A Classic English Garden Wedding with a Green-and-White Color Palette
When London-based lifestyle blogger Peony Lim agreed to attend a Valentine's Day pop-up dining event by Rande in 2015, she didn't realize she was agreeing to a singles night—or that she would meet Matthew Blakiston, director of a real estate office, who would eventually become her husband. But it didn't all go smoothly at first. When Matthew asked her out, Peony turned him down. He didn't give up, though. A quick internet search led him to her website, and he reached out again. They emailed daily for a month before Peony says she agreed to a first date.
A little over a year later, Matthew proposed by the water in West Country, United Kingdom, with a Mark Broumand diamond engagement ring he chose with the help of a little detective work on Peony's Pinterest boards and Instagram feed. "Matthew wanted to do it somewhere that was important for both of us, and somewhere that we could revisit," says Peony of the proposal. "He chose a beach that you can only get to by foot. We often visit now with the dogs and it's such a special place for us." The couple invited 150 guests to their for June 24, 2017, wedding at a private home, which gave them just nine months to plan. They made the most of their time, though, and were able to order a couture gown for Peony, customized dresses for the flower girls, and created a tent for the garden location which had never hosted a wedding before.
A white-and-gray color palette directed the engraved invitations, seating chart, and tablescapes, while all-white flowers were offset by green foliage in the décor used throughout the private estate. Although Peony and Matthew attended to every detail of their classic English event, every wedding has its unpredictable moments: For them, it was during the flower toss. "When I threw my bouquet," says Peony, "it hit my aunt in the head and knocked her hat off!"
As a beauty blogger, Peony has had plenty of experience with makeup, so she knows what works best for her. "I just wanted to look like myself, but perfected," she says. "I had a really strong feeling that I didn't want people to look at me in real life and see anything that could be fake." She spent months testing out her favorites to find a perfect wedding-day look, ending up with a combination of products from Laura Mercier, Marc Jacobs, Tom Ford, MAC, Chanel, Charlotte Tilbury, and NARS. "I'm too much of a control freak to have had a makeup artist," she says of going the DIY route.
A Couture Gown
Since Peony often wears designer gowns for events and her blog's photo shoots, she had a simple wish for her wedding dress: "I wasn't really looking for the biggest, most elaborate dress ever," she says. "I just wanted to feel bridal." After trying on countless options at shops and showrooms throughout London, she decided on a sleeveless boatneck silhouette with a full skirt—but she couldn't find a finished gown in a fabric that met her exacting standards. "In the end, Le Spose di Gio was really the only brand we found who had the 100 percent silk, dense fabrics we were looking for." The brand created a couture gown and matching veil for Peony, and sent a representative to steam and tailor it the day before the wedding.
A chic, low updo by stylist Freya Danson-Hatcher kept Peony's hair back during the festivities; she secured it with a hairpiece from Venetian jeweler Basitianello Arte. "The leaves mean good fortune and bounty, which I love," says Peony. "It can be worn as I did, or as a tiara, or as a necklace and earrings." Her pearl drop earrings, also from Bastianello Arte, were something borrowed—a pair on loan from her mother.
Made for Her
Peony's custom-made cloud-colored Manolo Blahnik heels, designed as a gift from the brand using the same fabric as her dress, were embellished with jeweled squares. Her bouquet of white peonies was also one-of-a-kind: made by her mother, using foliage from their garden. "I really wanted it to be personal and something for me to hold and get strength and love from," Peony says. "She did such a beautiful job, it was just perfect."
Peony's two bridesmaids (in blue) wore custom dresses from designer Razan Alazzouni, a friend of the couple. The bride's two cousins (in nude) went with pieces from the existing collection. Both styles were covered in white floral appliqués to coordinate with the overall look of the wedding.
Men of Style
The men of the wedding party were a study in tradition: Matthew wore the wool coat that came with his first morning suit, which he purchased when he was 23 years old from the now-closed Pakeman Catto & Carter, and paired it with a blue New & Lingwood shirt, tan Favourbook waistcoat, a red and blue Hermes tie, gray trousers, and Manolo Blahnik shoes. His best man, Ollie, wore a Scottish family tartan kilt with a fur sporran in front and a Sgian-dubh—a traditional dagger—in his sock.
A Trio of Girls
Matthew's nieces served as flower girls, wearing custom Smocked Frocks dresses that layered organza over silk, while his Labrador retriever, Poppy, served as ring bearer. "She sat at the back of the congregation until the right moment in the services when she was called and came up the aisle alone with the rings tied to her collar," says Peony.
Love in Bloom
The gardens on the grounds of the property Peony and Matthew chose for their ceremony and reception were one of their favorite parts of the wedding. "They were so beautiful and no other wedding has been hosted there," says Peony. "So it was really unique to us and meant a huge deal to be there with our loved ones."
Also joining the couple and their friends and family was Wilfred, a white peacock that belongs to Peony's mother. "Matthew had previously given my mother the peacock as she had always wanted a white one, and he just fit so well into the theme," says Peony.
Into the Ceremony
The white and green color palette was in full effect at the entrance to the ceremony, thanks to blooms from Wedding Flowers in Cornwall. "I wanted to use only white flowers," says Peony. "Naturally we wanted to use as many peonies as possible, but we also used lily of the valley, bells of Ireland, delphiniums, roses, and stephanotis."
