A 1950’s Vintage Gown for a Laid back and Bohemian Inspired Devon Wedding

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I was so delighted when Annabel asked me to work on this wedding feature – I remember bride Ella sharing some images in the aftermath of her wedding, in our closed Facebook Group community for Brides back in September last year – she and Oliver looked so very happy and I adored the vintage styling and bright colours. Talking of our closed Facebook group – brides, did you know it existed? The lovely bride in these images today told us how she found the group “full of the sweetest, most helpful and supportive ladies you’ll ever find.  Not only did both Love My Dress the blog and the closed Facebook group play a huge role in my wedding planning, but it’s really encouraged me to follow my passion, taking my little cut flower business onto bigger things.”  Wow! We’re so pleased to have been part of that Ella! (By the way, did you also happen to read this feature in The Pool last weekend? It too refers to our wonderful Facebook community).

So onto this glorious wedding; Ella splits her time working as an architectural technician and running her flower business, Folly Lane Flowers. Her beau Oliver is a journalist. The couple married on the 27th August 2016, with the reception held in their own garden.

“Although we didn’t have a set style there were a few very influential factors.  First is the fact that we are ultimately very traditional and it was important that our wedding reflected that.  Perhaps in contrast, the second most influential force was our laid back and slightly bohemian lifestyle, which in turn is influenced by our love of nature, our beloved Devon and our interest in self-sufficiency and sustainable living. “

Photography by Hanson Leatherby

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“Our third most influential factor was our love of history and all things vintage and antique, which inevitably influenced the look and feel of the day. Most of all we just wanted all of our friends and family by our side while we pledged our love to one another, followed by a jolly good party with food, wine and merriment aplenty.”Ella’s fabulous 1950’s gown came from eBay.  The little buttons down the back are a dream.

“I love vintage clothing and have a growing collection, so knew that my wedding dress had to be something really special.”

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Hair was by Reflections in Axminster, while Ella chose to do her own make up.

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“I had quite a specific vision of my dream dress – a dramatic gown with a huge swooshy skirt, inspired by the crinoline dresses of the early Victorian era and Queen Victoria’s wedding dress.  I chanced upon my dress while browsing eBay and bought it, as I loved the dramatic silhouette and gorgeous fabric.”

“I ended up having it altered quite significantly, changing the neckline, waistline and sleeve shape and it was all a bit of a gamble, but I had so much fun and couldn’t have been happier with the result.”

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In her hair Ella wore the most gorgeous crown of roses and dahlias, which she made that morning while at the hairdresser!  For jewellery she chose a 1940’s pearl necklace (bought at a carboot sale) and a pair of pearl and diamond earrings.

“In the evening I changed my necklace to a sparkly 1950’s costume jewellery piece that I picked up at a charity shop and I also wore a traditional Polish shawl (a nod to my Polish heritage) bought for me by my late Nana.”

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Ella’s veil was also an original piece (1930’s) and was purchased from Days of Grace in Budleigh Salterton.  On her feet she wore vintage satin dancing shoes in a Georgian style, made by Gamba (a dancewear brand), again purchased on eBay.

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Oliver already owned his vintage morning suit, but bought a new waistcoat and tie for the occasion from tailor David Saxby, cut to a traditional Edwardian pattern.  He also wore a shirt by Moville, a collar from Lipman & Sons, a vintage top hat by Christie’s of London, an heirloom watch-chain and a silver watch.  He also carried an umbrella as a replacement for the more traditional sword.

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The bridesmaids wore bespoke gowns with blush pink shoes, while the flower girls wore dresses from BHS with little flower crowns.

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“My vision was one of being surrounded by a cloud of Victorian ballet dancers, so I decided that the only way to achieve this was to make the bridesmaid dresses myself.  They were completed around midnight on the eve of the wedding.”   

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“Flowers were a huge part of our day.  I am flower obsessed and have always loved growing them so there was no question that I would grow all the flowers for our wedding, which also fit in with our quest to keep everything as locally sourced as possible and to keep our carbon footprint low.  We opted for rich, bold tones in jewel colours with pops of orange, loosely based on Polish folk art colours- jolly and not too coordinated, as befitted the feel of the day.

