A Phillipa Lepley couture gown for an informal stylish wedding

A Phillipa Lepley gown for an informal stylish wedding | Kate Gray Photography

This wedding is so fresh and elegant, it just screams spring! Kate & Tom were planners extraordinaire and managed to pack so much fun into their once-in-a-lifetime wedding – there’s a church, boat, bus, barn, and marquee with not one, but two glorious cakes! Oh and can we take a moment to lust over their absolutely stunning home, I so completely want to steal their style!

Kate & Tom set out to create a relaxed celebration that was completely them – personal and filled with things they love. Every detail is exquisite, and expertly captured by Kate Gray Photography; from the bride’s stunning Phillipa Lepley couture gown, the delicate vintage touches and a their blank canvas marquee decorated with lanterns and light up letters. Kate let me know that her and Tom met in a bar and some drunken dance moves were involved, which reoccured on the wedding night – to me it looks like some amazing shape throwing, and a whole lot of fun!

There are so many beautiful photographs, so get comfy and ready to swoon people…

Photography by Kate Gray Photography

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A British couture wedding dress

Kate, the bride: I always wanted a classic dress that wouldn’t date in the photos. Being a huge fan of fashion I didn’t want anything too a la mode as I was worried as a couple we would look too clichéd – but also wanted a dress that had attention to detail and was made from good quality fabric. After researching designers I found Phillipa Lepley who specialises in classic timeless styles (Phillipa was one of the designers thought to be creating Princess Kate’s gown). My dress was couture and made from beautiful Italian duchess satin. I bought it from Phillipa’s  flagship store in Chelsea – I absolutely loved going to the fittings there with friends, it felt like a real occasion. My best friend is male and had the responsibility of tying me into the corset – apparently he was the first boy they had had at the final fitting (apart from dads) and he was amazing tying up the corset, because he is strong he was able to tie it tightly – the dress fitters were all really impressed!

From head to toe

I’m not big of accessorising – but I’m just a little shoe obsessed! Shoes have always been my thing, so of course I wanted some beautiful shoes to complete my bridal look. I opted for some Jimmy Choos, I chose a very pale tan pair with crystals so I could wear them again and again. They were 4 inches high and I wore them the entire day and night – I felt like a complete princess. I also wore a simple tiara, my hair is very thick and I thought it would annoy me down all day so I opted for a very high bun with a tiara. My hair lasted the whole day and through a 4am hot tub trip with the bridesmaids! Thorne Brides did an incredible job, I was more than impressed with my hair and make up!

The Groom’s outfit

Tom’s suit was by Richard James – he wanted something classic and well crafted that would stand the test of time. Top and tails wouldn’t have been appropriate because he prefers an informal look, but he did go for three piece option. His shoes again were really classic, a black pair of Oxfords by Church’s.

Bridesmaids, a bridesman & ushers

I had three female bridesmaids and a bridesman – my best friend is male and I felt really strongly that just because he was a man he shouldn’t be an intrinsic part of the day. I dressed the girls in a pink shift dresses from Hobbs with matching shoes and roses in their hair. The ushers and bridesman had matching pink ties and were asked to wear a blue suit. We didn’t want the ushers matching, as we think it looks too formal.

Wedding inspiration

The main thing for us what that we just wanted everyone to have fun in an informal and stylish environment. We were both a little fed up with having to travel to other people’s weddings, so thought if it was local to most people then it wouldn’t cost our friends too much money or time, and people could just have fun.

My grandmother and mother got married in Bisham church, it’s a family tradition and was an easy decision. Tom had the idea of getting a boat from the church up the Thames to Hambleden which I loved! It made the day different, but also meant the journey from the church to the venue was more of an occasion. We did our speeches on the boat – this meant that it was a lot less formal, and when we got to the mooring we had to walk over a weir, jump on a double decker bus and then make our way up to Old Luxters Barn. This a beautiful family owned barn and farmhouse on a local vineyard just outside Henley.

We always wanted pie and mash for our wedding breakfast, so we ordered a big pie per table and one person had a chef’s apron and hat under their chair, indicating that they were the server. This was a great icebreaker and we got some lovely fun photos from this part of the day.

An informal stylish wedding

We wanted a relaxed environment with classic styling – everything was informal and I guess you could say it had a vintage look and feel. We had a vintage trunk for guests to leave cards, an old typewriter which displayed the menu. I’d typed this up in typewriter font and stained with tea, and we used a trunk with luggage tags for the table plan.

