Garden Vibes

Emily & James married in early June at St. Andrew's Church in Sonning. This venue held such sentimental value to Emily as she had spent her childhood in the village and never imagined marrying anywhere else! After struggling to find an appropriate reception venue; family friends' offered up their garden, only a 5 minute walk from their church, and it was simply perfect! This couple took DIY up a notch by styling their garden venue in a relaxed rustic way with fire pits, hay bales and boules to give their wedding evening such charming character.

Wearing our elegant Harwood dress styled with our Etoile sash and stunning Jimmy Choos, Emily looked beautiful as she entered the Church and continued to shine throughout their wedding celebrations.

This couple's day was incredibly unique by the many contributions and personal touches made by dear friends and family. Take a look for yourself at Peach and Jo's Photography. To see a day that truly summed up Emily & James.

How did James propose?

I had just finished working in Dubai and James was about to fly to Bahrain for work after visiting me for a couple of weeks so we decided I should join him. I was in the WORST mood when we arrived in Manama – it was windy and cloudy meaning there was no sunbathing to be done on my first day off in a month. To ease my mood, he booked us a massage at a lovely spa/art gallery/ restaurant, La Fontaine, a beautifully converted old fort in the middle of the old town. We had our massage and then proceeded to walk around the art gallery with glasses of champagne before dinner. I spent the first part of this trying to drag him into different areas of the gallery (which in hindsight he didn't want to go into for good reason). He then caught me totally off guard when we walked into a gorgeous courtyard which was romantically lit with little fountains, he got down on one knee. He’d had the ring designed and made at a jewellers in Dubai whilst visiting me, it was perfect…I said YES!

What was your best experience when trying on dresses?

I purchased my dress from the flagship store in London. I had heard about Charlie Brear from a friend of mine who got engaged a couple of years ago, so I asked her where I should visit when booking my first appointments. Charlie Brear was my first shop and my dress was the first dress I tried on. Charlie Brear was certainly my best experience. Hannah, the stylist, was fantastic and made me feel really relaxed when I was already slightly anxious about the whole thing. I also had my mum and soon to be mother-in-law with me too, Hannah made us feel very welcome and really special guests. I actually hated all the other shops we went into that day (I was nearly sick after one of them for pulling me into a dress far too tight) and I didn’t fancy visiting many more. I knew immediately that the dress I wanted was from Charlie Brear. I actually went back twice more and tried on more dresses but always came back to my favourite.

How did you feel after you ordered your dress?

I immediately felt a huge sense of relief. I really wanted to have it sorted early so I could plan around it. It also made the whole wedding seem very real which made me even more excited than I already was.

What would your advice be to Brides-to-be about shopping for a wedding dress?

Try on everything to see what style you like but stop when you find it. You then have a working point to go from. Go back a few times, with different shoes and with different people. I went 3 times in total, with two different bridesmaids. 

What shoes did you wear?

I wore the most amazing shoes EVER. I never really thought of any other alternatives to Jimmy Choo’s, I know it’s a big expense, however, all the wedding blogs reaffirmed that the big spend would be worth it. They were worth ever penny. I wore them through till 10pm (including 2 mile walk we did for our photos), I now can’t wait to wear them again. 

Did you struggle finding the right lingerie that worked with your dress?

I didn’t wear a bra; I was able to use tape. I did however really struggle with pants. I really tried to go for something slightly sexy but ended up with the opposite from M&S. I don’t think I have spoken to any bride who hasn’t done the same. I would therefore head straight for comfort and practicality and get something sexier for the bedroom later to change in to!

Who did your hair & make-up?

The wonderful Lorraine Milligan did both my hair and make-up. She did the hair and make-up for one of my closest friends last year in London and when I asked her, it turned out she lived across the road from my parents (where I was getting ready). I really wanted to use local suppliers, so it was a no brainer.

What traditions did you follow?

