Molly, Liam and a Llama ~ A Fun and Relaxed Wedding at Stoke Place, Buckinghamshire…

Hi lovely readers 🙂 Thanks for coming back for more wedding-day goodness on this Spring Tuesday. I love love love featuring weddings photographed by Emma Case on Love My Dress and I especially love it when Emma's Brides are as passionate as this one in retelling their wedding day story for my readers.  Warning:  this is a loooong real wedding feature.  But it sure is a gooden. And it includes a llama. Llamas are the new wedding day glam, don't you know 😉

These latest nuptials captured on camera by Emma's were that of Bride Molly and her Groom Liam, who tied the knot on 30 December 2010.  The venue for the day was Stoke Place in Buckinghamshire {which also happened to feature on Love My Dress last week, with this lovely photoshoot feature for Chez Bec Couture bridal accessories). 

Molly's simply gorgeous silk chiffon tea length wedding dress was a design by Love My Dress favourite, Joanne Fleming…

"I had some pretty clear ideas about what I wanted and how much I thought we could afford to pay and the wedding dress market wasn’t playing ball – my criterion included tea length, silk, with sleeves and buttons and a full swishy skirt but I couldn’t find anything like the picture in my head. I’m not terribly confident about the way I look and I wanted to look beautiful but failing that (in my own head at least) I at least wanted my dress to be beautiful.

I decided to explore the bespoke avenue. Not because, as my ever diplomatic father pointed out, “a dressmaker has to MAKE you look good, it’s her job!” (thanks, Dad – how hard did you think it would be?) but because I wanted a dress that made me feel good and looked like the dress in my head.  I found Joanne Fleming and went down to visit her studio in Brighton (one of many lovely trips there, what an added bonus!) and was captivated straight away – it was the first really positive dress experience I’d had and I skipped out to the pub where I’d left Liam and the dog, beaming and hopeful…"

Love My Dress Wedding Blog – Photography Copyright (c) 2011, Emma Case








Stoke Place in Buckinghamshire served as back-drop for Molly and Liam's wedding day…

"Stoke Place is a boutique hotel in a 17th century house set in beautiful landscaped grounds.  We’d had pretty terrible luck with three other venues, what with changes in management, building works being extended and double bookings, so when we finally found Stoke Place  it was already August and I was one very stressed out lady.

We arranged to go see it and as we walked around the grounds after our appointment with the lovely Holly, I just felt so calm, and peaceful. It’s obviously a gorgeous place and was somehow just the right mix of elegant and quirky, but more than that, it just felt right…."


Antique books. What is it about them? They fascinate me…





"When I went to see my dress designer Joanne Fleming, I brought with me some pictures and ideas and we had a lovely chat but I was still didn’t know what to expect until Joanne sent me one of her drawings, which are a work of art unto themselves. I was bowled over and in love – I kept showing it to people and hearing “Oh so that’s what you wanted!” and “It’s so you!”.

Joanne knew what I meant better than I did when I was throwing out vague references to Grace Kelly and the 1950’s – when I met our registrar before the ceremony, she told me I looked like Tracy Lord out of High Society and I was really surprised because that was so exactly the kind of thing I wanted to evoke but I’d completely forgotten it over the months of fittings and fabrics and details. I felt so beautiful and natural wearing it and I couldn’t be more grateful to Jo, who as well as being extraordinarily talented is also sweet and patient and flexible about appointments, extra fittings and bridal anxiety…"






"My necklace was a surprise! I was meant to be wearing an antique diamond pendant belonging to my mother-in-law (borrowed! old!) but when she came to deliver it she was also carrying a small antique locket from my husband-to-be with two little faces (a little me and a little him) that he had drawn inside with the words “Forever & Always”. Diamonds are lovely but there was no way I wasn’t going to wear that in the end so wear it I did!"


"I got my hair done at one of the Daniel Hersheson Blow Dry bars and frankly am a walking talking example of why you should HAVE A HAIR TRIAL. My hair looked lovely when I walked out of the salon at 10am but the drizzly foggy December day was just too much for it and I looked somewhat less groomed by our 4pm ceremony – poor Emma even valiantly wielded some curlers in my direction but to no avail. 

My make up artist on the other hand was Madeleine Coughlan and she was amazing. She’s worked for YSL and Benefit and she is just really talented, professional and reasonably priced. I loved the way I looked on the day even more than at my makeup trial and I felt beautiful, which is the point. She even did whistle-stop makeovers of a couple of the bridesmaids and was a lovely calming down-to-earth presence, which I frankly needed…"






"Liam’s suit was a hilariously last minute affair. I knew I couldn’t micromanage the whole wedding so after we decided that we loved the vintage formal feel of a three piece suit, I left it up to him, which had predictable results.  To his credit, he may have started late but he looked high and low for an affordable suit on the high street, internet and Ebay and in the end, having failed to find anything that would work, sheepishly turned up at the London offices of A Suit That Fits and ordered his made-to-measure brown wool herringbone three piece suit six or eight weeks before the wedding.

