Me & My Wedding: A Long-Awaited Day In The Cotswolds

From the proposal to the cake, the flowers to the dress, we love hearing what goes into making someone's big day their own. If you're after some inspiration, look no further – we’re shining a spotlight on some of the most stylish weddings out there. When SL’s Wellness Editor Tor first got engaged back in 2018, she didn’t realise it would take her quite so long to finally make it down the aisle. Plenty of planning time, coupled with a year’s delay thanks to the pandemic, meant she finally got her dream day in July 2021.

The Engagement

We were going out for dinner at Elliot’s in Borough Market in December 2018 to celebrate our eighth anniversary and while it was a big surprise, I remember instinctively thinking I should go and get my make-up done at Charlotte Tilbury during my lunch hour. I never do that, but something in my gut told me the night was going to be special. Tim didn’t propose until the end of the evening, when he pulled out a Tiffany & Co. box and told me he had a present for me. My brain still didn’t compute that he was proposing until he got down on one knee…

The Ring

He’d roped in a female co-worker to help him design the ring. I love it – it’s an oval diamond, which is a bit different, on a plain platinum band. I always thought I wanted diamonds on the band, but it’s more classic without. Plus, it meant I could have a diamond wedding band, and the two look great together. More than anything, what makes it special is that Tim gave it to me.

The Planning

The initial plan was to get married in Spain in early 2020 – I’d always wanted a three-day affair. But when we looked into it, everything was just way out of budget. We then set about trying to recreate the same sort of vibe in the UK. Our guest list – a total of 150 – was the first thing we drew up and that really narrowed down the venue choices. My sister got married at home, so I knew I didn’t want to do that. Nor did we want a London wedding. We also wanted a late licence so dancing could carry on until the early hours. We left ourselves a good year and a bit to plan – I felt the following summer would have been too soon. Our invitations, which I loved, came from Gee Brothers and we also hired an illustrator, Jessica Tibbits.

The Venue

When I found Elmore Court, I just knew it was the one. I saw it online through a general Google search and fell in love with the history of the building. It’s an old family home that dates back more than 800 years. It also has 17 rooms and offers exclusive hire to wedding parties – something I felt was important to me. Our plan was to have a big Friday night dinner before the wedding on Saturday and then a brunch on the Sunday, with all our closest relatives staying for the weekend. Sadly, Covid-19 had other plans…

The Delay

Not to dwell on it, but we were forced to delay the wedding three times due to the pandemic. The country went into lockdown about a month before our original date, and each time restrictions changed, we had to decide whether or not to proceed. Eventually, Boris lifted enough restrictions for our original guest numbers to go ahead. In hindsight, I’m so glad we waited – it made it so much more emotional.

The Dress & Accessories

Looking for a dress wasn’t a process I massively enjoyed. Spending that much on a dress made me uneasy, and there was a lot of pressure to get it ‘right’. I told everyone I didn’t want anything slinky or that exposed my arms. I tried to crowbar myself into ‘princess bride’ – but it just didn’t feel right. When I found Andrea Hawkes, it felt so different. It was a smaller boutique, a little less pretentious and when I tried on my dress, I cried. It was a good sign; I knew I’d found ‘the one’. Ironically, it was slinky and quite exposed up top! I paired it with pearl drop earrings from Sandra Alexandra. My shoes came from Monsoon – one of the best buys of the entire wedding!

The Hair & Make-Up

The day after I got engaged, I emailed Amanda Harrington and asked her to do my hair and make-up. She owns a company called InParlour who are such pros, and Laura and Amanda came to the venue and took care of the bridal party on the day. 

