Good morning everyone! We hope that you had a blast this weekend with lots of sparkles and bangs from Bonfire Night celebrations! Perhaps you got engaged, or partied under the vibrant skies with a stag or hen! Whichever way you celebrated we hope you had fun and stayed safe. On to today’s gorgeous wedding which we are just bursting to share! Captured by the seriously talented Hannah Larkin Photography, this wedding features vintage, charity shop, river views, homemade decor and a swooning colour scheme of pastels and bold pinks. Jo and her husband Ali really thought of everything when it came to their wedding day. They took ‘festival’ to town by arriving in a burnt orange old-skool VW camper, hired a vintage bottle green double decker bus for their guests to travel in and adorned their venue with comic book bunting! They created a day that included their love of Glastonbury, going to gigs, watching rugby, the colour pink and polka dots – these are just a few highlights from this spectacular Oxfordshire wedding. Retro, rustic and wonderfully picture-perfect, here’s bride Jo to tell you all about her special day….
When we started planning our day, Ali and I agreed that the best weddings are the ones that are a true reflection of the couple getting married and so we really wanted to keep this at the heart of our day. We are very close to our friends and family and wanted everyone to be involved as a much or as little as they chose. We planned a relaxed, fun celebration that sent us off into married life the way we aim to continue it!
Surprise anniversary engagement
Ali proposed on our 5 year anniversary. I was not expecting it at all as he’d done a very good job of putting me off the scent. He suggested that we keep it low key, just do cards not presents so that we could put money towards a nice meal. When I got home from work, Ali said that he had got me something after all. I was a bit annoyed and embarrassed as I genuinely hadn’t bought him a present! He reassured me saying that it was more of an experience than a gift and explained that he had set up a little treasure hunt around the house for me. He gave me clues which led to items he had hidden around the place. Both the things he had hidden and hiding places were all important to us and our relationship from silly stuff like cream eggs (my favourite) to more serious like pictures of our bucket list travel destinations hidden in my thesis. The last clue had me searching in the corner of our bedroom. I found a card on which Ali had written “I really love you, turn around, I have a question for you”. When I turned around, Ali was down on one knee with the most beautiful ring! I was so happy I cried and eventually managed to say yes and we spent the evening ringing round friends and family to tell them the good news. We were engaged for 14 months before we got married.
I wore the “Martha” dress by Sassi Holford purchased from Ellie Sanderson Bridal Boutique in Oxford. When I first started looking at dresses, I had at the back of my mind that I might want a shorter style, especially as I’m quite small and have short hair. However, first I tried on some longer more traditional dresses. I really liked them and began to doubt my instincts, thinking perhaps I should where something full length to get married in as when else do you get to? I then went to Ellie Sanderson and tried on the Martha dress and just felt totally ‘me’ in it. I loved the retro shape and it made dancing all the more fun. Coincidentally, my sister is called Martha so I took that as a good sign!
I was really keen to look like me on the day, so I did my own hair having had some tuition from my regular hairdresser. I had planned to sort out my own veil too but only on the day did I realise that my dress didn’t allow my arms to move that high so luckily my brother’s girlfriend came to the rescue. The bridesmaids’ hair was done my very talented friend Nikala. Having decided to do my own hair, I definitely wanted my makeup done professionally and found Harriet Franklin who I could not recommend highly enough. In the run up, she was patient as I asked many silly questions and spent time at the trial with me and my mum perfecting our looks. On the day her calm and friendly presence was fantastic to have.
Pearl earrings, pink flip-flops and gel art nails!
My shoes were the “Alice” design from Charlotte Mills. I love Charlotte’s slightly quirky designs and had a hard time choosing which I wanted but these fitted with the day so well and were surprisingly comfortable. I did change into pink flip flops later that we had also bought for guests from ebay. My veil was a simple, two tiered, pencil edge veil also from Ellie Sanderson. I loved that it showed off the lace at the back of my dress.
