"Once you’ve got some clear ideas on what you both want, make decisions, and crucially, pick very good suppliers. Good suppliers are invaluable." We couldn't agree more with Bride Tara's fabulous advice, and it's lovely to see she included many of our our very own, The List, and Look Book, recommended suppliers to make her gorgeous blush pink, white and gold vision at Aynhoe Park a reality. From the show stopping blooms to the refined gold flatware, I'm sure you'll agree everything looked absolutely stunning. Non more so than our gorgeous bride and groom in their fabulous wedding attire. Tara's Suzanne Neville gown fits her like a glove and James couldn't be more dapper in his DKNY black tie suit from Moss Bros. The wonderful Lucy Davenport has done a sterling job at capturing all the elegance and love, so enjoy every delicious detail.
ProposalTara the Bride: Our wedding journey started two years ago when James got down on one knee in one of our favourite places, Dubai. We’d been together for over 10 years but it was still a surprise. He went completely OTT & rented a yacht for the day before a very romantic dinner at Al Mahara in the Burj Al Arab. It wasn’t until we went to return to our room on a gondola (the ‘water taxis’ around our hotel) that I realised something was up. It was a special gold one, covered in rose petals. In hindsight the fact he had been carrying a jacket around all night in 40 degree heat was a clue (…to hide the ring box). I can’t tell you what a huge rush of adrenaline I got the moment I realised he was about to ask, he sat down next to me but I could barely look at him. The second he got up to spin around I cried like a baby & of course, said yes. I did tell him that getting down on one knee in a moving gondola was far more impressive than the yacht! We knew we wanted to get married in 2017 because we have a thing about the number 7 – fun fact. This also gave a nice two year timeframe to plan but, we did nothing in year one. We enjoyed being engagement, moved house & eventually had an engagement / housewarming party at the half way point. After that we began taking it a bit more seriously…
BridalMy dress hunt started by Instagram’ing the hell out of wedding dresses & I quickly convinced myself I wanted a Berta, despite the price tag! I tried some on & even slightly fell for the 14-20 but I had a nagging feeling I was more in love with the idea of a Berta than the dress itself. I was recommended Serendipity Brides by a friend & I remember spotting ‘the dress’ as I walked through to my changing room. It was on the end, a Suzanne Neville rail facing outwards & it stood out in the sea of tulle & sweet heart necklines because it didn’t actually look like a wedding dress. The Belle dress had only just arrived & nobody had tried it on yet so I felt like a bit of a guinea pig. Not really taking it too seriously & having already tried on a few I whipped it on & it fit like a glove…interesting. But it felt more ‘red carpet’ than bridal & although mum & grandma were saying all the right things, there wasn’t a ‘movie scene’ tear fest. Turns out, that’s quite common. The lovely owner of Serendipity, Lisa, made me feel amazing & gave me some valuable advice about a) not overthinking it & b) not trying to please anyone other than myself. With this in mind & the addition of a very ‘bridal’ train length Joyce Jackson veil, the decision was made. I found my shoes almost a year in advance. Sophia Webster Evangeline heels in white & rose gold. Not your ‘classic’ bridal shoe but with every decision I made I thought - there are no rules. A mantra that served me well. One of my lovely bridesmaids bought me a Katie Hoxton clutch which I didn’t carry with me but always had nearby on the day for the trusty lip-gloss top-up. It wasn’t a conscious decision but looking back, I love the fact I wore all British designers, particularly as our venue could not be more quintessentially British! I kept jewellery very simple. A pair of borrowed diamond earrings from my mum, a diamond tennis bracelet from my very generous husband-to-be & of course my ring (moved to a different finger for the ceremony, who knew!). All our diamonds are from Cara in Dubai who I can’t recommend enough. I changed into a white Halston Heritage split leg jumpsuit from Net-A-Porter after 10pm. I knew I would want to free my legs & let my hair down at some stage!
Grooms AttireHelped by Moss Bros James, the groomsmen & the dads all had matching DKNY suits fitted. James knew he wanted something very clean cut & classic so went with black & white. He wore a Lanvin bowtie & pocket scarf to set him apart from the groomsmen who had slim width ties. All had very shiny shoes also from Moss Bros & wore a mix of Tag Heuer & Hugo Boss watches which were gifts.
The VenueThe one & only Aynhoe Park was in fact our one & only visit to a venue. We did a fair amount of research online & had 3 main criteria which Aynhoe met – late night curfew (we wanted to dance until 3am not midnight), exclusive use over 2 days (we wanted a rehearsal BBQ the night before) & no dodgy carpets! We arranged a visit & the styling (note point 3) bowled us over. We love interiors & Aynhoe really is something special on that front. The orangery gave us a feeling of grandeur with its white walls & high ceilings which was important to us for the ceremony as we knew we weren’t getting married in a church. The deer in the fields, the cellar night club, the bedrooms (only those that have stayed will appreciate just how amazing the bedrooms are), the outdoor space… honestly the list goes on of why this is the perfect venue. The bit we didn’t bargain on was the support. We knew we had butler service but not the kindest, most professional butlers you’ve met (a special shout out to Mark). The team could not do enough for us - croque monsieurs at 1am after the boys had been in the hot tub the night before, done. Enrica runs the show & is the perfect mix of lovely but ‘I got this’. We showed up with the stationery, candles, sweets, all those extra bits & bobs, & somehow they placed everything exactly as I had envisage without a question asked.
