan Blossom certainly bringing the wow factor. Apologies if you now rethink your floral arrangements after seeing the tall centrepieces adorning the barn reception and bouquets full of roses, hydrangers, blossom, snapdragons, cornflower and ranunculus. I'm also absolutely in love with the silhouette of Gemma's 'Chartres' Charlie Brear gown. It's classic, sexy, and fits her like a glove. And by her side looking stunning her best girl in pink Dessy bridesmaid dresses. Such a sweet wedding, for an adorable couple, all captured beautifully by Especially Amy.

The Dress

Gemma the Bride: I knew that I didn’t want a traditional wedding dress, I still wanted to look ‘bridal’ but I didn’t want layers of fabric or boning. I made a shortlist of dress designers styles that I loved and travelled around London to see them in person, vs. going to a boutique. One of the designers was Charlie Brear in Goodge St. Their cuts are all inspired by original vintage wedding dresses and I found the fabrics and tones luxurious and flattering. I definitely didn’t have that ‘it’s the one’ moment though, but thanks to the stylists guidance (and my bridesmaids help), I could see that the style suited me. I had initially decided that I didn’t want a veil and so was fairly reluctant to try one one, I can’t tell you why I just had a preconception that they’d be awkward to wear. However, when I tried a veil from HM Veils with my dress, I absolutely loved it – it was really plain and delicate, but cathedral length, which really complemented the dress design, I’m so glad I chose it.

The Grooms Attire

Sean decided quite early on that he wanted a dark grey suit, but he didn’t actually choose it until 2 months before the wedding. He selected a suit from Burberry, but as it didn’t come with a waistcoat, he sourced this separately from The Kooples and it worked perfectly with the suit. He wore the same tie as his groomsmen, which complemented the bridesmaids dresses tones and the pinks hues within our flowers.

The Venue

We actually found Merriscourt on RMW. We wanted somewhere that was between our families homes in Cheshire and London. We’d researched Merriscourt and loved the aesthetics of the interiors and the secluded, yet picturesque outdoor spaces. When we visited for the first time we knew straight away that we wanted to get married there - even before we stepped inside. We ended up agreeing a date that same day!

Colour Scheme/Decor

We didn’t have a specific colour scheme, but we wanted to stay true to the time of year and location, so we embraced the natural surroundings and chose a variety of pink tones, creams, whites and deep greens. Our florist Rowan Blossom helped to bring my vision to life by choosing only British seasonal flowers with lots of beautiful, soft trailing foliage to celebrate the flowers that we had – they were our only décor. The dining room was quite narrow but with a very high ceiling, so to play with the proportions and add dimension I knew I wanted tall vases, to draw the eye up - we called them ‘flower explosions’ as they were the absolute focal feature in the room, it was totally transformed. One guest even remarked that they felt like they were in Kew gardens! The beauty was that everyone could still see each other when sat down, as the vases were clear glass. We had aisle end decorations in the ceremony room, which were created in vases so that they stayed fresh all day and could be used around the venue afterwards. We also had one mega ceremony room arrangement which worked perfectly as our table planner for the wedding breakfast and also meant that people got to appreciate it for longer. Our bouquets were soft and slightly deconstructed. They carried the same natural and soft pink colour palette with roses, hydrangers, blossom, snapdragons, cornflower and ranunculus.

The Wedding Party Fashion

Choosing the girls bridesmaid dresses was super easy, we visited Les Trois Souers, as I knew they had lots of styles. The girls chose the dresses that same day.

Ceremony

Our first dance was a track that Gemma’s Grandad had written and recorded in the 60s, it’s the first track I ever danced to, as he used to play it to my sisters and I when we were little. Sean suggested it, as we both knew we wanted something unique and meaningful. ‘Fred’ passed away over a decade ago, so it was a way of including him in our big day, he’d have loved to have been there, it was such a perfect moment, although it did make everyone quite emotional.

Food

The wedding breakfast catering was provided by Wesley House (they have the sole contract with the venue) with consultation from Gemma’s chef Uncle, Mark Hix. The menu included a mix of seasonal, locally sourced food. Every guest had their own personalized menu as a place setting. Our desserts we’re served in the Gallery at Merriscourt, to encourage people to mingle over cake and tea. Our fabulous wedding cake was a bespoke creation by Lily Vanilli on Columbia Road, London, she chose a mix of floral decorations to complement the other arrangements and decorated with glittered cherries, for extra decadence!

Photographer

The lovely Amy Murrell of Especially Amy agreed to be our wedding photographer. She’s one of the first people we booked. We both work in the creative industry so we knew the value of having a great photographer. The light in The Cotswolds is really special and combined with Amy’s caught and captured style, we had the perfect ingredients to capture our wedding day. Receiving the photographs afterwards was so special, we were able to relive our day again. Everyone says it, but you really don’t realise how fast it all goes by on the day.

Special Moments

Our venue were so accommodating, they allowed us access the day before, so we were able to meet there with our parents, groomsmen and bridesmaids to add the finishing touches, meet the team and check everything was in order. Some venues only allocate you a set slot on the day, which really put us off when we looked around – Merriscourt helped us to feel like the space was ours for the weekend. I stayed at the gorgeous Dormy House Hotel for a couple of spa days before our wedding, in hindsight I wished I’d have taken a couple of extra days off work to savour and enjoy the build up even more.

Advice

I didn’t find wedding planning stressful at all, I really enjoyed it. My key tip is to work out the overall timings and just do a bit every week. Remember that these are yours and your fiancées decisions and that lots of people will have an opinion on who you should invite, where they should sit etc. but you don’t have to listen to them! It’s your day after-all. We saved money on invites, place-settings and seating plans by designing our own wedding invites. We got married on a bank holiday, so we issued save the dates early with accommodation options so guests could forward plan. This meant that we had a good idea of numbers way before our deadline to confirm, so that we stayed on track with our budget. People do drop out at the last minute, but I’d been pre-warned this would be the case, so I had a couple of people on stand-by (who didn’t mind being on stand-by!!) luckily they could join us to celebrate, even though they only found out that morning.

Written by Lorna Shaw

Dress Designer: Charlie Brear - Chartres | Headpiece: Jennifer Behr | Bridal Shoes: Maje | Veil: HM Veils | Groomsmen: Burberry | Bridesmaid Dresses: Dessy | Bridesmaid Dresses Boutique: Les Trois Soeurs | Venue: Merriscourt | Florist: Rowan Blossom | Catering: Wesley House | Cake: Lily Vanilli | String Quartet: Bellini Strings

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