I wore a lovely headband by Polly Edwards also bought at Ellie Sanderson along with a beautiful diamond pendent that was a gift from Ali on the day. I also wore a bracelet that was a gift from Ali’s mum and my earrings were simple pearls which were a birthday gift from my Grandpa many years ago.
I know it’s not technical jewellery but my nails were also one of my favourite accessories. My wedding present from my sister Martha was to have gel nail art done for the wedding at Hula Nails in London. We spent ages together picking designs and it was lovely to have an evening sipping bubbles and having our nails done. I ended up with polka dots, hearts and our initials on mine and Martha went with bunting on hers. They looked amazing!
Bunting and rugby themed stationery
Our save the dates were done through Vistaprint as we hadn’t got a clear idea of the style of the day by the time we wanted to send these out. The rest of our stationary was designed and printed by Amelia at Noble Hound. We were drawn to her fun and quirky designs. She created everything from our invites to name cards to the order of service and did a fantastic job of incorporating all our random ideas of bunting, polka dots and rugby balls to create a package that was totally us. In particular, she spent ages getting the order of service just right. I knew a lot of our guests wouldn’t be familiar with a Catholic ceremony so wanted it to be as explicit as possible and Amelia really worked hard at this.
Slim fit polka dot blue custom suit
Ali decided he wanted to have his suit tailored and after doing some research he set his heart on having it made by Pins and Stripes, the company who make the suits for the rugby team we support – Wasps. I have to admit I was initially sceptical about this but once he contacted them, they did a fantastic job. They came out to our flat to fit him, working around his shifts to do this and spent the time filling him in on endless Wasps related gossip which he thoroughly enjoyed. In the end, he decided on a slim fitting blue suit, with a waistcoat subtly patterned with polka dots which I think he looked incredibly handsome in.
Church Wedding with Vintage Marquee Reception
We got married in Oxford which is where I grew up and still feels like home in many ways. The ceremony was at the Catholic Church of Saints Gregory and Augustine and the reception was at The Perch Inn, Binsey. I am Catholic and it’s always felt important to me to get married in a Catholic church and Ali was happy with this. This particular Church was one we used to attend when I was growing up and we knew it would be lovely. In terms of the reception, Ali and I were keen to have somewhere relaxed, not too formal but also convenient with great food. We looked at a few venues in the area but it was only the Perch that really ticked all of the boxes. It’s only 15 minutes from the town centre in Oxford but feels like you’re in the middle of the countryside with beautiful views over the river. The Perch has a lovely permanent marquee which they’ve styled in a vintage way with props such as barrels, a piano and a wooden bar which perfectly set the tone for the day.
Flower Draped Church
We had a traditional Catholic wedding ceremony. I walked down the aisle to The Minuet from L’Arlesienne Suite No. 2 by Bizet which is beautiful flute solo and was expertly played by a friend of my sister, accompanied on the guitar. The duet also played Ave Maria during the signing of the register, which is one of Ali’s favourite pieces and then we walked out to Mendelssohn’s Wedding March.
The Church was already beautifully decorated with flowers as May is the month of Mary. Our lovely florist added to these with pew ends wrapped in twine to keep with the rustic theme and some gorgeous pedestals.
We had traditional bible readings: The first was from Song of Songs 2:8 Love is as strong as death read by Ali’s sister Emma and the second was 1 Corinthians 13 The way of love read brilliantly by my cousin Freddie. Father John also allowed us to have Jerusalem as one of the hymns which isn’t strictly a wedding hymn but is one of Ali’s favourites and the England rugby anthem!
We chose the Song of Songs reading as it was really beautiful. The Corinthians reading is very well known but was important to us it has become something of a family tradition at weddings – my Uncle Peter, Freddie’s dad, read it at my mum and dad’s wedding, I read it at Uncle Peter’s wedding and so it was lovely to have Freddie read it at ours – hopefully the tradition will continue!
