River Punting & Gramophone Records ~ A 1920’s Inspired Garden Party Wedding…

Good afternoon my friends 😉 And how does this blog post find you? I hope you got chance to view the video post this morning over your lunch break.

This delightful wedding has been worth the wait today – Liz and Chris tied the knot on 2 June 2011 in Liz's home city of Cambridge.  I was really pleased when I found out Liz was a regular reader of these blog pages – in fact, her pre-wedding shoot has already featured here, shot by the delightful  Eliza Claire who also took these wedding photographs.

"After gazing in despair at various wedding magazines and websites my discovery of the best and most inspired wedding blogs on the net gave me all the guidance and inspiration I needed…"

Liz knew exactly what she wanted in terms of her wedding dress – and decided to commission a local dressmaker, 'Little Black Dress', to create her vision – a beautiful halterneck column dress…

Love My Dress Wedding Blog – Photography Copyright (c) 2011, Eliza Claire 

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"I knew a traditional wedding dress was not for me. I wanted a slinky, satin 1930s style evening gown.  I’m on the petite side so initially started my dress search at vintage wedding fairs and shops. However, most of the dresses were still too big and I felt rather claustrophobic in them as wedding dresses of the era tended to be high necked and sleeved.

I hunted for a 1930s evening gown but the few I did find were in very poor condition…"

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"It soon became apparent that the only way to find something that fitted in the style I wanted was to have it made but this still posed its own problems.

I had a clear vision of how I wanted the bottom of the dress to look but really struggled with the top, to the point that I found a design, had it made and then a few weeks before the wedding, realised that I didn’t feel ‘me’ in it. My poor dress maker was very patient with me and we came up with a new idea at the last minute.  We decided a floor length satin dress was not the most sensible attire for punting down the river so I wor an embroidered 1960s style coat that I found on a trip to Hong Kong…"   

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"I knew I wanted to get married in my home town of Cambridge and Chris had no objections. Whilst discussing possible themes and venues, my Dad reminded me of the misspent summers of my youth punting along the river Cam to the village of Grantchester.  We’d head back to the punting station drenched after a huge water fight and sneak into the toilets of the rather posh hotel next door to dry off and change.

We were absolutely sold on the idea of treating our guests to a chauffeured punt tour (without water fight) but struggled to find a venue that would suit the type of wedding we had in mind – as non-conventional as possible. Our original choice was scuppered when the venue announced that they didn’t do weddings but I’m not one to give up when I have an idea stuck in my head and a frantic internet search led me to the local farm in Grantchester {Trumpington Estate},  who had a meadow on the river bank which they were willing to hire out…"

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"The dress evolved over time. After seeing a photo shoot on Love My Dress which featured a dress with a bold embroidery pattern on it I was sold on the idea of having a black piece of embroidery on the bottom of the dress and designed a rose motif. However, the bottom of the dress had already been made and was cut on the bias so my dress maker came up with the idea of adding an insert in the back seam.

We decided a floor length satin dress was not the most sensible attire for punting down the river so I worn an embroidered 1960s style coat that I found on a trip to Hong Kong. I found the flat shoes whilst wandering through Marks and Spencer…"

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"Having establishes roses as my theme I was determined to find some rose earrings. I found these online and ordered them from Sears in the US. They are Victoria Crowne Marcasite and Sterling Silver Rose Drop Earrings…"

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"I had an idea in my head of what I wanted. My bridesmaid gave me a talking to, to warn me that it was unlikely that we would find exactly what I was thinking of. Dune must have read my mind for they had the perfect pair…."

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"I visited Jo Barnes Vintage stall at the Vintage Wedding Fair in Shepherds Bush and from that moment coveted the Audrey headband. My parents gave it to me as a 30th birthday present.

Bare essentuals is my favourite makeup brand and was the only brand I wanted to use on the day. My makeup artist Ioannis, was a master and made us all look our best…"

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"The colour theme we chose was pale green, pale pink and white. We used this in the flower arrangements, bouquets, bunting and cushions. We chose not to have any matching outfits but dark blue was chosen for the bridesmaid dress and Chris’s suit but I went a bit off piste with my ivory and black wedding dress…."

