We’re blessed to have such fabulous historic wedding destinations in the UK – our coastlines, countryside and quaint, quintessentially English cities inspire the loveliest of weddings. I’m so happy to be sharing Janina & Steve’s day with you this morning. They’re the sweetest couple – the details are stunning (LOVE that bouquet!) even though they chose not to have a theme: the spirit and style of their day comes from the grace of the city of Oxford and its architecture.
Contact & Bookings: Carol Elizabeth Photography
“We love Oxford’s libraries, gardens and architecture. Getting married in two historic buildings, one of them among the most iconic buildings in Oxford was a privilege. We have both moved to Oxford from abroad and the wedding was our chance to share the life we have built here with our friends and families. Many of the most important people in our lives hadn’t met each other before. We had our rehearsal dinner in Somerville College, where we met and where Steve still teaches and we hosted a brunch the morning after the wedding in our house. For the wedding itself, we both immediately knew we wanted to celebrate in the Divinity School when we first visited it.”
We met Carol at our friends’ wedding in April 2014. We liked how she worked with the guests while taking pictures during a walk across Oxford. When we decided that we would also get married in two different venues and connect the ceremony and reception with a walk through the historic town centre, we knew we wanted to get Carol to take the pictures. She captured all the important moments and there is a good picture of every guest. She was not only unobtrusive, but her professional presence was positively calming.
I’ve really loved reading Janina’s English Wedding Blog interview, which you’ll find at the end of the blog post today. Do take the time to digest her super tips (especially the one about not having a vision for the cake ribbon – it’s wonderful!) and read all the way until the end. Mishaps may come along, but over time they become funny stories, and hiring true professionals to be there on your day will make all the difference.
The English Wedding Blog Interview: Steven and Janina
Wedding photographer’s website:
We had the ceremony in the Old Library of the Oxford Town Hall and an afternoon tea reception in the Assembly Room of the Town Hall. We then took a walk across an astonishingly sunny Oxford. The wedding dinner and dance were at the Divinity School of the Bodleian Library. After midnight we went for further dancing to Be at One Bar on St Clements.
Where did you find your suppliers? (Blogs, magazines, recommendations?)
Both venues have a limited number of accredited caterers and we chose from among them. Many of our other decisions regarding suppliers were based on our regular lives in Oxford. I have always admired the cakes in the window of Patisserie Valerie on High Street. We used to live close to Daisy’s Flowers in Jericho and we now live close to Anne Veck, where I normally go to get my hair cut.
What’s your top tip for saving money?
The five different cakes were cheaper (and much more interesting) than one wedding cake. This came as a surprise though and wasn’t planned. That we hosted the brunch the morning after the wedding at our own house and cooked/prepared almost all the food ourselves also ended up saving money, I believe.
… and which elements of your wedding are you glad you spent more on?
The Divinity School was worth the expense for sure.
Where did you buy or source your wedding stationery – or was making it a labour of love?
We used an online platform, called paperless post, for the save the dates and invitations. We did it to save time as our guests live across three different continents and by the time we were ready to reach out to them it was a little closer to the wedding date than ideal.
We designed the program, menus and table plan ourselves and had them printed at the Oxford Print Center.
Did you fall in love with your wedding dress?
I wanted a classic, simple dress, nothing too big or glitzy. I really liked the one I found. It seemed understated yet elegant. On the day I was quite surprised how very much I enjoyed wearing it.
Wedding dress designer and bridal boutique:
The dress is Pronovias and I bought it at the Bridal Box
Tell us about your accessories: jewellery, shoes and anything else!
I wore pearl earrings, which were gifts from my parents.
And what did the groom wear? Any recommendations for tailors?
The groom and his two groomsmen wore morning coats from Moss Brothers with cravats to match the bridesmaids
Beautiful bridesmaids: what did your best girls wear?
My sister suggested and we all agreed on the color “dusty pink” without having an inter-subjective understanding of what that meant. Everyone interpreted it slightly differently, not least because there are different ways of translating it into German. As they live in four different countries (none of them in England) further coordination among the bridesmaids would have been tricky. They are also all very unique and accomplished women so I would have felt odd to be too prescriptive or make them wear the same dress. I thought individually as well as a group they looked beautiful on the day.
Hair and make-up – did you DIY or hire a professional?
We got our hair and make-up done at Anne Veck.
Describe your wedding flowers. Who arranged them for you? (florist details would be lovely please)
Daisy’s Flowers did the bouquet and most of the decorations. My bouquet was a combination of roses (in various shades of light pink to match the bridesmaids’ dresses), white hydrangeas and a type of grayish thistle. The bridesmaids had wrist corsages made of pearls and decorated with roses – more practical than carrying around flowers.
