Our beautiful #bowbride, is Lily who wore Payton wedding dress by Charlie Brear. Her amazing photos are by C ▲ R E ▲ U X PHOTOGR▲PHY. 

Wedding venue

We had two!

1- Banbury Registry Office with a lunch at The Handle Bar, Oxford, for 11 people. No photographer, just photography-enthusiast family members.

2 – Garden Ceremony in Jamie’s parents’ garden in Bristol, a (wet and windy) promenade down to the reception at The Elmgrove Centre round the corner. More photography-enthusiast family members, mainly Jamie’s dad, Duncan and Lily’s mum, Harriet. Our friend Caro, whose little boy Anton is Lily’s godson, is a professional photographer and her gift to us was over 400 beautiful photographs.

Tell us about the dress.

We were not spending much money on the wedding(s), so I was going to get a simple dress from ASOS altered for the Bristol wedding, but then my dad gave me a bit of money a few months before the date. I talked about it with Jamie and we agreed that it was worth getting a special once-in-a-lifetime dress for the day. I was after something very minimal – no lace, no sequins, just a flattering cut. My mum had been forwarding Charlie Brear newsletters to me for a while so I looked for bridal shops that stocked Brear and similar minimalist designs. Brides of Winchester seemed to have the names I was interested in and it’s near Mum’s house in Southampton. The dress, was the first one I tried on in the shop. After that, all the other ones were just for fun, it was clear that the Payton was just the ticket, and gave my straight frame some curves. It was super soft and fuss free and felt just right. Plus Mum got all teary so it had to be the right one. I went back with some of my bridesmaids and they loved it too. Laura said it was just what she had imagined I would wear.

How did you choose your venue?

The Elmgrove Centre is a local community centre where Jamie and his family have had several celebrations and birthday parties. It is a stone’s throw from his parents house, his school and where a lot of his school friends live so people could park easily and there were places to stay near by.

How did you choose your photographer?

She chose us and her photographs were just the most incredible wedding present we could ever have imagined. She’s a documentary photographer so she was able to capture the atmosphere and personality of the whole day. Jamie’s Dad took some amazing photos too.

Who did your hair and makeup and where did you find them?

I did my hair with a few simple twists. One of my bridesmaids, Holly, is a model and often models for bridal shoots actually! She has the make up bag of dreams and so much knowledge, so she took me to get some BB cream to match my skin colour and then did my make up on the day, as well as some crafty plaits for the other bridesmaids.

What was your wedding theme and how did you create it?

I jokingly set a secret theme of “fiery autumnal”…! I was inspired by the Diwali Balls that I would go to at university and the way everyone dressed in such bright colours that the guests were in themselves the decoration. So we told people to dress bright and bold and they did not disappoint! It worked out well as Jamie and I were (pretty much) the only people in white/cream.

What flowers did you choose?

The path to my mum’s front door is lined with thick lavender. I wanted that lavender to be the main flower throughout so that my home felt like as big a part of the wedding as Jamie’s. My mum was a complete hero and made posies for both the registry office and the Bristol wedding (I had 10 bridesmaids so this was a very impressive feat!) and buttonholes for all the family members and groomsmen. There was lavender on the tables at the reception, shoots in vases and dried lavender sprinkled on the tabled. Everyone remembers the fragrant lavender smell!

I also took some clippings to the Bristol Flower shop which they then included in the bouquet. I had oranges and hot pinks and sea holly – all bright and bold but still gentle flowers and the whole bouquet looked like they’d been swept right out of a meadow!

How did you feel on the morning? Walking down the aisle and during the ceremony.

The morning was such a feeling of being whisked off my feet by my incredible housemates and bridesmaids and friends! All in a flurry they were waiting on me and constructing our wedding cake and rushing to the dry cleaners to get my dress steamed (a drama in itself).

Already being married, on the Bristol day I thought I would not feel nervous, but once I arrived, I had so many butterflies in my stomach again. Once more, I walked down the aisle by myself. There was this deep silence when all my bridesmaids had gone through and it was just me, taking those steps into our marriage. Jamie met me at the bottom of the stairs and we walked the rest of the way together. It was so nice to walk together, but also great to have a little moment for me to shine under the grey skies 😉

The ceremony was so special for so many reasons. The weather turned very bad and at the last minute, a family friend supplied a converted hot air balloon canopy that covered the whole garden, keeping 100 guests dry! It was perfect, the different coloured panels cast down reds and pinks and blues on our “bright and bold” family and friends.

My mum gave a reading, as did Jamie’s sister and our friend Ogemdi, who is a very talented actor, choreographer and director, was our master of ceremonies and just led the whole ceremony so effortlessly and gracefully. Our musically talented friends put together a little band of mandolin, cello and fiddle and played the accompaniment to two beautiful folk songs, which everyone sang together. It was lovely singing and smiling out at all the people who had travelled so far to be there and some who I had not seen for a number of years.

What was your first dance?

Our first dance was to Bounce the Ball by Rachael Dadd, who was there singing it live. (Jamie had booked some incredible music including Willie J Healey (indie rock) and Clive/DFO scratch band (soul) and Don’t Go Plastic (punk)!) We had practised a little routine up on the Downs a couple of days before and I think we actually pulled it off pretty well for a song with a particularly complicated rhythm!

What was the funniest moment of the day?

So many! But the top ones are: walking in the rainstorm to the venue with the entire wedding party wearing multi-coloured plastic ponchos, breaking the knife whilst cutting the cake (hadn’t realised my wonderful friends/cake-makers had put cardboard supports in between the layers!) and crowd-surfing, but soon being put down as the train of my dress was just too sopping, trodden-on and wine-stained for my carriers to bear!

Top tip(s) for other brides:

  • Schedule in some quiet time on the day for the two of you.
  • With 300 guests, spreadsheets are your friend.
  • And, with a pot luck buffet, do not listen to the worriers – not everyone will bring a lasagne. 

Highlight of the day:

Our hotel room had two roll-top baths.

Just kidding. My dad’s speech still makes me weep and smile when I think about it, but it was just all the people! Walking hand-in-hand with Jamie into The Elmgrove Centre and seeing a sea of faces we know and love and behind them a huge spread of food and drink that all of them had brought (we had a pot luck buffet) and all these funny groups of people who you both know so well but who don’t know each other at all, making friends and dancing – the dancing was definitely the highlight of the day.

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