An Edwardian Era Inspired Gown For a Romantic and Bohemian Wedding at Cripps Barn

03 Edwardian inspired wedding dress

Dear Readers, I’ll start by wishing you all a very Happy New Year, as this is my very first post of 2019.

There are usually lots of festive proposals taking place, so for those of you finding your way here newly engaged – congratulations! There’s a lot to inspire here with this completely lovely late summer wedding, so enjoy!

Rachel runs her own business, creating and selling virtual vintage and fantasy clothing for an online game. She and her fiancé Francis, a software engineer, were married on the 29 August 2018 at Cripps Barn, near Bibury in Gloucestershire. The couple took their inspiration from their wish to have a relaxed, joyous and informal day, and from the romance of the Edwardian era.

Images by Virginia Photography

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“I’ve just always loved more romantic and bohemian styles, whether in clothing or décor. Right from the start my only vision of the day was it should be joyous and fun. I didn’t have any specific theme other than this! I love colour and wanted it to have a relaxed informal feel as that really reflects both of our tastes…”

“We met on OKCupid when Francis lived in Surrey and I had just moved to Bath from Sydney (where I grew up) the year before. Francis would come out most weekends or we’d meet up closer to him but we ended up moving in together here after just a few months of dating.”

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“Fast forward a couple of years and we were engaged after a simple but very romantic and sweet proposal cuddled up together in bed one night in January.”

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“We were engaged for 7 months before the wedding at the end of August. We didn’t want to wait forever!”

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Rachel chose the most exquisitely beautiful embroidered gown in a lovely and warm cafe au lait shade by designer Martin McCrea. Inspired by the empire line gowns of the Edwardian era, Rachel wore hers with an authentic period corset underneath to create the perfect silhouette.

“I’d initially wanted to go to bridal stores to try on dresses, but was quickly disabused of that idea. When you’re plus size it’s just so limited, and the places near me with larger sizes all seemed so generic… Combined with the fact my family and bridesmaid are all in Australia and New Zealand I just didn’t feel like going to places alone when it really is such a bonding rite of passage experience in my mind.”

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“The dress I chose stood out to me instantly when I was looking endlessly through Etsy. Being plus size really limits your choices. I didn’t have years to find a dress, just a few months. I’d tried calling a leading mainstream dress manufacturer that makes in larger sizes (as many thankfully do now!) but in all of the UK they did not have a sample close to my size available and the time to have it made was quite a while.”

“I really wasn’t prepared to order a very fitted gown without even seeing it and knowing if it looked right on me, not to mention the cost ran into the many thousands.”

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“In the end, I just loved the one from Martin McCrea the most for the style and the warmer pastel tones that I felt should suit my pale skin. The lace and applique just looked like such a dream to me! After discussing with the designer and assured if it didn’t fit or I didn’t like how it looked on that I could return it, I ordered online sight unseen. It was rather nerve-wracking!”

“But I had chosen this dress because it was a style I felt that should suit my figure and because it was not super fitted, it allowed for a little leeway which I think is very important when ordering online.”

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“It’s very Edwardian in style which is one of my favourite clothing eras, so I teamed it with an Edwardian corset worn underneath that worked a charm to really show the gown off and flatter my figure far more than any other support garments might! Being a G cup I wanted the best possible support without straps showing and I am so pleased with the result!”

“I can’t recommend enough to curvy brides to take the step and wear a proper corset, even if you aren’t wearing a super fitted gown (one with steel boning made by a skilled dress-maker, I found mine on Etsy.”

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Bridesmaid Jess looked wonderful in a coffee-coloured gown from RenzBridal, which Rachel ordered online using Jess’ measurements – a gamble that most definitely paid off, because the resulting dress is stunning, pairing with the colours of her own bridal gown perfectly. Jess also wore coordinating sandals from New Look.

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As well as that lovely flower crown for Rachel, florist Beth at Go Wild Flowers created wild and natural arrangements for the day in soft pastel shades.

