Me & My Wedding: A Non-Traditional Celebration In Oxfordshire
Me & My Wedding: A Non-Traditional Celebration In Oxfordshire

Me & My Wedding: A Non-Traditional Celebration In Oxfordshire

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 – this is where we put a spotlight on some of the most stylish weddings out there. For Rosie and Ben, a traditional day surrounded by friends and family in rural Oxfordshire felt like the perfect fit.
Photography: MAJA TSOLO

The Proposal

Ben and I met on Hinge nearly five years ago. I admit I was ghosting him a bit – it was January and I'd just been on so many rubbish dates before Christmas. I was prepared to give up on it all and just see what happened in real life. Then, when I arrived at a new co-working space, he walked past me. That’s when I decided to reply – it felt like fate. We ended up moving in together during lockdown, and towards the end of the pandemic we’d started talking about getting married. One day in spring last year, Ben woke me up early, which is very unusual for him, and said we should go for a dog walk on Walthamstow Marshes. There, he got down on one knee. It was all very low-key but very romantic. He'd also arranged a lunch at Casa Fofò and we later had dinner with our parents.

The Ring

Ben proposed with his granny's ring, which was a placeholder. Then, we designed my ring together with Robert Mutter. I always knew I wanted a chunky, thick band – it’s very modern. It was a personal process, which was great because I’m pretty picky! My wedding band is my granny's eternity ring.

We knew early on it would be a humanist ceremony – so we had a civil ceremony the week before to make things legal.

The Planning

I was torn between a London wedding and something in the country. In the end, we decided to do it at my parents’ house to create a bubble for our guests that felt personal. We also knew early on it would be quite a big wedding – around 170 guests – and that a religious ceremony wasn’t going to be part of it. That’s why we had a civil ceremony the week before to make things legal. Ben and I had been to a humanist wedding that we really liked, so we were quite set on having a humanist ceremony in the field behind the house. Humanism is so much about the couple and your love, and the way that you're going to guide each other through life. That felt right for us.

The Civil Ceremony

We’d originally booked our civil ceremony for the day before the main wedding, which we quickly realised was a stupid idea. We moved it to the week before at Oxford Registry Office. There was no pressure – we wanted it to be just our immediate families and very intimate. We asked our mums to do a reading, but I had no make-up on, and no one did my hair. I admit we didn’t put huge thought into it but, when it came to it, it was such a beautiful day. There were only 11 of us in the room and my mum made our bouquets using flowers from her garden. We went punting afterwards and then for dinner.

We had a rehearsal the afternoon before the wedding and the day after, we hosted a big barbecue for our immediate families and bridal party.

The Dress

I had a lot of fun picking my dress for the civil ceremony – mainly because I knew I wanted something a bit more fashion forward. I work in fashion, so I was excited to get two goes at the dress and maybe wear something less traditional for the first ceremony. But I still wanted to wear white, so I went for a Vivienne Westwood dress I’d seen online. It was sold out everywhere, which only made me want it more, so I messaged a chatbot on Vivienne Westwood’s own website asking if they had one in my size. They did!

For the main event, I went to a few dress shops. I eventually found it at The Fall Bride in Dalston. It was the B.B. dress from NEWWHITE and nobody actually saw it until the wedding day – I’m confident about what I like! As for the accessories, I wore an oversized scrunchie in my hair from Hai and my shoes came from Aeyde. I also brought in Isobel Kennedy to do my hair and make-up.

The Bridal Party

I only had two bridesmaids – my sisters – and their dresses came from Omnes, a sustainable brand I like. There are eight years between them, so they like different things, but in the end they found this green dress they both loved. Ben and his groomsmen wore kilts, but he did have the trousers for our civil ceremony made by a tailor in London called Casual Fitters.

The Décor & Flowers

Between them, the caterer and the marquee company took care of the décor – along with our florist, of course. We used Original Marquees (who also took care of basic things like the tables and chairs) and the caterer was Quince And Clover, who were local. Maddie was amazing. I’m very particular and knew how I wanted the tables to look, but she found everything for me. My mum and I had a bit of a difference of opinion on flowers, but Jessie Booth did an incredible job. Her style is modern yet romantic – lots of structural shapes with negative space.

The Photographer

Our photographer was Maja Tsolo who I’d known about for a while and booked well in advance. We didn’t have a videographer – instead, we bought a little camcorder for people to hand around, like our parents’ wedding videos.

The Ceremony

I walked down the aisle with both of my parents to The Skye Boat Song being played on the bagpipes. My dad had recommended our celebrant Barry Fowkes. We’d had a three-hour meeting with him to tell him how we met and our story, which he then wrote up into something he read, but we didn't see it before. His style was quite light-hearted – he cracked a few jokes, but not too many, which was perfect. He also got us to write our own vows. Again, we didn't show each other or tell each other what they were. It was very emotional when the moment came. My sisters both did a reading – as did Ben’s dad and my granny.

Don't get caught up in the bridal marketing mania – the day is about love, first and foremost, and a love that hopefully lasts a lifetime.

The Food & Drink

Food was important to us. Ben's so into food, and we wanted it to be a thing people talked about afterwards. Again, Quince And Clover helped us come up with a Mediterranean-inspired menu using lots of local seasonal produce. For the starter, we had asparagus with smoked pancetta, truffle, and a broken egg dressing. The vegetarians had similar – asparagus with smoked aubergine, lemon-dressed broad beans and hazelnuts. For the main, we had chicken with fregola, radishes, salsa verde and chilli. The veggies had a king oyster mushroom and butternut squash with the same fregola and salsa verde. Then we had lots of big sharing sides of heritage tomatoes and burrata with candied beetroot, another of local leaves with parmesan shavings, and finally fennel and yellow courgettes with lovage and smoked almonds. For dessert, we had berries with meringue and raspberry and lime sorbet. We sourced a lot of our wine from The Wine Society and our wedding cake came from Lily Vanilli.

The Entertainment

After dinner we had a ceilidh band – the Ceilidh Tree – and their band leader later turned into a DJ. Ben is very into music, though, so he literally gave him an hour-by-hour playlist. Our first dance song was Love & Happiness by Al Green. Luckily, the ceilidh went down a storm – the dance floor was packed all night. I ended up changing back into my Vivienne Westwood dress for dancing because it was so hot! Things eventually wrapped up about 1am – but not before we served some much-needed cheese toasties.

The Day Before & After

We did a rehearsal the afternoon before the wedding, then the florist came to set things up and everything started to come together. We didn't do a dinner or anything. Ben's mum had a party for her guests from Scotland and further afield that Ben went to, while my family and I just had a quiet dinner. We went to bed early, too. The day after we did a big barbecue with our immediate families, cousins and then the groomsmen and their partners. It felt so special to get time to speak to the people closest to you when all the pressure was off. It was a relaxing day, but we still felt totally in the bubble.

Advice For Other Couples

Don't get caught up in the bridal marketing mania. The day is about love, first and foremost, and a love that hopefully lasts a lifetime. I had to keep reminding myself that while I wanted to look and feel my best, it was also about so much more than that. Second, stick to your guns in terms of what you want and what feels right for you. There were a few times where we really had to dig our heels in to make it feel like us. You just have to stay calm and explain why you want to do it that way and how you're going to make it work.

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