Harriet & Ian’s gorgeous Oxford college wedding and relaxed pub celebration, with Carol Elizabeth Photography

Published by Claire Gould on

Harriet & Ian got married in August in Oxford, and describe their day as joyful, beautiful, welcoming, summery, exuberant, momentous and full of happiness! It looks wonderful – that summer sunshine and the relaxed styling in such glorious venues are perfect for an Oxford wedding! This gorgeous pair look so happy and content on their best day ever – which I think comes down to their genius approach to planning. They’ve given us some great recommendations and supplier ideas in their interview at the end of their feature, and share this fabulous snippet of wedding wisdom…

Chill! But plan in advance and don’t leave everything to the last minute. Map out your time and allocate jobs to each month. Only worry about something in its allocated month. This means everything gets done, steadily and reliably. Don’t fall in to the trap of one person doing everything and the other barely being consulted. Hatty may be the one with the artistic vision but we did the whole thing as a team and we were a wed-min machine by the end! Most importantly, remember that everyone is there to have fun and celebrate your relationship so don’t get stressed by the little things. The important thing is your marriage, not the wedding.

“We wanted to achieve a balance between the formal and sophisticated, and friendly and relaxed. Our venues helped us achieve this. We started in the stunning and imposing grandeur of New College Chapel, and finished in a beautiful pub garden on the river. The very best of both worlds!

Wedding photographer’s website:


We started by simply googling ‘wedding photographers in the Oxford area’ to come up with a list of potential photographers, checking the prices on their pages to ensure they were within our budget. We then chose a shortlist of the ones we liked best based on style. We were looking for someone classic but still contemporary that would capture all the beautiful fleeting moments of the day in a simple, elegant way. We sent a handful of enquiries to the ones we liked, and about three were available on our date. We had casual Skype conversations with all of them and chose Carol Elizabeth Photography because we felt Carol was extremely friendly and down to earth and her photos had the simple but beautiful style we wanted.

We were absolutely delighted with Carol! From the beginning she made us feel very relaxed and completely confident that whatever happened, we would end up with a set of photos we loved. Carol (and her assistant photographer John) seemed to have a magic ability to be in all places at all times and we have some really beautiful natural shots of all our guests enjoying the day. They were also very efficient at getting through our list of traditional, posed, family group shots as quickly as possible so that we weren’t missing our reception. The finished product was just what we wanted. Modern, elegant, beautiful shots that simply tell the story of the day. Highly recommended!

We were both at work when we were sent the link for the online viewing gallery and neither of us could resist a hasty peep at the collection! The first glimpse was fab but we waited till we could connect the laptop to the TV and watch a slideshow with a glass of wine. It was wonderful to relive the day. Most people probably agree that your wedding day passes in a whirl of excitement and you don’t need any prosecco for the memory to feel like a bit of a hazy blur! The photos helped us remember so many little moments and made it all seem very real again, instead of like a dream.

Wedding venue:

New College Chapel, Oxford for the ceremony (Ian’s old college) at 11am. This was followed by a drinks reception at St Hilda’s College, Oxford (Hatty’s old college), and then a wedding breakfast and dancing at the Perch Inn, Oxford.

Where did you find your suppliers? (Blogs, magazines, recommendations?)

We did an awful lot of googling and for a lot of things drew up shortlists based on people’s websites. Then we looked for reviews of the suppliers on our shortlists and tried to go with our gut feelings. We watched a LOT of YouTube videos when selecting a band….

What’s your top tip for saving money?

If there are some elements you can DIY, that can obviously save a lot of money and is also good fun. For example I was able to do some artwork for our stationery and design it up myself. We also were very disciplined on sticking to our budget, and immediately discounted what we couldn’t afford. Decide in advance what you want to spend on what. If there’s something that’s really important to you, put more cash aside for it – but then work out where you can cut down to compensate. And then stick to it!

… and which elements of your wedding are you glad you spent more on?

The flowers and the band.
Having mentioned sticking to a budget, we did go over on the band by accident, because we forgot what we had allocated – oops! But they were just brilliant, even our venue commented that they thought they were the best band they’d had there in a while!
The flowers were within the budget we’d set but we could have saved some money by simplifying. However, we splashed out on a flower arch at the entrance to the marquee and it was completely breathtaking, I loved it so much. My bouquet was also quite extravagant with foliage tumbling down to the hem of the dress. It brought me such joy though, worth every penny!

Where did you buy or source your wedding stationery – or was making it a labour of love?

I created a series of illustrations in water colour – little cute cartoon versions of ourselves and our cat, which I scanned into a computer. I am also familiar with InDesign and Photoshop so I could design the save the dates, invitations, RSVP cards and even personalised envelopes myself, incorporating the illustrations. We then just paid for printing via a company we found online.This took me a lot of time but I’m so glad I did because it made it more personal and saved quite a lot of money. We even made them into stickers!

