Real weddings: a gorgeous vintage tea party and a rickshaw departure!


Your name… Rosie

Partner’s name… Dan

Your ages… 23 and 28

How did you meet…

Dan and I met while I was at university through the college Chapel – I was an organ scholar and Dan was the Chapel organist, so we worked together to run the college choir. We’d known each other for a while but it took until the last term of my first year for us to get together and we’ve been inseparable ever since, even composing music together. I think we both knew from fairly early on that this was the ‘real thing’!

Engagement story…

Dan took me to Paris at the end of the summer and proposed in the Jardin des Tuileries. It was a gorgeous day and the perfect setting – and I didn’t hesitate to say yes!

Wedding date… 1st September 2013

Wedding venue…

We decided to get married in the Chapel at St Hugh’s College, Oxford, where we first met. We didn’t even consider anywhere else – it’s traditional to marry at the bride’s home church, and this felt like ‘home’ for me – the Chapel where I attended (and conducted the music for) services every Sunday for three years. It seemed perfect as we met and worked there together, so it was a place of huge significance for us.


Reception venue…

We knew that we would be able to hold the reception in the same place, making the most of the beautiful landscaped gardens at St Hugh’s – this was also really useful on a practical level in terms of thinking about transporting guests from one place to another. We knew that we wanted to hold our reception in a place where it would almost feel like we were outside (without having to contend with bad weather), so we chose a room with huge glass doors that slid back to reveal views of the lawns.

We wanted a relaxed, summery feel, and the pastel colours that we chose for our flowers as well as the mismatched vintage china  really brightened up the room and looked beautiful the crisp white tablecloths. We kept the actual decoration of the room fairly minimal, as the tables were bursting with colour, and it drew the attention to the gorgeous centrepieces that we had on each table. Again, we kept the vases simple, choosing vintage-style mason jars alongside sleek glass cube vases which allowed the flowers to speak for themselves. We also hired in wedding chairs which made the most enormous difference to the room – they felt quite rustic and were in keeping with the vintage feel of the venue, but were simple enough not to distract from the tables.

Wedding party…

We had quite a small and intimate wedding so we only had one bridesmaid, who also acted as the ring bearer – my sister, Laura. She fulfilled the role perfectly – she was so helpful and supportive on the day and it was lovely to be standing up there next to her during the ceremony.


Colour scheme/theme…

We found that we couldn’t stick to one theme or colour so instead we combined some of our favourite things to make the day feel as personal as possible. I love all things vintage, so we decided to go for a vintage theme at our reception with mismatched china which we hired in especially. This lent itself very well to our idea of having an afternoon tea for our reception – again, it was a more relaxed feel than a formal dinner, and worked well with the intimate feel of the wedding.

 Tea played a large part at the reception – we both drink far too much tea and have quite a collection of different flavours, so we wanted to incorporate this into the day. It took quite a while to work out how we were going to organise it, but we wanted all of our guests to have a variety of teas to choose from. We bought little cream gift boxes from John Lewis and filled them with individually-wrapped teabags that we picked out from the selection at the Twinings Tea Shop in London. The wrappings were multicoloured and looked gorgeous in the little boxes, and we managed to keep it a surprise from our guests until the afternoon tea – people really loved being able to pick out their own individual flavour. We also tied in the ‘tea’ theme by having our table names as different teas that are favourites of ours (this also worked really well as we were able to match some guests to a table named after a tea they really love, so it felt more personal and didn’t go unnoticed!).

 We found ourselves leaning towards pastel colours as they’d look gorgeous with the china, so we went for a mixture of light pinks and creams which were reflected in the patterns on the china. My engagement ring is a sapphire, so also wove a mid-blue into my bouquet as well as my bridesmaid’s, and tied the colour in with the bridesmaid’s dress and the groom’s tie and pocket square.


 When choosing our invitations we decided to go with a butterfly motif as it reflected the light, summery feel that we wanted. We manage to weave in little butterflies while still keeping it subtle – we had butterflies on our table plan as well as on the place names on each table.

 We had one last theme that was extremely important to us – my husband is a musician and we met through our love of music, so we wanted to tie this in. We hired a grand piano and had a pianist playing throughout the afternoon tea, playing old classics such as ‘As Time Goes By’. It was a really special touch and was really atmospheric during the reception. We also had a very subtle nod to music in our wedding cake; we had little musical notes piped in amongst the swirls on the icing. We didn’t want them to jump out when you looked at the cake, but we were both happy knowing that they were there.

