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Rachael and Andrew’s vintage-style Christmas wedding

Ettington Park Hotel, Stratford-Upon-Avon

Rachael and Andrew – The Proposal

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Photography: Kevin Smith

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The Couple

Musician Rachael Gray was surprised when her boyfriend of 10 months, Andrew Mantle suggested at a friends wedding; ‘If you want a winter wedding, we won’t have time to do it this year – it had better be next year instead!’

“I wasn’t sure we were actually engaged, until he told me I could tell my mum and buy my first wedding magazine!” says Rachael. “We met through a shared love of music – on our first date at a gig a little voice in my head said ‘I’m going to marry him,’ and it was right!” The couple were married at St George’s Church in Lower Brailes, Warwickshire on 22 December 2008. “I grew up in the village and my parents married in the church so it was very special to me,” says Rachael.

Rachael and Andrew – The Theme

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“The theme of our day was enchanted Christmas wartime glamour,” says Rachael. “I wanted sparkles, candles and that childhood Christmas feeling.” They chose a colour scheme of white, silver, diamante and blue, and guests wore black tie.

“We mixed huge white orchids into the white Christmas flowers already in the church, and lit a sea of candles, which covered every surface. The service was lovely, and I didn’t feel nervous at all – why would I, when I was getting married to Andy?”

Rachael and Andrew – The Dress

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The dress

“My dress was a beautiful Thai silk strapless design by Alan Hannah, and I wore a diamond solitaire necklace – a wedding present from Andy, by Peter Stephan in Leamington Spa,” says Rachael. She wore a sapphire engagement ring and diamond drop earrings from her mother.

Rachael and Andrew – The Bridesmaids

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The bridesmaids

Rachael had seven bridesmaids, who wore long silver silk dresses by Dessy and snowflake earrings, both from Katherine Allen. They wore slim diamanté Alice bands in their hair, from Accessorize.

“My three flowergirls wore long raw silk dresses from Alfred Angelo and crystal clips, provided by hairdresser Alexandra Brailes (01608 685 616) in their hair,” says Rachael. “Their cardies and shoes were from Monsoon. They looked adorable!”

Rachael and Andrew – The Groom

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The Groom

“Andy looked gorgeous in his classic black morning suit with a brilliant white shirt, necktie and white waistcoat, hired from Parkes (01926 885 635),” says Rachael. “He wore mother of pearl cufflinks and a Maurice Lacroix watch to finish the outfit – both wedding presents from me, bought from Peter Stephan.”

Rachael and Andrew – The Flowers

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The flowers

Rachael carried a cascade of white phalaenopsis orchids and silver fern. “It was huge! The orchids were massive and were wired all the way down to the floor with crystals. I loved it! My maids had smaller versions and our florist, Gill Wright (01789 778 699), used the same orchids in the church, too.”

Rachael and Andrew – The Reception

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The reception

The couple held their reception at Ettington Park Hotel, near Stratford-Upon-Avon. “It was already decorated for Christmas, with several huge Christmas trees, and garlands on the stair cases,” says Rachael. “I made the centrepieces myself, with crystal flowers (parlaneinternational.co.uk) intertwined with tiny fairy lights and twigs.”

They named each table after a line from The Twelve Days Of Christmas, and used LED candles (smartcandle.co.uk) of different heights and styles and scatter crystals (coxandcox.co.uk) to finish the look. “I made the favour boxes – containing snowflake bottle stoppers for the men and tiny glass angel tree decorations from Mrs Christmas for the ladies – myself, using ribbon to match our colour scheme, and boxes from The Little Favour Box Company,” says Rachael.

Rachael and Andrew – Styling Details

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The couple hung their table plan on a wintry branch, decorated with Rachael’s own baubles. “We made the menus, orders of service, table names and place names ourselves,” says Rachael.

“Andy’s brother, Ben, illustrated the table names and Andy and I assembled them. We used ribbon from Josy Rose, paper and card from Paper Crafter, and crystal dots from Handy Hippo.

Although I made most of our stationery myself, I loved our invitations from Borrowed Blue Press best of all!” says Rachael.

Rachael and Andrew – The Cake

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The Wedding cake

“Our cake was a seven-tiered stand of individual Belgian chocolate cakes, iced in white with silver and diamante ribbon decoration, made by Gill Judd Cakes – it was delicious!” says Rachael.

The wedding breakfast was catered by Ettington’s chefs, and included Gin & Tonic granité, roast sirloin of beef with rosemary and port jus and a duo of white and milk chocolate terrine. 

Rachael and Andrew – Their First Dance

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“Our first dance was to Never Far From Me, by my friend John Garrison.,” says Rachael. “We then had ‘Never far from me’ engraved inside our wedding bands. We chose to do a simple slow dance, which was perfect – Andy did spin me at the end though! Our party went on late into the night, with everybody dancing to the Jim McAllister Swing Band, who sound spookily like Sinatra and the Rat Pack,” says Rachael.

“It was so much fun – at midnight we all went outside, and as our guests came through the doors our ushers and bridesmaids covered them all with falling snow spray from Snow Business. We released huge Chinese lanterns (skycandle.co.uk), which was very romantic, and then those who were still going strong sang carols around the piano all night!”

“My absolute favourite moment of the day was exchanging vows, when all the stresses about colours and favours melted away.

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Our best decision was to have our silent cine-film made by Reel Sixty, which added to the vintage Forties feel and will give us entertainment and memories for years to come.”