The table decorations were vintage blue mason jars that I shipped over from America, filled with white hydrangeas – I loved the contrast of white and blue. I handmade the orders of service, again I used a typewriter font and stained the covers in tea. Our wedding invitations were large luggage tags which I bought from Heartandhandmade2 through Etsy. We decorated the marquee with large illuminated letters from Locke & Busby, these photographed beautifully and we also had large white helium balloons dotted around the venue.

The photographer

It was important to us that we hire a photographer who shared our love of informal and classic styling. We didn’t want lots of posed images, but wanted to capture the emotion of the day. It was also important that the photographer was a local independent supplier with a passion for what they did. Luckily I found Kate Gray Photography – I was blown away by Kate & Jon’s portfolio so it all came together nicely. I am so pleased with what they created, we’ll treasure our photographs forever. Kate and Jon were a really big part of the day, making everyone feel at ease, laughing with us and just sharing the day with us – we wanted them to be a part of the day, rather than looking in on it from the outside. They fulfilled that role 100%.

The flowers

Our wedding flowers were from Sonning Flowers, who were recommended to us by Old Luxters Barnour wedding reception venue. Sonning Flowers were so helpful and were able to follow our brief exactly, creating beautiful flowers that stunning. My bouquet was a simple bunch of white calla lilies and Tom had a matching buttonhole. We had roses in the church, lovely hand tied bouquets for the bridesmaids in blush pink roses, and matching buttonholes for the usher and bridesman. They also created a gorgeous very long and low centre piece for our top table.

A live band

We wanted to have a soul/ funk/motown playlist after the band finished as it appealed to all ages, but to be honest our focus was on the band and our first dance. The band were a local 6 piece group from Reading called El Camino – they were absolutely perfect and got everyone dancing. I was so impressed with how talented they were and would highly recommend them.

Our first dance was Etta James “At Last”, again very classic and something everyone knew, would enjoy and wouldn’t date. Lots of couples have the big love song of that year but that didn’t seem individual or authentic to us, so we went classic.

Two incredible wedding cakes

For the boat trip we decided that instead of traditional canapés, we’d have a cake of tiered cheese served with crackers, grapes and figs. For the evening reception we also had an incredible sweet cake made by Choccywoccydoohdah. It had a beautiful white chocolate fan on the top that Tom had to slice off before we could cut it!

The rings

Tom and I designed my engagement ring together – it’s an acer cut diamond in a halo setting on platinum which was made by an independent supplier in Hatton Garden. Our wedding bands were from the same vendor – both platinum and mine has diamonds set around the band.

Foodie favours

We didn’t do favors as such, partly because I don’t like clutter on tables and also because I think they’re a lot of effort and not many guests notice them. Instead, we ordered a big vintage crate of mini rainbow meringues from the Meringue Girls which guests helped themselves to. They were really beautiful… almost too good to eat!

Words of wisdom

Be original and have the confidence to let your personalities shine through in the decor, speeches and food. You will feel more at ease and the guests will see that it is truly your day.

The Honeymoon

We went to Bali for two weeks, it was beautiful as was the perfect balance and combination of culture, beach, adventure, jungle and sheer luxury.

Gorgeous no? I wish I could have been a guest! I hope these two had a fantastic time in Bali – it’s such a beautiful country, so I have no doubt that it was incredible. Kate has also asked me to let you know that she is selling her wedding dress, so if you’re interested please get in touch.
Thank you so much to Kate Gray Photography, and of course the biggest thanks to Kate & Tom for sharing their beautiful celebration. I wish you both a lifetime of happiness.

Sarah x

Kate & Tom’s little black book

PhotographerKate Gray Photography
Bride’s dressPhillipa Lepley
Bride’s shoesJimmy Choo
Hair & Make Up – Thorne Brides
Bridesmaid dresses – Hobbs
Groom’s suit – Richard James
Flowers – Sonning Flowers
BoatHobbs of Henley
Vintage busDave’s Buses
Reception venueOld Luxters Barn, Hambleden
BandEl Camino
Illuminated LettersLocke & Busby
Cake – The Fine Cheese Co. and Choccywoccydoohdah
StationeryHeartandhandmade2 via Etsy

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