This arty couple stamped their creative character all over their beautiful country wedding in Henley.
How they met
Artistic couple Claire and Rob met at Middlesex University, where they were studying. “Rob was doing a graphic design course, and I was studying illustration, and we had a few classes together,” explains Claire. “I noticed Rob as I entered the room, and made a detour to sit in front of him. It must have been my lucky day, because we were told to turn around and work with the person sitting behind us. We became really good friends and went out together every Friday – before we knew it we were dating, and the rest is history!”
Rob proposed during an amazing surprise getaway that he’d organised for Claire. “He even booked my time off work without me knowing,” Claire recalls. “We had an incredible room with a log-fired hot tub and a breathtaking view of the ocean, and dined in the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant. The following day, we went for a walk along the beach and got caught in a very heavy shower. Back in our room, Rob led me out to the balcony to watch the storm rolling above us. As it passed, the sun broke through the clouds, and there was Rob, down on one knee. I was so happy and overwhelmed, but managed to squeak out a ‘yes’!”
The bride’s outfit
Claire fell in love with a couture gown from Mirror Mirror – the first she tried on. “I initially thought I wanted a white dress, but after trying the antique white gown, I thought it complemented my complexion and added to the vintage look,” Claire says. “I experimented with lots of other styles, but was drawn back to the first one. I felt just perfect in it.” the strapless silk, tulle and lace gown featured a puddle train, a ruched bodice and floral lace and crystal gem detailing. Better still, Claire secured it for a bargain price. “It should have cost around £3,500, but because it was an ex-catwalk dress, I paid just £900 for it,” Claire adds.
The groom’s outfit
Rob and best man Luke joined forces to find the perfect suit, with no involvement from Claire: “he wanted it to be a surprise for me,” Claire explains. He chose a contemporary charcoal grey slim-fit three-piece suit from Topman, which was then altered to fit by tailors Jones & Jones. He accessorised with a light grey polka dot tie and pocket handkerchief.
After originally purchasing gowns for her four maids in a sale, Claire had to go back to the drawing board when one of her bridesmaids announced that she was expecting. “I searched everywhere for a maternity dress to match the ones I’d bought already, but eventually decided to start from scratch,” Claire explains. All four maids looked blooming and beautiful in their turquoise dresses by Alexon at John Lewis.
Claire and Rob chose a religious ceremony at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Henley-upon-Thames. “We wanted to involve our loved ones in the service, so several of our family members read bidding prayers, did the readings and helped with the offertory,” Claire says. A soloist also performed during the service, including a rendition of Ave Maria.
Elegance was the theme of the bridal flowers, which were put together by Richard Elder Floral Design. Claire opted for a bouquet of roses in various sizes to create a sense of depth and pick up
the colours used in the wedding stationery. “The bridesmaids’ bouquets were slightly more muted in colour, to make my bouquet stand out more,” adds Claire.
Claire chose a truly personal location for the reception: her granny’s house in Hambleden, Henley. “It’s very picturesque, overlooking the River Thames, and I spent many summer holidays there with my cousins as a child,” says Claire. “It holds so many great family memories, and we couldn’t think of a more meaningful venue for our special day.” Caterer Karen Hopkins of Thoughtful Food put together a Jamie Oliver-inspired menu, with chicken wrapped in pancetta.
Claire and Rob stamped their own creative character on their day, with a relaxed but traditional theme. “We decorated the marquee with pom poms hanging from the chandeliers, and instead of having large, expensive table centres, we made origami hearts in our wedding colours, attached to garden wire and arranged in vases,” Claire says.
Claire and Rob cut costs by asking family members to let them use their cars on their wedding day. “We were very lucky that they happened to have very posh cars!” laughs Claire.
Unsurprisingly, greetings card designer Claire decided to make her own wedding stationery. “My company kindly covered the printing costs, which gave us the freedom to design our invitations from scratch,” she says. The couple chose a graphic letterpress theme, and designed their own inked stamp to personalise the stationery with their names and wedding date.
Best men Luke and Steve made a joint speech, which included showing an enlarged photo of Rob dressed as Ginger Spice in a Union Jack dress! “I was so happy when Rob made a toast to me, his wife,” says Claire.
Claire and Rob bought a four-tier chocolate sponge with ivory icing from Waitrose, which was served for dessert along with a chocolate pot, berries and a fruit coulis.
Live music fans Claire and Rob chose an eclectic band, The Kicks, to play at their wedding. “There was something to suit everyone, and their version of Blur’s Parklife rocked!” says Claire. The photographers also provided a photo booth. “Everyone had so much fun dressing up,” Claire adds.
The newlyweds spent three weeks touring Thailand, from Chiang Mai to Koh Samui and Koh Phangan, finishing in Bangkok.