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‘I do’ at Downton Abbey

A gorgeous summer wedding at Highclere Castle, the filming location for the series Downton Abbey

Lizzie & Dominic: The Love Story

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University friends were determined to get Lizzie and Dominic together and thought a group ski trip in 2008 would be the perfect set up. “That ‘group’ in reality turned out to be just four of us,” Lizzie jokes now. “We started dating soon after.” After two years together, Dominic proposed on a surprise trip to Cornwall and the pair got to work planning a classic, elegant wedding celebration.

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Photography by Jez Dickson, jezdicksonphotography.co.uk

Lizzie & Dominic: An All-Star Venue

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Downton Abbey wasn’t a factor in our decision,” confesses Lizzie of their choice of Highclere Castle in Newbury, Berkshire. “But we certainly became regular watchers once we selected it as our venue! My mum had always mentioned how it would be a wonderful place to get married, and I was absolutely in love with it about 30 seconds up the drive. Watching this series is great as it brings back lots of memories from our day, like, ‘Oh, that’s where we had dinner!’ It’s a stunning and dramatic building but so homely inside.”

Lizzie & Dominic: The Big Reveal

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Lizzie and her maids prepped for the ceremony in one of the grand bedrooms at Highclere Castle. “It was truly special to get ready in such a lovely setting, with amazing views over the grounds,” she says. “Very calming to the nerves! It also meant my dress was a real surprise for my dad when we met on the stairs before heading to the church, as he hadn’t seen me all morning. All very emotional!”

Lizzie & Dominic: Going to the Chapel

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Before heading to Highclere Castle for their reception, Lizzie and Dominic exchanged vows at the nearby Church of the Ascension before 131 guests.

Lizzie & Dominic: Aisle Style

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The altarpiece and church gate were decorated with bold blue hydrangeas and white roses. Local florist Bloom2 supplied the flowers.

Lizzie & Dominic: Pretty Little Maids in a Row

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“I chose lisianthus with a touch of blue in the flowergirl bouquets to add colour against their ivory dresses,” says Lizzie.

Lizzie & Dominic: Fabulous Flowergirls

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Lizzie ordered Dessy dresses for her littlest maids from the Preston Bridal Gallery.

Lizzie & Dominic: Showered With Love

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“One of my favourite moments of the day was walking out of the church – married! – through the confetti shower into the car,” Lizzie remembers.

Lizzie & Dominic: Drive My Car

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The couple travelled in high style to Highclere Castle in a black and white, vintage Rolls-Royce from 1932, hired from Nigel Eversfield-Morgan.

Lizzie & Dominic: Dressed to Impress

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Lizzie was initially overwhelmed by the dress hunt, and a bad experience at the first boutique she visited left her frustrated. “But then I went to Morgan-Davies in London and just loved the whole experience,” she says. “The dress I chose was from Jesus Peiro, and I paired it with a pearl hair accessory and a mid-length three-tier veil.” Dominic hired his classic morning suit from Neal and Palmer.

Lizzie & Dominic: You Got the Look

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“A local jeweler made up a drop-pearl necklace and earrings for me,” explains Lizzie. “I wanted something simple that wouldn’t draw attention away from the neckline of the dress.”

Lizzie & Dominic: If the Shoe Fits …

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Lizzie chose to splash out on fabulous designer shoes she could wear again after the big day, and couldn’t resist these glittering statement heels from Jimmy Choo. “They were higher than I wanted but I just loved them and managed to last all day in them!”

Lizzie & Dominic: Beautiful Bouquet

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The bride carried a bouquet of Avalanche roses, lisianthus, lady’s mantle and eucalyptus leaves. “Originally I had my heart set on gardenias but they were out of season, so I opted for flowers that would give a similar look,” she says. “Simple, traditional country flowers with a bit of green to add colour against my dress.”

Lizzie & Dominic: Take It Outside!

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Before the wedding breakfast, guests enjoyed Pimm’s and champagne in the garden while a jazz band played. “We wanted to make the most of the grounds for the drinks so ensured there was entertainment to keep people outside – plus classics like croquet and giant Jenga,” Lizzie says.

Lizzie & Dominic: What’s in a Name?

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“Our table names were inspired by our love of dancing and my love of the film Dirty Dancing,” Lizzie explains.

Lizzie & Dominic: Top Table

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The couple was seated at Viennese Waltz, while friends and family took their places at tables including Cha-cha-cha and other famous dances.

Lizzie & Dominic: A Downton-Inspired Dining Room

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“The beauty of the venue meant we really did not need to dress it up,” Lizzie says. “It spoke for itself and we didn’t want to detract from it.”

Lizzie & Dominic: Flower Power

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“Instead of favours we had a ‘Ladies Flower Highroller’ where female guests rolled a die to see who would win the flowers from each table,” explains Lizzie.

Lizzie & Dominic: Piece of Cake

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The couple sliced into four gorgeous tiers of traditional fruitcake, chocolate, lemon and plain sponge crafted by Cocochoux. “Everyone warned me a cake was a waste of money and it never gets eaten, but this one went down a storm,” says Lizzie. “It all went, and neither the bride and groom got a look in!”

Lizzie & Dominic: Dancing the Night Away

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After a first dance to At Last by Etta James, Lizzie and Dominic joined guests on the floor for a fabulous evening party. “For the last dance, we ended up in the centre of all our friends and family to Jackie Wilson’s Higher and Higher,” remembers Lizzie. “It was completely spontaneous and so much less nerve-wracking than the first dance!”

Lizzie & Dominic: Farewell to the Castle

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Even fairytale-fabulous weddings must come to an end, and guests had to leave Highclere Castle at midnight. “We were waved off by everyone at the end of the night,” says Lizzie, “and were treated to surprise driveway firework fountains as we drove away.” A cinematic send-off for a very famous venue, we say!

Photography by Jez Dickson, jezdicksonphotography.co.uk

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