Lots of our neighbours brought us buckets of flowers from their gardens too, and the day before the wedding was spent with friends decorating the marquees.  I left the decorating of the church to the usual team and they did the most amazing job.”

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Ella processed down the aisle with her Dad, bridesmaids and flowergirls, to Purcell’s ‘Trumpet Tune’ played on the cornet by a friend and accompanied by the church organ.

“Music is very important to us, so we had a whopping four hymns during the service, choosing well-known and rousing traditional hymns.  We also had a choir of friends singing a medley of Gilbert & Sullivan pieces during the signing of the register, plus a sung blessing at the end by the church choir.”

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The couple chose their vows from the infrequently used Book of Common Prayer and for readings, picked Colossians 3: 12-19 and John 2: 1-11.

“We are classic car enthusiasts and are proud owners of a 1966 Morris Minor convertible (Ethel) which we had planned to use.  However when a friend offered to drive us in his 1920s Rolls Royce we couldn’t say no.  In the end we had quite a convoy of classic cars including the Rolls, a friend’s 1930s Morris and two Morris Minors.”

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“Our photographer was the incomparable Hanson Leatherby, who is well known on the London vintage scene.  He has been taking pictures of us nearly as long as we’ve been dating, so he was a natural choice.”

Hanson and his wife Jenni are a super team — you don’t realise just how important having two photographers going at once can be until you need to corral hundreds of wedding guests into group shots, or keep the wandering attention of young people focussed on the lens.”

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The fabulous catering was by Pickle Shack.

“We were completely astounded by just how incredibly good the food was.  We were really impressed with their sustainable and ethical credentials, and the fact that almost everything they use is sourced within ten miles of the venue. We could not recommend them more.”

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“Our next door neighbour Anna is a baker so we asked her to make our wedding cake, giving her a vague brief of ‘William Morris inspired’.  She worked wonders creating a beautiful and extremely delicious masterpiece, replete with strawberry-thieving birds and creeping plants.”

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For entertainment, Ella and Oliver chose two bands, who played over two days.

“The first, on the night of the reception, was a traditional swing jazz band based in Devon – Men Behaving Tradly – who not only have a superb and authentic sound, but are consummate performers and just made you smile from ear-to-ear when they play.”

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Ella and Oliver also commended them for their inventiveness- when everyone moved outside after dinner for fresh air, the band picked up their instruments and continued to play outdoors, meaning Oliver and Ella enjoyed their first dance on the lawn in front of the bonfire- how marvellous.

“On our second day we had another local band, Amycrofters, this time providing us with a super-fun Celidh and barn dance.  There were a lot of delicate heads and reluctant dancers, so they did a great job getting us on our feet and jumping around.”

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Words of Wedded Wisdom

“Firstly, people love weddings and are always keen to help which is wonderful, so be prepared to make full and efficient use of them.  Clear instructions are key.

Secondly, trust your instincts and be willing to take risks as it can save you a lot of money.  Our caterers were new to the wedding scene when we first met them, but we were bowled over straight away and just knew that they were the right choice for us, even though we were one of their first weddings.  Not only did we get a great deal, but the food was outstanding.

Finally, it might seem hard to heed this advice this when you’re stressed out, don’t sweat the small stuff, because although all those little touches are lovely, people won’t notice or mind if things get forgotten or don’t go to plan.  Your friends and family are ultimately there to help you celebrate your day and to share in your love for one another.”

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So many thanks to Ella and Oliver for sharing their beautiful day with us.  Readers,  hope you adore this wedding as much as we all do at Love My Dress.

Much love,

Shona x

Credits & Thanks


Shona Raffle-Edwards

Shona Raffle-EdwardsView all Shona's articles

Shona is a wedding admiring bookworm with a love of the countryside, flowers and all things organisational who is currently based in sunny Yorkshire with her husband and beloved cat

2 thoughts on “A 1950’s Vintage Gown for a Laid back and Bohemian Inspired Devon Wedding

  1. The dress and the flowers are fabulous!! I absolutely adore the photo with the washing hanging on the line behind them!! What a fun wedding!

    1. Isn’t the whole thing gorgeous? Such a pleasure to write up. I want to be friends with Ella now 🙂 (In a non-creepy stalkery sort of way!)

      I loved the washing photo too and the one with Oliver stalking the hens… x

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