A High-End, Fashion Magazine Inspired Wedding at St Giles House in Dorset

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Josie and Ferg tied the knot on 10th February 2024 at the magnificent St Giles in Wimborne, Dorset.

This creative couple sought a wedding with a super cool, glamorous, fashion editorial aesthetic. Their stylist, Nikki of The Toast, along with their talented photographer Marta Ilardo and their venue’s Bright Young Things-inspired house party atmosphere, seamlessly collaborated to deliver the effortlessly cool wedding they envisioned.

Fiercely independent, Josie chose to walk down the aisle herself in a stunning, fitted gown, by Justin Alexander, which she discovered at Brides of Southampton boutique. Enjoy!

Flash photography in a high end fashion editorial style, at St Giles House. Photography by Marta Ilardo. Bride wears a Vivienne Westwood-esque dress by Justin Alexander and a crown. Groom wears a velvet suit.

Venue & Location

Originally we had booked another venue in Southampton but they pulled out suddenly with only six months to go. St Giles were amazing and promised to pick us up from our panic puddle on the floor, and they weren’t lying – they were absolutely incredible, surpassing anything we would have had at the original venue.

Even better, I went to school in Wimborne and grew up in the area so it was lovely to find somewhere that linked to us personally. 

While at university, I studied a lot of art history and used a lot of renaissance oil paintings as references in my own creative work. I fell in love with the still lives and chiaroscuro lighting in Caravaggio and Rembrandt’s work. The contrast of light and dark with warm colours and a beautiful freedom of shape and tone. It’s so classic and romantic. I couldn’t believe the stunning decor and tapestries at the venue, it was heavenly. 

As a photographer, I’ve spent the last 15 years producing photoshoots in the fashion industry and whilst it seems superficial to say it, it was really important to us that the whole day felt like a high-end, stylised editorial piece, curated for a fashion magazine. We had a really clear visual identity and spent a lot of time fitting it all together so that it felt a little different – and more moody than a ‘white wedding’.

Groom and the wedding party leaving The Riding House at St Giles wedding venue, Dorset. Marta Ilardo Photography.

Bridal Beauty & Accessories

I wore a veil embellished with tiny crystals that caught the candlelight. I’m unsure of the designer, but Brides of Southampton sorted me out.

My shoes were an orange velvet court shoes, custom made by JustLeatherGR. My perfume was Kenzo World. I don’t think they make the one I have anymore though. I love it because it’s not too sweet. 

I wore my Mother-In-Law’s locket that held a photo of Ferg’s grandparents. When I met Grampy, he held my hand and told Fergus to ‘look after this one’. Sadly he passed at the beginning of the pandemic but it will always mean the world. I also wore my maternal grandmother’s wedding ring. 

It’s very on brand for me to have a crown. Mine was an incredible find on Amazon.

Black and white photograph of a bride standing in the glow of natural window light, but turning back to the photographer. The bride wears a crown. Marta Ilardo Photography.

Photography of the reflection of a bride's face in the mirror. Marta Ilardo Photography.

The Dress

My dress was Grove by Justin Alexander from Brides of Southampton. They were amazing. With the change in venue, I freaked out about the dress I’d bought. They were so lovely and let me weep and try a thousand other dresses on until I found the one. Absolutely I’d recommend. 

I’ve been mentally planning my wedding since I was three years old and always wanted to feel like a princess. Having tried on the ball gowns, I thought they sat really weirdly on me and made me look cumbersome, so I went with something opposite.

Modern bride standing inside St Giles House in Dorset - pale blue striped wallpaper in the backdrop. She is carrying a huge oversized green wedding bouquet and wearing a Vivienne Westwood-esque wedding dress by Justin Alexander. She has short hair and wears a crown.  Marta Ilardo Photography.

I originally had a very fitted/draped dress that was very greek-goddess to fit in our originally venue, which was very marble-pillars. I feel like I had my eyes opened when the venue changed and I thought what the hell am I doing? This isn’t very me at all, and whilst I know that a dress doesn’t have to fit a venue, I would have felt so out of place and uncomfortable. 

We went to a friend’s wedding in the summer before our wedding and I cried the whole time over how beautiful the bride looked. I knew I wouldn’t feel like that in my original dress. I wanted a skirt I could swish about in. 

I ended up going for a beautiful A-line skirt with a Vivienne Westwood-esque corset. I have a masters degree in fashion and I just about died when I saw it. I didn’t just feel like a princess, I felt like a queen

A lot of our choices were based on texture and tone. Both of our outfits caught the light really beautifully.

Ferg’s suit was a mix of pieces from Xposed London and Moss Bros, and it was tailored by Cavendish Ramsey. Ferg’s colour is green. He wears it all the time and it matches his eyes so beautifully. Having a winter wedding, inspired by paintings, it  simply had to be velvet! What a beautiful texture. 

