Charming homespun touches and personal details perfectly complemented the sunny June day in Cambridgeshire when Fiona and James tied the knot. From wildflower seed favours allowing guests to “spread the love” of the day to tables named after famous literary couples, every detail was beautifully romantic.
Fiona and James’ own romance began when they were both aged just 16 and met at sixth form college. From here the two became inseparable, attending university in York together and moving around the country until their seven-year anniversary when James decided to stage a very surprising proposal.
Fiona had studied Irish literature at university and so James settled on Dublin as the place to pop the question. Before hopping on a plane, though, he made sure Fiona had no idea what was going on. “By the time I had got home from work, I had been taken out for dinner, walked around the city and by the river before getting in a taxi to go to the airport. I was very confused as to what was going on!”
Once the couple had arrived at the airport, James revealed the surprise by handing over the tickets tucked into the pages of a book Fiona had studied back in the day. “I was thrilled we were finally getting to go.”
James had already selected a ring, a princess cut, white gold solitaire bought from a family-run jewellery shop in York. Both Fiona and James couldn’t wait to walk down the aisle and so chose a short engagement of just 11 months.
Photographer: Sung Blue Photography
The Wedding Dress
Fiona chose a lace and tulle Stella York gown from The Tailor’s Cat in Cambridge.
“My wedding dress was an A-line dress with lace detail on the bodice. It was detailed without being too fussy. I loved that it was very bridal and also the simple detailing on the bodice was perfect for what I imagined myself looking like on my wedding day. I loved the long train and the tulle skirt made it feel very special.”
Fiona tried on around 20 dresses in total before finding the Stella York beauty and it was clear to see she had found ‘The One’ right away. “My dress was the only one that made me cry!”
A cathedral length veil and a tiara from Richard Designs in Ely completed the look along with a blue cameo necklace bought by James in Florence specifically to be worn on their wedding day.
“Every moment was special as I got ready as I had my family and friends around me!”
Fiona had one hair and makeup trial with Makeup by Sam before settling on a relaxed take on traditional bridal styling, the perfect beauty look to complement Fiona’s dress and accessories.
“For my hair I went for an up do which I would never normally wear. I chose to have a big plait and a soft bun at the back. My makeup was exactly what I wanted – very bridal.”
The Wedding Party
Bridesmaids – sisters-in-law Rachel and Grace and university friend Mimi – wore floor-length, dusky pink bridesmaids’ dresses. They were an amazing high street find from Marks & Spencer. “Because we all live in different areas of the UK, I chose the dresses and then had the girls try them on to make sure they suited everyone!”
For the groomsmen, navy blue suits were chosen by James, Fiona and one of their ushers and hired from Moss Bros. The groom embellished his with a personalised tie pin from his mother-in-law, a dusky pink pocket square and a stunning button hole featuring roses, wax flowers, leaves and a white ribbon.
The Wedding Ceremony
Fiona got ready at the wedding reception venue, Chippenham Park, before being whisked to St Margaret’s Church in a horse-drawn carriage from Snailriver Horse Drawn Carriage Co.
“It was an amazing experience arriving at my ceremony by horse and carriage – I felt like royalty! We also got to ride in the horse and carriage back to the reception after the ceremony.”
As Fiona walked down the aisle with her father, Alan, The Bridal String Quartet played Pachelbel’s Canon in D. “We got married in St Margaret’s Church in Chippenham and it was a beautiful, personalised church wedding ceremony.
“James and I spent ages together choosing the music for the ceremony – we had the string quartet playing before the ceremony, during the signing of the register and also for our exit. We had one bible reading that was read by my Auntie Fiona (1 Corinthians 13) and then a poem we chose together by Thomas Moore called Oh, No Not E’en When First We Loved which was read by James’ mum, Siobhann.”
The wedding rings were from Bradleys of York, the same as the engagement ring, and in an extra-romantic touch they were engraved. Fiona’s band read ‘Always’ while James’ had the word ‘Forever’.
The Wedding Venue
The reception was held at the stunning grade II listed Chippenham Park near Ely. With 300 acres of peaceful parkland, it was the perfect setting for a sunny summer wedding.