Wild Farm Flowers
Ali’s mum, Jan, is a keen gardener and grew all of the flowers for us on her farm. Jan’s husband’s daughter Clare is also in the process of setting up her own floristry business and so they worked together to create the beautiful arrangements for the church, bouquets and buttonholes. Jan also spent the afternoon before the wedding with me and the bridesmaids arranging the flowers for the marquee in teapots – we really enjoyed this.
Ali and I are both pretty clueless when it comes to flowers. I knew that I was keen that they were a mixture of pastel and bright colours, nothing too structured and that my bouquet didn’t swamp me. Clare and Jan were amazing and turned this vague brief and my Pinterest boards into the most spectacular arrangement of anemones, sweet peas, ranunculas and lots of greenery. They even found a lovely white wild flower called the Bride of Oxford which felt meant to be!
50 shades of Pink….
After much searching I eventually got the bridesmaids beautiful pink dresses from For Her and For Him. I was so impressed by their service – they even created a custom colour for me so I could have a variety of complimentary shades of pink. My sister wanted the palest shade and the other girls had one of two slightly darker shades. The dresses did need some alterations once they came despite being made to measure but these were only minor adjustments. The Bridesmaids each wore their own gold accessories and gold shoes but I also gave them all a pair of pink and gold heart shaped earrings.
Charity Shop Comic Book Bunting and Teapots
The marquee at The Perch comes with a lovely mix of vintage décor which set the foundation for our day. It has both a large open space for tables and dancing as well as a cosy sofa area. It was great to be able to move between the areas as it was rainy on the day so guests were inside the whole time.
Given the existing styling, we just wanted to enhance it with some personal extra touches. My mum was a hero and made miles and miles and miles of bunting. We sourced fabric from the Sue Ryder charity sales in Nettlebed (an awesome find for décor and props) and she spent months before the wedding putting it together. She even sourced some comic book fabric to have some flags especially for Ali. It looked amazing!!
We had long trestle tables which made the wedding breakfast nice and sociable. We decorated the tables with flowers in different teapots (also mainly from charity shops). My bridesmaids, mum, my mother-in-law and I had a fun afternoon the day before the wedding arranging these.
I handwrote our seating plan using a blackboard and chalk – serious concentration required to make sure I did my neatest writing! Ali made and printed chalkboard inspired signs for the guestbook, sweet table, flip flops and bar. Around the sofa area we hung pictures of friends and we displayed the wedding pictures of our grandparents who weren’t able to be there on the day on the piano. This was a really important touch for us. The decorating and styling was such a team effort and was a really fun part of the process.
Batman and Batgirl cake toppers
Our cake was made a friend of a friend Abi and her mum Elaine. Abi is an incredibly creative, lovely person who does all things crafty. They did a stunning job making a three tier cake of all our favourites – lemon, red velvet and chocolate, all with cream cheese or buttercream frosting. They even put pink polka dots on the middle tier to continue the polka dot theme and edged the cake boards in black and yellow ribbon for Wasps Rugby. The cake toppers were one of our favourite finds. Ali loves all things comic book and a particular favourite of his is batman so when I found these batman and batgirl toppers on Pinterest, I knew we had to have them. Jess at OhMyHero hand makes each set to match the details of your day and even made us a little rugby ball as well. It’s extra nice that they’re wooden too so we can keep them forever.
Country Feast, Pic ‘n’ Mix Sweeties and Homemade Fudge
We provided snacks for guests to have on bus after the ceremony. These were giant pretzels bought from Costco, packaged up by Ali and I in paper bags with stickers with our wedding date on and handed out by groomsmen. All the rest of the catering was done by The Perch. One of our main priorities for the day was making sure everyone was well fed and watered and the “Country Sharing Feast” offered by The Perch was one of the main things that drew us to the venue. It was absolutely delicious! The high standards continued with late night snacks of cheese and biscuits, wedding cake and posh bacon butties served in brioche buns.
We made our own pick and mix sweet bar for favours, sourcing bags and jars from ebay and Morrisons, bulk buying sweets from Costco and I made some fudge which is my speciality. We also provided flip flops for later in the evening to combat sore feet.
