A Timeless & Personal Wedding

oxford wedding


WWW readers Char and Jay were married at the beautiful Bodleian Library in Oxford followed by a marquee garden reception. They wanted a day that was personal and affordable within a £10 000 budget. Char used WWW to help plan her wedding; “It was really refreshing to read WWW to see other real weddings, rather than the staged adverts in magazines. It was also amazingly helpful to read other people’s experiences and to share ideas, if not highly addictive!! Thank you to Lou and all the lovely WWW readers/contributors.” Ahh thank you Char!!

Char looked super gorgeous in a classic lace gown while Jay went for a lovely navy suit with tan shoes. There are some lovely thoughtful touches in this wedding, from the flip flops basket to the shots. I love the bunting, the pretty navy bridesmaids dresses, the timeless flowers and the yummy favours.

Thanks so much to wonderful Julie Anne Images for sharing her images with us today.


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Names…. Char & Jay

Wedding Date…. 11 August 2012

The Proposal…. We went to Barcelona for our three year anniversary (Char loves any excuse to travel!) We got the cable car to the top of the Montjuïc, which overlooks the whole of Barcelona. About half way down, we watched the sunset outside The Palau Nacional (National Palace), when Jay suddenly got down on one knee. It was a complete surprise to Char and took a few minutes for it to sink in! A few people had gathered to watch and congratulated us, which was really sweet. Jay had purposely done it on the first day of the trip to make the rest of the trip even more memorable. We designed the engagement ring together when we got back home.

The Vision for the day…. We wanted a non religious ceremony, but in a venue that still felt really special. We knew that it had to be in Oxford as that was where we met and lived for two years – it’s our favourite city. We wanted an affordable wedding that wouldn’t leave us with masses of debt and we wanted to add personal touches throughout the day where possible.

The Planning process…. Char is a PA extraordinaire and is great at organising stuff inside or outside of the workplace, so she took on the planning, using lots of lists and maximising our unlimited broadband! Jay was involved in all decision making. We inherited a zillion wedding magazines from a friend and used those in the first instance, but then quickly used the advice on blogs like this one to help work out what our plan was.

We set up a wedding website for our guests to use. It hosted all of the information about our day – hotels, timings etc and we simply added to it throughout the eight months leading up to the wedding. The planning process was all about being organised!

Char likes to plan ahead as much as possible, whereas Jay is very much a last minute planner. He calls it the “Taylor” way! Jay’s skills came in very handy for our big day – we were told three weeks before the wedding that we would not be able to play music louder than speaking level until after 10pm. Not exactly the reception atmosphere we were after! It was quite stressful trying to make the alternative arrangements, but we firmly believe everything happens for a reason. Jay’s family came to the rescue and amazingly said we could have a marquee in their beautiful garden. Then Jay took control of the planning – phoning around his friends for favours and also managing to sort all the suppliers out for our new reception.

Budget….  Under £10k

The Venue… We were married in The Bodleian Library in Oxford. It echoed the fantastic gothic architecture we had seen in Barcelona (where we got engaged) and Oxford is our favourite city, so it was a no brainer really. It was the only venue we had seen where we could instantly imagine walking down the aisle. It felt really, REALLY special and we knew that our friends and family would find it really interesting.

The reception had due to be held in the same place, but because of the reasons mentioned it changed to Jay’s parent’s garden, in Oxfordshire. We managed to find an awesome vintage coach hire company, so they took our guests from the ceremony to the reception. The coaches even had bunting hanging from the ceiling!

The Dress + Accessories….. Char’s dress was 8530 by Justin Alexander. Beautiful lace, high neck and low back. A timeless classic. The shoes were ivory peep toes at bargain price of £30 from Debenhams. Char didn’t want to spend a lot of money on shoes she wouldn’t wear again. Once the party got started she changed into her trusty converse anyway! Char wore pearl earrings that were a surprise gift from Jay on the day.

Finding the dress…. It was a dress that Char had fallen in love with online and the first dress she tried on. She still embraced the wedding dress shopping experience and tried about 30 more dresses on before committing to it – any excuse to shop and drink champagne! Char didn’t want a strapless dress, or one covered in diamantes, or a short one, so that ruled out a LOT of dresses, though it didn’t stop her bridesmaids from making her try them all on just in case! The service you receive from the different shops varies greatly – most dresses are stocked in one size (usually a 12), being a size 6/8, some pinned me in a dress using bulldog clips (I kid you not!), some shoved a cushion down the back of the dress etc. The shop I used thankfully pinned me using dress pins!

Groom’s attire… Jay wore a navy mohair suit hired from Shepherd and Woodward in Oxford. Their store on Turl Street is an experience – it looks like one of the Harry Potter houses – tiny, old shop window and then once you climb the rickety staircase there’s a massive shop floor! He wore an ivory waistcoat and cravat. He splashed out on Ted Baker tan brogues that really complimented the suit.

The Readings + Music…. Char’s sister wrote and read a short verse during the ceremony. We wanted the reading to be personal and unique to us. A really talented harpist played before, during and after the ceremony, including Strange and Beautiful by Aqualung and Yellow by Coldplay, as well as more traditional songs like Pachelbel – Canon. Whilst guests ate their meal we played jazz music via an i-pod and a hired speaker system, and for the evening music, we used a playlist selected by our guests. When we sent the invites out we asked them to include three song choices in their RSVP. Music ranged from the Baywatch theme to Jay-Z to Rage Against the Machine!

