Oh my word. I honestly don’t know where to start… today’s wedding is absolutely out of this world. The images are compelling, the design and styling are gorgeous – and best of all, Laura and James had such an amazing day – their very own personal wedding, styled to suit their characters and loves, from music (and lots of it) to playful and gorgeous photography… I LOVE this!
There’s something about London wedding photographer Marshal Gray which sets him way above the crowd: he captures the beauty and atmosphere of a wedding day in such a unique and contemporary style. Star of all the top UK wedding blogs, his weddings are beautiful without exception – and James and Laura give a glowing review. You’re about to see why!
I have to add that today’s bride and groom are a fantastic couple – Laura describes their wedding style as “totally ours. Loosely based on an English country garden wedding but with a vintagey vibes and a shabby chic twist.” This is the perfect example of a wedding celebration which follows its own rules, beautifully and with an unforgettable style.
Enjoy – and do leave a comment at the end of the blog post! Claire xxx
A very personal wedding with tons of style: Laura & James
How would you describe your wedding style?
It was totally ours. Loosely based on an English country garden wedding but with a vintagey vibes and a shabby chic twist.
A little about the wedding ceremony:
As neither of us have been baptised, we knew that a religious ceremony wouldn’t really be in accord with our conscience, so we got married at the Oxford Register Office the day before with just our families around us, which actually turned out to be strangely poignant and very intimate.
BUT, as we were getting married at Magdalen College, it seemed a real shame not to make use of their out-of-this-world amazing chapel, so we had a lovely ceremony in it with the college’s Dean of Divinity giving us a blessing.
The ceremony had lots of lovely touches from my brother playing the piano as guests entered and composing a piece just for us that our string quartet played for me to enter the chapel to, my cousin sang Ave Maria, and my mother wrote a piece for organ that was played when we left the chapel.
The ceremony was followed by the ringing of the bells and a champagne reception in the President’s garden, all the while accompanied by the most beautiful weather we’d had all summer. We were so lucky!
During the champagne reception, kids played games, grownups drank bubbly, our string quartet played, and our caterers served fresh bite-sized scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam. YUM!
Which readings did you choose?
My mother read ‘Love’ by Roy Croft and the groom’s mother read ‘You Were Born Together’ by Khalil Gibran.
Tell us a little about your wedding venue styling and details:
We didn’t want everything to look too ‘put together’ or overly styled. It was important to us that the wedding felt personal, intimate and relaxed, which could have been a bit of a challenge in a grand setting like Magdalen College but we chose to add contrast with a high top traditional marquee, bunting, fairylights and some fun touches etc.
Tables were decorated with hessian, lace doilies, cut glass vases, decorated jam jars, tea lights, logs of wood with slits that became table plans, mini turquoise medicine bottles, antique books, and lots and lots of gorgeous flowers.
At the bar, we had a rustic copper bath full of ice and beers and a massive keg of real ale, not to mention a Jagermeister machine which we’d bought off ebay.
I ordered our flowers from an auction which saved loads of money and all my friends pitched in to arrange them into vases and jam jars, make button holes and bouquets on the morning of the wedding. We had hydrangeas in jam jars lining the aisles of the chapel, which later doubled up to line the entrance into the marquee.
We had lanterns in trees, tealights in jam jars around the college walls, and a ton of fairylights around the marquee, in the garden arches, and all around the gardens. It looked magical when the sun went down.
It was really important to us that our personalities shone through and we wanted to have fun, and make sure our friends and family had fun too. Aside from the music that didn’t stop from beginning to end, our favours were mini bottles of Jagermeister; our tables were named after music festivals we’d been to together; the seating plan was made up of the most ridiculous pictures we could find of our friends; we hung wedding photos of our parents, grandparents and great grandparents around a tree which became our ‘family tree’; we had glow sticks, sparklers, sweets, polaroid cameras, empty frames and props for people to pose with…
Invitations and reception stationery:
We did our invitations slightly differently to avoid the overly formal invitation format, so we made our own invitations from photographs which we had the stupendously talented Gary Lashmar aka Marshal Gray take for us as part of our pre-wedding shoot.