Subtle and Candid Shots by the River
Our photographer was the amazing Hannah Larkin from Hannah Larkin Photography. I am lucky enough to be a friend of Hannah’s and since I’ve known her I have seen her photography business go from strength to strength. Her ability to capture the essence of the day and particularly all the emotions, from the happy giddy moments to the intimate quiet ones, is really incredible. We knew we wanted her to photograph our day as soon as we got engaged.
Hannah offers an engagement shoot as part of her package. Beforehand, I thought this was a nice bonus but actually it was so useful spending time being photographed as a couple and getting over the awkwardness!! Also, looking through the images afterwards with Hannah helped us to think in more detail about the types of photos we wanted for the wedding which was really useful.
On our wedding day Hannah was beyond wonderful. It was a bit of a washout and rained most of the day but this didn’t deter her. She kept everyone organised whilst also being subtle and getting so many lovely candid shots. I was worried that we weren’t going to get to make the most of The Perch’s amazing riverside location but she kept a close eye on the weather and whisked us away at twilight in a brief gap from the rain to get some fantastic couple shots by the river. This was one of our favourite times of the day and these pictures are some of our favourites. We adore the photos she has taken and looking through them just takes us right back to the day. Hannah also created an amazing slideshow for our wedding. She thoughtfully used the track we had chosen for our first dance and it beautifully tells the story of our day – https://youtu.be/yLAvMpTrJBk
Our first dance was to an acoustic version of Flaws by Bastille. They are one of our favourite bands and we have many happy memories of seeing them live. This song of ours really connects with us as a couple.
We hired Matt from Visually Sound to DJ for the evening. We met him at a wedding fair and he was so friendly and professional. When he explained that his view is that at weddings, it’s him versus the bar competing for guests’ attention and he intends to win, we knew we were onto a good thing.
In addition to this, Matt was also incredibly enthusiastic and accommodating about our idea to finish the night with a silent disco. Being regular Glastonbury goers we love a silent disco and thought that it would be the perfect way to end our wedding. We worked with Matt to develop two playlists for us – one which reflected my love of cheesy pop and one which reflected Ali’s taste of more indie rock music. These were then played out simultaneously to the wireless headphones and guests could switch channels and listen to either.
The silent disco was one of our favourite bits of the day. We were both a little nervous about whether it would work but as soon as Matt announced it, everyone was up grabbing a set of headphones and really got into it! The headphones had LED lights on to show which playlist people were listening to and so we spent the night running round the dance floor to find people on our channel or trying to persuade people to swap – after all it was my music vs Ali’s and we both wanted to win over our friends and family! Matt also played some background music for those who were sitting down.
It’s so hard to pick a favourite bit of the day – we both loved it all. I know it’s a cliché but it genuinely was the best day ever. The ceremony was particularly special, actually getting married and being declared husband and wife was incredible. The speeches and the silent disco were really memorable along with the moments we stole away for our riverside pictures at twilight. We also loved sitting back during dinner to take in the scene of all our hard work coming together and seeing everyone we love enjoying themselves – that was pretty amazing.
I know it’s what a lot of people say, but the best advice I can offer is to try and stick to your guns and have the day you both want to have. Our experience was that people were really interested and had ideas and opinions on things. In many ways this was really lovely and we loved to be able to involve them where we could. However, this, coupled with my self-induced Pinterest addiction, left me overwhelmed at times. When that happened I sat down with Ali and we went back over the key things that were important to us and this helped us refocus resulting in a day we loved. Lots of people on the day commented how infectious this enjoyment was, that because we so clearly loved it, everyone else did too.
The Line Up
Photographer: Hannah Larkin Photography
Venue: The Perch Inn
Dress: Sassi Holford at Ellie Sanderson Bridal
Bride’s Shoes: Charlotte Mills
Bride’s Nail Art: Hula Nails
Bride’s MUA: Harriet Franklin
Flowers: Bloomin Clares
Cake: Handmade by Abi
Catering: The Perch Inn
Entertainment: Visually Sound
Stationery: Noble Hound