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"Chris wore a bespoke three-piece suit and shirt by A Suit That Fits. The suit features peaked, half width lapels, in the style of the era.Chris also loves his hats and in keeping with the theme and punting he opted for a straw panama. We found his hat in a shop in Whitstable whilst on our pre-wedding photoshoot. Chris borrowed my grandad’s rosewood walking stick and wore a pocket watch…."

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"Somehow time got away from us and Chris’s shoes and tie were left to the last minute. A week before the wedding I saw these shoes in Paul Smith but when we went in to buy them they did not have his size. We ordered them online and fortunately they turned up the day before the wedding. The tie is from Charles Tyrwhitt…."

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"My Bridesmaid Jennie’s mother-in-law is a talented artist and gardener. She and a friend had done an excellent job Jennie’s wedding flowers and I was very happy when they agreed to do ours too. I was keen to have seasonal, British flowers and roses had to feature.

My florists were like kids in a sweet shop as they searched for suitable blooms that fitted the colour scheme at the wholesalers!"

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"I chose Jennie’s dress before I had decided on my own. I’d seen it in John Lewis but it was beyond my budget. I was very pleased when it went on sale and snapped it up immediately.

Thanks to another wedding on Love My Dress I knew exactly how I wanted my bridesmaids’ hair to be styled. On the day we decided an accessory was needed and fortunately I just happened to have a couple of cream flower clips in my bag which worked perfectly…"

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"As we punted around the river bend to the meadow we were met by the theme tune of Desert Island Disks ‘By the Sleepy Lagoon’ played on an old 78 disc.

It was a lovely way to arrive. Having debarked from the punts myself, my bridesmaid and flower girl dashed into the back of the marquee to change whilst guests entertained themselves playing Smite (a little like skittles but perfect on uneven ground), giant jenga, hoops, coconut shy and listening to gramophone music played by DJ78. He was incredibly popular with the guests…"

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"I love the opulence, glamour and style of the 1930s but we knew we wanted our wedding to be relaxed and relatively informal. In keeping with the Edwardian tradition of afternoon tea we chose a  1920s / 30s garden party theme.

Punting up the river turned out to be an inspired idea as everyone was so relaxed when they arrived at the meadow. We were so pleased that many of our guests chose to dress the part. Waistcoats, boaters, pocket watches and canes featured heavily, as did a  1920s style box camera…."

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"Chris and I are atheists and did not want a traditional ceremony. We were legally getting married in a registry office the following day but as we considered the celebrations to be our wedding day we felt we needed some form of ceremony. We chose to have a humanist ceremony that gave us the freedom to express our love in a way that was personal to us…"  

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"Our celebrant was Hannah Wroe. As soon as Hannah picked up the phone I knew she was the celebrant for us. Warm, funny, interested and open to our own ideas and suggestions, she immediately understood what we wanted from our ceremony and did a perfect job of realising it on the day. With Hannah's guidance we were able to create a ceremony that had true meaning and was completely unique to us…"

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"We chose to include handfasting in the ceremony and use a piece of material from my dress and from Chris’s suit. As Jennie had been the one to introduce us we asked to complete the circle from introduction to marriage by tying the final knot at the end. She read “These are the hands”, a poem that we found in an online forum. The words were just perfect and we both welled up when we first read them. We had intended to write our vows ourselves, a task I found rather daunting. However, when Hannah read our answers to the questions she had asked us she found that we had already formed them, which came as much of a relief…"

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 "The love knot was place in a vintage wooden box which Chris had spent hours lining and decorating with photographs from our pre-wedding shoot. Along with the knot was a bottle of our wedding prosecco and letters of love we had written to each other. The box is not to be opened until our five year anniversary, unless some emergency should necessitate an advance airing! We each carry a key to the box…"

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"Whilst maintaining the sentimentality of the ceremony, it was full of laughter which exactly as we wanted it to be…"

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"We arranged the marquee in two halves. The back half was the dining area which we did not want our guests to see until dinner. A reveal was put in place to conceal it.  

The front half of the marquee was decorated with homemade bunting made from old dyed sheets, cushions and vintage lace tablecloths. We went through our house and my parent house collecting together items and furniture of the era to make the marquee feel more like a room…"

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"…this included my great, great grandmothers Singer sewing machine, my grandad’s war time suitcase and a set of haberdashery drawers. Old wooden ladders that we found in our house when we moved in were used to display flowers and trinkets. We used an old card table to display photographs and our wedding book, and my great, great grandmothers writing desk to display our table plan.