“I knew I wanted colourful, joyful country flowers as part of the informal happy feel of the day. Flowers were so important to me, they are something I really love and fill my home with so I wanted the flowers on the day to be a real part of it all. I just made a Pinterest board and sent it to Beth and her team.”

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“I never wear jewellery ordinarily (or very, very rarely!). I really ran with the idea that how I look on my wedding day should be just the best, happiest version of myself. So I skipped jewellery, apart from a simple pearl necklace that had been my grandmother’s. It was lovely to have something borrowed and so special of her presence there.”

“I’m 5″10 and didn’t feel the need to wear heels, which I am SO pleased I did not. Being comfortable is so important! I actually bought 3 pairs of shoes from different places, all ballet type slipper shoes but ended up with a pair that were cheap from ASOS. They just had some sparkle and were the right colour.”

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Rachel’s hair was styled in an elegant chignon by Sophia Haden, who took care of all hair and make-up for the day (and a lot more besides!).

“I found Sophia through some sheer good luck in person. She’s such an expert on all types of makeup and knew how to achieve what I wanted so well. She did airbrush on both me and my mother… It lasted for the entire day and night. But most of all it was her helpful presence I recommend. She really was like a wedding fairy when we were getting ready. She ended up fixing my hair and teaching my mum how to steam a dress and helped with my veil and all sorts. I don’t know what we would have done without her!”

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The wedding party were transported to Cripps Barn by Kushi Cars in the most fantastic Indian Ambassador car bedecked with exotic flowers.

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The ceremony was held outside in front of a rustic gazebo decorated with a romantic arbour of flowers, with more blooms in vases hanging from crooks positioned either side of the aisle as pew ends.

Bridesmaid Jess and Rachel and Francis’ flowergirl made their way down the aisle, wearing a pretty tulle dress from Angelika’s Boutique.

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“I can’t recommend this designer enough either. I really wanted something sweet and whimsical for my gorgeous flower girl that went with the romantic theme and the more muted colours of my gown as well as Jess’… it really was a gorgeous dress and I couldn’t have been happier with it!”

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Rachel also wore a custom cut drop veil, made extra wide for added volume from Etsy-based Super Luxe Fabrics. To this, a beautiful fresh flower crown was added, and for jewellery, an heirloom pearl necklace belonging to her grandmother.

 

 

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Rachel and her father walked down the aisle to Israel Kamakwiwo’ole’s version of the song, Somewhere Over The Rainbow, (played live by cello and guitar duo Palmarosa Strings) where Francis was waiting, wearing an outfit he had put together from Gabucci Bath. I love the bright blue jacket and waistcoat paired with the printed shirt and chinos.

“This is a wonderful local store in Bath. They make truly unique shirts, I love the one Francis wore so much. We put together the ensemble with help from the staff here. Both my brothers and also a cousin wore Gabucci on the day.”

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The couple said their vows to one another and exchanged rings, too. Rachel had hers made by The Gold and Platinum Studio in Bath, while Francis chose a titanium ring from The Aladdin’s Cave.

“I had my wedding ring made by the Gold and Platinum Studio in Bath. We chose them because the style of their work drew us into the shop as we walked past and it was nice to support a local business and have it made in the town we live in. It was made to complement my antique engagement ring and we are both so pleased with the result.”

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“Francis however, is not one for fuss or adornment. He needed something low maintenance and simple, and… I came across The Aladdin’s Cave on Etsy. I couldn’t believe how cheap it was for a nice simple titanium ring and figured for the microscopic cost it was worth trying it. The ring looks great and he’s so happy with it, mostly because it was a sensible purchase. I really love our ring choices as I feel they reflect who we are so much. I’m romantic and not at all thrifty, while Francis is sensible and appreciates something practical!”

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“We didn’t have any readings…getting married is a rite of passage and tradition, so we wanted our vows to be very much in line with that. Not personalised, as we feel there was more meaning in “official” words said before your friends and family. For us that was very romantic and special, as we’re private and not ones for public displays generally! I think this was a really important aspect of it all, actually.”

