A country-chic affair at celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage…


WHO: Esme & Mike

WHERE: St Gregory’s Church in Seaton and River Cottage HQ, Devon

WHEN: August 2011

PHOTOS: Sam Gibson

The proposal

“Mike took me away to New York as a surprise for my 30th birthday,” recalls Esme. “We’d had a truly amazing time, and on one of the last days we went to Central Park to ice skate on the lake. We were wobbling around the ice, when all of a sudden Mike slipped over. I laughed and went over to help him up, when he said; ‘well, as I’m down here’, and then out came a sheet of paper and he began to read some lovely words he’d written. At the end, he popped the question and presented me with a beautiful ring. I was crying, Mike was crying – then suddenly there was a big cheer and we realised everyone had stopped skating to hear what my answer would be!” smiles Esme

The bride’s outfit

“After a good deal of looking, I finally found a wonderful bridal shop called daysofgracevintage.co.uk in Budleigh Salterton, Devon. On my second visit I walked in, and there she was – my gown. She was called ‘Tabrett Marie’ by maggiesottero.com, and she was a real dream come true!” smiles Esme

The groom’s outfit

Mike is a fire fighter, so he wore his dress uniform for the church ceremony, then changed into a dark-grey traditional suit from Dyfed Menswear for the evening party

On my second visit I walked in the shop, and there she was – my gown!

The bridesmaids

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“I managed to find bridesmaid dresses online. They were brand new and in a lovely soft teal colour. All the wedding party looked so great; they really made us proud,” says Esme

The ceremony

“We married in our home town church in Seaton,” remembers Esme. “After marrying, we walked back up the aisle doing a dance routine to Queen’s Crazy Little Thing Called Love – it was so much fun, especially as no one was expecting it!” adds Esme. “As we walked outside, Mike’s crew from Seaton Fire Service gave us a wonderful guard of honour, all dressed in their uniform, holding axes above our heads.”

The reception

Took place at River Cottage HQ near Axminster. “Cat, our wedding co-ordinator, was a superstar, from the moment we walked down the steep hill to River Cottage, and looked out at the view, we knew it was the venue for us. The chef gave a toast to all our guests, and explained exactly how all the food was cooked, and where all the ingredients had come from,” explains Esme. “We made best use of all the wonderful grounds, with the speeches in the garden, Champagne in the marquee and coffees in a yurt!” she adds

As we walked out Mike’s fire crew gave us a special guard of honour

The honeymoon

Was a break to the Maldives, with a free flight upgrade on the way out! “The island was so pretty,” recalls Esme. “The perfect place for a dream honeymoon.