A Pre-Raphaelite Inspired Wedding

Pre-Raphaelite Inspired Wedding


For the third and final feature of the day, i have a  beautiful WWW reader wedding, yay my favourite kind :-) Sophie told me;

“The whole joy of wedding planning for me was looking at inspiration online, including on WWW, seeing beautiful photographs of creative couples and getting excited about my own wedding. It’s one of the happiest things, looking at wedding blogs, because they show you that there are so many different ways of expressing your love and individuality in fun ways – looking at wedding blogs and putting together a Pinterest page for my wedding helped me clear my head from guest list and budget stress, and refocus on the fun things again. It’s not about having a totally original idea that no one else has done, because, let’s face it, one glance at a wedding blog shows you pretty much everyone has done everything. It’s about relaxing and feeling inspired and free to choose the ideas you like, to put together a day that really expresses your personalities and is fun for you, your friends and family.”

Ahhh thanks so much Sophie. Sophie and Gregory were married in a church service followed by a reception at Rhodes House, Oxford. Their wedding was inspired by a Pre-Raphaelite poem, with their day representing their relationship and values. Doesn’t it sound so very lovely?

Sophie wore a beautiful bespoke dress, with pale blue ballet pumps and after the church service a flower wreath. Gregory wore his military uniform which looked just perfect.

I adore the pretty mismatched bridesmaid dresses, the rustic cake with silhouette topper and the personalised book favours. Thanks so very much to the brilliant The Photo Boutique for sharing her photographs with us today.


Sophie & Greg (23) Sophie & Greg (40) WWW Sophie & Greg (6) WWW Sophie & Greg (11)

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Names…. Sophie and Gregory

Wedding Date…. 20th October 2012

The Proposal…. I lived in Paris for a few months after I finished school, and it has been my favourite city ever since I can remember. In March 2012 we took a few days break and went to Paris – it was the first time we’d gone together, and it meant a lot to me to share a place I love so much with the man I loved. The day we arrived happened to be the first day of Spring, and Greg said we should go out for lunch to celebrate, so I took him to my favourite café in my favourite corner of Paris – the Place des Vosges – and he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. He had picked a 1920s vintage diamond ring with the help of my family.

The Vision for the day…. When Greg and I first got together, I sent him one of my favourite poems to tell him how I felt. The poem is called ‘A Birthday’ by Christina Rossetti, and really beautifully sums up the joy of our wedding day. We painted some apples gold to decorate the reception venue, reflecting the lines in the poem: ‘My heart is like an apple tree, whose boughs are bent with thickset fruit’. (It also happened to fit well with the season, and the imagery of fruitfulness and abundance.) Rossetti is a Pre-Raphaelite writer, and as I love the dreamy Pre-Raphaelite style, that became a theme of the day. We wanted every moment of the ceremony and reception to feel coherent and all fit together, symbolically expressing our relationship and values, and for it to be entirely effused with joy and beauty.

The Planning process…. We did the planning in 6-7 months, which was a quick turn around but also not too bad. We were lucky in that certain key things like the venue and the dress fell into place very quickly and effortlessly. I really enjoyed conceptualising all the details and the aesthetics of the day, especially colour schemes and little decorative touches. My sister and Maid of Honour was an amazingly efficient planner, and helped me make running orders and spreadsheets, and generally stay on top of things. The more meticulous you are about these things, the smoother it will all go, and the more fun you can have with the process. We printed out detailed running sheets for the day, which we gave to everyone involved so they all knew exactly where to be and when.

The Venue… It was easy choosing where to have the ceremony and the reception; the ceremony was in the church where we met in Oxford, where I had been going with my family since I was about three years old, and the reception was right around the corner in Rhodes House. Greg is a Rhodes Scholar, so we could use the venue for a discounted price, and, in a brilliant coincidence, the architectural style of the two places fitted really well together, and with our Pre-Raphaelite theme.

The Dress + Accessories….. Choosing the dress was so much fun, but too easy in a way, because the search was over too quickly! Because it was made bespoke, it was a long process of going to fittings every month or so, so I only saw the finished product about a month before the wedding. I found some sweet French Soles in pale blue and gold right after finding the dress, and that helped me decide on a running theme of pale blue and gold for the rest of the wedding. I even matched the envelopes for the invitations to the shoes (pale blue with gold lining, from Piccolo Press). I borrowed a veil from my friend, so those two things were my ‘something blue’ and ‘something borrowed’ on the day. I gave the bridesmaids necklaces from my favourite jewellery brand, Ophelia, to say thank you. They were soft pale blue and grey small pendants on gold chains, to go with their dresses, so they wore them on the day.