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"As so many of our guests wore hats we created hat pegs from wooden pegs and strings of pearls.  The tables were decorated with cut glass candlesticks and a variety of glass vases that we spent months collecting from charity shops. Unbeknownst to our guests we sneakily collected photographs of them on their wedding days and printed and mounted them to display around the walls of the marquee. They were surprised to see them when the reveal was pulled back…"

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"We chose a classic Victoria Sponge, filled with strawberries and elderflower cream in the shape of a heart. It was made by a local cake baker…"

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"After the ceremony we cut the cake to a specially composed poem written by our bridesmaid, Jennie. Afternoon tea, Pimms, further games and cricket followed before the reveal was pulled back in the marquee for a fabulous 3 course meal. Food is very important to Chris and I and we spent hours devising a menu that reflected our tastes. We remember events by what we ate so most of the choices were inspired by our memories such as the lemon tart we had at the Wigmore Hall restaurant when Chris gave me my engagement ring and the starter we had on the eve of our engagement…"

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"We wanted an intimate wedding and invited just 40 close friends and family. Because of the small number we chose not to have dancing. This turned out to be a good choice as the council withdrew the right to have amplified music in the meadow a few months before the wedding. However, we felt we needed some entertainment in the hour before we released paper lanterns to signal the end of the celebrations. This was taken out of our hands by my mother and bridesmaid and we were kept completely in the dark until the evening. Unbeknownst to us they arranged for many of our guests to entertain us all with poetry readings, singing, a burlesque style dance (a.k.a my hen do), highly competitive musical chairs, dancing and more…"

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"People are still commenting on what a lovely time they had a how great it was to go to a wedding that was a bit different. Having set out to ensure that our wedding was unique, relaxed, entertaining and fun we are pleased we achieved it…"

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Words of Wedded Wisdom…

"Whilst I love my dress I do regret not trying on more dresses to get a feel for the style I liked and what suited my body shape.  Had I done so I think it would probably not had dress wobbles.

Our photographer Eliza, did a fabulous job and we are pleased with the photos. However, there were a few shots that we did not get, because we had not highlighted some things, or were not very specific when completing the photographer’s questionnaire. This was because we left filling it in until the very last minute…"

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I would advise couples to give plenty of time to thinking about the shots that will mean a lot to them and their family when they look back on their special day. You cannot assume that your photographer will know everything you want unless you tell them.

Also, I have worked in events for a number of years and we both have a creative streak and really wanted to personalise our wedding by adding as many homemade touches as possible. It also helped us keep to a sensible budget!

We couldn’t have had the wedding we had without the fabulous support of family and friends. Special mention has to go to my wonderful mother who was there every step of the way, hemming metres and metres of bunting, making cushion covers, and putting up with my moments of meltdown. Jennie proved herself as the best friend a girl could ever have and had already thought of anything I had forgotten before I had chance to worry about it."

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I do get some really lovely weddings to feature on these pages don't I? 🙂

Congratulations Liz and Chris, and as always, a huge thank you to Eliza Claire for sharing her lovely photography…

"Eliza and Richard were fantastic on the day. They were encouraging, friendly and helpful, yet unobtrusive. We had already had a pre-wedding photoshoot with Eliza which was invaluable as it had given us an idea of what to expect and Eliza an idea of what we were looking for."

Take a peek at these related links:-

♥  1920s inspired weddings
♥  Outdoor weddings
♥  Humanist ceremonies
♥  Eliza Claire on Love My Dress here

I'd love to hear from those of you planning an outdoor wedding, especially if you plan on hopping on a boat like Liz and Chris! 😉

Much love all 😉

Annabel xXx


Photographer – Eliza Claire
Venue – Trumpington Estate
Brides dress – Little Black Book {bespoke dressmaker}
Brides shoes – Dune
Brides accessories –  Jo Barnes Vintage {headpiece}
Bridesmaids – John Lewis
Groom – A Suit That Fits
Flowers – Family friend
Cake – Local Baker
Entertainment – DJ78
Punts – Let's Go Punting
Catering Company – The Moveable Feast


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.