How did you decide on your colour scheme/theme…

I bought loads of bridal magazines and had good fun reading through them to try to decide on a theme, and also scoured websites for ideas. I had a pinterest board so I could add things and show Dan so that we could decide what sort of things we were after. There are so many ideas out there if you go looking, and it can be a bit overwhelming, so in the end we decided to go for things that we liked best and were drawn to most, and I’m really glad we made that decision. My mum was also really helpful the whole way through (especially at making sure my ideas were kept down to earth as I do tend to need reining in sometimes!).

Hen & Stag Do…

Dan didn’t have a stag do and I only had a very small hen do with my mum, sister, and a few friends – we went out for cocktails and it was all pretty civilised! We both had an engagement party though with lots of friends which was great fun – it was nice being able to celebrate together, and the wedding seemed a very long way off at the time so it gave us something to get excited about!

Describe your wedding in 10 words… A gorgeous vintage tea party in the most beautiful setting!

Wedding dress story and your outfit…

I have to be honest and say that finding a wedding dress was a bit of a nightmare for me. Being very short at only 5’2″, I had to find a dress that wouldn’t make me look as wide as I am tall, which was no mean feat! I’m also extremely indecisive which didn’t help. I chose about four versions of ‘the dress’ in total – from a sparkly, frothy dress to a very fitted, vintage-style gown, but when I put ‘my’ dress on, even after months of searching, I felt excited. I think the fact that I kept looking even after I thought I’d found ‘the one’ meant that I still wasn’t happy with it, and I’m really glad I went for my gut feeling and went for just one last appointment! I was so happy with the dress that I bought it there and then – it combined everything I was looking for and I felt really beautiful in it.


My advice for wedding dress shopping would be to start early – it can end up taking months to find th right dress. I’d also advise taking someone with you that you trust to actually tell you the right thing – I went with a couple of different people, who all had really helpful advice, but the person who I really appreciated having with me was my mum, and the majority of my appointments were just me and her. At points she was brutally honest, but I was really grateful for the advice and she kept my spirits up even when I thought I’d never find the right dress. It was also helpful when we could take photos of the dresses – photos can be really unflattering but sometimes that helps as you can really see things from every angle. My last piece of advice is that once you’ve found your dress, stop looking! The more you look at pictures on the internet and in magazines, the more you can second-guess the choice you’ve made, so don’t do it! Go with the dress that you love and make you feel beautiful – that’s the most important thing.


Choosing accessories for the day was really exciting, and I really enjoyed that part! I knew that I wanted a full length veil, and as my dress was quite detailed on the bodice I decided just to go for a plain, single tiered veil. It really finished the whole look off and I felt like a bride when wearing it. My tiara was made by Amanda Wyatt and again helped pull everything together – it was very ‘vintage’ looking and really made me feel like a princess! I knew that I wouldn’t be having a specific hairstyle but it added a bit of sparkle and looked very elegant on the day.


I was originally going to do my own makeup, but in the end I had a makeup artist (Juliet Cunnington). It was one of the best decisions I could have made – she was such a relaxing presence the morning of the wedding, and it was so nice sitting down and having someone else do my makeup. I know I would have found it stressful if I’d done it myself, and this way it looked professional (which I think really shows in the photos) and lasted all day. She also did makeup for my bridesmaid and my mum – and all of us had comments on how lovely our makeup looked, so it was well worth it!


Dan wore a morning suit that we hired from Moss Bros. It was an extremely painless process – they were really helpful and he looks good in a suit, so it was something of a relief when it was so easy to find his outfit!

Bridesmaid dresses…

I only had one bridesmaid, so choosing the dress should have been fairly easy, although my sister is a fashion student so it was a little more tricky than I had anticipated! We had a few disagreements over the style and colour of the dress (as any sisters would), but eventually we found a dress that we felt was extremely timeless and looked really elegant. Laura looked gorgeous on the day and I’m really pleased that we were both happy with the dress that we chose in the end – it felt like a joint decision and I was glad that she felt comfortable and happy in the dress, which was the most important thing for me.


Entertainment and professional services…

We only had an afternoon reception so we didn’t need evening entertainment, but we kept it simple with a pianist to play during the afternoon tea. We had heard him before so we knew that he’d be good, and it was lovely to have something that was really in keeping with our vintage feel. We worried that guests might not have enough to do or that conversation would dry up, but we needn’t have worried – our guests mingled and kept talking even when the rickshaws arrived late and the pianist had stopped playing, so don’t worry too much about having entertainment for every minute of the day.


