At precisely 12pm on November 11th 2021, Elliott and I were married in a historic barn nestled in the Oxfordshire countryside.
After seven years together, we are now offically husband and wife!
I knew I wanted to share the details of our special day here on my blog, as I love looking back at detailed accounts of my favourite memories.
Our wedding was originally scheduled for November 2020, but we made the difficult decision to delay it for one year due to the pandemic. I’m so glad we did, as we ended up in a full lockdown on our original wedding day!
Thankfully, November 2021 arrived free from restrictions and I’m happy to report that I was able to completely forget about the pandemic throughout the entirety of our wedding week.
We had always planned to have a smaller and more intimate wedding, even before the events of the last few years.
My immediate family live in New Zealand and didn’t attend, so we decided to completely lean into the intimate wedding experience and cut our guest list down to just two people (three, if you include Fujin!)
While I would have loved my family to attend, planning a smaller wedding took away a lot of the stress and pressure. Despite the uncertainty of the pandemic, I like to think I was a fairly relaxed bride in the end!
One of the perks that comes with planning an intimate wedding is the ability to spend a little more on the important things, while cutting out anything that isn’t entirely necessary.
We didn’t have bridesmaids or groomsmen, no alcohol was served (we don’t drink!) and neither of us were interested in a hen or stag party.
Instead we opted for a week-long stay in the Oxfordshire countryside with Elliott’s parents, plus two nights for Elliott and I at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons on the days immediately before and after our wedding.
I couldn’t be happier with that decision!
We chose Ashbrook Cottage as our main accommodation, the most beautiful little house surrounded by nothing but fields and sheep. Instead of running around to various appointments in the days leading up to our wedding, we were able to stroll through the nearby forests and enjoy the fiery autumn leaves.
And what a treat Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons was! Owned by renowned chef Raymond Blanc, it is quite possibly one of the most luxurious hotels in England. We stayed in the Manon Suite and dined on some of the most delicious food I have ever tasted. More on that later!
But first, it’s time to reminisce about a day that I will never forget.
Our Wedding Day
I had been feeling a little anxious in the days leading up to the wedding, but I awoke that morning to a surprising sense of calm. I quickly showered and dressed myself before hurrying down to the courtyard, where a sleek black car was waiting to take me to Stratton Court Barn.
The drive through the English countryside was peaceful and serene, and I admired the autumn colours as we made our way through the early morning mist. I had been praying for a cloudy, gloomy day (perfect for rustic photographs!) and of course it was exactly as I had envisioned it.
I arrived far too early, so I got myself settled in the bridal suite and went for a brisk walk in the nearby woods. It was lovely to do something so similar to my daily routine, and this familiar activity helped me remain calm and focused on a morning that could so easily have been filled with anxiety.
Back in the warmth of the bridal suite I spoke to my parents via Skype as they shared in my excitement. Just as our conversation was ending, my hair and makeup artist Lauren arrived to work her magic on my appearance.
I cannot state enough how kind, calming and friendly Lauren is – she put me at ease straight away and we had a lovely chat over the next few hours as she transformed me into a bride.
As 12pm drew closer, I began to notice nervous butterflies forming in my stomach. I can hardly remember the walk downstairs to the barn doors!
One moment that does remain in my mind is the short time I spent outside the ceremony room, listening to our wedding song begin and waiting for my cue to enter.
My knees felt a little wobbly and my heart was pounding, but when I locked eyes with myself in the beautiful mirror next to me I knew that I was going to be just fine.
And of course, I was.
Our ceremony was intimate, meaningful and very, very special. I don’t even have words to describe it, so I think I’ll keep it private.
We filmed the entire thing (which I was initally reluctant to do, but I’m so glad that Elliott convinced me!) and all I’ll say is that it was easily one of the most magical experiences of my life.
Elliott looked so handsome, and I was reminded of just how lucky I am when I saw him waiting for me at the end of the aisle. We had written our own personal wedding vows to each other, and I don’t think there was a dry eye in the entire barn once we’d finished!
When our lovely registrar announced us as husband and wife, it was easily one of the happiest moments I’ve ever experienced.
The rest of the afternoon is a blur of delicious food, delightful company and many, many laughs.
I had been feeling a little apprehensive about having our wedding photographs taken as I’m not used to posing in front of a professional photographer, but our photographer Sam was absolutely wonderful.
He made us both feel so relaxed and at ease that it ended up being a surprisingly fun experience, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with how our photos turned out!
Of course, we had to get some autumn leaf shots. Aren’t these just wonderful?
Also, how amazing did our dinner table look? We had spent weeks meticulously ordering various charger plates, cutlery and napkins in order to find the perfect blend of autumn colours and rustic tones. I think we succeeded!
I can’t really say that Fujin enjoyed himself, as he was in a bit of a grumpy mood and decided that he wanted to bark a lot.
But he still looked adorable in his navy blue velvet bow tie, so I think we can forgive him!
I particularly loved my hair, with gold autumn leaves intricately twined into a delicate headpiece. I wish I had the patience (and skill!) to recreate it for myself.
We got some really beautiful shots of the two of us, as well as with his parents and little Fujin. I only wish I could post them all here!
After it was all over, we headed back to Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons for our seven-course dinner cooked by Raymond Blanc and his team. And what a meal it was!
We dined on lobster, mussels, pumpkin, monkfish, truffles, venison… the most indulgent and luxurious foods you can imagine.
We were both on such a high that everything seemed extra sparkly and delightful, and we even discovered a new alcohol-free cocktail that we can’t wait to recreate back at home.