Did you fall in love with your wedding dress?

Yes! I had a vague vision of what I thought I wanted but went shopping with a very open mind. I came close to buying something very different, but when I found my dress it was funny how similar it was to that original vision. I was lucky enough to be able to request a couple of design changes to the sample I originally tried on and the finished product was just so beautiful. I loved it.

Wedding dress designer and bridal boutique:

The designer was Augusta Jones and I purchased it from Windsor Bride.

Tell us about your accessories: jewellery, shoes and anything else!

I went simple with accessories. I wore flowers in my hair, but did have a rather dramatic veil for the first portion of the day. I wore a gold locket which was my 21st birthday present from my parents. This was very important because it has my mum’s picture in it and she died in early 2017. I also wore little pearl earrings.
My shoes were low heeled lacy white court shoes. I wanted something sweet, simple, comfortable and affordable. I found them on a website called Pink Paradox.

And what did the groom wear?

Ian wore a very smart dark grey morning suit, with a dark green cravat and pocket square. His ushers and both our dads wore the same.

Beautiful bridesmaids: what did your best girls wear?

My bridesmaids had beautiful, long dark green dresses with a v neck, found in Phase Eight. They were a light, slightly stretchy material which was good, because one of them was expecting her first baby 8 weeks later!

Hair and make-up – did you DIY or hire a professional?

A wonderful professional did my hair and the bridesmaids’ hair, and makeup just for me. The girls all did a beautiful job on their makeup, but I didn’t trust myself not to panic in the flurry of activity that morning!

Describe your wedding flowers. Who arranged them for you? (florist details would be lovely please)

We used Daises Flower Shop in Oxford, and have the creative genius Shiela to thank for turning my vague vision into reality. I wanted soft and romantic, with tumbling trails of ivy (to match the dark green bridesmaid dresses!) with mainly white and a few pale pinks or peachy colours to add a splash of colour. The chapel is too grand for much decoration so we went for two large, spectacular displays with pure white flowers. I had a wonderful cascading bouquet, complete with the all important trailing ivy, full of roses and various English country garden blooms. The bridesmaids had little posies to match. At the Perch we had similar flowers but introduced some stronger colours so the peachy shades became beautiful orange lillies. We had big jugs in the corners of the marquee, little jam jars on the tables and a garlands wrapped round the marquee pillars. The best bit was the stunning flower arch at the entrance to the marquee. We loved it!

General styling – did your venue need much decoration?

The marquee at the Perch is beautifully furnished and needed very little extra to make it look glorious on the day. The staff dressed the tables expertly, and it was already adorned with hundreds of fairy lights so with the addition of our flowers and a bit of bunting round the edge of the bar, we were good to go!

Crafts and makes – tell us about any homemade elements of your wedding… did you enjoy them?

The artwork for our stationery was the main homemade element , and I loved doing it! We also made our place cards incorporating the illustrations and Ian’s mum spent a long time writing all the names out for us. I also spent quite a lot of time collecting the wedding photos of as many family members as I could find and put together a huge photo board of them, along with some photos of both of us growing up. We even had three sets of great-grandparents on there and it was really beautiful.

The wedding cake: what kind of cake did you choose and why?

Waitrose! It had three tiers so we could have multiple flavours and keep the fruit cake to the minimum. We went for Waitrose because it was by far the best value, and we only wanted something really plain and simple. And then we added a wonderful cake topper which matched the illustration from the stationery, which made it cute and personal. The florist provided some extra blooms for decoration.

Entertainment: any musical recommendations, surprises or treats?

Live band! We would 100% recommend splashing out a bit and getting the best you can. The band were universally loved.


What’s the best thing about being married?

We have been living together so long it doesn’t feel that different. But it’s wonderful to have made that public declaration of what we already knew – we’re in it for the long haul!

Favourite supplier web links for other brides and grooms:

Photographer – https://www.carol-elizabeth-photography.co.uk/
Band – https://www.treasureweddingband.com/
Florist – https://daisies-flower-shop.co.uk/
Dress – http://www.windsorbride.co.uk/
Hair & Makeup – https://www.laurenwheeler.co.uk/
Perch – http://the-perch.co.uk/weddings/

Claire Gould

Claire spends her days writing - either in beautiful calligraphy or online. She lives on the edge of the English Lake District only minutes away from the beach, where she loves to escape and unwind. Claire's calligraphy can be found at www.byMoonandTide.com. Claire launched the English Wedding Blog in November 2009 - it's been a top 10 UK wedding blog ever since, with a regional focus we hope you LOVE.


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