Jay wrote and recorded our first dance song about two weeks before the wedding (always the Taylor last minute method!) It was a beautiful ballad that midway turned into an up-tempo dance track – it was a definite crowd pleaser! You can here it on Soundcloud.

Beautiful bridesmaids….. They were Zara, Jay’s sister, Katie, my sister, and Char’s best friend, another Katie! They all wore beautiful navy dresses from Coast, with pretty ivory flip flops. They looked stunning.

The Flowers… We wanted simple, classic English ivory roses with no foliage, in hand-tied bouquets. The boys had buttonholes to match.

The Cake… The cake was made by Jay’s mum and it was epic! It was chocolate sponge, layered with ganache, covered with white chocolate icing. Her friend then made the white chocolate roses for decoration. We wanted it to look like a classic wedding cake, but without the fruit cake!

Your Photographer…. Our photographer was the amazingly talented Julie, from Julie Anne Images. We were really picky about our photographer as we wanted someone who could capture the lighting really well and also produce some contemporary, arty shots. We originally found Neil Hanson from looking at another venue’s website. We were devastated when he said he was booked up on our date, but he kindly recommended Julie, who he had only really met once or twice, but thought her work was great. We checked out her website and we were sold! Her site is beautiful and really different. We met up with Julie and she didn’t disappoint– she’s a sweetheart! We were so so nervous about our engagement shoot, let alone our wedding photos, but she totally put us at ease and as soon as we were received our engagement photos we knew we had nothing at all to worry about! (Our engagement shoot is on her blog – check out the man on the moving bike shot!) She will be our photographer of choice for life!

The Details + Decor…. We didn’t decorate the ceremony venue, The Bodleian Library, as we felt the architecture spoke for itself. For the reception venue, a friend at work kindly let me hundreds of metres of her homemade bunting for the marquee and Jay and his best man adorned the trees with fairy lights and ribbons, and the garden with lanterns. We used slice tree trunk slices as table pieces, with bonsai trees sat on top for something a bit different. We draped battery operated fairly lights on the centre pieces and sprinkled the table with homemade vintage music paper heart confetti. We made jam at home and used them as favours, as well as mini plant pots filled with hessian wrapped seeds, with a homemade label “Sow me, love me, grow me”. We also had a basket with flip flops for dancing feet, which we thought might not get used, but in hindsight we could have filled it with many more! We put some toiletries (deodorant, hairspray, lip balm etc) and mints in the bathrooms which went down well!
We hired an original slush puppy machine, but unfortunately on the day the supplier let us down. We bought all of the alcohol from Majestic on a sale or return basis and set up our own Taylor’s Bar, complete with homemade blackboard signs. The seating plan was also written on a blackboard.

The Honeymoon…. We went to Ubud in Bali (Indoensia) and stayed in a lovely villa in the jungle. The honeymoon was very indulgent, but worth every penny. As soon as we got there the staff told us we were home and they all knew our name! They treated us like VIPs and fed us like kings! We would highly recommend Komaneka in Tanggayuda. We also trekked up the local volcano, cycled around some of the villages, relaxed in the spa…… it was amazing.

Memorable moments… We met through friends in our local pub, where Jay worked in his free time. During many a drunken night we concocted our own shot of black sambuca topped with caramel Baileys. Therefore, it seemed right that Jay’s speech would be toasted with the shot. Even my 82 year old Omi (nan) did the shot! Everyone’s faces were priceless!!

Advice for other couples… Don’t let all the wedding magazines make you feel like you have to do it their way. Do what feels right for you. If there’s part of a traditional wedding that you don’t really fancy doing, then don’t do it! Also, family and friends may put pressure on you to invite certain people or to do things in a certain way. Try to stick to what you want – be kind to their feelings, but be firm! Finally, ask for reductions/lowest price/best deals wherever possible and most importantly, enjoy it.

Credit where credit is due…

Photography = http://julieanneimages.com/

Dress = http://www.courtyardbridalwear.com/
Shoes = www.debenhams.com
Suits = http://www.shepherdandwoodward.co.uk/
Ceremony Venue = http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/bodley/about/venue
Harpist = http://sarahgoss.com/sarahgosshome.html
Marquee = www.marpav.co.uk
Chair & table hire = www.festivalhire.co.uk
Lighting = http://www.temhome.com/
Sound = http://www.robertnisbet.com/
Alcohol = www.majestic.co.uk
Honeymoon = www.komaneka.com
Music paper table confetti = Music books from Oxfam and heart cutter from Hobbycraft


Oh so elegant, what a lovely wedding. Thanks so much to Jay and Char for sharing their beautiful wedding with us today XOXO Lou


8 thoughts on “A Timeless & Personal Wedding

Beautiful wedding, seems like you had a really good party, just what I’m after and the photography is gorgeous.

Amazing wedding. So beautiful!
I wondered if you could tell me where you found the bridesmaids’ bracelets? They are so pretty! :-)

Jay & Char what a fabulous wedding day you had, the images are beautiful so glad Julie was free to cover your day, I was so sad I wasn’t available on the day, wishing you both all the very best in the future…….

Amazing architecture in the ceremony location. This combined with the natural lighting made for wonderful photographs. This wedding definitely took on a whimsical theme just by the area it was located in. The library shot of the bride was stunning. The reception lighting was perfect, white lights with tea light candles as accents on tables makes me want to be there to celebrate!

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