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A woodland-themed celebration at Notley Abbey in Buckinghamshire

A woodland-themed celebration at Notley Abbey in Buckinghamshire

Written by Katie Byrne

Wedding Of The Year winners' Nuala and Adrian filled their autumnal wedding day with rustic twists, countryside charm... And rabbits! 

Nuala Gansler and Adrian Taberner won our Wedding Of The Year competition in summer 2015, and set the date for their rustic glamour-themed day for October 22, at the stunning Notley Abbey in Buckinghamshire. 

Photography: Louise Bjorling

The inspiration...

We wanted a relaxed day in the countryside, with a touch of glamour and sophistication. This style suited both of our personalities – we’re both quite down to earth and wouldn’t want anything too ‘showy’, yet we both love the finer things in life when we get the opportunity to enjoy them.

We definitely wanted to mark our day with some sort of grandeur and I think the venue and suppliers really helped us to create that. We also wanted our guests to feel relaxed and free to enjoy the day as much as us without too much formality.

The staff at Notley Abbey really helped us to structure the day and keep things moving along without it being too obvious and anything feeling forced or rushed.

We chose our wedding venue because...

Notley Abbey is amazing. We love the medieval architecture combined with the modern interior and period features, the setting – you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere, it’s so private, yet really easily accessible from major routes (our guests arrived from all over the country by car and train and had no problem getting there).

There is also the glamour factor too: it was once owned by Sir Lawrence Olivier and Vivien Leigh and visited by anyone who was anyone in the '50s and '60s.

I think another factor that sets Notley Abbey apart also is the fact that it is still very much run as a private house rather than a hotel – it has all of the sophistication of a luxury hotel, yet the atmosphere remains very relaxed.

I remember in the planning stages being sat around the kitchen table chatting to suppliers and it just felt really lovely. The staff who work there are incredible and nothing is too much trouble – it really is all about you and they definitely go the extra mile in helping you to achieve a perfect wedding day.

The theme...

Our theme was woodland and main colour was blue. The inspiration for this again is just down to our personalities and interests: we both love the countryside and the colour blue, plus we also wanted to include our four pet rabbits in there somewhere, so that was quite easy to do with a woodland theme.

The time of year also inspired us as the trees always look magical at autumn so it just all seemed to fit quite well, and with such a statement driveway to the venue it just seemed natural to make a feature of it.

The style...

My dress was from Enzoani’s 2013 Beautiful collection, which I wore combined with a cape from their 2016 Beautiful collection. I loved it because it just made me feel so comfortable, yet glamourous – I couldn’t stop smiling every time I tried it on during my fittings and on the day itself.

It also had quite a Gone With The Wind feel to it, so what better than a dress that nods to Vivien Leigh herself to be worn at her former home?

Adrian wore a three-piece suit in Bright Blue from French Connection, and his buttonhole was an antique dusky pink rose, whilst my bridesmaids wore beaded maxi dresses from Little Mistress, matched with accessories from Jon Richard.

The flowers...

I chose blue delphinium, lilac lisianthus, roses in Antique Dusky Pink and ivory, plus trailing ivy and aspargus fern for my wedding bouquet. The decision to choose these flowers was originally led by the blue colour scheme and woodland theme – after finding out we had won our dream wedding in July and meeting with the florist, Mandy from Sonning Flowers, in September, it had all been a whirlwind from thinking we didn’t know how/when we would be getting married to it’s happening, what do we want.

Previous to winning the competition, all of our ideas had been pipedreams and we had never really allowed ourselves to get down to the details. Mandy was brilliant though and after talking about an initial brief, pointed us in the right direction in terms of what would be in season and arrangements that would work.

I was so happy on the wedding day when I saw the blue delphiniums in my bouquet (we had initially chatted about this but there was a question mark over whether they would be able to source them at the time of year), and I’ve since found out that they symbolize ‘infinite possibility and that anything is possible’!

The reception...

We had an oval shaped top table, which I had never seen before visiting Notley Abbey. This was particularly nice because it allowed for a more informal, social atmosphere - before the big day, despite our best efforts out families had never actually met before but I don’t think anyone on the outside would have noticed because everyone was put at ease straight away.


We picked decorations from The Wedding Of My Dreams to add to our rustic glamour theme, and also added lots of candles and pumpkins.

Our wedding cake was a beautiful chocolate and vanilla sponge created by Jenny North. It was inspired by our woodland theme and included our bunnies and alluded to Adrian's autumnal proposal the previous year.

Our guests received seed packet favours from Wedding In A Teacup, which were inspired by our new allotment hobby and tied in with our blue colour scheme.

My favourite moment... 

It was all amazing – The Bears at the evening reception were fantastic and had everyone up dancing. I also loved Trisha’s (Adrian’s best woman) speech: it was fantastic!

Were there any extra touches that made your day extra special?

Our photographer, Louise Bjorling, and Chris and Jack the videographers were great to work with and had us laughing all day. They took some stunning footage, including driveway portraits and night shots with sparklers.

Picking our wedding rings was also a very special experience: we went to Hockley Mint in Birmingham to meet Judith Lockwood and Gary Wroe from Arctic Circle, and saw all the work that would go into creating our rings first-hand. That day is as memorable as our wedding day! 

I also loved meeting my make-up artist Louise and hairdresser Angela; I remember hugging them when I saw them even though we’d ever actually met in person I felt like I knew them already!

The whole experience has been truly wonderful!

Steal their style...

Photographer: Louise Bjorling  

Venue: Notley Abbey, Buckinghamshire 

Florist: Sonning Flowers 

Videography: Jack Osborn Videography

Dress and cape: Enzoani

Bride's shoes: Benjamin Adams

Bride's accessories: Rainbow Club

Bridesmaid dresses: Little Mistress 

Groomswear: French Connection

Cake: Jenny North Cakes

Wedding favours: Wedding In A Teacup

Venue decorations: The Wedding Of My Dreams

Wedding rings: Arctic Circle

Guestbook: The Wedding Tree

Stationery: Swoon At The Moon

Entertainment: The Bears

Make-up artist: Louise Jackson 

Hair: Alter Ego Hair Design

Confetti: Shropshire Petals

Accessories: Jon Richard

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