By Louise Baltruschat Hollis
Utterly darling would be how I’d describe today’s real wedding. What an absolute pleasure it is to be sharing WWW readers Emma and Owen’s summer celebration, held on the 28th July 2017 at Ellenborough Park, Gloucestershire in the stunning Cotswolds countryside. Romantic yet rustic was order of the day and it suited the light hearted and relaxed atmosphere just perfectly. Hand crafted touches included the stationery, chalk board signage and table confetti. There was a nod to the pair’s love of books too, with tables named after gatherings in literature. I really love this idea and the story behind each name, genius!
There was a delicate pale pink blush colour palette, which ran throughout the day. The bridesmaids wore pretty sequin pink dresses, the florals consisted of blush roses and lavender, while twinkling lights and candles really set the tone.
Then there were the gorgeous attire choices by Emma and Owen, the fun cakes (yes to Colin Caterpillar cakes!) and love all round. Huge thanks goes to White Stag Wedding Photography for sharing these exquisite images.
THE PROPOSAL | We love the outdoors and visiting and exploring new places. Owen proposed overlooking the lake in the grounds of Croome Court, a beautiful National Trust property not far from where we live. We’re both quite shy and I was surprised that Owen got down on one knee, despite quite a few other people being around! It was the perfect proposal for us, and every time we visit we are able to relive that special moment.
THE VISION | We are so lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the country, and we both knew that we wanted to get married in the Cotswolds. Our priority was that our wedding should be relaxed and fun, with lots of good food and drink! We wanted to create a romantic day with a rustic feel, and although we definitely chose an elegant venue, it was important for us to keep things informal and light-hearted. I’m quite a creative person and love making things, so I knew from the outset that I would like the invitations, stationery and a lot of the details that we ended up using in the venue to be homemade. As such an important part of our lives, we knew that we wanted to celebrate our love of books without having an overly themed day, so we spent lots of time thinking about subtle ways to bring this about, without it being over the top.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | We had a two year engagement, so we had quite a lot of time to plan everything and think about what would make our perfect day. After booking the venue, we had quite a big gap before choosing our other suppliers, and I left finding my dress until quite late! Although we didn’t need to arrange too much (the food was taken care of by the amazing chef at our venue), we did take a lot of time choosing our photographer and florist (who were both completely brilliant!). I work as an event planner at a festival day-to-day, so although this particular event was personally very special, we found most of the planning process quite straightforward. Because we had decided to make all of our invitations and venue details by hand, a lot of our evenings and weekends were spent collecting and crafting. This was such a fun part of the lead up to the day itself, and when we saw how everything had turned out it felt really rewarding.
BUDGET | £16,000
THE VENUE | Ellenborough Park is a beautiful, historic venue on the outskirts of Cheltenham and I still remember how excited we both were when we made our way up its sweeping drive. We fell in love with the grounds and the character of the building, which has been extended over the years and has lots of gorgeous details. Although we didn’t want to get married in a church, we loved that Ellenborough Park uses a converted chapel for its wedding ceremonies, which has a vaulted ceiling and a beautiful church-style window. It has the perfect mix of being completely elegant and special, without being stuffy or formal.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | My dress was Maggie Sottero’s ‘Greer’ in gold, with a simple fingertip veil. I wore fresh flowers in my hair, I didn’t want my hair to look too formal, so the flowers worked perfectly here.
I wore an antique topaz and pearl bracelet, which started life as a necklace. My Grandmother had the necklace separated into two by a goldsmith and gave one of them to me shortly before our wedding. She wears the other, so it was incredibly special to have this beautiful gift as my something old and something blue! My mum gave me a simple, single pearl necklace to wear with this and it matched perfectly.
I also wore my 1925 sapphire and diamond engagement ring. This was a truly special find by Owen, spotted in a local antique shop in our home town. We both love the art deco style, so when we found out that the ring was made in the 1920s, it felt even more perfect.
