By Louise Baltruschat Hollis
Photos by Damian Wills
When you can’t go to France, what do you do? You bring France to you of course! Welcoming Krista and James with their summer French theme wedding in the gorgeous Cotswolds!
They were married at Merriscourt in Oxfordshire with an abundance of wildflowers, fun nods to cycling and running as well as some utterly beautiful outfits. There were also some very special music choices as well as tunes by WWW supplier Festival Wedding DJs.
Their day was one filled with joy, energy and plenty of colour! A real delight.
Damian Wills, thank you so much for sharing these utterly beautiful images of a very happy celebration.
An extremely active couple, Krista could often be found cycling the country lanes of Surrey (now Somerset as the pair have moved to Bath). James prefers running – often distances of over 100miles – but Krista occasionally manages to drag him out on two wheels!
Over the engagement weekend, James had arranged to spend time in Kent with his parents, but had made plans with Krista for her to cycle out from London on the Sunday afternoon. The meeting place was Hever Castle, a 13th century castle that was once the childhood home of Anne Boleyn and boasts award-winning, romantic gardens.
Things didn’t go exactly to plan for James, however, as Krista was more interested in taking a tour of the castle and watching the triathlon that happened to be taking place in the grounds, than going for a romantic stroll in the gardens to find a secluded spot where he could pop the question.
Eventually, James was able to pull Krista away from the distractions of the venue and pull out … a bag of Haribo. Krista wanted some sugar after her long cycle so didn’t fully comprehend that James was jokingly offering her a ring from the pack and was speechless when he swapped it for one with a diamond!
Krista is half French, so their original dream was to hold the wedding in Provence, in the South of France, in a venue surrounded by lavender fields, where they’d be guaranteed brilliant weather and be able to enjoy a few glasses of rosé.
Covid scuppered those plans so Krista and James decided to bring the South of France to the Cotswolds … the couple ensured there was plenty of Champagne and rosé at the drinks reception, the florist was instructed to weave lavender into the bouquet, boutonnieres, and other flower arrangements, and the wedding car was an old Citroen 2CV.
And as luck would have it, the weather was just as good as Provence!
Merriscourt, Sarsden, Oxfordshire. A beautiful and remote venue set in acres of farmland and overlooking the surrounding hills and villages of the Cotswolds. We chose the venue because of its relaxed approach to hosting the wedding and because they offered accommodation for our closest family and friends to stay on site, meaning we could make it a full weekend of celebrations.
Mention must also go to the staff and especially the chef, John, at Merriscourt. The food he produced was exceptional. We opted for the sharing plates which comprised wooden platters piled high with roast chicken, BBQ ribs, Gresham duck and mushroom wellington accompanied by three different salads.
Dessert was another sharing board of passionfruit cheesecake, tarte Tatin, chocolate torte and of course – croque en bouche.
Despite the incredibly challenging circumstances around Covid and dealing with the constantly changing government regulations – the team at Merriscourt made our special day not just possible, but perfect. James, Lexi, Lauren, Dan, Kerry, Rachel and Mel were superstars and deserve a massive thank you for all their hard work.
Krista found a beautiful dress by Savanna Miller (sister of Sienna), in a little boutique shop in Minchinhampton.
It was elegant, understated and beautifully made of a crepe that seemed to flow like water onto the ground. Whilst Krista wanted to look and feel like a princess, comfort was equally important – and the Savanna Miller dresses just drape off the body like a dream. No fussy corsets or lace. Just pure, simple elegance.
Krista is actually selling her dress, so that it can make someone else as happy as she was – you can find the listing here.
James opted for a bespoke three-piece suit in a summery, light sandy colour, with a Sinclair tartan tie to honour his maternal grandparents who are no longer with us. Sinclair is James’ mum’s maiden name and his middle name.
The ceremony took place in All Saints Church, in the nearby village of Churchill, which is an idyllic Cotswolds village, where Jeremy Clarkson is a regular at the local pub. The church sits at the top of a hill, overlooking the beautiful surrounding countryside. Krista and James attended the church for six months prior to the wedding and got to know the vicar, David Salter, well and members of the local community who assisted with the service.
Krista walked down the aisle to the Arrival of the Queen of Sheeba, by Handel, and the couple left to another piece by Handel, Water Music Hornpipe. During the service, the congregation sang the hymns, I Vow To Thee My Country, Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace and Jerusalem (because James is a rugby fan!).
