Susannah Pattenden, 41, married Andrew Winterbourne, 53, at The Abbey Church of St Peter & St Paul, Dorchester, followed by a reception at their home in the village of Childrey, both in Oxfordshire, on 5th May 2018. She says:
Our overall vision for the day was to host a relaxed garden-party wedding. But we wanted the church service too. So, we decided to have a wedding of two halves! We started with a formal ceremony at Dorchester Abbey, which is where I grew up. It meant a lot to me to get married in the Abbey there, and I was able to get ready in my parents' home opposite. In the evening, Andrew and I hosted a very laid-back reception at our home in Childrey. The Tipis for this were actually our biggest extravagance, as we hired three from Buffalo Tipi, who arranged them into a triangle shape. This created a separate area for the stage and dance floor, and our guest seating was arranged on trestle tables around central fire pits. We loved the intimate atmosphere they engendered, too, which is why we chose them over a traditional white marquee. They were absolutely worth the expense.
I actually combined two wedding dresses into one to wear on the day. I bought them both from Bridal Reloved in Wallingford, a lovely shop that sells ex-sample and pre-owned gowns. Initially, I fell in love with an Alice Temperley design, with spotted ivory lace, silk-embroidered flowers and Russian braid detail. I loved its detailing and had tried on a few Temperley Bridal dresses elsewhere and liked the slightly bohemian vibe. But when I went back after adjustments had been made, I found it slightly too revealing. Lee, who runs the shop, had endless patience and spent the next few hours assisting me as I tried on more gowns. I eventually found an A-line, ivory silk Blush by Hayley Paige gown, my only misgiving being that it was quite low-cut and had no sleeves, which I didn’t want for the church service. So I came up with the idea of combining the two! Amanda, the seamstress at Bridal Reloved in Wallingford, worked miracles, removing the lining of the Temperley dress and adjusting its neckline, so that I now had an overdress which worked beautifully with the Hayley Paige underneath. This also gave me the option of wearing the second gown by itself, which I did at our evening reception. Both dresses were ex-sample, had never been worn before and were adjusted to fit me perfectly, so I practically had a custom gown – and for an amazing price.
My bridesmaids wore a 1930s-style green silk and white lace dress from Nancymac. Their jewellery sets came from Accessorize, while their shoes were by Jones. It took a lot of searching to find their outfits because I wanted a particular shade of green and a grown-up style. I just happened to chance upon the Nancymac website and thought the dresses were perfect. Their green wraps were found on eBay. My mother and sister then had to make the flower girls' dresses because we couldn’t find any in the right style or colour to match. These were spring green with a dotted lace overlay to match my dress and veil. Their cardigans came from John Lewis and their ivory pump shoes were found on Amazon.
I really wanted a very natural country theme for our flower arrangements in soft greens, creams and whites to match the flowers you'd find in the countryside in May. I also wanted our central motif to be the classically bridal Lily of the Valley. The Abbey itself has in-house team of flower arrangers, led by the talented Sandie Griffith. She sourced beautiful seasonal flowers for us and my mum and sister even helped putting them together. The rest were sourced from Green & Gorgeous, an Oxfordshire flower farm. They have a Buckets & Bouquets service, where florists arrange the bridal party flowers, but you are then given buckets of flowers to decorate the reception venue yourself. Our neighbour, Ali Hepburn, collected glass jars and bottles and used these to create arrangements for the Tipi. A really cold Spring meant it was touch and go whether we would have many flowers at all for our wedding but, luckily, things bloomed just in time!
Photography by Mark Lord