“In that there is quite a lot of pressure I think from the media and our general society about making things super unique and celebrating your love in this public way. For some people that is the right way, but not everyone! I genuinely feel this puts off a lot of people from getting married, as I’ve encountered people saying just that. You can get married outside of a registry office and not have readings or poetry.”

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Capturing the beauty and informality of Rachel and Francis’  flower-filled country wedding day was Virginia Photography.

“Virginia was so wonderful to have on the day! She helped during my getting ready and was a calming, happy presence to have around us. I just adore the photos she took, they really captured the feel of the day which is exactly what I was wanting rather than formal photography. I definitely recommend her to other brides, not just for her beautiful photos but great value as well!”

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Inside the barn, the rustic beams were decorated with more incredible displays from Go Wild Flowers, with the long dining tables dotted with vases filled with more summer blooms, and stationery from Sundae Printables.

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Everyone sat down to a delicious feast (complete with self-carved roasts and brilliant chef’s hats) from the team at Cripps Barn, as well as a wonderful three-tier cake from The Vanilla Pod Bakery.

“I wanted something beautiful and happy, and they did a wonderful job on that! The florist worked with the baker to organise the decoration, which really made it so much less stressful for me. Once again, I just sent a Pinterest board to them to follow and said just something like this and left it to their creative talents!”

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Later in the evening, there was brilliant live music from ceilidh band Up And Running.

“We had a ceilidh band, and very much did not want to do the ‘first dance’ as it just isn’t our thing. I actually hate being the centre of attention (odd for a bride to say, I know!) and wanted the day to be a happy, fun party of friends and family coming together.”

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“Not just all about us. Our band were so wonderful about this and we had the most special ‘first dance’ where they got everyone to join in and hold hands dancing in circles together calling out our names to celebrate the start of our married life together. I hadn’t planned this at all! It was really a special, utterly joyful surprise that was better than anything I could have planned.”

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“The whole day was just so wonderful and everything I had hoped for and more. I think when it comes down to it though, the part that is my most favourite was that after the ceremony (which really was special and so wonderful holding hands and making those vows), there was such a sense of happiness and relief the actual getting married bit was done and we could just relax now and have fun.”

“So, the dancing was probably my favourite part of the day. It was everything I’d hoped for, they were just amazing and so much fun. They had so many up and dancing and it was that joyful, silly and fun party I’d really been wanting!”

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Words of Wedded Wisdom

“It is going to cost more than you think.Way more. So spend the money on the things that matter most to you and cut corners for stuff that really doesn’t.”

“Given I’d not change a thing of my day I think I can safely say my best advice to any bride would be it really is true you should follow YOUR desires, and do it YOUR way! Don’t for one moment bow to pressure or feel you must do this or that because it is expected. It is your day and your party. If you don’t want to have a reading, don’t have one! If you don’t care about a cake, then don’t bother with it! What makes it so great is the feeling of people coming together and for things to be how you’d like them to be!”

“Whatever feeling that is, whatever style. You have to think about what you really care about having; what you will care about in the years to come. Those memories are what matter, so it is whatever does that for you that I think is important to focus on.”

“For me it meant keeping everything pretty relaxed and not fussing over all the little details, but instead caring about the big picture. Because if you have that right, the little details really do fall into place I found. And on that note I’d also advise having help to make it all happen. Whether that is a planner or choosing a venue that knows what they are doing like I did. It made my life SO much easier and on the day it all just came perfectly together.”

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Rachel and Francis, thank you so much, for sharing your enchanting day, and for your honest and thoughtful words throughout – both wise and inspirational. Many thanks also go to Virginia Photography for these dreamy images, too.

Until next time!

With love,

Laura

Credits & Thanks

Laura Callan

Laura Callan View all Laura's articles

Laura is a freelance writer and content creator who loves telling stories. She has keen eye for photography and art, and lives with her husband, cats, and huge amounts of books.

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