Today we have the pleasure of sharing the wedding of one of our lovely Love My Dress Facebook group members, so may I suggest you make a cup of tea, find somewhere comfortable to cuddle up and enjoy this bright and gorgeous Autumnal wedding.
The couple are Laura, who works in arts and heritage marketing and communications and her fiancé André, a quantitative analyst. They wed on 30 September 2017 in the heart of the Cotswolds at Cowley Manor, Cowley, Cheltenham, in a day filled with warm, bright autumnal colours. Their country house venue offered them the chance to create a relaxed and fun house party where their family and friends could stay for the whole weekend, with a cool twist provided by the colourful quirkiness of the interiors.
Autumn is their favourite time of year and the couple chose to use a seasonal palette of deep oranges, reds and yellows. Weaving in elements from their English, Irish, Canadian and Hungarian cultures and heritages also played a part in the loose theme which developed organically through the planning process. Combined with Art Deco accents, this is one stylish wedding. Laura’s soft and romantic gown, with its full, flowing skirt and fitted corset is the Naomi Neoh ‘Azalea’, chosen at the designer’s flagship store in London and made to measure to fit Laura beautifully.
I love how she transformed her look for the evening by removing the three-quarter sleeve lace jacket to reveal the gown’s sleek bodice. It sounds like Laura had the most wonderful shopping experience, too. Naomi’s attention to detail and commitment is just one of the reasons we are so proud to support her on our Style Files and Little Book for Brides.
“There were a number of reasons I chose my Naomi Neoh gown, but mainly because I felt fantastic in it! I tried so many shapes and silhouettes, but the dropped waist and lace of the Azalea were extra special for me. It was the dress I couldn’t stop thinking about when I got home, so I knew it was the one. I thought I would find the corset restrictive, but my body quickly warmed to it, and on the day I wore it from 2pm until 2am, ate, drank, danced and was merry. All of Naomi’s dresses are incredibly special and the swish of the skirt is glorious, for dancing especially!”
Photography Danielle Victoria Photography
“The whole Naomi Neoh team are so sweet and passionate about what they do – nothing was overlooked and every detail thought of. I wanted this experience to be special and once in a lifetime, and they made it so. I opted to have my dress made to measure, so went through a calico fitting first before seeing the dress that would be mine. I got to see Naomi at work (on me) first hand; her attention to detail and her understanding of fit, cut and structure. We also discovered a shared love of the history of fashion and costume, so chatted lots about that, too!”
If you’re newly engaged and haven’t yet joined our private Facebook group then please log on and request to join after you’ve read this feature. Laura found it a huge source of support and advice whilst she was planning her day with André, and found some of her fantastic suppliers through the group.
“I read lots of Love My Dress blog posts and used Little Book For Brides – they were both inspirational and so useful. I also joined the Love My Dress Facebook group, which was a wonderful source of inspiration but also support, understanding and advice. Through a mixture of all three, I found my dress designer, florist, veil supplier and hair and make-up artist.”
Kate from Lipstick and Curls, who is one of our wonderful Love My Dress sponsors and a member of Little Book for Brides, styled the bridal party’s hair and make-up and it sounds as if they really clicked, which must have been wonderful on the morning of the wedding.
“Amanda and Richard at Lipstick and Curls ensured the whole booking and trial process was easy, and Kate was incredible. We discovered some shared heritage, and on the wedding day itself, I had the soundtrack to the film ‘Labyrinth’ playing (a favourite of mine). It was then that Kate revealed a quote from the song ‘As the World Falls Down’ tattooed on her arm. She was fantastic to have around as we got ready and really understood the look I was after with my hair and make-up, and executed it to perfection.”
I love the contrast between the simple drape of the veil and the richness of her fresh floral headpiece of red spray roses, craspedia and asparagus fern, created by Honeysuckle Flower Co. This cool bride chose a pair of black lacy Jimmy Choos to complete her outfit.
“Black lace isn’t immediately bridal, but I wanted shoes I could wear again, and I really liked the contrast.”
Talking about flowers, aren’t these Honeysuckle Flower Co blooms a true celebration of autumn? I really urge you to visit their Little Book for Brides listing where you can see yet more glorious arrangements and learn how to get a lovely 10% saving. The addition of the striking ribbons adds such movement and flow to the wild and natural bouquet.
“After speaking with Christiane over the phone and chatting about what we might like, I had full confidence that our flowers on the day would be incredible, and so they were. I knew I wanted Old English roses, dahlias, some berries and greenery, and my bouquet was a mixture of yellow Old English roses, red and orange spray roses and café au lait roses, orange dahlias, peach snapdragons, rosehip and other autumnal berries, gloriosa and greenery.”
Laura asked Sian of Blossom and Bluebird to handmake a bespoke chapel-length veil in a soft tulle.
“Sian was a joy from start to finish, keeping me regularly updated about my order. When it arrived, it was wrapped so carefully that it almost seemed a shame to disturb it! She has such genuine love for what she does, and it shines through in everything.”
“We loved the bright blue in contrast to the oranges and reds in the flowers.”