We followed quite a few traditions. We stayed apart from each other the night before and then didn’t speak or see each other until I walked down the aisle. I borrowed my mum’s aquamarine earrings which were made for her by my dad when they lived in Sri Lanka - this ticked off my something blue and old too. I was also going to throw my bouquet but I never left the dance floor after the first dance. 

Did your wedding have any unusual features?

We had a few quirky touches. On the tables we gave everyone funny face coasters, which have given us some of the funniest pictures of the day. I will never forget speaking to my grandma and showing her how they worked. I haven’t seen her laugh so hard in years, she spent the rest of dinner asking for other people’s to try them out. Our biggest success though was our first dance - James and I ashamedly met in Infernos night club in Clapham and so we were determined to incorporate a slice of it to the wedding. We started our first dance very traditionally to Christina Perri, ‘Thousand Years’. James and I, again, felt very awkward as this isn’t a very ‘us’ thing to do, however, we were biding our time until everyone was a little teary. We then ran over to the side of the dance floor and pulled 2x INFERNOS signs down which we had made; at this point the DJ switched the music to the Baywatch theme tune (which was a classic in Infernos back when we met). Everyone went absolutely nuts and ran onto the dance floor, singing at the top of their lungs. It still makes me tear up with happiness thinking about it.

How did you feel walking down the aisle?

As we started to walk into the church I felt very calm. I think my Dad was far more nervous however, as soon as we turned onto the aisle and I saw James, I remember gripping my Dad’s arm and beaming with an overwhelming sense of happiness. I did very nearly cry, however, James caught me before I did and shook his head.

What was the most memorable moment of the day?

I can’t think of any specific moment but there were a lot of inside jokes and fun individual moments with guests; most that other people wouldn’t find funny. James and I talked about this before I sent my answer and we remembered even more.

Who took your fabulous wedding pictures?

Jo and Steve at Peach and Jo Photography took our pictures. They were both brilliant and we never knew they were there. Jo also made us feel very relaxed during our couples photos which we felt incredibly awkward doing. 

Take 5 with this week's #FRIDAYBRIDE



1. Give yourselves plenty of time to plan

2. Get things booked, designed, made early – it will save the stress of getting it done closer to the time

3. Have a great MC. Ours was James’ brother, he cared so much for us the day, nothing was too much. He 100% made it the day it was

4. Keep a ‘to-do’ list and a ‘remember to bring’ list so you don’t forget anything

5.   Delegate: particularly on your wedding day, give every job to someone else so you can enjoy it


Where did you go for your honeymoon?

We went on a ‘mini moon’ to Soho Farmhouse for a few days which was very much needed; you do not realise how exhausted you are, physically and mentally. We then have 3 weeks in Argentina booked over Christmas and New Year which gives us something else to look forward to.

What will you do with your dress now?

I am considering having the train taken off and then dying it so I can use it as a black tie dress. I am however not quite at that point yet as I still like looking at it. I actually got to wear it again the following week as it was my parents 35th wedding anniversary and my mum managed to fit into her dress, so for novelty value, I put mine on at the same time before taking some unforgettable photos!

What are you and your husband's best memories of the day?

Both James and I loved saying our vows in the church, we felt we were in our own little bubble and it was an amazingly intense experience. However, my favourite all time moment was our first dance. As soon as everyone was on the dance floor for Baywatch barely anyone left and it made the party.


Dress Harwood by Charlie Brear

Shoes Jimmy Choo

Sash Etoile Sash by Charlie Brear

Earrings Made in Sri Lanka for my mum by my dad

Ceremony Venue St Andrews Church, Sonning, Berkshire

Reception Venue Family friend’s house in Sonning

Photographer Peach and Jo Photography

Bridesmaids' Dresses Asos, Topshop and Coast

Rings James' by Orla James / Emily's by Cara, Dubai

Music Premier DJ

Florist VFB Florist

Caterer Vintage Hog Roast Company

Hair & Make-Up 


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