We chose our venues because of their proximity to the Thames River. We've both grown up near it, have enjoyed spending time in the sun beside it and Gareth's father has even walked the full length of it – in sections, of course! Furthermore, both The Bingham hotel in Richmond and The Olde Bell in Hurley are close to our where we each grew up. Both locations are so pretty and fit in perfectly with the quintessentially-English summer wedding we were hoping for. We got so lucky with the beautiful weather that weekend!
The very first thing we decided was that we'd have two celebrations over a couple of days. We knew that we wanted an intimate ceremony with our immediate families, but also wanted to host a party with all our friends and extended family there, too. On the first day, we exchanged vows and hosted a delicious lunch with our closest family members in Petersham. That evening, we had an informal dinner and drinks with friends in Hurley and, the next day, enjoyed a series of fun activities, which ended with a black-tie reception inside The Olde Bell's Tithe Barn.
The flowers were our most surprising cost - we had no idea how expensive they could be. In the end, though, we worked with the most amazing florist, Mathew from Dickinson & Doris, and what he created for us was worth every penny. I asked for mostly peach and pink varieties, which would go perfectly with my nude wedding dress, as well as lots of romantic candlelight in the evening. Mathew's vision helped bring our wedding to life; the barn looked absolutely magical, the perfect mix of rusticness and elegance. In fact, his arrangements were so stunning, it took half an hour to get everyone into dinner because they were all taking photos at the entrance! We'd never seen anything like it.
One of our favourite elements from planning the weekend was organising our guests' entertainment. We arranged a number of activities for them to enjoy, including a live ceilidh, a button hole- and corsage-making workshop with our florist, a treasure hunt and lawn games. These were fantastic mixers and kept everyone happy and busy!
During the black-tie dinner, my grandmother, who's Scottish, introduced a Loving Cup ceremony with all our guests. It involves passing around a shallow, two-handled cup, a 'quaigh', which is usually filled with one or two whiskys. We chose one Scottish and sourced a Welsh one, too (much to my nana's horror!), to symbolise my and Gareth's heritages. Two people hold each handle at once, showing that you trust one another. We used two quaighs, which made their way around the two banquet-style tables we had. Of course, we also had two trusty ushers overseeing the process and re-filling them as they went round! Every single one of our eighty guests took part. It was a really wonderful way to include them in the importance of our day.
My sister makes such brilliant cakes and, in particular, one of our most favourite: Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Guinness Cake. When she offered to make three of them as our wedding cake(s), we jumped at the chance. Our guests loved it so much, there was not one crumb left. Lots of people asked for the recipe afterwards!
Photographs by Gabrielle McMillan