Finding the dress…. I had something quite simple and slender in mind, and had come across a label called Tephi based in London a while back, so got in touch with her and asked about her bespoke wedding dresses. We found some beautiful lace in a dressmaker’s that was having a closing down sale in Oxford, and asked the dressmaker to use it to make some sleeves on my dress. It was a simple dress in soft ivory chiffon with a fitted bodice with a sweetheart neckline and drapey lace sleeves, a satin sash which tied in a bow at the back, and a small puddle train. It was, without a doubt, the most beautiful dress I have ever worn, and I almost cried when I took it off. I think I’m going to get the train taken off and maybe dye the dress pale blue, so that I can wear it again!

Groom’s attire… Greg went to a military university as an undergraduate in America, and when he finishes his D-Phil at Oxford he will be serving four years with the US army, so he wore his uniform for the wedding.

The Readings + Music…. We chose a reading from the Song of Songs that talked about the arrival of Spring that echoed the themes of Christina Rossetti’s poem that we had printed on the back of the order of service. Our friend has an absolutely stunning singing voice and sang ‘Silent Noon’ while we signed the register – the lyrics are by Christina Rossetti’s brother, Dante Gabriel, and the music was composed by one of my favourite classical composers – Vaughan Williams. Some of our friends formed a small choir, and sang Fauré’s Messe Basse during the service. It was a traditional nuptial Mass in latin (although the readings and vows were in English, of course!) with all the smalls and bells, which was classic and very beautiful. The priest who married us has known me since I was three years old, so it was really special.

Beautiful bridesmaids….. My two sisters and my sister in law were obvious choices for bridesmaids, and I also asked my two oldest friends who I grew up with. I’ve always thought that it is quite strange that at any other party, you wouldn’t want to be seen wearing exactly the same dress as several other girls. I don’t like the way matching dresses make bridesmaids look like they’re wearing a uniform, and the same style and colour rarely suits everyone. We chose a soft colour palette of mints, greys, and sage greens, and they all found different floor length chiffony dresses that coordinated with each other, and wore matching silk sage shrugs and gold leaf hair bands. The overall effect was very Pre-Raphaelite/goddess-like – someone commented that they looked more like wood nymphs than bridesmaids, and that was exactly the kind of look we were going for! They were the most beautiful bridesmaids I have ever seen, and their soft, flowing dresses went perfectly with my dress and the style of the day.

The Flowers… I really wanted to use locally sourced flowers, both because it’s cheaper and also it’s better for the environment. The only problem was that October isn’t an ideal time for flowers, and the frost arrived the week before the wedding, causing a few last minute issues and some scrambled orders for flowers from the markets in London. I used Babylon Flowers, a company that grow their own flowers in Oxfordshire, and arranged stems in jam jars for the reception myself, and they took care of the bouquets, buttonholes, and wreaths for the pillars at Rhodes House.

Our colours were soft sage and pale blue with gold, so we had a lot of sage and rosemary, which made everything smell delicious. We used flowers that were in season, so ammi majus, lots of lovely lily dahlias, as well as pale pink and white roses and lisianthus, with pale blue hydrangeas to tie in with the blue colour scheme. My mother had a dream a while ago about a bouquet of scabius, which made the flower quite a symbolic one for us, so we added some of that to my bouquet. The bouquets were tied with cream lace and gold leaf ribbon that went with the bridesmaids’ headbands and the gold in the colour scheme. At the reception I replaced my veil with flower wreath – it was fun to change, and had an element of romance and poetry.

The Cake… Two friends of mine kindly offered to make the cake, and as my all time favourite thing is buttercream icing, they made a delicious two tier vanilla sponge covered in textured buttercream – it was delicious! They decorated it in a simple, rustic style as I requested, with fresh flowers and berries, with a cake topper by Simply Silhouettes – you send this company a photo, and they get it cut into a silhouette. We framed the silhouette after the wedding, and it’s a lovely souvenir of the day. When we got back from honeymoon, one of the first things I saw on the magazine racks was a picture of Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel’s wedding cake, which was in a similar style to ours – apparently we were very on trend!

Your Photographer…. Our photographer was a friend of a friend – Cara Bendon, who has set up her own photography company, The Photo Boutique. She had a very unimposing presence, and completely got the feel and style of the day, and took some gorgeous photos. We were lucky enough to have a beautiful Autumn sunset at the reception, with lovely golden light for the photos outside.

The Details + Decor…. My husband and I both studied English Literature as undergraduates at university, so we thought a nice way to thank guests for coming would be to give them each a personalised book. I had a lot of excess paperbacks that I couldn’t take with me to our new home, and the rest we bought in charity shops. I covered them with brown paper, sprayed a little gold spray paint through some lace, and decorated them with lace tape and stickers with our names on them. We wrote a little message for each person inside; we knew people were travelling from far away to be with us, and that we wouldn’t have much time with each of them, and it was very important to us that they felt loved and treasured! We had a high tea laid out on the tables with flowers in teapots on stacks of old books and vintage cake stands for a pretty, laid back feel, with gold charger plates and pale blue napkins.