Blessing the Marriage
Peony and Matthew were officially married during a ceremony on Friday, but received a Christian blessing officiated by Peony's childhood priest on Saturday. Here, green ribbons fluttered from the corner of each chair.The bride's father escorted her down the aisle as a string quartet played Pachelbel's "Canon in D." The ceremony included traditional vows, hymns, and readings—one from St. Paul's Letter to the Corinthians and one from "Captain Corelli's Mandolin."
A Pretty Pup
Peony's miniature Dachshund, Thumbelina, donned her own flower collar to take part in the day's festivities.
Sword and Slice
At a high tea following the ceremony, Peony and Matthew cut their six-tier cake from Ladurée, topped with sugar flowers from Donna Jane Cakes, using a sword that belonged to Matthew's grandfather. "It's a military ceremonial sword known as 'The Sword of Honour' that was presented to him as an award for being ranked top of his cohort at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst," says Peony.
Until We Meet Again
The couple and their friends and family had about three hours between the tea and dinner to relax and change, but before Peony and Matthew could make their exit, she made one quick alteration to her outfit: She removed her gown's full skirt, a feature the dressmaker had planned. "We had to make the skirt detachable so that I could get into the car to leave," Peony says. "It was too big to fit otherwise!" Guests tossed white rose petals as Peony and Matthew left the tea.
An Old Favorite
The newlyweds departed in a vintage Morris Minor decorated by the maid of honor. The old wagon is so much a part of Peony's family that he even has a name: "It was the car that my mother used to take us to school in as children, so it's a family relic!" she says. "We call him Edgar and all adore him." Having a few moments with Matthew in the car was Peony's favorite part of the day, and Matthew also recommends it to other couples: "Take a moment alone as a couple during the celebrations to enjoy it and savor it," he says. "The day rushes by."
On the Road
Vintage green buses from King Harry Coaches shuttled guests from the tea back to their hotels to change and relax before returning them for dinner and dancing.
Dressed to Impress
The bride and groom traded their classic ceremony outfits for more playful black-tie dinner attire. She wore a flowing lace gown from Costarellos. "I wasn't sold on it at all but my mother loved it, so eventually I said we should try it a second time and in the end she was totally right. It was the kind of dress I could only wear for that moment in my life, and it was so comfortable so I ate and danced all night!" Matthew changed into an green velvet smoking jacket from Oliver Brown and a tie of his own.
In English Fashion
Like many of the women in attendance, Peony's mother wore an elegant fascinator by Philip Tracey, made to coordinate with her outfit.
The seating chart, done in calligraphy by Cellar Door London, was mounted on an easel to help guests find their table. Individual seats were assigned using name cards tied to figs at each place setting.
Bringing the Outside In
The garden reception took place inside a tent built for the occasion. "It was made to fit the garden, so that the hedges were on the inside and made to look like the walls—we really wanted the feeling of being inside a garden," says Peony. "We kept the lighting to a minimum, as we wanted it to be mostly lit with candles."
Round tables at the reception came in two pieces and were constructed around existing fig trees. The rest of the décor incorporated the trees, too: "We had peonies in the glass spheres hanging from the branches," says Peony. "Then the trees came out of the center into a ring of peonies and hydrangeas." Lilies of the valley topped the center flowers, while stephanotis trailed down the branches and across the table.
Setting the Table
Elegant place settings included gold-rimmed chargers, white china, and elegant silver flatware. Each plate was decorated with a green fig leaf, a white napkin and dinner menu, and finished with a single fig. Figs were also scattered around the table and held the place cards. At the end of the evening, guests took home fig-scented candles from St. Eval Candle Company.
On the Menu
Chef Gregory Czarnecki, who flew in for the wedding from his day job at Waterkloof Wines in South Africa, prepared a lobster and peach appetizer, Bresse chicken, and assorted bite-sized desserts.
Eat, Drink, and Be Merry
Long tables with lush floral runners of peonies and hydrangeas were dressed with white linens from Etsy. The dark green hedges and trees inside the tent provided a striking background contrast.
Light the Night
After a two-hour dinner, sparkling fireworks marked the beginning of hours of dancing.
Their First Dance
Peony and Matthew shared their first dance to Van Morrison's "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You." Blackjack and roulette tables were set while So Sinatra, a 12-piece Frank Sinatra cover band, played. After midnight, a jukebox preloaded with requests guests submitted on their RSVP card took over. "We played the Spice Girls 'Wannabe,'" Peony says, "which all the bridal party learnt the dance to on the hen party weekend!"
Photography, Jose Villa
Event planning, Jenny Wren
Catering, Chef Gregory Czarnecki
Flowers, Wedding Flowers in Cornwall
Videography, Wedding Memories
Stationery, Walton Street Stationery
Music, So Sinatra
Hair, Freya Danson-Hatcher
Bridesmaids' dresses, Razan Alazzouni
Flower Girl dresses, Smocked Frocks
Groom's smoking jacket, Oliver Brown
Transportation, King Harry Coaches
Engagement Ring, Mark Broumand
Glassware, Villeroy & Boch
Favors, St. Eval Candle Company
Fireworks, Celebration Pyrotechnics
Front-of-House Coordinator, Miki Ashton of 10 Ten Design Studio
Jukebox, Kernow Fun Casino