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An Italian-themed wedding at Dewsall Court in Hereford

An Italian-themed wedding at Dewsall Court in Hereford

Written by Katie Byrne

Two wedding dresses, 20 wedding cakes and endless delicious details set the scene for Rebecca and Thomas' romantic celebration...


Rebecca McKenzie and Thomas Green married at Belmont Abbey, before holding their wedding reception at Dewsall Abbey in Hereford.

Photography: Philip White Weddings

We were looking for a relaxed, family-focused wedding in an intimate, quirky, characterful and unique setting.

One of our first (and most memorable) holidays together was in Tuscany, Italy. We immediately fell in love with the place – the amazing food, family-oriented lifestyle and stunning scenery. Being half Polish and a quarter Dutch, family is a big part of my life, so I really wanted this to be a key focus for our special day. With elderly grandparents on both sides, a wedding abroad was impractical. Instead we decided to find a venue in the UK to which we could bring Italy.

Having attended weddings as guests in the UK, we were keen to avoid the rigid formalities – I couldn’t think of anything worse than having a Master of Ceremonies! Accordingly, we sought to embrace the relaxed and informal Italian lifestyle with attention on food, family and festivity. The celebration was spread over the whole weekend from Friday to Sunday so everyone was able to feel relaxed and like they were on their own mini-getaway. 

In our search for an Italian-style venue, I spent countless hours scouring Pinterest for places with an outdoor pergola. Having visited many venues we were still feeling unsatisfied that we would be able to create the scene we desired. Finally, we visited Dewsall Court and immediately knew the search was over.

With the Italian theme at its core, we were looking to create a romantic, rustic and intimate vibe with a focus on food! The wedding breakfast included six courses; from antipasti and truffle pasta to polenta with porcetta. With a desert of roasted peaches with mascarpone and amaretti, we felt we had done any Italian proud. To accompany, we served a smooth Italian Merlot and a fruity Pinot Grigio with a sweet Pasito desert wine to finish.

My favourite colour has always been yellow, being the happiest of all colours! This coupled with the fact that the Italians are infamous for their sunflowers and wild yellow flowers, we were able to take a lot of inspiration from this theme. The look therefore was very authentic with lots of greenery and lemon yellows. This look ran through the invitations to the handmade signs I made, which were scattered around the venue.

The orangery was decorated by my mum with homemade photograph bunting of Tom and me growing up which met in the middle with pictures of us together.

I had two wedding dresses! The first, for the ceremony, was a simple but beautiful A-line dress by Stewart Parvin and the second was a Grecian, flowing Amanda Wakely side-less dress with a beautiful crystal collar and belt for the evening.

Combined, they cost less than the dress I had originally fallen in love with when I had started browsing. I paired the evening dress with a Jenny Packham Acacia headpiece to match the jeweled waistband and neckline.

I had a hand-tied bouquet in a natural and rustic style with light yellow, large headed roses, lilac and purple trachelium, yellow freesias, yellow ranunculas, yellow spray roses and plenty of foliage’s of soft ruscus and olive branches which flowed down in a waterfall style.

The bouquet was bound with natural green Muslin. I also opted for a half-crown headpiece with flowers and greenery to match. My matron of honor’s bouquet was a smaller version of my bouquet.

As I had two dresses, it only felt right that my beautiful Matron of Honor received the same treatment! For the day, she wore a floaty strapless lemon yellow dress, which went perfectly with the Italian theme. Her outfit was completed with a flower crown made of the same green garlands and wild yellow flowers used throughout the wedding. For the evening, she wore a short A-line yellow skater dress from Coast so she could freely dance the night away.  

Tom wore a lovely tailored blue suit from Reiss, grey fitted waistcoat, yellow and navy spotty tie from Thomas Pink and the finishing touch – a colourful Hermès pocket square which looked perfect and really made the outfit complete. He matched his tie to his best man and bought him a matching Hermès pocket square as a gift. Tom’s button hole was with soft ruscus and olive leaves and craspedia bound in dark green twine.

Having adopted our first rescue-dog in February that year from Cyprus, we decided our wedding wouldn’t be the same without him in attendance. With his tweed bowtie, Martin (dog-of-honor) waited patiently at the venue whilst we said our vows.

On arrival, he came running out to greet us with kisses and cuddles. He slept at my feet throughout the speeches and thoroughly enjoyed the company (and treats!) throughout the day from staff and guests.

Given our running theme of over-indulgence, one cake was never going to be enough. We invited guests to bring their own, and having baked twelve myself, we ended up with around twenty cakes to be shared between sixty-five guests.

The range comprised Panetone, Frangipane, Carrot Cake, Chocolate cake, Biscotti, Amaretti, Panforte, hazelnut gateau, lemon drizzle, peanut butter squares, chocolate brownies, Czech honey cake, a traditional three tier fruit cake and five kilograms of Italian imported Parmesan (kindly delivered via my dad’s hand luggage the week before!)

To aid with the romantic setting we sought to create, we placed a generous quantity of jam-jars, each housing a tea-light, in amongst the foliage. This provided a source of soft lighting whilst adding points of interest against the backdrop of the greenery.

We gave guests handmade favours, including homemade Limoncello, poured into mini glass bottles decorated with sprigs of thyme and rosemary and ‘saluti’ labels (again in the matching hand-written typography). I also baked biscotti to be handed to guests with their after-meal coffee and there was a basket of complimentary flip flops for the girls to save their feet on the dancefloor.

Traditional to Italian weddings, we provided each guest with five Confetti (sugared almonds) in hand sewn white lace bags tied with yellow ribbon. Each had attached the following poem: ‘Five wishes for the new husband and wife: health, wealth, happiness, children, and a long life!’

My parents surprised me on the day with three old ‘Italian Job’ style minis in red white and blue to drive us to and from the ceremony. I was so shocked that I immediately burst into tears - This was the best way to arrive at the church with everyone honking as we drove passed. The Italian Job theme tune in the background was the icing on the cake.

My parents also organized a caricaturist to come and sketch everyone at the reception and while we were having dinner. The guests really enjoyed this as they had something unique to take home and remember the day by.

One of the quirkiest parts of the wedding was the after dinner entertainment which was worthy of the West End. Both of my brothers decided to give an impromtu speech ribbing my ‘selfie’-oriented Instagram account. We ended up taking a wedding selfie with all the guests at the table ‘Oscar- style’ with our new selfie stick. My aunties and cousin Vicky then followed on by puting on a ‘Dutchie’ singing songs like That's Amore and reading poems accompanied by my cousins. Everyone got into the spirit singing along. The room was full of laughter all evening.

Steal their style!

Venue: Dewsall Court Florist: Hereford Flower Studio Dresses: Stewart Parvin and Amanda Wakely Bridesmaids: ASOS Groomswear: Reiss, Hermes and Thomas Pink

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