By Louise Baltruschat Hollis
Today’s wedding is just idyllic and it’s got the perfect city meets countryside vibe. Sarah and Johny were married at Oxford Town Hall and held their marquee reception at The Cherwell Boathouse in Oxford on the 7th September 2018. Their vision was for a relaxed, intimate and fun celebration, which they totally achieved and with 9 months of wedding planning too, amazing!
The celebrations were sophisticated yet laid back and there was just so much style. Sarah’s two piece gown from Catherine Deane looked sensational on her and Johny was very dapper in a Ben Sherman suit. I also love the dusky pink bridesmaids dresses which were just super pretty! One of the stand out elements from their day has to be the flower arrangements. They were wild and natural, featuring an abundance of greenery and herbs. I especially adore the installation in the marquee, it really was a show stopper.
The autumn light made for the perfect portraits taken by their photographer Claudia Rose Carter. Huge thanks goes to Claudia for sharing these sublime shots with us. Oh so gorgeous.
Johny told me he wanted us to start a new tradition of cooking a fancy meal together at home on new years day. So there we were on new years day, together in our tiny flat, only slightly hungover from new years, in scruffy clothes with delicious food and he asked me to marry him. It might not sound like much, but it was perfect.
He used a fake ring to propose and we hunted out the perfect ring together the week after. We found the most beautiful, delicate 1940s ring in an antique shop in Hatton Garden.
We wanted a relaxed, intimate, fun wedding which thankfully is exactly what we got. I think the praise has to go to our friends and family for that more than our vision and planning.
It was 9 months from the proposal to the wedding. We found this was plenty of time to organise everything and not enough time to keep changing your mind or procrastinate, so for two indecisive procrastinators this was perfect. We both really enjoyed the whole process.
Finding the right venue was the hardest part for us. We were torn between a countryside wedding near to where we both grew up or a more industrial style wedding in London where we live. The Cherwell Boathouse in Oxford was perfect as not only was it geographically in the middle but it fit both our styles too. It was set on the banks of the river with lush greenery around but the the space itself was a bare brick room where they store the boats during the winter. We got married at Oxford Town hall in the centre of the city and the guests met at the pub opposite. It was the perfect mix of city and countryside.
My top and skirt were from Catherine Deane. I chose it because I wanted something elegant, understated and easy to dance in!
Johny’s blue checked 3 piece suit was from Ben Sherman. The shirt was from Riess, which he wore with a gorgeous vintage 1960 collar bar he found on Etsy. The tie was from Ted Baker and the burgundy shoes (his new favourite possession) were from Barker.
The bridesmaid dresses and gold hair accessories were from ASOS.
I wanted to look like me just on a really good day. So the make up was quite natural and glowy and I had loose waves in my hair with some fresh flowers at the back. (Thanks Shauna!!)
One of our favourite parts of wedding planning was spending nights in creating different themed playlists for each part of the day, including sixties classics for the bus journey and Reggae during the BBQ meal. Sarah walked down the aisle to You and Me by Penny and the Quarters and our first dance was Happy Together by The Turtles.
We had an incredible 5 piece brass band called Brasswerk, who did covers of pop classics. EVERYBODY loved them! We walked into our reception with a wave of confetti and the band playing Crazy in Love by Beyonce and Jay Z.
The readings were Union by Robert Fulghum and Blessing of the Hands. They were read by two of our closest friends.
Our flowers were by Foxglove Studios. We found them at the ‘most curious wedding fair’. We wanted, loose natural arrangements with lots of wild flowers, heavy foliage and herbs mixed in. Not knowing much about flowers we gave them quite a vague brief but were confident they would create something beautiful. We also asked them to help us come up with a solution to cover up some large lights (that lets just say weren’t our personal style) in the marquee at the last minute. They did an amazing job using moss and lots of hanging eucalyptus etc and the end result looked incredible!
The venue was split between three spaces, a marquee on top overlooking the river with the boathouse below which was an empty brick room with a bar and then an area outside by the river.
We used the upstairs marquee for our dining area and worked with the florists to create the feeling of the outside coming in, we had a hanging garland running along the middle of the marquee and bottles of wild flowers along the tables. We spent the months leading up to the wedding searching charity shops and car boot sales for interesting bottles and asked our mums to do the same. Thanks to them we ended up with a selection of over 100 beautiful antique glass bottles which we let guests take at the end of the night as their favours.
We had the evening reception in the boathouse below. The space was quite rough and ready so we thought we would run with this and decorate it a little tongue and cheek with lots of gold foil curtains and a pink neon sign which was a fun contrast to upstairs.
By the river, we put boater hats and lace parasols out on the punting boats we had hired for the guests. Later in the evening we set up a firepit by the river with a basket of blankets and plates full of skewered marshmallows for toasting!
The cake was a tall single tier lemon cake with white chocolate ganache and edible gold foil decoration. We showed Johny’s sister Sarah (who had kindly offered to make our cake for us) a slightly ambitious picture we had found of a cake online. I was worried she might regret offering after we showed her that. She made an identical cake that tasted amazing! She said she had used 36 lemons for that one cake! It was enjoyed by all!
Our photographer was Claudia Rose Carter. As soon as I saw her work, I wanted her to photograph our wedding. We knew we wanted a more reportage style, that would collectively tell the story of the day rather than posed portraits. Claudia’s images feel very emotive and raw. You want your wedding pictures to be a tool to transport you back to that moment, how you felt, the atmosphere in the room. We were blown away when we saw them. On the day we felt like she was a friend we had known for years perfectly slipping into the wedding.
We took a two week trip through Italy travelling from north to south and eating everything in-between. As you can imagine, it was amazing.
A really beautiful day indeed.
Sarah and Johny, thank you both so so much for sharing your wedding story today xo Lou
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