Ria and Jake captured the beauty of September with seasonal blooms in muted tones
It was a match made in academic heaven when Ria and Jake were introduced in the Zoology Department tea room at the University of Cambridge. He was studying for his PhD in tropical ecology, she for hers in neuroscience, and they bonded over a shared love of nature, photography and music. Seven years later, Jake proposed on holiday in Borneo, and the pair began building their unique wedding style.
Photography: Dane Sanders (danesanders.com) assisted by Debs Ivelja (debsivelja.com)
“Two days after we got engaged, we bought 100 feather butterflies at a street market, which became a key inspiration for our day,” Ria explains. Drawing on their backgrounds in science, the couple dreamed up a theme they describe as ‘Victorian natural history with butterfly undertones’, done up in muted shades of blue, green and pink.
Vintage crockery, decorative birdcages and pretty floral displays provided by Vicky Rowe and Sam Gray at Vintage Tea Sets helped complete Ria and Jake's W-day theme.
To decorate Goldney Hall Orangery and Gardens in Bristol, both bride and groom hit the local flower market at 6am the day before the wedding. Along with brightly coloured ranunculus, roses and lilies to fill jam jars and vintage vessels, they chose a selection of seasonal blooms to craft into 100 buttonholes for the entire wedding party.
Jake looked suave in a Paul Smith suit, which he teamed with butterfly cufflinks from BeautySpot at etsy.com to tie-in with the couple's theme.
Ria wore a theme-perfect Augusta Jones gown with hand-cut butterflies cascading down the back, accessorised with a pretty hair comb from Jo Barnes Vintage and a marcasite butterfly ring from Past Times.
Jake got his ‘first look’ at Ria in her dress when the pair posed for a series of relaxed pre-ceremony portraits.
“Jake played Do Me A Favour (Marry Me) by Fats Waller on a vintage gramophone as I walked in,” Ria says. “It was a magical experience and meant there was less pressure to get our photographs done in a shorter time later on.”
Their two little flowergirls wore handmade silk tea dresses and carried ribbon-trimmed hoops of foliage. The adult bridesmaids, who wore dresses from Phase Eight, carried soft bouquets of English roses, anemones, ranunculus, wax flowers, astrantia and rosemary to match the bride’s.
Ria crafted the table plan using butterflies from old cigarette cards. “The species we chose were from Borneo, where we got engaged; Belize, where Jake grew up; and the UK where I’m from,” she explains. “The table plan was pinned in an insect case from the Cambridge University Insect Room, where some of Darwin’s specimens are kept.”
Work-of-art clay birds were imported from Guatemala by friends of the groom and made vibrant favours.
Other tabletop thank-yous included photos of each guest displayed on cards with a butterfly-print border. “We wanted everyone to feel special and show how much we cared that each one of them was part of our day,” Ria says.
Jars filled with sugary delights were decorated with rustic ribbons and tags inviting guests to tuck in.
The theme reached new heights with the three-tiered orange and ginger fruit cake by Anna Tyler Cakes.
“We both cherish details, and our day was full of them,” Ria recalls. “We had a great time as a couple planning all the things that made the wedding reflective of us and made all our guests feel individually included and loved.”