The Bridal Party 

I’d original bought dresses for my sister and best friend – who were both bridesmaids – from The Wedding Gallery in Marylebone. They were one of the only places that stocked a US brand called Jenny Yoo. Then my sister fell pregnant, so we got her a different wrap-style dress from Rewritten. They were both different tones of grey, so they weren’t strictly matching – just co-ordinated. Tim and his groomsmen bought their morning suits from Oliver Brown

The Décor & Flowers

One of the best things about Elmore Court is they have an on-site wedding co-ordinator to help you piece the day together. Kat didn’t hold my hand, but she was still an absolute godsend. Because they do so many weddings, they know exactly who to recommend and who not. They also took care of all the basic décor – tables, linens, glassware etc. We did bring in our own florist – Amber Persia – who is Dorset-based. She’s also a stylist, so she had real vision. I didn’t want any colour, only green and white, and I started by sending her some ideas over email. We then met at the venue to discuss the possibilities. The only thing to remember is your money doesn’t go that far with flowers – it’s something to bear in mind. 

The Ceremony

We put a lot of effort in the ceremony – probably because my parents were a bit disappointed we weren’t getting married in a church. So, we hired a gospel choir and asked several friends and relatives to do some special readings. Lots of people told us how personal it felt, and different to lots of other wedding ceremonies. We also exchanged traditional vows. I’m also glad I paid a little bit extra to have a rehearsal with the registrar the day before. Looking back on everyone wearing facemasks feels quite historic now, too.

The Photographer 

Our photographer David Jenkins was far more into candid shots than anything posed – which suited us down to the ground. It took us a while to find him – so many wedding photos are too wishy-washy and romantic, but David’s style was so timeless. He ticked all the boxes. I also don’t like it when the bride and groom disappear for the entire drinks reception to take photos – we were probably gone for a total of ten minutes. We spent a bit more on the photographs as we decided not to have a video – and I’m so glad we did.

The Food & Drink

Again, Elmore Court has its own in-house caterers, and I’d heard great things, so I wasn’t nervous about choosing from their sample menus. For canapés we had beef empanadas, sweet potato and crab fritters, deep fried macaroni cheese bites, brioche crostini with goat’s cheese and fig, and a leg of Spanish ham – which was a massive hit. Then, for the main meal we had a starter of heritage tomatoes, pickled shallot, Fiore di Latte, avocado and basil followed by a roast rump of lamb, Mediterranean vegetables, salsa verde and balsamic jus, with sharing bowls of rosemary and garlic roasted new potatoes. For pudding we had pear Normandy tart, vanilla ice cream.

The venue also organised all the wine and we bought in our own champagne from Aldi. It’s honestly the best value champagne I’ve come across. We then had an open bar for the rest of the night. Our original cake-maker was the only supplier who fell through completely as a result of Covid-19. But Cherish Cakes, who we ended up going with, were brilliant – they sent all the samples through the post during lockdown. It was a three-layer cake, and the bottom layer was a Victoria Sponge… because of my name.

The Entertainment

We hired a DJ and saxophonist for the first hour of dancing post-dinner. Both were brilliant. Our first dance was to ‘Higher Love’ by Kygo and Whitney Houston. Guests left around 1am and anyone else staying over went back to the drawing room for cake and night caps.

The Day Before & After

Everyone who was staying at the venue – about 35 friends and family – arrived late afternoon on the Friday, and we had a BBQ... albeit indoors – it was cold! A local dairy took care of the ice cream for pudding! I didn’t sleep that well. The adrenaline was unreal, and I was awake from about 5am. I’d pictured that day for so long and didn’t want to be too flustered. One the best decisions I made was only letting my mum and two bridesmaids get ready with me – it was so calm. Because of Covid-19, we had to vacate the venue by about 10am on the Sunday. The original plan had been to stay on for brunch or lunch, but Elmore Court had so many delayed weddings to accommodate, we had to leave to let the next ones in! Tim and I went straight to Dormy House to spend a few nights alone as newlyweds.

Advice For Other Couples

Making the ceremony as special as possible. We paid a bit extra to have an extra half an hour added to our ceremony time just so we could accommodate all our friends’ readings and special contributions. A lot of people focus on the party or the dinner, but I’m so glad we made the marriage part a priority.

Follow @TorAliceWest on Instagram.

Photography: David Jenkins

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