Susannah Shelley and Saúl Castro Gómez first met at a bar at Claridge’s when they were both passing through London.
As they lived in different countries, they embarked on an international romance that eventually led them to settle down together in Abu Dhabi.
They returned to Susannah’s childhood home of Cornwall for a gorgeous wedding in July 2019, bringing together 100 of their international friends and family.
The adventurous pair gave themselves just six months to plan the wedding, following Saúl’s romantic proposal over dinner at the stunning Anantara resort in Oman.
Their wedding at the Boconnoc Estate in Cornwall incorporated an art deco theme with a modern twist. Bridesmaids wore beautiful dark green dresses and their wedding cake also had a vintage flair.
Photography by: Nick Walker
The Wedding Rings
Isn’t it everyone’s dream to meet a partner who’s a diamond expert? Just before the couple met, Saúl had completed a professional diploma in diamonds and was able to use his expertise, plus an enthusiasm for coloured diamonds, to create a breathtaking ring.
“The ring was crafted in Sweden with Matz Glinning, a second-generation Swedish goldsmith with whom Saúl exchanged ideas in the past on jewellery and gemstones.
“The main gemstone is a Colombian emerald, shaped in an emerald cut, accompanied by some small diamonds in a setting of gold. The two bands of diamonds, bridged by the main gemstone, represents two lives that remain with their own identity and independent but that have now become one as a team.
“This message is represented in this design, which plays geometrically with lines seen in art deco, and that are also part of the wedding decorations.”
The Wedding Dress
Susannah’s stunning dress was made by Demetrios and bought from Alegria’s Brides in Miami, Florida. This location was special to the couple as Saúl’s sister, Deliana, had also bought her wedding dress here.
“My wedding dress was like me, a bit different, but very classical, slim fitting, elegant, with a lot of sparkle.
“All the dresses that I tried on looked lovely, but this was the one that the veil was brought out for and I tried it on together with the dress.
“I tried on 12 dresses. There was just one that was an outright no and three very strong contenders vying for the number one slot. However, only one had the veil added.
“My advice: be open, trust in the process and believe the views of the professionals, they have seen thousands of would-be brides and know what suits each and every shape, taking into account personal style. If you blow them away with how it looks, you know it is the right one.
“I wore a cathedral-length veil, purchased with the wedding dress, and diamond and blue sapphire earrings loaned to me by my mother-in-law, Carmen, worn to her wedding, as well as worn by my sister-in-law at her wedding.
“I wore my grandmother’s diamond engagement ring, which also belonged to my mother, Paddy, hair pins loaned to me by my sister-in-law that she had worn at her wedding, and an emerald pendant which was a gift from my husband.
“I kept the dress on for the whole day. When I tried it on in the store, it said, ‘I am ready for sparkling on the dance floor.’ I checked that the band would be supplying disco lights – they did.”
Wedding Hair and Makeup
Susannah showcased her elegant dress by wearing her hair up and styled by Sarah Hooper at Capella Cornwall. Ella Butler provided a barely-there makeup look to complement the vintage theme.
“As I live in Abu Dhabi, both hair and makeup trials were in the week before the wedding – I was very happy with the trials. When picking the makeup artist I could see via her website, Instagram and Facebook she was adaptable to creating many different looks for all skin and hair colours, and across ages.
“Ella Butler recommended the hairdresser. Both were fantastic and got the ladies looking their absolute best. My hair was up to add to the glamour of the dress. The makeup was natural to go from day to evening.
“The King’s Room at Boconnoc was a stream of people getting hair and makeup prepared. I had woken early for a walk around the grounds and to enjoy a quiet moment with my best friend Claire, who kindly gave a speech. I then returned to the room to get ready as a group. Another very close friend, Karen, had brought my new godson, Charles, to join in the preparations – he very much enjoyed all the hugs and the buzz of excitement.”
The Bridal Party
Susannah’s sister, Rachel, and Saúl’s niece, Daniela, were bridesmaids. They wore dark green dresses with black beading chosen by Susannah from Amazon to match the art deco theme.
“I had one flower girl, my niece Elizabeth, and two page boys, a nephew from each side of the family, Alexander and Gabriel.
“I chose the dresses to go with the colour scheme, as well as taking into account what colours suited the bridesmaids. The adult bridesmaids had flat sparkly sandals that I found in Abu Dhabi from With My Sands so they could be comfortable, but still run around if necessary.
“One flower girl, my niece Elizabeth, wore a pretty cream dress with an added green ribbon from Monsoon. The two page boys wore shorts, shirts and waistcoats from Monsoon.”
Although Saúl hadn’t seen Susannah’s dress, he knew that her eye for style would result in something extraordinary. To make sure he also looked the part, he hired a navy tailcoat from Amanda K Bridal.
“I took the time to check different models and compare different designs. The idea was to wear something comfortable and also in accordance with the decoration.
“I wore cufflinks designed with the Cornish flag as a motif. Some of the shoes used by the groom party were from the German brand Lloyd.
“We all paid attention to detail. I spent four years at a military high school, so the awareness of good presentation when in a suit has been key to me for a long time.
“I was relying on my best man, Lars, for an absolute perfect tie knot. Later, during the dinner, he also made a memorable speech.”
The Wedding Venue
Boconnoc Estate is a Grade II-listed country house, with a neighbouring 800-year-old church. It was the perfect place to show off the British countryside in summertime. To continue the art deco theme, Susannah and Saúl chose green, gold and cream decorations.
“Susannah had grown up in Cornwall, so this was close to her parents’ home. With many visitors from different countries, we thought that a place which could show the beauty and history of England would be appreciated.