The image on the invitations was a beautiful sketch of the Place des Vosges where we got engaged by illustrator Frances Ives. We got the image printed on simple postcards, and splashed out on gorgeous envelopes. To cut down on the amount of info we had to print out, we linked people to a wedding website that we put together, hosted free by mywedding.com. To continue with the Paris theme, we had a tower of macarons (my favourite!) and a ‘guestbook’ illustration by Alice Macdonald inspired by Sophie Coppola’s Parisian Miss Dior advert. Everyone signed a balloon in gold pen. We also had a typewriter and a photo booth with a handmade ribbon backdrop, handmade props and polaroid camera, so that I could put together a fun scrap book with photos and messages after the wedding. I also made all the signs, and some paper doily garlands for the dancing room – I learnt how to do them from something I saw on Pinterest.

The Honeymoon…. Greg is a medieval history scholar and I love the sea, so to combine our two interests, we went on honeymoon to Malta. It was still warm, and we had a lovely time seeing the many cultural sights and walking around the beautiful coastline.

Memorable moments… My dad has advanced prostate cancer and is going through chemo at the moment, and in the weeks running up to the wedding he really wasn’t feeling well, or very mobile at all. He was determined to walk me down the aisle without a walking stick, though, and on the day that was the most emotional moment for me. Dad managed it, and gave a brilliant speech at dinner and we even danced to our favourite song, ‘It’s a Wonderful World’ by Louis Armstrong.
My parents met at Hertford College, and that is Greg’s college, too, so it’s special place for the family. We had some photographs taken under the beautiful Bridge of Sighs, which meant a lot to my parents.

Advice for other couples… It all goes in a flash, so enjoy it! Get your friends involved, have fun with the planning – buy some drinks and snacks and organise a wedding prep weekend party, so they can help. Everyone wants to help, so it’s just a matter of organising so that you can put all that energy and excitement to good use. Protect the space around the wedding as much as possible. Don’t plan on doing anything yourself in the last few days – you don’t want to be up making favours the night before the wedding, you’ll have enough on your mind, and everything takes a lot longer than you think it will.

A few things I wish I’d done differently: I wish I’d got a loop or something to hold my train so that I was more free to dance. It’s also really important you have access to the venue the day before, even if you just take the stuff over there but don’t set up yet. We couldn’t do that because Rhodes House had a big dinner the night before, and it made the morning of the wedding very stressful, loading all the things up in cars to take to the venue. I had some friends helping to set up for me on the day and the wedding was at 3pm, but I felt bad that it was all so rushed for them. Also, I wish we’d got the caterer to make up a little box of food that we could take back to the hotel with us – we were so busy and excited we didn’t have much of an appetite at the reception. Plus, people wouldn’t stop taking photos, which makes you rather self-conscious to be stuffing your face! And lastly, I know this is a very personal thing, and some brides will feel more comfortable having their photo taken than others, but it is very overwhelming seeing a sea of cameras everywhere you turn. Try and ignore them and enjoy the party as much as possible – have fun, and remember it’s okay to relax your face every now and again, because your smile muscles will be really hurting by the end. Don’t let the photos dominate – they are a good way to remember the day, but it’s more important that you have a good time.

Credit where credit is due…

Tephi (the dress): http://www.tephi.co.uk/

Babylon Flowers: http://www.babylonflowers.co.uk/

Oxford Fine Dining (caterer): http://www.oxfordfinedining.co.uk/

Jolly Vintage Tea Party (cake stand hire): http://www.jollyvintageteaparty.co.uk/

Simply Silhouettes (cake topper): http://www.etsy.com/shop/Silhouetteweddings?ref=seller_info

Frances Ives (illustrator, commissioned to do the sketch for the invites): http://francesives.blogspot.co.uk/

Piccolo Press (envelopes): http://piccolopress.co.uk/

Seven Swans (table numbers design): http://www.sevenswans.co.za/

Alice Macdonald (guest book artwork): http://alicemacdonald.tumblr.com/

CRED (Fair Trade gold rings): http://www.credjewellery.com/

Cox & Cox (lace tape for the book favours): http://www.coxandcox.co.uk/

Dotty Dreams (‘Sophie & Gregory’ stickers for the book favours): http://www.dottydreams.co.uk/

Sidewalk Ready (hair blog for DIY hair styles): http://sidewalkready.com/

Paperless Post (we used this for Save the Dates): http://www.paperlesspost.com/

Mywedding.com (we used this for our wedding website): http://www.mywedding.com/

Wedding items for sale:  http://sellmywedding.co.uk/seller/all_items/Sophie%20Lippiatt

Oh so lovely. Thank you so much to Sophie and Gregory for sharing their beautiful wedding with us today XOXO Lou

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