We knew we wanted to get married at Shiplake Church, where I’s parents got married. We wanted a venue that we could really make our own while also accommodating all 200 (!!) guests. I grew up in Canada so we had a lot of guests coming from abroad. We wanted them to get the full English Country Garden wedding experience! We first saw Stonor in the pouring rain on a November day and even then we knew it was perfect. The stunning valley setting with the herd of deer wandering near the entrance, the beautiful house, and the amazing walled gardens completely blew us away.
They offer a dry hire option, which can be daunting given all the extra coordination, but we had already brought our amazing planner Ann Nicholas on board and knew that with her help we could pull it off and create our dream day there. Manor of Hurst, a gorgeous Elizabethan manor house nearby, was the perfect bridal accommodation, where we hosted both the rehearsal dinner the night before and the Hog Roast the day after. Both were catered by the amazing Louis’ Home Cooking.
My hair and makeup was done by Caroline at Powder & Glow. She was fantastic, working with me to create a look that felt natural and like the best version of myself. My dress was designed by Sanyukta Shrestha, who makes eco-friendly, ethical wedding dresses. It was the only bridal shop I went to and was the fourth dress I tried on. As soon as I put it on, I burst into tears, knowing it was the one. I worked closely with Sanyukta to customize it, adding flutter sleeves and making the overskirt detachable so I could remove it for the party.
My veil also came from Sanyukta, which I wore with a stunning (and very old) tiara borrowed from some close family friends. My necklace is a Georgian diamond pendant that my husband-to-be found while trawling antique jewellery trying to find my engagement ring and couldn’t resist buying for me (how’s that for marriage material?). My engagement ring is Victorian, set with a sapphire and diamonds in scrollwork. Our wedding bands were made by Simon Finlasyon Jewellery. Simon was fantastic and made both our rings custom to completely suit our style, especially Ivo’s signet/wedding ring that he wears on his ring finger.
I wore a traditional Morning Suit, with trousers made in his family tartan. As a gift he got my brother and father trousers made in our family tartan, which they wore with their Morning Suits on the day.
If we had to choose a style it would be English Country Garden, but we kept it incredibly simple in terms of décor and stationery. We were lucky – between the stunning setting of our venue and the gorgeous Sperry Tent by PapaKåta, we didn’t need to do much else in terms of décor. Our invitations came from Piccolo Press, and a graphic designer friend made our table signs. Our tables were named after places we’ve lived, and the labels were made using an online map tool. My amazing bridesmaid hand wrote every single place name – which was particularly useful as we had to do a few last minute switches on the day.
We worked with Victoria from Ivy Amelia Florals. Our planner Ann put us in touch with her and she was a dream to work with. We knew we wanted to keep it simple with lots of low flowers and foliage (so our guests could see each other’s lovely faces), while making sure the marquee didn’t feel too empty. Victoria made our dream come to life, creating the most gorgeous floral pillars that started outside the entrance to the church and were then moved to the entrance of the marquee. She also sourced eight potted birch trees from Real Oasis which were a low cost way of creating an impact while minimizing waste.
We kept our cake very simple, iced in white with some flowers from Victoria to decorate it. It was delicious! We took ages to decide which flavour before our planner reminded us that each tier could be different. We had one red velvet, one espresso and one chocolate. Passion for Food catered and the food was outstanding – doing the tasting was a real highlight of wedding planning! We decided to extend the canapés in lieu of a starter course, giving our guests longer to enjoy the walled gardens before going into the marquee. Nicola from Passion for Food even sourced cheese curds so that we could serve Poutine, a true Canadian delicacy, as our late night food.
We loved working with Emma Hare. She captured the day in the most natural way possible, and managed to snap all those moments of sheer joy and complete love. The photos feel bright and engaging and really reflect how the day felt, and going through them takes me right back there. She was also an extremely calm presence on the day!
Best part of the day
The fireworks! We weren’t sure if the budget was going to stretch to a professional firework display, but in the end our planner Ann made it work. Watching the fireworks celebrating us as husband and wife is a memory that will always make my heart soar. I’s favourite part of the day was driving away from the ceremony in a borrowed classic red Morgan. He nearly stalled as we set off, but managed a beautiful recovery and we had the most exciting drive through Henley with lots of well-wishers along the way. I also enjoyed the completely packed dance-floor as our amazing band, Hand Fulla Soul, had everyone dancing all night.
From one couple to another…
Before you start planning anything, decide (between you both) what is important for your big day and let that guide your decisions. It is very easy to get caught up thinking you need to go all out on stationery, or flowers, or a dress etc. But having agreed priorities can help you decide what you should splash out and where you can save.
Oh, and hire a wedding planner!
Venue Stonor Park
Sperry Tent PapaKåta
Wedding Planner Ann Nicholas Wedding Planning
Photography Emma Hare Photography
Catering Passion for Food
Cake Karenanna Cakes
Flowers Ivy Amelia Florals
Trees Real Oasis
Hair and Makeup Powder & Glow
Dress and Veil Sanyukta Shrestha
Groomsmen Attire G Livingston’s & Son
Fireworks Titanium Fireworks
Bridesmaid Dresses David’s Bridal
Band Hand Fulla Soul
Bridal Accommodation Manor of Hurst
Rehearsal Dinner and Hog Roast Louis’ Home Cooking
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