“I wore ‘Halfeti’ by Penhaligon’s. It’s a favourite of mine and was a gift from André a couple of Christmases ago. It’s a complex, grown-up grapefruit, oud, rose, sandalwood scent with real staying power.”
“As soon as we got to Cowley, we knew it was for us. It looks like a traditional country mansion on the outside, in the gorgeous Cotswolds, but the interiors were colourful, cool and quirky. All of the staff were extraordinary from start to finish and Nicola went above and beyond in the run up and on the day to make sure everything ran smoothly.”
Laura has the most beautiful auburn hair, and it looks magnificent in its sumptuous waves. Her whole look was inspired by Phryne Fisher (played by Essie Davis) in the 1920s detective show ‘Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries’.
“I love Phryne’s slightly vampy smoky eye and red lips and that’s the look we went for. My hair was originally going to be up but on the day I changed my mind and opted to wear it down in soft, vintage-style waves. I’m really glad I did as I rarely wear my hair up anyway, and so felt more like the best version of me.”
The groom chose a three-piece suit in blue with a subtle check from Brioni teamed with an Emma Willis shirt, a deep pink tie from Charvet at Selfridges, cufflinks from Longmire and black ‘Grafton’ brogues from Church’s.
“André also wore a watch that was gifted to him on his university graduation day a few years back by his dad, who sadly died in 2008. It was a nice way to have his dad close to him and pay tribute to him.”
The couple have been together for nine years, although the first few years of their relationship was long-distance between the UK and Canada, a circumstance which made the couple stronger and really appreciate the time they spend together. Laura has a memorable, and cautionary, engagement tale to share with you all.
“I actually completely spoiled André’s proposal surprise. He had secretly bought an engagement ring and planned to whisk me away on a surprise trip where he would propose. Some weeks after he had bought the ring, I was home alone when the postman delivered a jiffy bag addressed to André.”
“I messaged him and let him know a delivery had arrived for him, and without thinking André asked me to go ahead and open it. I realised what I’d done as soon as I peeked inside the package. It was the stone certificate and warranty for a diamond ring. Shaking, I messaged André – ‘I don’t think I should have opened this. I’m sorry.’
He immediately called me and I confessed, whereby we both spent the next fifteen minutes apologising to each other, mutually horrified and embarrassed. André said, ‘Well, I guess now you know.’ He proposed later that night, at home in our flat with our cat Lily circling round us as he got down on one knee. It wasn’t a surprise getaway, but it was silly and funny and perfect for us.”
After a lovely morning getting ready, Laura and her dad walked down the aisle together as ‘La Valse d’Amelie’ by Yann Tiersen was played. If you’ve seen ‘Amelie’, one of Lauren’s favourite films, you’ll know this wonderfully evocative music.
Their choice of reading was unusual but so lovely – an extract from ‘The Little Prince’ by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
“We chose the part in the book where the fox is talking to the Prince about establishing ties. The book is a mutual favourite and this part spoke to us both. We wanted a reading that was a little bit unusual, that said something different about the nature of love, and that wasn’t too soppy or contrived.”
Wedding bands were chosen at Tiffany & Co in London, where the bride’s engagement ring was also from.
“We both chose simple platinum wedding bands from Tiffany & Co on Old Bond Street in London. Their service is second to none. We bought them one evening after work and then celebrated with a cocktail afterwards.”
“It’s very difficult to choose a favourite part of the day, because it was brilliant from start to finish, but if I had to choose I would say the ceremony itself; standing in front of so many people we loved and saying our vows, feeling the love and happiness of everyone in the room, and seeing how happy André looked.”
Laura and André worked closely with Cowley Manor‘s wedding coordinator Nicola to plan and style their day.
“We happened upon Cowley after an internet search, thought it looked cool and booked an appointment to meet their wedding coordinator. We were looking for a country house venue we could hire exclusively for a weekend, where friends and family (travelling from all over the world) could stay for a relaxed house party.”
With such a gorgeous backdrop, very few additional details were needed, just a few floral touches to nod to the season and lots of candles.
“Cowley’s decor is so striking and unusual, we really didn’t mess with it at all. We bought pillar candles from Tiger, which were placed on mantelpieces and tables around the house. On our tables, we had our floral arrangements in terrariums, a framed table name and then various little pumpkins and squash that my mum bought wholesale, with more candles.”
“We kept venue flowers pretty simple, as the room we were married and later had dinner in had gorgeous wooden panelling and a dramatic marble fireplace and light fittings, so we didn’t feel that anything too much was needed. Christiane of Honeysuckle Flower Co suggested using copper coloured terrariums with floral arrangements inside as they would be striking but sit low enough on each table to make conversation (and passing the butter) easy. On the day, we also used these arrangements for the ceremony – lining them up along the fireplace with big pillar candles, and it looked wonderful.”
We have Danielle Victoria Photography to thank for these richly-detailed, vibrantly-coloured photographs.
“As soon as we saw Danni’s work and chatted with her over Skype, we knew she was the right person to document our day. She has a great eye for the story of the day and all of the little details and chance moments. On the day itself, she was seven months pregnant and was the ultimate trooper.”