Although it wasn’t ready until the day before, he loved it and I thought he looked so handsome. Plus it was really soft, which made hugging him even nicer, especially since it was happening a lot that day!"



"Liam’s cufflinks were my wedding present to him – they were little silver greyhounds as a nod to Beckett, our lurcher, who was spending the day at a kennel just down the road from Stoke Place. Liam and Beckett adore each other so I knew I had to honour our lovely old hound somehow…"







"Just as we were leaving Stoke Place on the day we actually went to check it out, we saw a man leading two LLAMAS across the front drive and that clinched it. I have a thing for llamas; it’s hard to explain but their adorable goofiness gets me every time. They keep cropping up in my life in the oddest ways and so when Liam and I travelled to South America when we were first together, llamas became part of our story too.

We asked Stoke Place if they’d consider letting us ‘borrow’ them for a few photos on the day and they asked the woman who looks after them and she said yes! They told us they’d be bringing Eddie, the ‘friendliest’ llama but on the day we had Rupert as well and they were HILARIOUS. No disrespect to Eddie but Rupert was much nicer to us – Eddie kept hissing at me ominously and although Rupert was *very* interested in my bouquet (I was so tempted to give him a taste but this was before the ceremony and the mums were watching with horrified expressions), he still gets my vote. They were honestly amazing. Best. Wedding. Llamas. Ever."

hahaha! 😉


"Keen to avoid becoming one of those bossy brides who force their maids into unflattering polyester concoctions, I wanted something everyone was happy to wear and could afford and that was warm enough for a December wedding. I initially aimed for a cutely mismatched look by suggesting a colour scheme (dark pink and sage green) and told them to find something they liked but they surprised me by wanting a lot more input from me so we ended up looking for one dress that they could *all* wear. 

It turns out that s ix totally different bridesmaids, including one in the USA, are exponentially more difficult to organise  than two or four however (and I did try – facebook groups! emails! texts!) so we didn’t end up deciding on a dress until October after months of harried googling on my part. An designer named Liron, of 'Lirola' on Etsy, based in Israel, ended up fulfilling my criteria of cute, comfortable and a shape that would flatter everyone. Her dresses blew us all away in person – each one was custom made to the measurements of each girl and so fitted them like gloves. They looked amazing and I could NOT have been happier. Not to mention that Liron is SO lovely – and very patient with dealing with all six bridesmaids and me!"


"I had given barely any thought to my flowers and although I sent some email enquiries out to get an idea of price, Suzanne of Hot Flowers and Art was the only florist I met with. I knew I wanted freesias, narcissi, roses, lisianthus and jasmine, as they are my favourites and look and smell beautiful. My bouquet was creamy and the girls had pink edged tea roses in theirs as well, all edged with eucalyptus."












"We had a civil ceremony which we tried to personalize as much as possible by picking music and readings to go with it and asked Liam’s sister  to read “Oh, the places you’ll go!” by Dr Seuss, my stepmum to read “Dedication to my wife” by T.S. Eliot and finally my little sister to read “i carry your heart” by E.E. Cummings; so, so beautiful…"


"We also wrote our own vows which we left to the last possible minute and I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way. You cannot possibly say everything you want to your almost-spouse in so few words- that’s what being together for the rest of your life is for! So we just wrote what was in our heads on the morning and it was great.

Another odd little detail – as I waited with my dad before the ceremony, I asked a member of staff if we could hide in the adjoining room while everyone took their seats and they told me that the room was actually booked for a funeral! It was so weird but it’s something I’ll never forget. It seemed to add a peculiar sort of balance, two celebrations of life, from start to finish."








"Our wedding favours were one of the earliest ideas I had and are probably still my favourite – I’ve always adored reading and our favours were just really me. I always liked the idea of favours but wanted to give something really special that people would be able to use and keep and with that in mind I bought more than a hundred vintage Penguin paperbacks from bookshops, antique stores and EBay, spending no more than £3 a book and we had a stamp made that we used inside the front cover thanking everyone for helping to make our day so special. The postwar Penguin triband design is a thing of beauty  and iconically British, and the faded colours and spare but elegant gill sans font make these real keepsakes that were a complete bargain. Speaking of keeping, I never bothered to count how many I was buying, and so we had quite a few left over to begin our own little collection…"


"In addition to our books, scrabble place names and silver centrepieces, we printed our menus on the backs of Penguin postcards and my mother-in-law spent DAYS sewing the napkins from my collection of vintage fabrics. We used painters drop cloths for the table cloths because I didn’t want crisp white linens as I felt they’d look and feel too formal and I wanted everything to feel relaxed and a little rough around the edges. We washed them so that they took on a lovely nubby texture and they were a soft oatmeal colour.

