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A wintry wedding at Eynsham Hall in Oxfordshire

A wintry wedding at Eynsham Hall in Oxfordshire

Written by Katie Byrne

Gemma and Neil swapped their 'I do's in a celebration filled with pops of seasonal red

Photography: Julie Warner Photography

Venue: Eynsham Hall, Oxfordshire

Neil and I met five years ago, and visited Australia for three months in 2014. It was here that Neil proposed to me on Christmas Eve under a glorious sunset on a beach in Perth, and we started to plan our dream wedding as soon as the plane touched back down in England! The theme we went for was birds and trees as it was a winter wedding, while Australia also played a large part.

We picked Eynsham Hall as our venue as the place has always been very close to both of our hearts. We celebrated Neil’s birthday with a stay at the Jacobean House when we first got together, and from that moment on, decided that if we were to get married, it would be at Eynsham.

We stayed in the venue the night before the wedding as we lived 40-50 minutes away. Being a January wedding, there was no guarantee that we wouldn’t wake up to snow in the morning, and we wanted to make sure that we would be at the venue. Eynsham provided us with breakfast in the morning and the wedding advisor also popped her head in to check everything was okay on numerous occasions, even taking photos of the table arrangements so I could make sure they were correct. They really did think of everything.

Neil had always said that he did not want to wear a traditional suit and that he wanted to be different.

His surname, McDonald, and my surname, Anderson are both Scottish names so he decided to hire kilts for his party. My dad and two brothers wore the Anderson kilt, while Neil and his groomsmen wore the MacDonald kilt.

My dress was from Linda Gray Bridal in Gloucester. I had no idea what kind of dress I was looking for, but after trying a few on I realised that I wanted a simple and elegant dress. When I tried this particular dress on I fell in love straight away.

The red bridesmaid dresses were also from the same shop. Neil and I had always liked the colour red, and because it was a winter wedding, we thought that the colours would look really good. The flower girls’ dresses were bought in Australia as this is where the girls were living at the time.

Because our wedding was in winter, we decided to pick roses as we both liked them and associated these with winter. I had red roses to match the bridesmaids and they had white roses to match me. We added the thistles into them to tie in with the Scottish ideology. The flower girls had little wands with roses on.

We used Cake Daydreams in Cheltenham for our wedding cake. We found Claire at a wedding fair in Cheltenham and asked her to design a cake that matched our theme, hence the birdcage on top. We picked a cherry bakewell sponge as it was our favourite flavour at a tasting day that we went to. I bought the two little birds from Etsy as decoration.

The tables had wooden boxes on them that my dad made, complete with little Christmas trees inside. I made little photo frames and hung the people that were sat at the table on the tree.

The table names were all named after beaches in Australia as that was where we were planning to start our married life. My older brother flew back from Australia with a pot of sand he had collected from the beach we had got engaged on, which was used to spell out the table names on a black slate. The black slate was cut into the shape of Australia by my dad.

The favours were glass jars that were filled with hot chocolate with either Baileys for the girls or Jack Daniels for the boys. We also included little boxes that were filled with Haribo sweets.

We also included a ‘wish you were here’ table for the people that were sadly no longer with us. I had lost my father’s parents and my mother’s father, and Neil had lost all of his grandparents bar one. We really wanted to include them in the day somewhere as they were such a big part of our lives growing up, and a little table was a lovely way of doing this.

We wanted our guest book to be different, so my dad made a photo frame with trees and birds in, spending hours drilling little holes into the back of the birds and trees before gluing them to little magnets so they would stick. He then made the frame from scratch and varnished it as a finishing touch. We asked all of our guests to write their names on a bird and attach it to the tree, which has now got pride of place in our new home in Australia.

The majority of the wedding was self done, with only the big items being sourced from other companies. This meant it was a day full of lovely and personal touches.

Steal their style!

Florist: Classic Flowers, Witney Dress and shoes: Linda Gray Bridal Gloucester Bridesmaids: Linda Gray Bridal Gloucester Cake: Cake Daydreams, Cheltenham Kilts: Houstons Kiltmakers

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