Groom in a velvet suit at St Giles House, Dorset.
The wedding ceremony room at St Giles House, Dorset. Tree with golden leaves is the backdrop for the wedding ceremony. Grand paintings hang on the exposed brick wall.
Wedding ceremony at St Giles House, Dorset. Bride and groom stand near to pillar candles and a gold leaf tree. Marta Ilardo Photography.

The Ceremony


We were married under a huge golden tree that twinkled with fairy lights. It was really beautiful.

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I wanted my marriage to be my choice. I’m an independent person and I’ve done a lot in my life by/for myself.  I also remember watching The Sound of Music when I was very small and thinking how badass it was that Maria walked the length of the cathedral by herself with such a huge train.

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Mum always said how sad it was, but I have always wanted to walk by myself.  I was accompanied by ‘You Are So Beautiful’, by Joe Cocker. We had a music producer friend interlace the theme to Disney’s Up throughout, too. 

We had a focus on friendship in our vows, but did not write them ourselves. Our officiant gave us a few script options.

Ferg’s sister read some Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières. 

Our wedding rings are by Joy Everley.

Find Your Wedding Readings
St Giles House wedding, Dorset. Gold leaf tree in the backdrop of the ceremony room. Marta Ilardo Photography.

Photography

When we first got engaged, a lot of people would ask who was going to take our photographs, (sometimes before congratulations!) Having been a photographer for a long time, the photos were incredibly important to me! When Fergus and I first started going out, I warned him that if we ever got married, most of the budget would go on image-makers.

Bride and groom exiting their wedding ceremony inside St Giles House, Dorset. Marta Ilardo Photography.

I spent hours researching and trawling Instagram. I interviewed three photographers. Marta Ilardo was by far the best. She also comes from a fine art background and works in a similar way to me.

Her works is so much more than simply ‘wedding photography’, she has such style and charm. Her photos are like fashion editorials – they really capture a feeling, not just a moment. She’s amazing. We love Marta!

We weren’t going to have a videographer, as we were stretching out budget a little with our venue change, but Fergus met up with a friend who had just got married a few months prior and she said her biggest regret was not having a videographer. Imagery is so important to us. I asked Marta who she could recommend and fell in love with Agne Harris.

How They Met

Fergus and I met at a gig neither of us was supposed to be at. I -famously- have a strong dislike for live music but I also felt I couldn’t say no AGAIN to a friend’s invitation to see his band. I got very drunk, and the friend I’d also dragged along took my phone, and decided to invite everyone -everyone- I had matched with on Tinder.

Of everyone she invited, Fergus was the only one who bothered to show up. He’d just moved into his flat and was sat alone surrounded by boxes with nothing to do. But boy did he show up. His opening gambit was to tell me he saved dolphins for a living (technically true!) Mine was to tell him I’m a lot. So he can’t say that he didn’t know what he was getting into!

Bride and groom kissing beneath the bride's veil  - a tender moment captured by Marta Ilardo.

Our engagement story is cute. I was whisked away for a birthday weekend in Dartmoor. I had a very strong suspicion spent the whole car journey teasing him and telling him not to forget to bring the ring.

An absolutely magical 5am walk to watch the sun rise over fields so thick with frost like something straight out of a movie and he didn’t ask, so I assumed he wouldn’t be proposing that weekend.

We bought locals cheeses and wine, visited a craft fair where they roasted chestnuts and had mulled cider. A perfect happy day. When we got back, I went to shower whilst he set an open fire.

Naturally, he chooses the moment I’m wearing trackies, ripped T-shirt and wet hair to ask me the most important question of our lives, sneakily setting up a camera to record our cute little fire-lit picnic.

Turns out he had brought the ring. And what a beautiful ring it is.

We’d already bought our wedding rings before he even proposed. When we first started going out, less than six months in, he bought me a lovely necklace from a gorgeous independent jeweller in London. We popped into the shop and fell in love with these beautiful organic-looking rings and I joked that when we got married we’d have them as our wedding bands. 

During the pandemic, the shop closed down. We were devastated, until she posted on Instagram that she was still making a couple of pieces from her home studio. One of the few things she was still making were our rings! We bought them immediately before she had a chance to close her doors again! That was two months before Ferg proposed.

Bride with short hair and a crown wearing orange velvet shoes and a Vivienne Westwood style bridal gown by Justin Alexander. Groom in a velvet tuxedo.
Wedding decor at St Giles House in Dorset. A giant gold leaf tree as the backdrop. Tables decorated with green wine glasses, pale orange napkins and tall taper candles. Marta Ilardo Photogarphy.
Modern wedding reception decor at St Giles House in Dorset, tables decorated with green wine glasses, pale orange napkins and tall taper candles. Marta Ilardo Photogarphy.

