It was a very hazy morning. Driving to Ettington Park felt like entering a world of white soft cotton wool. The forecast had promised me a full day of sunshine however so I secretly kept my fingers crossed that the fog would last at least long enough for me to get a few photos before it would all lift. Well, it did last, just about long enough to reveal a few curious horses and the spectacular view of Ettington Park Hotel. I am not sure I even have the words to describe how much I loved this place. It is a beautiful mansion set in acres upon acres of parkland but somehow that really doesn’t do it. It’s a charming house full of little nooks and crannies, supposedly haunted with a view to take your breath away. You may just have to go there yourself to experience its full splendour and I do not use the word splendour lightly.
I first met Johanna and Neil on a beautiful day in September for their engagement shoot, none of us knowing that their late October wedding would be such a glorious day. I did guess however that it would be a fabulous wedding day, expecting nothing less from two people who named their cat after Lars von Trier. Jo herself is a huge fan of medium format film and I got just a little bit excited when she showed me her “My Fair Lady” inspired mood board for the wedding and asked me to use my Hasselblad for photos of the entire setting, including their ceremony in the library of Ettington Park.
And fabulous it was. With Jo’s dress from David Fielden, her shoes by Alexander McQueen, the sweetest hair and make-up lady Shell Edwards by her side to make her look fantastic plus a mother and bridesmaids that I was a little jealous of we were off to a good start.
“You know,” Jo said to me looking insanely happy after putting on her dress “this is a dress I dreamed of when I was 11 years old. And today I get to wear it.” You couldn’t ask for more, could you? Jo found her perfect-for-the-11-year-old-inside-you wedding dress by David Fielden at Noble and Wright with the help of Hannah who, according to Jo, gave her the best experience of buying a wedding dress ever.
What followed can only be described in one word (wait for it!) – magical. No, really. A beautiful ceremony in the Library, a falconry bird display with owls (yes, I just said owls), champagne sipping in the glorious sunshine out on the terrace, speeches so funny I may have laughed quite loudly myself, delicious food and excellent dancing to the tunes of The CoverUps. Thanks to Ben from Ettington Park who was the man in charge that day we were very well looked after. He made our work a whole lot easier!
Oh, I simply must mention the cake buffet. It consisted of several home-made cakes brought by the guests. The Eaton Mess cupcakes smelled so delicious I had the hardest time photographing them without eating every single one of them. This is why it is a good thing I am so disciplined!
Jo collected old books to use as place cards, individually suited to every single guest. She even got me one as a wedding gift from her and Neil. See? I told you they were good people. The amazing flowers are all by Charlie Ryrie at The Real Cut Flower Garden. She also provided flowers for Johanna to make her own arrangements – it all looked simply amazing and smelled even better.
A big thank you goes to my good friend Jo Hastings for helping me on this one.
Jo and Neil – I wish you all the best from the bottom of my heart. I truly believe you two have a good thing going. Enjoy and stay as happy as you are.