Justine Kolata, 28, married Louis Schwizgebel, 30, at Stowe House in Buckingham on 27th July, 2018. She says:
Choosing the right venue was central to creating our dream wedding. Most importantly, we were searching for a location where our civil ceremony could take place in a beautiful space. The marble salon room at Stowe House, with sweeping views of the countryside, is truly majestic and took our breath away the first time we saw it.
Stowe House also related closely to our interests and families. I felt a connection with the marble salon, where we held the ceremony, as I myself am a salonnière. (I'm currently completing my PhD at Cambridge, studying philosophy and its place in the European salons of the 18th and 19th Century.) The gilded music room where we hosted the reception was meaningful to Louis, who is a concert pianist by profession. On the grounds, the Chinese Temple honoured Louis’ mother, who is Chinese, and there is the temple of Ancient Virtue, which felt like a reference to my own writing about virtue ethics. The Temple of Friendship served as a nod to the friends who joined us to celebrate and, finally, there is a Temple to Venus, the ancient Greek Goddess of Love, which couldn't have felt more relevant than on our wedding day!
I knew that prioritising the wedding venue and, second, the flowers, would be the best way to achieve the grand, breathtaking aesthetic I envisioned. I asked that the day's arrangements recall the elegance of France in the 18th century – a period I romanticise! Pinks, whites and foliage were the only shades we used. Everywhere was covered in blooms. We had a dramatic floral archway, pew ends, urns and garlands to decorate the ceremony, filled with roses, hydrangea and trailing foliage. The room was breathtaking. Florist Joanna Carter's creations blended seamlessly with the classical-inspired columns, sculptures and the marble frieze in the room. Likewise, blooming vases, urns and garlands decked out our reception, tying the décor together across two rooms.
I wore a couture, draped duchesse-satin gown with a cathedral-length train by Phillipa Lepley. I wanted a princess-style gown and that is exactly what Phillipa designed. The bodice was inspired by Ancient Grecian dresses, which symbolised the philosophy I study. The skirt and train made me feel like a Lady attending a ball in the 18th century. I wanted something dramatic yet simple, that would also evoke the past. Having a gown custom-made was by far the greatest part of my wedding-planning experience. Going to the fittings was a dream and Phillipa produced the most magnificent dress. It was an enchanting experience from beginning to end.
The most memorable part of the day was when Louis performed three beautiful pieces of music with fellow concert musicians on the night. Louis was, of course, on piano, while his friends played cello and violin respectively. Louis dedicated one piece to his parents, one to mine and the last to me. It was an extremely special moment and created a beautiful atmosphere.