We borrowed bunting from my husband’s boss (who had them left over from his summer wedding and which are now going to be used in his sister-in-law’s wedding – sisterhood of the travelling bunting, anyone?!) and had fairy lights and tea lights everywhere. More books were scattered about and my husband made banners to hang which had quotes from our ceremony readings stencilled on. For the reception room we rented silver candelabras from the venue and I also roped my family and bridesmaids into helping me make dozens of chiffon flowers for garlands like this one and we also hung glass droplets from pink and green ribbons. There wasn’t too much more to do – Stoke Place is beautiful enough on its own! I didn’t want to overdo it – I wanted to put a vintage, feminine stamp on the day without making my new husband feel like he didn’t really belong because it was all too girly or ‘fancy’."



"I’ve been a cupcake addict for a loooong time and not only are they my favourite dessert but they are so practical for weddings since you don’t have to cut them to serve your guests and they look nice no matter how you display them! However, we had some bad luck with cupcake vendors falling through for various reasons (including one broken ankle!) but I really can’t complain too much as we ended up with the lovely girls from Awfully Nice, a cupcake company based out of Windsor.

Awfully Nice are stars – not only did they come through for us at the last minute, but they are really talented and creative. They ended up creating our cupcakes in our wedding colours and four different flavours with tiny biscuit hearts on top of some and miniature fondant BOOKS on others – the girls were geniuses, plain and simple. Their prices were incredibly reasonable and the girls told us that we’d sneaked in as their favourite wedding of 2010… bonus!"




"Our first dance was Days Like This by Van Morrison. It’s a song we both love – it’s not too cheesy and we liked the idea that it could just come on the radio one day and remind us of the wedding. It also had a message that we thought was perfect; life is full of bad days and good days and then there are some days that just rise above everything else. We want to always remember our wedding day as a day like that.

Our dancing skills were somewhat less memorable as we’d had zero time to practice and at least some of what looked like murmured sweet nothings was us discussing whether or not Liam should spin me(“Now?””No”””What about now?!””NO!”), but I actually love how bashful we felt – a slick routine would have not been ‘us’ at all…"



Words of Wedded Wisdom…

"Don’t worry about what people will think – I was so anxious that people wouldn’t like it or wouldn’t enjoy themselves. You may pick a style or decoration or favour that is everywhere on the blogs, but your guests probably haven’t seen anything like it before and will love it!  I was so blown away by the attitude of our guests – they loved our wedding but even more than that, they were ready and willing to love it and have a great time from the minute they rocked up.  Even our registrar commented on what a great atmosphere they created – “You’re going to have a fantastic party with this lot!”

Also, try not forget your fiancee. Planning our wedding was pretty stressful and imperfect but I worked hard to put Liam’s interests on an equal footing with mine all the time I was thinking and planning. I may have pooh-poohed the powder blue suit but I gave him free rein on a lot of things and it showed. It is his day too and you may find that if you think hard about what he wants you’ll end up taking yourself and the day a little less seriously which makes everything more fun! I wanted him to be as comfortable as possible and I think he was completely taken aback by just how much he loved every aspect of our day, because it really was *our* day…"


♥    ♥    ♥

Brides dress – Joanne Fleming
Brides shoes – Emma Hope
Groom – A Suit That Fit
Bridesmaids – Lirola' on Etsy
Flowers – Hot Flowers and Art
Cupcakes – Awfully Nice
Photographer – Emma Case
Venue – Stoke Place

♥    ♥    ♥ 

Thank you SO much Molly! I had so much fun preparing this real wedding feature, your passion for your special day just ooozed from the document I was reading through :)  Huge thanks as always too, to Emma Case

"Our photographer was  Emma Case and this will be tricky because there just aren’t enough nice things in the world to say about her.  Emma was easily the easiest aspect of wedding planning. She was so lovely from that very first email and so accommodating of us – she felt like a friend when it finally came to our day. There are lots of talented photographers out there but not very many who are so lovely and good, inside and out and we were blessed to have found one of hem!"

Click here to view more weddings by Emma Case Photography on Love My Dress here. You can also view more from bepoke dress designer Joanne Fleming, and of course, browse through our entire selection of vintage inspired weddings 🙂

Have you got your wedding photographer booked yet?

Much love,

Annabel xXx


Annabel View all Annabel's articles

Founder of Love My Dress. Passionate Podcaster and Editor. Annabel lives in rural North Yorkshire with her husband and business partner Philip, their two daughters and menagerie of furry hounds. She loves photography, meditation, walking, being outdoors and star gazing. She is fierce when it comes to championing talent within the wedding industry and when she's not working on Love My Dress, she supports her husband Philip in the running of the family's sustainable flower farm and floral design business, Moonwind Flowers. In 2013, she became a published author.