The next morning we took a stroll through the grounds of the hotel, visiting the organic vegetable gardens and beautiful Japanese tea garden. And by perfect chance, just as we reached the herb garden, we were lucky enough to witness a proposal!
Exactly two years to the day that we got engaged in Japan, and just one day after our own wedding. Isn’t life funny?
Our Wedding Vendors
Now, I have to sing the praises of our vendors as they really went above and beyond to make our day special. I would highly recommend any of them!
Our venue was Stratton Court Barn, a beautiful historic barn in the Oxfordshire countryside. I had always wanted to get married in a barn, and Elliott was happy to help make my dream a reality.
At first it was difficult to find somewhere small enough – it turns out most barns are huge, and we didn’t want our intimate ceremony to get lost in there!
But as soon as we walked into Stratton Court Barn, we knew it was the perfect venue for our wedding day.
Our flowers were provided by Signature Flowers, and I knew from the start that we were in the most capable hands. Emma completely understood my vision for an autumn wonderland without being too over-the-top, and she executed it perfectly!
I was particularly obsessed with my huge, beautiful bouquet as well as Elliott’s buttonhole, and we were married in front of an arch decorated with beautiful autumn flowers.
Our wedding coordinator was Karin Tindall, possibly the warmest and most lovely person in the world. She took so much stress and anxiety away from me, and I could rest easy knowing that she had everything under control at all times.
Karin took the time to set up our dinner table for us and completely exceeded all of our expectations, and even surprised us all by pulling up in a golf buggy during our photo session so that she could drive us to more locations around the venue!
My hair and makeup artist was Lauren Wheeler, who is an absolute genius when it comes to all things beauty. She was able to bring my wedding hair visions to life and helped me to stay calm and relaxed throughout the process, while also helping me to discover my absolute dream lipstick shade – Charlotte Tilbury’s Wedding Belles!
My dress was the Ari Dress by Wear Your Love, and you can read all about my dress shopping adventure here. If you have an eye for detail, you may recognise my dress as one of the options I had originally been drawn to!
I had been a little apprehensive about ordering my wedding dress online, but my fears were unfounded. I’m so impressed with the quality and fit – the material is soft and comfortable and it was made exactly to my specifications. I ordered an ivory lining instead of nude, changed the sleeve length and added a couple of additional tweaks, and it came out of the box as my dream dress!
Our caterers were S&J Cuisine, run by Sally and Jasmine. They came highly recommended by Karin, and I can see why! The food was absolutely delicious and plated beautifully, and they even made our lovely wedding cake.
Sally managed to save the day by sourcing a kabocha for our soup at the last minute, and even little Fujin enjoyed a plate of chicken and roast potatoes!
I’d known for years that I wanted Made By Rae to design our wedding stationery, ever since I first stumbled across her beautifully rustic designs on Pinterest. As luck would have it, she also turned out to be incredibly kind and helpful!
I am obsessed with our invitations and menus, and will treasure them for years to come.
Finally, our wonderful photographer was Sam Bennett. I couldn’t have wished for a friendlier and more easygoing person to take our wedding photos!
It took me so long to choose our photographer, as photos are extremely important to me. I knew I wanted someone who specialised in portrait photography and had that darker, more rustic tone in their editing, and Sam fit the bill perfectly.
We absolutely love our wedding photos and can’t wait to frame our favourites!
Our wedding song was ‘Sweet Sweet Sweet‘ by Mutsushiro Nishiwaki, a beautiful piano melody that we heard in a store on Miyajima Island shortly after we became engaged.
A version of this song plays during the end credits of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, which Elliott has loved since childhood. It’s become such a special song for both of us!
Elliott also spent hours putting together the perfect wedding playlist filled with all of our most meaningful songs, including ‘You’ve Got a Friend‘ by James Taylor and ‘Don’t Stop‘ by Jon Batiste.
It was lovely to sit down to our wedding meal with such wonderful music playing in the background, each song with its own special meaning to us.
The Little Details
I never want to forget a single detail of our wedding, particularly the personal touches.
The following list may not be particularly interesting to many people, but I decided to include it as a way to keep all my memories in one place as well as provide a little inspiration to anyone planning their own wedding.
- Wedding Dress: The Ari Dress by Wear Your Love
- Gold Hair Vine: Rustic Gold Leaf from Etsy
- Shoes: Giselle by Bella Belle
- Wedding Rings: Sustainably made by Brilliant Earth
- Perfume: Jo Malone’s English Pear and Freesia
- Nail Polish: Essie’s Ballet Slippers
- Lipstick: Charlotte Tilbury’s Wedding Belles
- Body Wash and Body Cream: Branche d’Olive collection
- Wedding Robe: White Silk Robe by The White Company
- Elliott’s Wedding Suit: Gieves & Hawkes on Savile Row
- Elliott’s Waistcoat: Favourbrook on Savile Row
I’m happy to report that I’ve already reused many of the above purchases since my wedding day, so I think my meticulous planning and pondering has paid off!
Autumn has always been the most wonderful time of the year in my eyes. I love seeing the changing leaves, wearing cosy jumpers and spending my days at the pumpkin patch.
Now I can chalk up an autumn engagement and an autumn wedding day to add to my love for this season. How lucky am I?
I couldn’t be happier with how our wedding day turned out. It was easily one of the most magical days of my life, and I never want these memories to fade.
It’s time to start our lives as husband and wife, continuing to help each other grow before eventually growing old together.
I can’t wait to see what new adventures are in store for us!