FINDING THE DRESS | Was surprisingly straightforward! I’m so self-conscious that I put off going to look for a dress for a long time, but when I finally did it was a lot more enjoyable than I expected.
Maggie Sottero’s designs have the vintage glamour that I love and I was lucky that the Bridal Boutique of Worcester stocks a large selection of Sottero gowns, so I could try on lots of different styles. I tried on around ten dresses in total, in a mixture of ivory, champagne and gold tones. The dress that I chose, Maggie Sottero’s Greer in gold, had such beautiful beading and I absolutely loved the detailed straps with the low back. It felt romantic and elegant, and had that vintage feel that I was after. I bought a plain fingertip veil to go with the dress.
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Owen’s three-piece suit, tie and shoes were from Reiss, he picked out brogues with a hint of red to bring out the colour of his tie. His skull-and-cross bone cufflinks were spotted in an independent shop in Malvern. Music is Owen’s passion and his cufflinks were a nod to his days in a metal band! It was really important to him that his personality came through in his outfit.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | Music and literature are a very special part of both of our lives, so this was a really important part of our ceremony. Guests assembled to music by Tom Waits, Mazzy Star, The Dirty Three and Cat Power.
I walked down the aisle to Breathless by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and we left the ceremony as a married couple to A Marriage Made in Heaven by Tindersticks and Isabella Rossellini.
We had two readings, read by our Best Man and chief bridesmaid. We spent a long time thinking about these and we wanted readings that were personal to us and not necessarily typical wedding readings. The first was an extract from As I Walked Out One Evening by W.H. Auden and the second was I Wanna Be Yours by spoken word artist John Cooper Clarke. The reverse side of our Order of Service included an extract from a piece of writing by Alfred Jarry, which captured our love for each other as well as giving a nod to our shared love of Surrealism.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | I had four bridesmaids, three of my oldest and closest friends from school and my wonderful almost-sister-in-law. My cousin’s daughters, who are seven and five, were my flower girls. My bridesmaids were so thoughtful, well organised and kept me relaxed all morning in the run up to the ceremony. As well as writing letters to me, they also organised letters from the closest members of my family and gave these to me on the morning of the wedding. Receiving these before walking down the aisle was an incredibly special and emotional experience.
The bridesmaids wore dresses in blush pink, which combined with the gorgeous bouquets, created a colour palette that really complemented the amazing Cotswold stone of our venue. The dresses were in a range of styles from the same collection (Maya, ASOS). To help with the relaxed feel of the day, I liked the idea of the bridesmaids dresses complementing each other but not necessarily matching. This also gave really nice texture to the photographs.
THE FLOWERS | Our flowers were in predominantly cream and blush tones, with pops of purple. We were both keen to use herbs in the bouquets and buttonholes and we did this using lavender and rosemary. Not only did this look gorgeous, but all of the flowers smelt amazing! The bouquets were hand-tied with hessian, and the groomsmen’s buttonholes (ivory rose, lavender and rosemary) were tied with twine. Our flower girls had little flower wands that picked out flowers from the bridal bouquet. For the wedding breakfast, each table had a mason jar full of flowers that, again, picked out the colours and types of flowers in the bridal bouquet. We wanted the centrepieces to look like they had been freshly cut from the garden.
THE CAKE | We had two giant Colin Caterpillar cakes and a rainbow cake, all from Marks & Spencer. When Owen first suggested having Colin the Caterpillar cakes at our wedding, I thought he was joking! We were talking about the best-loved cakes from childhood, and this stood out as having a certain element of nostalgia, as we had both always had this cake for birthdays growing up (in fact, we still do!). We also had a beautiful personalised ‘Mr & Mrs Davies’ cake-topper made for us by Victoria Stitches, whose shop we found on Etsy.