Colour Scheme/DecorSomeone said to me, pick three words & stand by them. A great bit of advice to avoid mixing styles. I didn’t officially pick the three words in the end but I suppose it was glamourous, timeless & elegant. Based on this I knew I wanted to keep our colours simple & in-keeping with the house so we tried to keep everything white, cream & blush with accents of gold / rose gold. I was a sucker for the details so I had to upgrade the silver cutlery to gold (the silver was included & this additional cost totally baffled James at the time). Duchess & Butler provided the perfect gold chargers & cutlery. I was really pleased with how the cutlery, stationery, flowers & favour boxes all came together. I gave James a knowing look when we walked into the wedding breakfast & he conceded it was a good decision!
Flowers/FloristFlowers were all by the amazing Gerri at Sweetpeas Of Great Tew. Gerri had worked at the venue a few times which is always a bonus. I knew I wanted peonies, roses & hydrangeas. Hydrangeas are great for creating fullness while keeping green foliage to a minimum. So with a bit of Pinterest trawling, the ‘shopping list’ was created. We wanted to create some height in the ceremony room so we rented a chuppah which Gerri dressed (we aren’t Jewish… but there are no rules!). We made the most of key features in the house like the staircases & chandeliers. It was a last minute decision to add some flowers to the entrance hall chandelier & I’m so glad we did as it really framed the cake. We also had Jo Malone candles throughout, a mix of Orange Blossom & Peony & Blush Suede. I even sprayed our invites with the cologne… I love a bit of consistency. We now have the candles in our house which will forever remind us of our wedding.
The Wedding Party FashionThe bridesmaids wore the classic Twobirds dress in rosewater. They are the perfect dresses for anyone with long distance bridesmaids (one of my close friends abandoned us to live in Australia!). They need little to no tailoring & are very flattering. Simple ‘barely there’ rose gold heels from ASOS & a Kate Spade bangle completed their look. Hair for the girls & I was by Tiffany Rose Hair. Make-up by Stacey Lacey.
CeremonyWe were very lucky to have two fabulous registrars who married us. The whole ‘process’ & wording felt a bit daunting at first but they were very good at talking us through everything & keeping it light-hearted. We picked two readings but ‘I will be here’ by Curtis Chapman sent more than a few people reaching for the tissues, myself included. Before, during & after the ceremony we had a string quartet called Palastine. Love Tallulah Belle created cute bespoke, personalised confetti bags & packs of tissues for us.
EntertainmentJames was in charge of the band & he didn’t let me down. ‘Brother from Another’ did an acoustic set as a duo the night before & were also our 7 piece band for the main event. They were kind enough to learn our first dance song, John Legend You & I, but they aren’t your average wedding band so the rest of the evening had everything from Stevie Wonder to a Kisstory mash-up. They even let James belt out Wonderwall…both nights. Six15 provided the sound & production. They did an amazing job of making the orangery look magical. They also provided our ‘after party’ DJ, Carlton Delingo, for some house & old school R&B to finish the night.
FoodCatering was all by Indulgence (also known as The Kitchen at Aynhoe). Good food that looked & tasted great was very important to us & they nailed the brief throughout from the BBQ, canapes, wedding breakfast & breakfast itself both mornings – my grandma is still talking about how good the bacon & sausages were! We had The Wild Oven pull up outside for a 10pm pizza fix. My biggest regret is not getting round to having any myself!! I loved our cake. It was created by Princess Patisserie. The owner Kelly is an uber professional & totally nailed it. Five tiers, a mix of fruit cake, Victoria sponge & red velvet decorated with fresh flower.
PhotographerLucy Davenport. The most professional, calming influence on the day & a lovely person to boot.
VideographerBloombury films. It’s still in post-production & we are desperate to see it!
AdviceThere are no rules! Don’t get caught up in it all… Does the bride walk first or the bridesmaids? Whose speech is first? You aren’t wearing a tiara?! Everyone has an opinion. Remind people there is no set way of doing things & have a unicorn at your wedding if you so wish. James & I planned our wedding ourselves while working full time & with James working away a lot. It wasn’t easy but I wish someone had told me it’s not that hard either!! I spent a lot of time in the early stages thinking I was missing a trick but I wasn’t… Do your research, create a list, budget against the list & use it to track what you have & haven’t done, keep talking to each other. Once you’ve got some clear ideas on what you both want, make decisions & crucially, pick very good suppliers. Good suppliers are invaluable.
Dress Designer: Suzanne Neville - Belle | Bridal Boutique: Serendipity Brides | Bridal Shoes: Sophia Webster | Veil: Joyce Jackson | Jewellery: Cara | Grooms Suit: DKNY from Moss Bros | Bridesmaids: Twobirds | Venue: Aynhoe Park | Florist: Sweetpeas of Great Tew | Venue Decor/Styling: Duchess & Butler | Jo Malone | Caterer: Indulgence | Cake: Princess Patisserie | Favours: Laduree | Stationery: E.Y.I Love | Tallulah Belle | Entertainment: Six15 | Brother from Another | Palastine | Photo Booth: VIPBOX | Videography: Bloomsbury Films