“Everything took place in one location which really aided the flow of the day. It truly felt like, for that weekend, the house was part of our family. Both truly elegant and with nature playing a role.
“As well as the French influence of the art deco movement, we took the opportunity to use British elements. We served Nyetimber sparkling wine – the best of English bubbles, according to experts – and other more casual and refreshing drinks, such as the Cornish Summer Cup too.
“Similarly, a well-known English quartet, Classical Strings led by Sue Aston, played Cornish classics and pieces by The Beatles. ‘All You Need Is Love’ was played at the end of the ceremony.”
The Wedding Ceremony
Cornish celebrants led Susannah and Saúl’s wedding ceremony which took place in the Dorothy Garden at the estate.
After the couple were wed, guests moved to the lawn where they drank bubbles, before taking their seats for dinner in the Garden Room. Children had their own party hosted by Tinies in another room.
“My Dad sadly passed away a number of years ago, and would have been so proud to have been the man to give me away in such a beautiful, romantic setting, with Classical Strings playing. He would get so emotional listening to classical music being played expertly. In his place was my brother, which he would have approved of as family connections were so important to him.
“For our wedding rings, we purchased matching gold bands in Abu Dhabi together and stored them in a red velvet box. However, when I was getting ready Saúl’s sister came down with a white ring box for one of our page boys, Gabriel, to carry as the ring bearer. I thought, OK, they wanted a box to match the colour scheme.
“When the box was opened during the exchange of the rings, all became clear. There was Saúl’s gold band, and, in the space for the bride, was a gold ring with three emeralds and two diamonds. I was happily surprised as this matched the engagement ring.”
The Flowers and Cake
The couple did their own wedding planning and took a lot of advice from their vendors. During the weekend, the venue also provided coordinators who ensured everything ran smoothly.
To match the theme of the weekend, Susannah chose a simple white bouquet with foliage and a gold ribbon.
“Ruth Varcoe, a family friend who is semi-professional, arranged the flowers. We let her pick the style and flowers to go with the venue, keeping it classic and elegant. Mia Girling created the bouquets and buttonholes.”
“For our wedding cake, we exchanged ideas with Christine at Peboryon. We requested a 1920s theme and described how we met at Claridge’s. We were blessed as art deco is one of her passions, so a number of cake designs were drafted for us to choose from. We then chose elements from each of the first drafts to create the final design.
“We had the cake cutting in the drawing room after the big group photo had been taken (right after our wedding breakfast to take advantage of the golden hour light). It was carrot cake and chocolate cake. As we live out of the country, the bride’s brother, sister-in-law, and very keen nephew kindly did the tasting.”
The Wedding Stationery
Appy Couple, an online wedding planner, was used to create the wedding invitations. This enabled Susannah and Saúl to have control over the design while out of the country.
“We were so impressed by our cake design and the level of passion put into it by Christine that she kindly helped design our menus and thank you cards so our wedding theme ran consistently throughout.
“We spent a couple of months designing and putting much thought and effort into how to best present and utilise all the features of the Appy Couple app. We had so much positive feedback from our guests.
“The photo we picked for our app was a beautiful country painting reminiscent of the venue. The menu had aspects of Claridge’s and the colour theme. The thank you cards have a wonderful drawing of Boconnoc Estate and are in our colours.”
The Wedding Entertainment
As well as hiring Classical Strings for the ceremony and reception, the couple also hired the Fake Tan band for the evening party.
“The string quartet played an arrangement of a very famous Venezuelan and international song, called ‘Alma Llanera’ composed by Pedro Elias Gutierrez during the mingle on the lawn. It was a truly special moment, starting with words by Sue Aston!
“Our first dance was to ‘Waltz No.2’ by Dmitri Shostakovitch. Saúl enjoys arrangements of classical music as well as contemporary music played in string quartets.
“A friend in London sang the praises of Fake Tan and recommended we picked them – they really made the party, with the youngest and the oldest guests, and everyone in between, up on the dance floor.”
Instead of a gift list, the couple asked for contributions towards their honeymoon. After the wedding, they jetted off on their mini-moon to Horizon Horseback Adventures in South Africa. For their honeymoon, they went to Zawadi Hotel in Zanzibar.
“Susannah chose the location because she has a great love for travel and a passion for Africa. She had visited Horizon previously, but it was both our first time visiting Zanzibar. It was amazing, both venues we could have stayed at for much longer and would love to return.
“For the entire wedding, there was a very precise budget drafted. The bride had read through all the budgeting advise on Hitched, so had drafted a realistic budget for the type and style of wedding we dreamt of together.
“The bride created a master spreadsheet – her job is in administration, so she is naturally very organised. It was easy to keep track of everything. Many of the ideas for the pages were gathered from Hitched.”
Ceremony and Reception Venue: Boconnoc Estate
Photographer: Nick Walker
Wedding Dress: Demetrios from Alegria’s Brides
Hair: Sarah Hooper at Capella
Makeup: Ella Butler
Bridesmaid Dresses: Amazon
Bridesmaid Shoes: With My Sands
Flower Girl and Page Boy Outfits: Monsoon
Groomswear: Amanda K Bridal
Groomsmen’s Shoes: Lloyd
Stationery: Appy Couple
Celebrants: Cornish Celebrants
Wine Supplier: Ellis Wharton Wines
Wedding Cake: Peboryon
Entertainment: Classical Strings and Fake Tan
Children’s Entertainment: Tinies
Thank you to Susannah and Saúl for letting us share their beautiful big day.