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Weekend in the country

A Cotswolds hotel was the perfect setting for Emma & Paul's English garden-party theme

Emma & Paul: The Love Story

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It was an instant attraction – “although that may have been because there was a lot of wine involved,” says Emma of meeting Paul at a charity event on a Thames riverboat. Even after the chardonnay stopped flowing, their connection grew, and seven years later, Paul asked Emma to be his wife on a roof terrace in Florence. “It was so romantic, all I could manage to say was, ‘Are you sure?’,” she jokes.

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Photography by Polly Alexandre (alexandreweddings.com)

Emma & Paul: The Place to Be

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For their classic country wedding, Emma and Paul arranged for a weekend away in the Cotswolds at The Rectory hotel, a 14-room period house set in three acres of gorgeous Wiltshire gardens. “We knew we wanted an English garden theme, and we were able to hire the entire venue,” Emma explains.

Emma & Paul: Party in the Garden

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Festivities began the Friday before the wedding, when the family gathered for afternoon tea, complete with vintage china and homemade sandwiches and cakes. “It was a really old-fashioned, beautiful day, with cricket on the lawn,” Emma says. “Although the girls just sat and ate cake and chatted!”

Emma & Paul: Going to the Chapel

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A traditional ceremony followed at the 12th-century All Saints Church on the Saturday, when Emma and Paul exchanged vows before 100 friends and family.

Emma & Paul: Hearts Aflutter

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To add a soft, romantic touch to the historic church, the couple hung a wreath of hydrangeas and roses in a fresh white and green palette from the door.

Flowers by G Lily (glily.co.uk)

Emma & Paul: All About the Dresses

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Emma wore an off-the-shoulder, French lace Claire Pettibone (clairepettibone.com) gown from Blackburn Bridal (blackburnbridal.co.uk). The dress was adorned with delicate roses, and she finished the look with a flowing floor-length veil. Her bridesmaids wore airy, romantic dresses from Whistles (whistles.co.uk).

Emma & Paul: If the Shoe Fits …

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Emma’s Diane Hassall peep-toes were a perfect match for her dress.

Emma & Paul: Beautiful Bouquet

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To create a garden-fresh look for her bouquet, florist Sabine Darrall from G Lily (glily.co.uk) combined cream Vendela roses, dill, rosemary and garden foliage.

Emma & Paul: Birds of a Feather

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After the service, guests returned to The Rectory for what Emma calls “a big garden party” inspired by the look of village fêtes. “To complement the muted colours in the gardens and in the venue, we kept the decorations very natural,” says wedding planner Penny Cullen of Tigerlily Weddings (tigerlilyweddings.co.uk), who designed the look of the day. “We used tea lights in the garden, and birds and crystals in the trees. At night it came alive with lighting and had a very magical feel.”

Emma & Paul: Please Take Your Seat

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Inside the marquee, pots of lavender with chalkboards served as table plans. “Paul fancies himself as a bit of a gardener, so all the tables were named after herbs,” Emma explains.

Emma & Paul: Flower Power

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Romantic arrangements of lilacs, roses, pink peonies and green hydrangea decorated the dining tables.

Flowers by G Lily (glily.co.uk)

Emma & Paul: With All Our Love

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In lieu of a traditional guest book, the couple asked guests to write messages on tags, which were then displayed with ribbon.

Emma & Paul: Garden Variety

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In keeping with the garden theme, small luggage tags tied with lavender and thyme made fragrant place names. Stationery for the celebration, including these menu cards, were supplied by Hello!Lucky (hellolucky.co.uk).

Emma & Paul: Speech! Speech!

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Paul’s best men created comedy signs for their big moment, to (very helpfully!) alert guests when it was time to laugh and applaud.

Emma & Paul: A Slice of Heaven

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Paul’s mother baked the three-tier brandy fruit cake, decorated with flowers by G Lily (glily.co.uk) to match the other arrangements in the room.

Emma & Paul: A Night to Remember

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For Emma and Paul’s first dance, Rat Pack-style group The Swinging Little Big Band (littlebigband.co.uk) backed Emma’s sister in a special performance of Nina Simone’s My Baby Just Cares for Me. Dancing carried on until 11:30pm, but guests stayed on afterwards to drink and mingle. The entire wedding party was invited to release Chinese lanterns into the night sky while making silent wishes for the couple. “My dad was paranoid we were going to set fire to a local thatched cottage, but it was a truly amazing way to end the evening,” Emma remembers. “It was a magical midsummer night’s dream.”

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Photography by Polly Alexandre (alexandreweddings.com)