General styling – did your venue need much decoration?
We had a small flower arrangement to match my bouquet in the Old Library. Both rooms in the Town Hall are very ornate, so we left it at that. The five different wedding cakes, sandwich platters, strawberries and the tea sets also turned out to be quite decorative.
The Divinity School is stunning. I did not want to distract from the amazing architecture with colorful centerpieces or decorations so I chose five little succulents in different shades of grey and dark pink for each table. The guests were invited to take them home at the end of the evening, which many did. We were left with eight of them, which thrive in our kitchen as a reminder of the happy day. Because the ceiling of the Divinity School is very high I wanted one tall accent on each table. I ended up sourcing white Manzanita trees from different internet suppliers, which I decorated with LED fairy lights. Candles are not allowed in the Bodleian, but it was nice to have some lights on the tables. The little succulents around the Manzanita trees made for unusual centerpieces, but Steve and I really liked how it turned out.
Crafts and makes – tell us about any homemade elements of your wedding… did you enjoy them?
We both work a lot so we were generally happy to leave the execution of our ideas to professionals, with one exception. Classical music plays an important role in our lives and we both love a soprano aria by Purcell, called “They tell us that you migh powers above make perfect your joys and your blessing with love”. One of my bridesmaids, Ania Vegry, is a professional opera singer. She sung it during the ceremony and Steve painstakingly arranged it for string quartet.
The wedding cake: what kind of cake did you choose and why?
We chose five different cakes with lots of different types of chocolates and fruits. We learned that this is called “gateau style” and that it is an unusual choice for a wedding cake. But not being too fond of dried fruit or sponge cake, this is the sort of cake we would actually like to eat. Having different ones, we hoped, would mean everyone would find one to their liking.
Entertainment: any musical recommendations, surprises or treats?
Ania sung the Purcell aria we had picked. It was flawless and one of the highlights of the day for both of us.
Because we both love classical music, we booked a professional string quartet for the ceremony and the afternoon tea. Unfortunately, they must have had a bad day with quite a few intonation problems and miss-haps. We were both a bit shocked when the Vivaldi during the Signing of the Register was starting to sound ever less like Vivaldi. In hindsight we think it is funny, specifically because our shock/surprise is visible in the pictures.
We chose Shostakovich’s Second Waltz for our first dance, another piece we both love. It is a Viennese Waltz and was much fun to dance to. We both think of it as among our favorite moments of the wedding.
We had a DJ in the Divinity School. We gave him a play list with music that we hoped would inspire the ballroom fanatics in my family as much as people more inclined to dance free style. That worked out quite well.
An unexpected delight was dancing the Hora. We were reluctant to follow this Jewish tradition at first as it involves lifting the bride and groom and the parents on chairs and not all our guests would have seen this before. We are really glad we did it. It was a riot and brought almost everyone to the dance floor.
On the day tips and advice:
Don’t let anyone make you feel like a derelict bride just because you haven’t had a vision for the color of the ribbon on the second layer of the cake since you were ten years old!
We took our group photo at the end of the walk through Oxford. Unfortunately, that meant that some guests hadn’t yet caught up. It is a nice picture, but we should probably have opted to take it at the beginning of the walk to increase the chances that everyone would be in it.
What’s the best thing about being married?
Nothing much has changed for us in our day to day lives. But we reminisce a lot and will always cherish the memory of these amazing days. The wedding brought almost everyone we love together to share a piece of our lives in Oxford. People from different stages in our lives met for the first time and magically got along enjoying each other’s company. As an experience this is very hard to beat.
Favourite supplier list for other brides and grooms:
We loved Lamb Catering. Their food was delicious and the service professional. http://www.lambcatering.co.uk/
Carol was fantastic http://www.carol-elizabeth-photography.co.uk/
Morgan at Anne Veck is very skilled in creating up-dos http://www.anneveckhair.com/
This is trite, but even if you plan as meticulously as we did not everything will go according to plan. There were quite a few hiccups in the run up with my dress alterations and on the day with the string quartet and the cake delivery. (The cakes arrived unaccompanied in a taxi with the driver calling me ten minutes before I was meant to walk down the aisle threatening to drive off with the cakes). Most of this we forgot immediately because it was such a happy occasion and some of it makes for a good story now. It also made the people we worked with who were brilliant and professional, like Carol and Emma at Lamb Catering, stand out even more.