“The peacefulness of the venue and the beauty of the grounds were definitely the things that immediately made me want to choose it. Also, the professionalism of the staff who work there who are so knowledgeable and helpful with the whole process of planning a wedding. We wanted a venue that made us feel relaxed and also had plenty of amazing photo opportunities and this was definitely the case with Chippenham Park.”
The pinks, peaches and greens of the bouquets, ties and bridesmaid gowns continued into the reception. And although there wasn’t a clear theme, the tables were named after famous literary couples such as Romeo and Juliet and Jane and Mr Rochester.
Once seated guests were presented with a culinary treat: “The food was absolutely amazing. We had a sharing board to start with cold meats, olives etc and then roast beef for main and a selection of small desserts to finish.”
The Wedding Flowers and Cake
“My bouquet was pink, peach, white and green and it was hand-tied with a trailing light pink ribbon.
“The flowers from the church ceremony were moved over to the venue by the florist, Heidi Appleyard, who placed them in the marquee for the wedding breakfast. We chose milk churns, large urn displays either side of the top table and a long flower display across the front of the top table.”
For an extra-personal touch, each centrepiece was crafted by Fiona’s mum. “I found some stoneware vases in an antique shop that I wanted to use in the wedding. My mum arranged flowers to go in the vases as centrepieces.”
Next to each arrangement was a small stack of books tied with a ribbon, continuing the literary theme of the table names.
The beautiful tiered, floral wedding cake was made by Cakes by Carol. “Our wedding cake was amazing. It was a simple design with sugar craft pink, green and white flowers. The flavours we picked were chocolate and Baileys, elderflower and raspberry sponges. We also chose to have the top tier as a fruit cake that we could save for a christening.” The delicious cake was served to guests on the night.
The Décor and Special Touches
Like the centrepieces, the favours were very much a family affair with Limoncello, rhubarb and custard and raspberry gin as well as jam and chutney handmade by Fiona’s aunt. Wildflower seeds were also given out to guests so that they could sprout their very own lasting memory of the day at home.
Favours were presented with heart-shaped tags featuring Fiona and James’ names and wedding date handwritten onto them. Mini chalkboards labelled which flavours were which and some of the bottles were displayed in country-style wicker baskets.
The rustic kraft card stationery with pretty printed floral designs were sourced from a Not On The High Street seller named Project Pretty. “We kept the colour scheme of a lot of pink, green and white in our invitations and order of service.”
The Bridal String Quartet kept the atmosphere romantic and traditional during the ceremony and drinks reception but something a little more upbeat was required for the evening disco!
Fiona and James chose The Big Five to get the party started. “We had a swing band for the evening. We love dancing and wanted some 1920s swing music that we could jive to!”
Taking their love of dancing a step further, Fiona and James took professional dance classes ahead of the big day.
“We learned to ballroom dance before our wedding and learnt a choreographed waltz routine to Moon River from Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”
Rather than going from swing dancing at the wedding reception straight to a long-haul flight, Fiona and James chose to honeymoon a little closer to their home and their hearts.
“We both picked the Lake District as we didn’t want the stress of flying somewhere straight after getting married and it is a very special place for both of us as we have had some amazing memories together there.
“We were so lucky as we had amazing weather. It was the most wonderful holiday we have ever had and was absolutely perfect as we were less than two hours from home so didn’t have a long journey to get back.”
Photographer: Sung Blue Photography
Venue: Chippenham Park
Wedding Dress: Stella York from The Tailor’s Cat
Bridal Accessories: Richard Designs
Hair and Makeup: Makeup by Sam
Groomswear: Moss Bros
Bridesmaid Dresses: Marks and Spencer
Entertainment: The Bridal String Quartet and The Big Five
Stationery: Project Pretty
Florist: Heidi Appleyard
Cake: Cakes by Carol
Rings: Bradleys of York
Transport: Snailriver Horse Drawn Carriage Co.
Thanks to Fiona and James for sharing their beautiful big day with us!