Antonia and James’ Real Life Wedding

Antonia and James

15/01/2005 – Phyllis Court Club, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire

Antonia and James' wedding photos photos by


How and when did you meet?

We met through James’s housemate who I knew from university (and briefly went out with).

Where, when and how did he (or you!) propose?

James arranged a surprise weekend to Ireland last May for my birthday but said he didn’t find the right time to propose. One afternoon the week after, it was a lovely day and we went to Greenwich Park. James proposed on the grass at the top of the hill with the view over London. We had arranged a joint birthday celebration that weekend but I didn’t realise that he had wanted it that weekend so we could have it as an engagement party and announce our engagement to our friends. I was impressed at how he’d got me to invite my friends without me realising what it would actually be!

Did you have hen and stag celebrations?

We arranged it on the same weekend – James went to Amsterdam and I went to Barcelona. We got some interesting photos from the club we went to in the evening!

Did your groom help you with the wedding planning?

James was as involved in planning the wedding as I was (though maybe not as obsessed!). We chose everything except my outfit together.

Did you use confetti to plan your wedding? If so, how did the website help you?

I really just used the cafe to talk to other brides and ask questions. It was a good distraction (and very addictive!)

Did you buy any confetti products for your wedding? If so, did you visit a store, buy online or by mail order?


Tell us about your outfit, and where you bought it.

My dress was Olympia by Maggie Sottero in ivory with matching bag and wrap. I had Gabriella and Lucido’s Paolo shoes hand-embroidered to match the beading which I bought from a boutique in Henley together with my fingertip veil scattered with diamontes I also had a tiara and zig-zag necklace that my mum bought for me. I bought an ivory faux fur jacket from the internet in case I was cold but only wore it when I left since I was actually warm all day! I also wore James’s grandmother’s diamond watch and brooch that he had inherited which was my ‘something old’!

Did you have bridesmaids? If so, who did you choose and what did they wear?

I had two bridesmaids – my now sister-in-law, Clare, and a mutual friend of ours, Jen. They wore Dessy dresses in ‘hunter green’ with matching wraps and silver shoes. I also had a flower girl who wore a white dress and I made a matching green wrap to match the adult bridesmaids.

Who did your groom choose for his best man and ushers, and what did they wear?

James had two best men – my brother, Spencer, and one of his school friends, Nick. His other group of school friends, Andrew, Graeme and Alan, were his ushers. The best men wore matching morning suits with grey waistcoats and sage green rouche and handkerchief to match James and the bridesmaids. They were given cufflinks as a present on the day to match James’s. We also had a page boy in a morning suit and silver waistcoat and I made him a matching rouche. The ushers wore normal suits but had buttonholes to match.

Did you have a civil or religious ceremony?

We had a civil ceremony.

Where did you hold your ceremony?

The ceremony was in the Grandstand at Phyllis Court Club overlooking the Thames in Henley-on-Thames.

Where did you hold your reception?

The reception was in the Finlay Suite and Ballroom of Phyllis Court Club.

Did you have any special wedding transport?

We had a Rolls Royce to take us to our hotel for the first night. Other than that it wasn’t needed since family all stayed in Henley the night before and me and my family were staying at the venue.

How many guests did you invite to your wedding, and did you have a separate evening guest list?

We invited about 140 to the wedding and another 25 to the evening. In the end we had about 105 to the wedding and another 20 in the evening.

Did your reception have a particular theme in terms of colour or style?

Since it was a winter wedding we had a lot of colour in the flowers that we used but as well as candles and fairy lights. We used a lot of foliage to wrap around pillars and arches.

How did you incorporate this in to your table settings?

The table centres were very bright and each had a candle.

Did you give your guests favours?

Only the children who had a pack that we made up to keep them busy. The parents really seemed to appreciate this! We also gave away all the table centres and floral decorations as thanks to certain people.

Describe your flowers (bouquets and table decorations). Who was your florist?

Our florist was linked to the venue although we could have gone to someone else. My bouquet was mango calla lillies with some black calla lillies and also some dark roses and folliage. The men had mango calla lillies in the button holes as did the bridemaids’ corsages. All the flowers used for other decorations followed the colour theme with some added flowers. We had a large table centre on the top table that was also used during the ceremony. In the reception area there was a large display of flowers.

What did you choose to have on your menu? Did you have an outside caterer or did your venue handle the catering?

The venue handled the catering. We had leek and potato soup to start since it was a winter wedding and we thought the warmth would be appreciated! The main course was baked supreme of chicken with a pesto crust and red pepper coulis with seasonal vegetables and there was a vegetarian alternative (spinach and gruyere cheese tart with dijon mustard cream). Pudding was amaretti and chocolate pudding with a dark chocolate sauce.

What did you choose for your wedding cake?

We had a three-tier white chocolate cake, with sponge for the top and bottom tiers and chocolate for the middle tier. Different icing was used on each tier, and it was decorated with calla lilies to match the theme of our wedding.

Did you have any entertainment during the day or evening?

We had a harpist during the wedding and drinks reception and a six-piece band in the evening.

Did you have a gift list? If so, who did you have your list with?

Yes, with John Lewis.

Where did you spend your first night and honeymoon? Who did you book your honeymoon with?

We spent our first night in a suite at Dansfield House which was amazing. For our honeymoon, we went to the Jalouise Hilton in St Lucia for two weeks which was fantastic. We were supposed to be going to the Maldives and Singapore but were relocated as our resort was affected by the tsunami.

What was your most memorable moment of the day?

It all went in such a blur but probably walking into the ceremony with my dad and seeing James at the end!

Is there anything you would do differently, or any advice you would give to other brides?

I would have started to get dressed earlier since – there was a real last minute panic which meant we were about 15 minutes late. Guests were late too so it didn’t really matter too much. Also I would have got a formal photo with my mum – one thing I forgot. I would have also had my bouquet preserved.

Enjoy the day and don’t worry about the little things. They really don’t matter!


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