Our photographer was Huw Evans, who we actually found through my Dad, who hires him for corporate events. It was good having a recommendation as we knew that we’d definitely get our photographs and that they’d be excellent quality (and you do hear some horror stories online, so I would recommend trying to find somebody who has excellent reviews). Huw came to the College when we first started planning the wedding and we showed him round and had a chat about the kind of things we wanted, and we felt very relaxed around him, which we felt was extremely important as I’m quite shy around a camera! We looked through his portfolio and loved the pictures he’d taken of other weddings. We were very happy with our choice and ended up with some beautiful photographs – and he also managed to get me to smile in a photo which is pretty miraculous!


Joanna Carter had been recommended to me by a friend at work, and after looking at her wedding photos I knew I wanted her to do my flowers. I don’t regret the decision – the saddest part of the day being over was having to leave all my flowers to go on honeymoon – it felt like a huge loss as they were so beautiful!

 I was desperate for peonies on the day, but unfortunately they weren’t in season in September so I was offered an alternative (aptly named piano roses) which were gorgeous. These were combined with more structured sweet avalanche roses, stocks, lisianthus, blue veronica and eucalyptus leaves (which are a gorgeous silvery green that I fell in love with). My bridesmaid had a similar bouquet that was a little smaller (without the stocks and lisianthus) but tied in really nicely with mine. They were both hand-tied with ivory ribbon and were absolutely stunning – and they also smelled divine. We had smaller versions of the bouquets as our pew-ends – these were tied to each pew with ribbon and again were just beautiful. Our buttonholes were made up of ivory and pink piano and avalanche roses.

We had two large sprays of flowers for either side of the altar which we moved to the reception venue after the ceremony (this was a really good way of saving money and making the most out of our flowers). These were much larger and also contained hydrangeas (again a nod to my grandmother) and carnations, two of my favourite flowers. These flowers also made up our centrepieces, which were displayed on each table in glass vases, in a range of pastel colours. They really helped keep the vintage theme and we had so many comments on how beautiful they were. The minimal decoration really kept the focus on the flowers, and they were one of the best parts of the day.



We had an obvious choice for favours as Dan is half-Italian, so we went down the traditional route of sugared almonds. We found little organza bags for them to go in and picked them out in pastel white, pink and blue, so they went perfectly with our colour-scheme. My grandmother sadly passed away a few years ago but she absolutely loved sugared almonds, so it
also felt like a little nod to her – and it was nice knowing that she would have approved! I think it’s important to think of little things like that – there are ways to tie in things that you love and things that others close to you love as well, particularly if they can’t be there on the day.


Neither of us likes fruitcake, so it was a pretty easy decision to veto that one! We found cake-maker Rebecca Bell online, and at our first meeting she gave us a selection of flavours to try. We loved all of them, but the two that really stood out were the lemon sponge and the carrot cake (which I only tried reluctantly as I usually hate carrot cake, but which ended up being my favourite!).

 Choosing the design for the cake was the easiest part – Rebecca was so helpful and really seemed to understand the vision that we described to her. She sketched out a design for us based on some photographs that I sent her and on our description of our flowers, and we talked about different numbers of tiers and colours of ribbon. We decided to go for quite a simple look so that the sugar flowers on the cake would really stand out, but we wanted to have a tiered cake as it’s one of the only chances you get! Rebecca suggested tying in our vintage theme with piping that would look like lace around the edge of the cake, and we were able to tie in our love of music by asking her to pipe little white musical notes alongside the lace.

The cake was absolutely delicious and looked gorgeous – the whole process was really easy and enjoyable, and I would highly recommend Rebecca if you’re based in Oxfordshire.


 DIY projects…

Our venue did not provide a wedding planning service, so we had to think of all the details ourselves (a bigger job than it sounds!). We sourced vintage china and chairs from hire companies, and they were really helpful in setting everything up. We put the favours together ourselves – it actually served as a relaxing activity in the run-up to the wedding. We also created the table plan ourselves and my dad kindly put it together for us – we couldn’t find anything that we wanted online so we decided that the best thing would be to buy a large craft board from Paperchase and make it ourselves. It meant we could make last-minute corrections to the tables if we needed to as we weren’t tied in by time constraints, and we were also able to use the same butterflies that we’d used for our invitations and place settings with the help of some spare invitations and a pair of scissors!

 We also had bay trees around the venue which my parents brought up with them – my sister got to work with some white organza and tied ribbons around the stem of each tree – it was much cheaper than hiring them and my parents now have all the little trees lined up in their garden which is a nice keepsake from the day.

Finding the selection of teas for the table was good fun and was a little detail that people weren’t expecting, but that worked perfectly because it was so ‘us’! When I explained the idea to my parents originally I was met with extremely blank looks, but I stuck to my guns and in the end it looked great and worked really well. If there’s something you really want, don’t be afraid to go for it, even if it means sourcing it yourself and thinking carefully as to how it will work on the day.

