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London lovers

Olivia and Max had an elegant day against a snowy city backdrop

Olivia and max – the proposal

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Max Stewart had a romantic surprise proposal in store for his high-school sweetheart Olivia Holborow, but an over-eager jeweller scuppered his grand plans. “I was lying on the couch on a Sunday morning in my pyjamas and Max’s mobile rang,” explains Olivia. “He was doing the dishes and let it go to voicemail. When he checked it, he had the phone on loudspeaker and a voice said, ‘Hi Max, it’s the jewellers just calling to let you know the ring is ready…’ at which point Max swore rather loudly! He was upset his plans had been ruined, but I thought it was great – I couldn’t have been more surprised!” So, proposal achieved (albeit haphazardly), the couple, both 26, started planning their elegant wintry wedding in London.

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Photography: Aneta Mak

Olivia and max – the venue

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With the date set for 17 December 2010, Olivia and Max set about choosing their ideal venue. “Being from New Zealand, we wanted to make the most of the history that London has to offer,” says Olivia. “As we were having a winter wedding, it was also important that the indoor space was stunning and cosy. Home House, in London’s Portman Square, was old, gorgeous, and intimate. We loved the 18th century décor and fireplaces filled with candles.”

Olivia and max – winter wonderland

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“Our decision to have a winter wedding had a big impact on the feel of the wedding,” says Olivia. “We both love London in the winter when the trees are bare, the air crisp, and there’s a sprinkle of snow on the ground. We were lucky that it snowed on the morning of the wedding while we were getting ready, but the sun came out later so we could get some great photos. Having a winter wedding meant our day didn’t have to revolve around whether the sun was shining, so we could prepare for the worst and then relax – the picturesque snow was a bonus!”

Olivia and max – cosy romance

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The couple kept the day personal with just 30 guests, their closest family and friends. Olivia walked down the aisle accompanied by her mum, and she and Max said personalised vows before Max’s little sisters sang for them. “We wanted the day to feel intimate and cosy, like a sophisticated dinner party with lots of candlelight. We tried to give every element a touch of indulgence, beauty and timelessness, with deep greens, purples and greys.”

Olivia and max – the One

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Olivia’s romantic strapless Lusan Mandongus dress was perfect for the occasion. “It had two layers of lace and beading and a real vintage feel,” she says. “I bought it from Teokath in Wimbledon, along with a feather wrap to keep me warm.” A French Connection coat kept out the chill for the outdoors photos, while a pretty hair ribbon from VV Rouleaux gave a romantic edge to Olivia’s updo.

Olivia and max – well heeled

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Olivia accessorised her lace dress with elegant soft gold court shoes from Office. “They were similar to a pair of designer heels I’d had my eye on, but cost about a 10th of the price!” she says.

Olivia and max – winter trinkets

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Super-pretty drop earrings from Glitzy Secrets accompanied Max’s wedding present to Olivia, a gold and diamond Tiffany bracelet. Their gorgeous deep plum stationery, with an antique design, was from Wedding Paper Divas.

Olivia and max – You’ve got male

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“Because we were embracing the traditional side of things, Max decided to wear a morning suit from Neal & Palmer,” says Olivia. “He picked an ivory waistcoat with a light grey embroidered pattern, which coincidentally matched the lace on my dress! He also wore a light grey raw-silk tie and pocket square, black leather oxfords from Church’s and silver knot cufflinks from Karen Walker, my wedding gift to him.”

Olivia and Max- pretty maids

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Bridesmaids Nikki and Jess wore full-length dark green chiffon dresses from an online retailer. “As they were living in New Zealand, while I was living in London, it was easier to choose and order the dresses online. I decided on the colour and length of the dresses but let them choose the style they preferred as I wanted them to feel comfortable. They also wore grey wraps from Coast.”

Olivia and max – floral symphony

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Avalanche roses, ranunculus, freesias and white lilac with grey acacia and green skimmia made up Olivia’s bouquet, by Dansk Flowers. It tied in with the vintage-feel wreath arrangements at the base of the candelabra on the long dining table, which also included blue anemones, purple roses, lilac, cream lisianthus and red berries, as a seasonal nod.

Olivia and Max – the party

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Party time kicked off (after guests had sampled a few cupcakes from Primrose Bakery) with Olivia and Max’s first dance. “We danced to Moondance by Van Morrison, played by our band Lounge Sounds,” says Olivia. “They were brilliant and got everyone up dancing until midnight. The day ran so smoothly that we were just completely relaxed and able to take everything in. It was an amazing day full of the people who are most important to us.”