To the surprise of the guests, one of Krista’s bridesmaids, who is a classically trained former professional opera singer, sang the first verse of Jerusalem as a solo to goosebumps all round!
Later on in the evening, the first dance was to Tom Walker’s Better Half Of Me, because Krista and James had seen him live in their hometown of Bath. The couple had a dance choreographed thanks to James’ Best Man and his wife, who do a lot of ballroom dancing.
Then came another big surprise … James plays the drums and had arranged to play a few songs with the band. The Monkees’ I’m A Believer was accompanied by Krista and her friends performing a flashmob dance routine, and this was followed by a jazz-funk number called The Chicken, with one of James’ Ushers joining the band to play the saxophone. Things were rounded off with Mr Brightside, which got everyone dancing.
Photographer: Damian Wills – He was superb … took the time to get to know us before the big day and was entirely dependable and professional.
Videographer: Rhodri Spearing – Very flexible and accommodating a number last-minute changes, such as adding a live-stream, due to Covid. Incredibly professional on the day, shooting everything we needed but doing so like a video ninja – we barely even knew he was there but somehow he got a raft of incredible footage! The video edits were beautiful and all at a very reasonable price compared to some other suppliers out there. Film here.
Country/bohemian. Krista had a flower crown in her hair as well as an enormous bouquet of wild country flowers with olive leaves and lavender. Romantic, garden-gathered florals to evoke the South of France.
Colours: Lavender, peach, smoky blue, olive, fern, forest, eucalyptus. As a further nod to his maternal grandparents, the florist included thistles in the boutonnieres.
Krista and James had signs made up to show people from the church to the venue in the form of race signs – like the kind you get at a sporting event to let you know you only have 1 mile to go – as a nod to their love of running and cycling. The signs started with ‘Gwinneckys’ Reception’ (a combination of both their unusual surnames) and ended with ‘100 meters to go’, ‘awful dance moves ahead’ and finally ‘drinks station’!
The cake was made of four wheels of cheese – carefully selected from their local cheese shop in Bath – the Fine Cheese Company. It was tiered through from cheddar, blue, soft and goats cheese adorned with olive leaves, wildflowers and lavender by Fi.
The tables were dressed with tall vases of wildflowers, interspersed with lilac coloured candles and tea lights. The favours were knitted by Krista’s mum who sadly could not attend in person. Instead, a little piece of love was handed out to each guest in the form of either a heart (for the girls) or rugby ball (for the boys) shaped knitted key rings.
The bride and groom ordered caricature thank you cards for the bridal party – made by Dave Mould ([email protected]) as well as trilby hats for each of the boys and lavender and champagne based goodie bags for the girls.
Krista designed the orders of service, menus and table plans with the help of Alison from Minuteman in Bath, with the added personal touch of including her own artwork. Krista lovingly painted pieces of lavender in the run-up to the wedding – featuring them across all the wedding stationery.
Because of restrictions on travel, due to COVID-19, Krista and James enjoyed a short break in Cornwall after the wedding, spending a few days in a secluded National Trust cottage on the Lizard Peninsula, but hope to embark on their ‘proper’ honeymoon later in the year. Always up for ‘an adventure’, they have set themselves the daunting challenge of running, cycling and kayaking across Patagonia on a 360km expedition across six days. The route will take in some of the world’s most beautiful scenery and finish with a kayak up to the incredible Perito Moreno Glacier, in the Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina.
From there, they’ll cross the border into Chile and recover with a stay in the famous Tierra Patagonia Hotel, and enjoy some hiking in the Torres del Paine National Park. Incidentally, Krista and James didn’t set up a gift list for the wedding, rather they asked guests to donate to charity to support their challenge, with Children with Cancer UK selected as their charity of choice. The link is here.
There are so many…!
Just take things one step at a time. It’ll seem like a mountain to climb when you first start out but stick at it – do one thing a day if you can – and it’ll all come together.
We managed to do all this in six months, and if we can do it – so can you!
Also, don’t forget this is your one opportunity to plan the best party of your life – so enjoy every minute, even the really tedious ‘wedmin’ tasks. Make it fun, and don’t forget to laugh.
How very lovely. Just idylic.
Krista and James thank you so much for sharing your French theme wedding with us.
Credit where credit is due
Photographer Damian Wills
Filmmaker Rhodri Spearing
Florist Corky and Prince
Cake Fine Cheese Co
Dress Designer Savannah Miller
Dress Boutique The White Room
Entertainment The Royal Blues
Stationery Minuteman Press
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