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | We spent a long time looking for the right photographer to capture our day, and as soon as we saw the work of Catherine and Andy at White Stag Photography we knew that they would be perfect (and we were right!). We still can’t believe how wonderful they were, it was like having friends and expert wedding planners in the room all at once. It really is true that picking the right photographer for your wedding day is one of the most important decisions you will make. We are incredibly lucky to be able to look back through our images and experience all of the love and emotion that Catherine and Andy captured so perfectly again and again.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | For the ceremony, we had posies of gypsophila and lavender tied to the chair at the end of each row and large lantern jars filled with gypsophila and tea lights staggered down the aisle, with some large petals scattered around these. This gave a rustic, country feel to the ceremony space. Our florist also created a beautiful heart-shaped hanging for the ceremony venue’s door. I painted wooden boards with blackboard paint and used one as a welcome sign, and I painted one with a quote from Winnie the Pooh. We had outdoor games during the drinks reception, as we didn’t want guests to be hanging around whilst we had our photographs taken.
Because I designed and made all of our invitations, we were able to carry the fonts and design through to the wedding stationery and venue details. Instead of standard name cards, I made each of our guests a bookmark with their name on, in keeping with our literary theme. Each of the tables was named after a party or gathering in literature. We picked out nine of our favourite books, which we wanted to capture everything from childhood favourites right through to literary classics. These ranged from Harry Potter and Fantastic Mr Fox to Steppenwolf and The Master and Margarita. I used 5×7 frames to display the table name of each table, along with an extract from the book so that guests could read which party they were a part of, even if they hadn’t read the book before. We made book paper roses for each table from an old copy of Dracula, and hand-decorated jars were scattered around the tables and the rest venue in two designs: gold glitter and book paper with twine bows. We made book paper and rose gold heart confetti for the tables and finished the table decor with copper wire lights. I painted circular wooden discs in rose gold paint, which acted as plinths for mason jars full of flowers.
THE HONEYMOON | My Dad and step-Mum booked us an amazing few days at the Devonshire Arms in Yorkshire, a beautiful little country hotel in the grounds of Bolton Abbey. Because we had a summer wedding, we decided to extend the mini-moon by driving down to Cornwall to our favourite hotel for a few extra days. Once we’ve saved up a honeymoon fund, we’re hoping to visit Iceland.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | My Dad’s reaction when he saw me in my dress for the first time, having all of our loved ones together, the amazing speeches and Owen’s drunken dancing! One of my bridesmaids created a coconut-themed treasure hunt and wrote a happy couples cryptic crossword for guests who weren’t up for dancing (which we are still struggling to complete!).
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Keep it personal. We didn’t want to go through the motions or a standard wedding checklist. It was really important to us that our personalities came through on the day, be it our choice of music and readings, games or decorative details. We felt that this relaxed approach really helped our guests feel welcome and everyone seemed to have lots of fun.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photography | White Stag Wedding Photography
Flowers | Donna Beaver at The Flower Studio
Cakes | Marks & Spencer
Cake Topper | Victoria Stitches
Wedding Ring Box | Happy Wedding Art
Confetti and aisle petals | Shropshire Petals
Bridesmaid Dresses | ASOS (Maya)
Flower Girl Dresses | Marks & Spencer
Wedding Dress | Maggie Sottero (Greer) purchased from the Bridal Boutique of Worcester
Suits (Groomsmen) | Dyfed Menswear
Ties (Groomsmen) | Marks & Spencer
Suit, tie, shoes (Groom) | Reiss
Hair | Inspiration Hair Worcester (Jo)
DJ | Deckstar Deluxe
Just so perfect.
Emma and Owen, thanks so much to you both for sharing your beautiful wedding story with us xo Lou
Join the Happy Wedding Club
Want in on a happy pre-wedding experience? The Happy Wedding Club is here for your pre-wed stage. Dedicated to bringing you clarity, support, organisation and positivity by the bucket-load.Start My Free Trial
Want In On My Happy Wedding Letter?
Join over a thousand engaged couples (and counting) who have snagged my fun no-nonsense regular wedding advice and inspo straight to their inbox. Plus you'll get planning checklists & spreadsheets for absolutely nada.