We chose our venues because of their proximity to the Thames River, which has been an important feature in both our lives. Furthermore, each of them was close to our respective family homes and provided us with the look and feel we were hoping for: quintessentially English!
The very first thing we decided on was that we'd have two celebrations over a couple of days. We knew that we wanted a small and intimate ceremony with our immediate family, but then wanted to host a party with all our friends and extended family there, too. The first day consisted of the ceremony and lunch with our closest family 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, ending with a black tie dinner.
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. Guests pass around a cup, usually filled with one or two whiskys (we chose one Scottish and one Welsh label, each symbolising my and Gareth's heritages). Two people hold each handle at once, showing that you trust one another. We used two quaighs (a shallow, two-handled drinking cup from Scotland). Every single one of our eighty guests took part. It was a really wonderful way to include everyone in the importance of our day.
My sister makes such brilliant cakes and, in particular, one of our most favourite: Chocolate Guinness Cake. When she offered to make three of them as our wedding cakes, we jumped at the chance. Everyone loved it so much and lots of people asked for the recipe afterwards!
The flowers were the most surprising cost - we had no idea how expensive they could be. In the end, though, we worked with the most amazing florist, Dickinson & doris, and it was worth every penny. His vision helped bring our wedding to life and the arrangements were so brilliant that it took half an hour to get everyone into the barn for dinner because so many people were taking photos! We'd never seen anything like it.
Photographs by Gabrielle McMillan