In May 2018, Johnny told me I needed to pack a bag as we were going for surprise weekend away in Morocco for my birthday. It was such a romantic gesture as one of our first trips together as teenagers was a road trip which finished in our favourite city – Marrakesh. We stayed at the beautiful Dar Zemora, a small country house-style boutique hotel. Later that evening, Johnny suggested going for a walk. We strolled through the hotel grounds and arrived at a charming and secluded rose garden. I turned around and Johnny was on one knee with a ring. He said he’d always dreamt of asking me to marry him in a rose garden, and this was the only private one in Marrakesh.
Johnny designed the ring when he was in Mumbai, where he spends a lot of time for work. It’s a round brilliant cut diamond set on a fine 18 carat gold band. The current setting is so chic, but in time, he wants me to collaborate with a designer to make it uniquely ‘me’.
We are both real home-birds, so we knew immediately we wanted to get married in Painswick, the Gloucestershire village where I grew up and where my parents were married. It was really important for us to keep the wedding intimate, with only our close friends and family.
My parents were married at the tiny church in the village, and having been baptised there, I knew it was where I wanted the ceremony. For a Catholic church the interior is very simple, so we went big on the flowers. We had a champagne reception on the lawns at The Painswick Hotel, and from there guests walked through the village to our family home, where the rest of the celebrations continued. Dinner and dancing was held in a candy-striped and pink-carpeted marquee, designed by County Marquees.
Having worked in the events industry for five years, I was confident we would be able to plan the wedding ourselves. We booked the fundamental things pretty soon after we were engaged – sending save the dates and nailing down all the venues and catering – but everything else was super last-minute.
My wedding dress was without a doubt my favourite thing I have ever worn. I did the usual routine of going to bridal atelier appointments, but I always knew I wanted to wear something bespoke. I met Charlotte Sweet of Sewn Right years ago and she was the first person I thought of when it came to bringing my vision to life. I wanted drama, froth, frills, puffball sleeves and feathers (200m of which were sourced and dyed in Mumbai). I also knew I wanted an element of surprise, so we made it into something that transformed into a mini party dress for the evening – perfect for dancing the night away.
Elizabeth Taylor’s 1964 wedding to Richard Burton was one of my main inspirations. My flower crown was made using white fluffy peonies and garden roses, which smelt divine, all painstakingly wired by hand. The bouquet I carried used the same blooms, along with sweetpeas and dainty lily of the valley, and most amazingly, a surprise inclusion of real-life Rowan blossom. I also wore gold Gucci Marmont sandals with a lower heel, but when I revealed my mini dress, I changed into a sky-high pair of cream and gold satin Miu Miu platforms. I also wore a vintage moon and star necklace from Oscar de la Renta along with a pair of ruby heart hoop earrings Johnny gave me.
The Hair & Make-Up
My friend Francesca Daniella is the most incredible make-up artist. Day to day, I avoid make-up, but she created the most flawless look using products from Charlotte Tilbury and Nars. My hair was done by Mark Blake Hair – a family friend who I have known forever.
Johnny wore a morning suit and shirt from Savile Row tailor Cad & The Dandy with a Salvatore Ferragamo tie and classic black Oxfords from Crockett & Jones. As a wedding present I gave him a pair of vintage gold cufflinks that I had engraved with two leopards – our wedding mascots!
My younger sisters Carys and Briony and our cousin Roxy were my bridesmaids. I designed wrap dresses for them and had them made in Mumbai in block colour silks – cherry red, coral and candyfloss pink. They all wore leopard print shoes from Topshop and velvet padded hairbands.
Décor & Flowers
We wanted to have the balance of a quintessentially Cotswolds wedding coupled with a playful and eccentric garden party. Having worked as an event florist for many years, it’s fair to say the pressure was on. We chose May knowing there would be a glorious abundance of peonies, roses and foxgloves. I’m passionate about using and promoting British flowers wherever possible, and I’m proud to say 100% of the wedding flowers were grown here. Almost all of them were grown locally by Kate's Cutting Patch, with a few others supplemented by my pals at Zest Flowers in New Covent Garden Flower Market.
The church aisle was lined with white delphiniums, foxgloves and garden roses. The altar was framed with super-tall British silver birch trees hired from The Plant People. My team also created a glorious golden arch outside the church with sunshine yellow peonies, garden roses, orange blossom and creamy sweet peas.
At the hotel, they created a flowery enclave in the Whispering Arch, rambling with more peonies, foxgloves, lupins, roses and sweetpeas.
In the marquee, we kept the flowers on the table simple, but we went strong on the colour – blood red and ruby – all mixed in with potted dinky strawberry plants and juicy pomegranates. We opted to make tea towels for guests as their napkins, which served as wedding favours too; they were created by my friend Jess Wheeler. My star find came in the form of H&M Home leopard salt and pepper shakers. We also used saffron yellow Ester & Erik taper candles and added a further dusting of gold star sequins.
We came up with a plan to make a striped big top, where cerise clashed against candy pink, strawberry red and burgundy. The ceiling was festooned with paper star lanterns and circus lights to give an eclectic carnival feel. The bright pink carpet was a last-minute addition. In the garden, giant 3-D stars were made by my brother-in-law and hung in the trees. In the marquee we used festoon fairy lights interspersed with even more stars and incredible balloon sculptures, created by Party On Up. I’m mad about leopard, so much so that Johnny was convinced I would turn up to the church wearing a leopard-print dress! I was desperate to have life-like leopards in the garden, but the closest I found are were some amazing cheetahs.
The Food & Drink
Our menu consisted of British spring delicacies supplied by Napier Catering. The food was vibrant, fresh, and served on beautiful big sharing platters including heirloom tomatoes, Welsh spring lamb, wild British strawberries, foraged elderflower jelly and a Gâteau de Mariage adorned with white chocolate cherubs baked by my lovely aunt. Delicious personalised cocktails were provided by Movers & Shakers.
Our first dance song was ‘You’ve Got The Love’ by Florence & The Machine, performed by a funk band whose floor-filling set helped all our guests dance the night away.
The Day Before/After The Wedding
The day before the wedding was a blur. We were all up at the crack of dawn and the rest of the day was a flurry of excitement and nerves. The house was chaotic and teeming with people, but I knew it would all come together in the end. The day after, we invited guests to drop in for breakfast on their way home. My mother wanted the caterers to do it, but my sisters and I thought we could handle it ourselves – we hadn’t quite anticipated so many guests would actually show up! We were in the kitchen making endless rounds of bacon baps, fish finger butties, tea and mimosas. It was so lovely to see everyone and gossip about the wedding, before setting off to Tuscany in the evening.
I would tell other couples to embrace your dreams, inspirations and wildest whimsies, and curate a day that is totally you and your partner. This is your day to shine – so try to be original, don’t listen to anyone else and follow your heart.