A Fairy-Tale-Inspired Wedding at a 12th-Century Castle in Gloucestershire, England
When Emma and Mike met in 2015 through Instagram, they had an instant connection—but since they were living in different cities, it took three months for them to schedule their first date. "I am British and Mike is from Zimbabwe, but moved to the United Kingdom for work," says Emma. "Things moved really quickly with our relationship—I moved across the country to be with Mike after a year of long distance."
In April 2017, Mike planned a weekend getaway in the Cotswolds, where he popped the question at the top of Broadway Tower—and Emma said yes. "Then we spent the whole day in the sunshine, drinking wine at a pretty little pub," she says. "We visit Broadway a lot to this day. It's a beautiful place."
Emma took the lead on organizing the couple's 85-guest wedding at Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire, England, for July 6, 2019. "We planned the entire day ourselves, which I am so proud of," says Emma. She created the couple's invitations and paper suite, worked closely with the florist to design a one-of-a-kind arch over the door to their ceremony space, and chose a color palette of "white, nude, blush, and soft gray." (Event planners from Lily & Sage handled the day-of details so the couple could enjoy their nuptials.) "It took a lot of hard work," says Emma. "We really wanted to bring an elegant, but relaxed feeling to our day. I think the whole vibe was very 'us' and everyone said how beautiful the wedding was—from start to finish."
A Fairy-Tale Location
Emma and Mike felt immediately at home in Berkeley Castle, where stained glass windows, aged tapestries, and ancient stone walls called up visions of the bride's favorite fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast. "Being a Disney princess at heart, I had always dreamt of getting married in a castle," says Emma. "When we first stood in the great hall, an overwhelming feeling took over. We felt so at home."
A Dreamy DIY Invite
An invitation suite in gray and white with blush-colored ribbons, gold wax seals, and subtle floral elements hinted at the wedding-day decor. "I made our save-the-dates and invitations myself using Photoshop—mainly as a money saver, but I was really happy with the results," says Emma. She designed an initial crest inspired by several other versions she found on Pinterest, and then made wax seals that incorporated it. "Our invitations are simple and elegant, which I feel emulated the feeling of our day," she says.
Her Custom Gown
Emma worked with Emma Beaumont Atelier to design a couture wedding dress with a plunging neckline and back. "We kept the silhouette form-fitting with a long, dramatic train and beaded lace fabric, and added a ruffle to the hem to add a soft, feminine touch," says Emma. "I wanted a timeless dress which I would still love in 20 years."
Stephanie Saunders Luxury Floral Design created a neutral bouquet backed by subtle foliage. "My bouquet was stunning—a relaxed, loose shape with a mix of pale pinks, nudes, and whites," says Emma. Flowers included roses, peonies, and "lots of foliage." "My maid of honor, Kate, gave me a charm which we tied to my bouquet—it was a blue crystal angel and a locket with a photography of my dog Teddy inside," says Emma. "That was so special to me, as I felt like he was with us on our day."
Pretty in Pink
Emma's two bridesmaids wore long, flowing gowns with V-necklines. "We tried on so many dresses, but the girls' favorite were actually from ASOS," says Emma. "The color worked perfectly with the flowers and they both felt really comfortable in the style. The fabric was floaty and romantic, which complemented the theme."
Emma and Mike sourced traditional black-tie attire from Moss Bros. for their groomsmen, creating a cohesive look without requiring the other men to invest in a custom suit.
An Elegant Entryway
Inside the ceremony space, a massive floral arrangement framed the entry. "The castle had never had anyone attempt such a large installation," says the bride.
Emma and her florist kept the rest of the space more understated, allowing the stained glass windows and stonework to remain the primary focus. "Our ceremony décor was purely flowers and candles," says Emma. "We didn't want too many added extras, as the castle had so much character."
The Happy Couple
At the front of the space, another eye-catching installation created a focal point for the exchange of vows. "The aisle was lined with rose petals and candles, leading to a moon gate arch which sat in front of the fireplace," says Emma. "The moon gate symbolized eternal love, which was a special touch."
Husband and Wife
Emma and Mike chose not to see each other before the ceremony, saving their first look for the moment Emma and her father walked down the aisle together. Mike's aunt traveled from South Africa to read e.e. cummings' "I Carry Your Heart" as part of the couple's ceremony, which also included personal vows Emma and Mike wrote themselves. A string quartet played "Marry You" by Bruno Mars as the couple left the hall as husband and wife.
Signature cocktails at the reception included the bride's choice (an elderflower bellini), the groom's selection (a mojito), and a piña colada offered in honor of the couple's dog, Teddy. Servers also passed Champagne as guests moved toward a nearby lily pond to greet the couple.
On the Menu
Passed hors d'oeuvres included king prawns, shredded hoisin duck fill baskets, and fried goat cheese, while the dinner menu from Napier Catering included a braised pork belly starter, a filet and short rib entrée, and a dessert pairing of lemon posset and salted caramel brownie. "The food at our wedding is still talked about today—the menu was absolutely delicious," says Emma. "Mike and I are massive food fans, so our menu had to be the best."
Lavish and Luxe
Inside the castle's Great Hall, guests sat at formal tables paired with gold chairs. Low centerpieces complemented the floral arch. "I had a vision of bringing the outside in and filling the Great Hall with layers of flowers and candles to create a romantic, fairy-tale feeling," says Emma. "We loved the relaxed idea of having long tables—the formality of a head table didn't appeal to us as we wanted to be able to mix with all of our guests."
On the tables, arrangements of roses, peonies, and deep green leaves contrasted with crisp white linens. "I wanted to carry on the idea of layering, so we mixed our larger floral arrangements with single stem flowers," says Emma. "Flowers were really important to me. I met my amazing florist so many times throughout the planning process—I loved it so much, I started to work with her as a freelancer!"
Taper candles in a variety of different styles added a warm glow to the dining room. "I collected vintage candlesticks in both gold and glass from antique shops for our candles," says Emma. "I loved the idea of adding even more history to our day by using vintage items. I use some of the candlesticks throughout our home now, which always brings back such special memories."
Words of Love
Emma created the place cards by printing guests' names onto tracing paper and adding the same wax seal she designed for the invitation. She topped the ornate glass chargers with a single rose. "Each place setting had a quote about love from our favorite films, TV programs, or books to add a personal touch for each of our guests," says Emma.
In the Garden
The property's lush landscaping remained one of the couple's favorite parts of the venue. "We fell in love with the gorgeous gardens," says Emma. "I have a fond memory of walking with Mike through the secret gardens and smelling the scented roses and lavender."
Photography, Naomi Kenton Photography
Venue, Berkeley Castle
Day-of Coordination, Lily and Sage
Catering, Napier Catering
Flowers, Stephanie Saunders Luxury Floral Design
Cake, Bake My Cake
Music, Bellini Strings (ceremony); Chip Shop Boys (reception)
Rentals, Whitehouse Event Crockery
Bride's Gown and Veil, Emma Beaumont Atelier
Bride's Shoes, Dune London
Hair, Cotswold Bridal
Makeup, Elle Hitchens
Bridesmaids' Dresses, ASOS
Groom's Suit, Dress2Kill
Menswear, Moss Bros.
Lighting, Virtual Events
Transportation, Ken's Kars
Rings, Ernest Jones