The front of our Order of Service booklet was designed by Jenny Callan, a very talented illustrator who I’ve worked with professionally. The wedding breakfast menu was printed out by our caterers in traditional Magdalen fashion. Our tables were all named after festivals, and Jenny had illustrated the logos. As placeholders, we made little personalised wine-charms to mark who was sitting where, and also helped people remember which one was their glass!
Wedding music and entertainment:
I’m lucky that I come from a very musical family, so it was a foregone conclusion that my family would be contributing to the musical offerings of the day. James and I play in a band together, and music is a huge passion of ours, so it was probably the one aspect of the wedding we really didn’t want to scrimp on.
My brother played the piano as guests entered the chapel and wrote a stunning piece for the string quartet to play as I entered the chapel. My mother wrote a piece for organ, which was the processional as guests left the chapel. Our hymns were ‘Morning Has Broken’ and ‘Jerusalem’.
My cousin is a singer, so she sang Bach’s ‘Ave Maria’ in between readings, accompanied by my brother on the piano.
During the champagne reception, our string quartet (The L’Inviti String Quartet) played well-known classical pieces interspersed with modern rock and pop songs arranged for strings. We love the Vitamin String Quartet but couldn’t afford to fly them over from LA so this was the next best thing.
I work for a radio station, so took full advantage of using one of our DJs to help with the entertainment. During the meal, we went for a soundtrack of oldies and classics from the 50s, 60s and 70s in the background (think Sinatra, Sam Cooke, Otis Reading…)
After the speeches, all guests danced to rockabilly rhythm and blues. Songs like ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ and ‘Johnny B Goode’ are enough to make even your grumpy old uncle get up and dance (hypothetically speaking of course – we don’t have any grumpy uncles, obviously).
A lot of my family come from the deep south in Louisiana, so it made sense to capture some of New Orleans’ party atmosphere with Brassroots, a 10-man brass band, who play amazing, high-octane covers of songs like Crazy in Love and Seven Nation Army and capture the party spirit perfectly. The dance floor was PACKED.
Then, once they’d raised the roof, our DJ took over with Indie, 80s, 90s, rock anthems and a real plethora of tunes into the night. I know I might be biased, but I’ve never seen a wedding crowd dance quite like they did at our wedding and that was exactly what we wanted. We wanted to have a party.
Marshal Gray supplied a photo booth with props and fancy dress, which was a lot of funn and we also had a polaroid camera and loads of film for guests to take their own pics.
We had a sweet table to get everyone high on sugar. Sparklers and glowsticks for all the kids and big kids….
What did you wear?
I tried on lots of gorgeous dresses, and had been told I’d eventually try one where I’d just KNOW that it was ‘the one’. Unfortunately that ‘eureka’ moment never really happened. I tried on some beautiful Jenny Packham, Claire Pettibone and Alice Temperley dresses, which I adored, but there was always something or other that I wanted to change.
Looking through blogs, I also wasn’t so keen on having a dress that hundreds of women would have also worn on their wedding days so I designed my own, with the help of the hugely talented Clinton Lotter who worked with me on it and did the amazing job of making it. My shoes were Jimmy Choo, and my jewellery was all vintage. My veil was made by Katie Carter of Faulkner and Carter.
James’ suit was from Mr. Start in Old Street, and we had the ties and pocket squares made by Magties as we wanted to pick the right colour and material for it, which came from Broadwick Silks in Soho. I bought him some special cufflinks from Etsy as a wedding gift.
Wedding day advice:
HAVE FUN and don’t sweat the small things! It’s easy to get carried away with finer details of the day but it’s worth reminding yourself that your guests aren’t going to remember whether the tablecloth matched your favours. It’s all about the atmosphere and it’s a much better atmosphere for everyone if you’re having fun.
Recommended wedding suppliers:
- Marshal Gray Photography
- Claudia Carter Photography
- Clinton Lotter
- Magdalen College caterers
- The Wedding Music Company Ltd.
- Flowers from the Triangle Nursery
- Mango Vibe
- Faulkner and Carter.