Oh my goodness – that bouquet!!! It’s only March and I’m already declaring it my favourite of 2016! The colours, the shape, the textures – it’s just so pretty and not like anything I’ve seen before. And wait until you see the Bridesmaids bouquets and the gorgeous fresh flower hair embellishments…
Jenny & George’s big day is full of gorgeous and unusual decor details, with a theme of ‘peace, love and revolution’ it was kind of inevitable really and meant that the feel of the day was really relaxed. Their venue, The Perch, a riverside pub in Oxfordshire, is such a beautiful location to hold a reception and it’s lovely to see everyone outside enjoying the sunshine.
And Bride Jenny looks beautiful in Claire Pettibone, her gown has that soft tulle-and-lace swish factor and you can tell it has lovely movement just from the images. Which by the way, come from the fabulous Maureen Du Preez, whose work is just dreamy as always.
Jenny The Bride: Initially I was quite nervous about wearing a wedding dress as I’m not a big ‘dresser upper’ but on the day I felt beautiful but natural. I loved the floaty, romantic vibe of the Claire Pettibone dress. It was the third one I tried on in the shop and I decided right away. My mum’s friend Vanessa did a wonderful job of fitting it. I decided against wearing a necklace as the dress had such a pretty lace neckline. The only jewellery I wore were fake pearl earrings I found in my draw the morning of the wedding (I totally forgot to think about earrings!) and my grandmother’s sapphire ring, given to her by her parents on her 21st birthday. She passed away some years ago and we were very close so it meant a lot to me to wear it (it was was also – along with the flowers in my hair – my ‘something blue’). After the wedding we put my bouquet on my granny’s grave in the nearby town of Islip.
George rarely treats himself to anything. I used to call him the ‘man who has no things’ when we started going out at his Uni room was always bare. We all encouraged him to get a really nice fitted suit, which in the end he rather enjoyed! He wore his Greek grandfather’s cuff links and he also has his wedding ring.
The Perch is quite simply the most romantic pub in Oxford. It overlooks the river and Port Meadow and has a stunning garden full of wild flowers. It has been the destination of many a long romantic walk during our time in Oxford so it was the obvious choice. It was casual and rustic.
We’re both activists so we wanted to have fun with the decor and styling to reflect this, as well as putting in some traditional touches, and not straying too far from the theme of love! The tables were decorated to be bright and colourful and named after social movements, the table place names were postcards and the favours were all themed to correspond with them – we had a lot of fun collecting them in the run up to the event! We had guests running around with Che Guevara badges, wearing Freida Kahlo patches and launching hand grenades sculpted out of seeds for wild flowers. We had a pirate tent for the kids and gave them goody bags with extra favours. I made mosaic decorations with quotes on love, art and revolution and put them up around the place. We gifted them to some of our special guests at the end of the night which was a nice memento. We put framed photos of family members who had passed away and couldn’t be with us on a piano which meant a lot to certain guests. We had a glitter station which was a huge hit with kids and adults alike…especially once the drinks started flowing…
The venue was full to the brim with colourful cottage garden flowers from Joe Austin, a local allotment in Oxford and also from my mum’s friends’ gardens in my home town of Milton Keynes.
We wanted the look to be natural and summery. The bridesmaids chose their dresses, choosing a dusty pink, and we bought the flower girls’ hand crocheted dresses the year before in Cuba.
The ceremony took place in the Old Library of Oxford Town Hall – a stunning venue where George and I have shared some important memories. We wanted the ceremony to be beautiful, fun and very personal. It’s quite daunting to create your own ceremony from scratch so, at the advice of my friend Caroline Leonard, we chose to structure it in three parts around the themes of Love, Art and Revolution. We chose to walk in together, hand in hand.
My dad read an extract from one of my favourite books and George’s mum read the poem Ithaka. One of my oldest friends read Invisible Kisses and the ceremony ended with a reading by our amazing activist friend Danni Paffard who read, really powerfully, an extract from Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom. We sung a couple of cheery songs together to break up the readings and read our own vows. People were still singing and dancing on the way out to the Meadow.
A few of our friends bought guitars to Port Meadow and played during the champagne reception and in the evening we had a ceilidh, by our friend Liam Crosby’s band, and a DJ set by Ellie Mae O’Hagan. Our friend Will McCallum had the coveted role of Chairman of Fun and organised games including a sweep stake, sack race and hula hoop contest.
We had two stunningly different cakes, both made by dear friends to us. On the day, lots of people pitched in to help decorate them. The first was a colourful three tier floral cake with flowers made by my friend Frances Leech who is a patissiere in Paris. You can follow her incredible food and art blog here. The second was a unique creation by one of our good friends Martin Leonard who is known both for making unbelievably delicious cakes and for his great sense of humour. This cake was themed around the Taj Mahal and Jurassic Park…we took the left over cake to an old people’s home the day after and they were really touched.
The food was provided by The Perch and was all vegetarian. Even our most carnivorous friends were impressed! The night before we had a delicious buffet at The Turl Street Kitchen in Oxford town centre.
I first met Maureen when she volunteered to cover a conference to support refugees in London and was really impressed by her natural manner and work. I came across her quite by chance on Pinterest and contacted her right away. Her photos are just beautiful and totally in keeping with what we wanted from the day. She captured some truly beautiful moments, including a series of photos of me sharing a hug with my great aunt which still makes me cry!