“She is a lovely and genuine person, and so immediately put people at ease. So many guests commented on how she seemed to be everywhere at once without being intrusive or obvious. She was a total wonder!”
For an additional Art Deco touch, Laura designed a table plan in an era-inspired font, which was then arranged around an old suitcase of her mum’s. She also hand-painted the place cards in oranges, reds and yellows using watercolours, adding texture and interest with a sprinkle of salt on the wet paint. The rest of the stationery was designed by The Old Market Printing Co.
“We designed an autumnal menu with the Head Chef and Hungarian desserts with the Pastry Chef, who is herself Hungarian. We also supplied our own wine from a Hungarian vineyard, Sauska. The vineyard in question is a stone’s throw away from where André’s grandparents used to run their own winery, and it was really important for us that we could honour his heritage in that way.”
Instead of a big wedding cake, Laura and André opted for cupcakes later in the evening. I can totally relate to the ‘sneaking cake’ back to the room for a snack.
“I’m originally from north Staffordshire and we asked our friends Anna and Joe who run the Red Brick Café in Blythe Bridge to make these cakes for us. My parents collected them and brought them to Cowley the day before the wedding. Nothing was too much trouble for Anna who made sure some of the flavours were milk-free (André sadly can’t partake).”
“We chose chocolate and hazelnut, raspberry and white chocolate, coffee and walnut and lemon and poppyseed flavours. Anna even sourced rice paper autumn leaves to decorate the top of each cake. It was great to see our guests enjoy them and even sneak the leftovers back to their rooms/hotels for a late night (or early morning!) snack.”
The wedding party was kept entertained by era-inspired jazz music from The Cate Cody Quartet. The band went out of their way to learn ‘My Baby Just Cares For Me’ for the newly-weds’ first dance. The couple even used Youtube videos at home to help them learn a few moves and dips to help them prepare for a great performance. By the way, don’t you love the transformation of Laura’s gown by the simple removal of the lacy jacket?
“We knew early on that we wanted a band to play classic jazz, and Cate Cody was such a wonderful internet find. She has a magical singing voice, and her repertoire is 1930s jazz, which was in keeping with our various nods to Art Deco. We chose the quartet option – vocals, double bass, piano and drums. They were fantastic, and kept jazz lovers and haters alike on the dance floor for hours!”
“We asked Cate if her and the band would play ‘My Baby Just Cares For Me’ live for us. All of us being huge fans of the Nina Simone version, Cate promised they would practice and if they felt they could do it justice, they would. A few weeks later she emailed and said that their version sounded good. It was better than that – it was amazing! We’ve often danced to the song around our flat – it’s a fun, happy love song with sweet lyrics.”
Words of Wedded Wisdom
“Remember that it’s your day, no matter how fraught things get. Do what makes you both happy, forget the rest. I didn’t want a hen party, we didn’t want to cut a cake and we didn’t want to spend the night before the wedding apart, and guess what? It was totally fine.”
“Make as many decisions as you can together. As we began to plan, we both discovered that there’s often a very outdated point of view that all decisions and planning are down to the bride, and that the groom either can’t or doesn’t have an opinion. Except for my dress and so on we made joint decisions. We’re a team, after all, so it made total sense for us to approach our day that way.”
“Choose suppliers who you genuinely like and can build up a rapport with. Choose the people and the places who make your heart sing and who are passionate about what they do.”
“Give a speech. It doesn’t have to be long, but if you want to, go for it!”
“Finally, join the Love My Dress Facebook group, where you’ll not only find infinite sources of practical advice, but a safe space to offload worries and concerns in a place where everyone understands what you’re going through, and offers wisdom, genuine support and empathy.”
Well Laura and André, it’s been such a joy to experience your wedding today. I really love your bright, warm colour palette and that gown is so, so special. Thank you so much for sharing with us, and for being such a valued member of the Love My Dress Facebook group. I’m sure you’ll all join me in sending many thanks to Danielle Victoria too for her work. If you are in love with this Naomi Neoh gown then there are so many of her delightfully romantic gowns to drink in in this feature.
Credits & Thanks
- Photographer - Danielle Victoria Photography
- Planner/Stylist - Nicola at Cowley Manor
- Venue - Cowley Manor
- Wedding Dress - Naomi Neoh
- Veil - Blossom and Bluebird
- Headpiece - Floral headpiece by Honeysuckle Flower Co
- Shoes - Jimmy Choos
- Accessories - Earrings from the National Portrait Gallery Shop + her grandmother's locket + Beaverbrooks bangle
- Perfume - Penhaligon's Halfeti
- Groom - Brioni suit + Emma Willis shirt + Charvet at Selfridges tie + Church's brogues + Longmire cufflinks
- Bridesmaids - Karen Millen gown + Oliver Bonas earrings
- Florist - Honeysuckle Flower Co
- Cake - Red Brick Café
- Entertainment - The Cate Cody Quartet
- Rings - Tiffany & Co
- Catering - Cowley Manor + Sauska wine
- Stationery - The Old Market Printing Co + the bride
- Hair Stylist + Makeup Artist - Lipsticks and Curls