 The best decision we made was hiring the rickshaw as our wedding transport. We kept it a surprise and we had a lot of comments about how unusual it was – it was a more exciting way to go than a normal wedding car, and it also gave us the chance to spend some time alone together and to get some fantastic photos.

Favourite memory from your day…

The wedding day itself went so fast – we couldn’t believe how quickly the ceremony was over, and it felt like the tea had just started when it was time to leave! We do have a few particularly special memories, though – I’ll always remember saying our vows (I was convinced that I would cry but instead felt so happy that we laughed all the way through the service), and it was wonderful walking out of the Chapel and seeing everyone smiling back at us.

The best memory I have, though – and Dan and I agree on this – was leaving in a rickshaw. We were taken on a full journey around Oxford, where we were able to stop for photographs so we have some beautiful shots that are really unusual, and it was also a chance for us to spend some time alone together for the first time that day. As we rode through town loads of people called out congratulations to us and waved, and it really made our day extra special – the perfect ending to a wonderful day.


If you could change one thing…

We had a bit of a disaster the day before the wedding when we realised that we’d been let down by our seamstress. Unfortunately my sister’s dress had been taken in too much  (she’d commented on it when we went to pick the dress up but the seamstress assured us that it would stretch). She then went away for a week and when she came to try the dress on again, we realised that it was far too small (and my sister is tiny so it was obvious that she hadn’t put on any weight). This meant that the day before my wedding (at 4pm) I was ringing every bridal shop I could think of in Oxford to try to find someone who might be able to fix the disaster. As the original seamstress we’d used was in London, there was no way we could get the dress back and get it fixed. Thankfully we managed to find somebody (thanks to The Bridal Box in Oxford) who took the dress out at 9am on a Sunday (the day of the wedding), and I can’t thank her enough for helping out. We also realised too late that my dress was far too long (again, the seamstress had assured us that it was fine and I hadn’t really had long enough to try the dress on, walk in it and make sure it was ok), but there wasn’t anything we could do at the last minute. I managed to hold it up when walking down the aisle but there was a moment when I tripped – I just hope nobody noticed! It was the only thing that really put a dampener on things – I just wish that we’d pushed the seamstress a bit more when we’d felt unsure about things during the last fitting. I would really recommend that other brides speak up if they feel that something is wrong, and don’t let themselves get pushed into accepting decisions that have been made. It’s your dress, and your wedding, so make sure you’re as happy with it as you can be – and don’t accept less!

Your best tip for other Brides…

Start early! When I first started planning, nobody seemed interested and people kept expressing surprise at how ‘early’ I’d started the planning. Most venues get booked up a year in advance, and you’ll also find that this is the same for make-up artists, florists etc. Your dress usually needs to be ordered at least six months in advance, so start looking as soon as you can and ignore people who tell you it’s too early. The sooner you get everything done, the easier it’ll be in the run up to the day.

My other piece of advice is to keep enjoying it. You will really miss the planning when it’s all over! At times it’ll feel like a drag, and I did cry over silly things and wonder if it was all worth it – but everybody goes through the same experience. If you’re not enjoying it, take a break from planning and go out somewhere nice with your fiancé (and ban all wedding chat!). It doesn’t have to be as stressful as people make out – ask for help if you’re finding it overwhelming, and go and do something else for a bit. It is an important day, but it is also only one day – take time to actually enjoy your engagement as well as worrying about table plans and wedding


4 thoughts on “Real weddings: a gorgeous vintage tea party and a rickshaw departure!

  1. Just in case anybody wanted to use the same suppliers that we did, here is a list:

    Dress – Maggie Sottero ‘Nora’ (bought at From This Moment Bridal, Surrey)
    Veil – Rainbow Club ‘Intrigue’ (single tier, Chapel length, raw edge)
    Shoes – Rainbow Club ‘Cheryl’ (these can be dyed by the company even after they’ve been worn so I will be able to wear them again)
    Flowers – Joanna Carter Contemporary Flowers (
    Make-up – Juliet Cunnington (
    Hair – I did this myself but I used products I would swear by for curly hair and then let it dry naturally: John Frieda Frizz Ease Hair Serum, Kérastase Créme D’Huile Oléo-Curl, Redken Curvaceous Ringlet
    Bridesmaid Dresses – Dessy After Six (Style 6666) in ‘Sailor’ (
    Cake – Streatley Village Cakes (
    Vintage China – Jolly Vintage Tea Party (

    Chairs – Oxford Event Hire (

    Photographer – Huw Evans (

  2. Pingback: We Are Looking For Makeup Artists, Models, Dressing Room Changers and Clothing Designers in London. Get In Touch! « MyEventBucket

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