The Reception


We collaborated with wedding stylist Nikki at The Toast. She was incredible.

We didn’t have traditional flowers, choosing instead to go with potted plants and individual blooms, supplementing our centrepieces with real fruit, our guests could have with dessert. Nikki, our stylist sourced these for us.

Bride and groom walking around the reception room at St Giles House in Dorset, tables decorated with green wine glasses, pale orange napkins and tall taper candles. Marta Ilardo Photogarphy.

It was a perfect day. The only thing I regret was not taking any of our food home with us. I didn’t get to each much and it was phenomenal so I’m really gutted. 

What a catering journey we had. At our original venue, we booked the amazing Vegan Magda – sheer perfection. We never dreamt we could find anybody so wonderful.

Tall taper candles in peach and orange shades. Green cut glass and small pots of flowers. Wedding table decor. Marta Ilardo Photography

What luck and pure fate that had just added conscious cook, Sarah Quincey to their books – working very closely with Magda to create such sumptuous vegan dishes.

Even better, Magda was supporting Sarah on the day itself, so we got to share everyone’s food in equal measure. I cried when I heard we’d be working with both of them. What dreams, and what a fantastic team. We couldn’t have been luckier. A massive shoutout and endless thanks!

Guests dining at St Giles House wedding venue, Dorset. Long feasting tables with tall taper candles, burnt orange napkins, fresh bread, vegan food. Marta Ilardo Photography.

Every dish hand-crafted with love and expertise, and everything was vegan, despite last-minute allergy nightmares. Everything was melt-in-the-mouth and my biggest regret of the whole day was that I forgot to ask to take any home. I’ll regret it for the rest of my life! 

I designed all of our stationery myself. We felt it was important to keep everything personal and quintessentially ‘us’. All paper was recycled and we kept the printing to a minimum.

Bride giving a speech with a microphone at St Giles House in Dorset. Marta Ilardo Photography.

My mum has been a cake maker for over 20 years. I’m not being biased when I say she makes the best cakes I’ve ever tasted. Plus, I think she’d kill me if she didn’t make the cake! We went with a lemon cake with lemon curd and buttercream.

Since our style was all about texture, we kept the cake semi-naked and decorated it with the same fruits and flowers that were on the tables. We found a very simple wire cake topper on Etsy that matched our stationary. It was very simple and pared back. It looked beautiful and tasted even better.

3 tier naked wedding cake with berries. Marta Ilardo Photography.

Evening & Dancing

Gemma Edwards was our incredible DJ. We were so vague with our brief: “We’d like Janelle Monae’s ‘Make Me Feel’ to start, and Rina Sawayama’s ‘Chosen Family’ to finish. We went to uni between 2013 and 2017, so that’s kind of our era but we have some oldies in attendance too. I like drum and bass and Ferg likes rock. Only one ABBA song allowed and no Elton John, please! The rest is entirely up to you – go nuts!”

And go nuts she did! What an immaculate playlist from start to finish.

DJ spinning the decks at St Giles House, Dorset. Marta Ilardo Photography.

Bride dancing with wild abandon on the dance floor at St Giles House, Dorset. Marta Ilardo Photography.

Vibes were popping. I got a couple of musical theatre moments for my spotlight moment, and the drum and bass remixes were fire. There were still a solid 20 people popping off the dance floor at gone 1am, and it was because of her we had the best moment of my life surrounded by so much love and happiness.

The enormity of the day didn’t hit me until our last dance of the night, with 20 of our nearest and dearest encircling us to the song Chosen Family by Rina Sawayama. I’m amazed my knees didn’t give out, I was shuddering and gasping for breath as we sang the words to each other and our wonderful friends screamed “team” and rushed in for a huge group hug. I have never known a love like that. I hope I never forget that feeling.

🎶 We don’t need to be related to relate, we don’t need to share genes or a surname, you are my chosen family 🎶

Words of Wedded Wisdom

I wish we’d made a joint email account before planning anything. Fergus and I were a real team and had a very equal part in planning and organising our day. A lot of emails ended up going to me directly and got confused while forwarding to Ferg. It worked out, of course, and it wasn’t a huge issue, but it would’ve been more straightforward for sure.

Don’t forget to take some food home!!!

Don’t do anything just because you ought to. We were very steadfast in what we wanted and didn’t get swayed to invite people we weren’t fussed by, or have certain decor because somebody liked a certain type of flower. Our biggest comment was “everything about the day was so quintessentially ‘you’” And that’s what we really strived for. 

Josie and Fergus St Giles 251

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Annabel

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.

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