What Makes a Traditional ‘English Country Garden’ Wedding?

We ask wedding experts what makes your wedding into a timeless English country garden inspired affair


English country garden weddings are famed for their timeless beauty, gentle sophistication and age-old customs. But what essential elements make your traditional wedding a ‘classic’? We spoke to Sam Cutmore-Scott, director of Bijou Weddings, and Ruth Hunter from Finesse Planning to find out.

The Venue

Sam Cutmore-Scott: “Themes are OK as long as style and beauty is maintained. Couples want a unique and memorable day but over-the-top, brash decorations, clothes or celebrations are not in keeping with the reserved nature of the English psyche.”

Ruth Hunter: “Themes can work if they represent the two of you, but personalising a wedding too much can detract from the classic English wedding. Consider subtle, traditional touches such as a string quarter or a flautist, and personalised table names.”

The Timings

Sam Cutmore-Scott: “Any time of year can work for a classic English wedding. With a flexible venue, inclement weather isn’t an issue. In spring and summer you can marry outdoors, but autumn provides a beautiful backdrop with golden leaves outside and snug fires inside. Snow on the ground during a wedding is associated with fertility and wealth according to English folklore.”

Ruth Hunter: “The day should follow a traditional running order; a ceremony followed by a line-up, pre-reception drinks, a sit-down meal with a top table and speeches to finish. Messing with a traditional structure makes it less of a classic.”

The Outfits

Sam Cutmore-Scott: “For the guests, stylish just-below-knee-length dresses and hats are perfect for women. Men should choose classically cut suits, shirts and ties.”

Ruth Hunter: “The bride shouldn’t have too many embellishments, or too much bling. A-line, fishtail and lace-overlay dresses work beautifully. You could have oyster, muted champagne or even pale pink tones, but nothing too flamboyant. The groom’s suit depends on the ceremony, but a morning suit or three-quarter Edwardian frock coat are traditional.”

The Marquee

Sam Cutmore-Scott: “An outdoors atmosphere can’t be beaten. The fresh air adds to the occasion and gives an added dimension to entertainment spaces. Bijou’s Silchester House offers a summer marquee for the wedding breakfast and evening reception so celebrations can continue outside whatever the weather.”

Ruth Hunter: “A marquee or a garden wedding brings together many aspects of the classic English wedding. Adding a marquee may bump up the price, but if you, a family member or friend has a big garden, you could consider having a marquee there.”

The Food & Drink

Sam Cutmore-Scott: “Classic English food designed and served with flair are the order of the day — memorable flavours to savour, like roast Aberdeenshire sirloin with homemade Yorkshire pudding, and Bramley apple and caramel crumble with Anglaise vanilla ice cream. These traditional, stylish dishes are complimented by the new generation of English wine producers, like Chapel Down and Denbies.”

Ruth Hunter: “An array of canapés works well, as do chocolate dipped strawberries and champagne. Local, seasonal produce is perfect and although international twists can enhance the main meal, don’t move too far away from a traditional menu. Serving afternoon tea is a lovely, traditional touch, but not too close to the main meal or your guests will be too full.”

The Cake

Sam Cutmore-Scott: “Traditional cakes have moved on from fruit cake with iced marzipan; now, the possibilities are endless. And if you don’t have a sweet tooth, you could have handmade artisan cheeses built and decorated to stunning effect as a ‘cake’, served as the centrepiece of your evening buffet.”

The Colour Scheme

Ruth Hunter: “Pastels, green and cream make a fantastic colour-way for an English wedding. Make sure nothing clashes by picking a base colour, such as cream or silver, and introducing subtle accent colours. Incorporate elements of an English country garden with your centerpieces; cornflower blue and pale pink hydrangeas with lush greens, and classic garden flowers such as roses and ranunculus.”

The Customs

Sam Cutmore-Scott: “Couples can adhere to a plethora of traditional customs and superstitions for a truly authentic English wedding day. They range from showering the couple with confetti to bestow prosperity and wearing a veil to symbolise modesty, through to the groom carrying the bride across the threshold and tying shoes to the newlywed’s car, a custom developed from Tudor times.”

Images courtesy of Bijou Weddings.



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